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Our Leadership

A Walker headshot.jpg



"My experiences as a conductor, teacher, and leader have afforded me the opportunity to mentor numerous young conductors through the years.  These relationships have given me a keen interest in helping young women develop intentional leadership skills, so that they are able to reach their potential and their goals within the choral profession.  FACETS was founded to facilitate leadership skills, professional growth, and mentoring relationships among women conductors."

Alicia W. Walker is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of South Carolina, where she directs the Concert Choir and the Garnet Chorale (SSAA) and supervises the graduate conducting program. Dr. Walker travels regularly to South Africa to teach continuing education for choral directors, and she is frequently invited to conduct and teach in the UK and in Taiwan. Dr. Walker has conducted at major venues including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, and Southwark and Canterbury Cathedrals in England. Her choirs have been selected to perform for NCCO, SCMEA, and for South Carolina's ACDA conference. Dr. Walker's pedagogy and professional interactions are marked by a commitment to excellence, collaboration, and inclusion. 

An experienced music educator, Dr. Walker taught at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, followed by appointments at the University of Georgia and the University of South Carolina, where she supervised Secondary Choral Music Education. She is a Past President of Southern Region ACDA and Georgia ACDA, and she developed ChorTransform, ACDA's service-learning initiative for student chapters. She is the Program Chair for the 2024 Southern Region ACDA Conference. Her focus on professional mentoring led Dr. Walker to found FACETS, a leadership retreat for women conductors. In Columbia, she conducts a chamber choir of music educators called Limited Time Only, and she maintains an active schedule as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator. A long-time church musician, Dr. Walker served churches in Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and South Carolina. She was a committee chair for the department of Celebrating Grace, a hymnal published in 2010, and is a contributing author for Sacred Choral Music Repertoire: Insight for Conductors. Dr. Walker was guest editor of the February 2021 Choral Journal, ACDA's focus issue on pedagogy. She is the author of "The Holistic Conductor," an online graduate conducting text; her research interests include conducting pedagogy, service-learning, and choral composers of the English Musical Renaissance. She is a Life Member of ACDA and holds memberships in NAfME and NCCO. 



Carol Joy Sparkman is in her fourth year as Director of Choral Music at Clinton High School in Clinton, Mississippi, where she directs four choirs and a two contemporary a cappella ensembles. She began her career as a member of the Mississippi College music faculty, where she taught language diction, was vocal coach/accompanist, directed Mixed Company, a vocal jazz ensemble, and was Musical Director for The Mississippi College Opera/Musical Theater. Sparkman received the Bachelor of Music in Education and a Master of Music in Vocal Coaching/Accompanying degrees from Mississippi College.

She is a member of the MS ACDA Board where she has served as Repertoire and Resource Chair for Vocal Jazz, Membership, and currently Contemporary and Commercial.  As R&R Chair for Contemporary and Commercial, she began a contemporary a cappella workshop that is in its fourth year. She is an active member of the A Cappella Education Association, NAfME, and NATS.  Sparkman is a member of team who has established Service-Learning partnerships for continuing education in choral music. Each summer the team travels to South Africa to work with music educators and choirs.




Kristin Claiborne, a  Valparaiso, Indiana native, is in her sixth year as choral director & varsity assistant basketball coach at Blythewood High School. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education degree & a Masters Degree in Educational Administration.  At Blythewood, her choirs consistently earn superior with distinction ratings in state/regional festivals. Recently, the Blythewood Choral Program has performed on the esteemed stages of Carnegie Hall & even travelled overseas this past summer on tour throughout Italy. On the solo scene, Ms. Claiborne was recently the featured soprano soloist for the USC University Chorus, performing Will Todd’s renowned jazz mass, “Mass in Blue.” In April 2019, under the direction of Dr. Alicia Walker, Ms. Claiborne will perform the jazz mass solo at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Ms. Claiborne also serves as a judge & guest clinician at choral events throughout South Carolina. Coming in July 2018, Ms. Claiborne will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa for the second year as an apprentice faculty member for the International Partnership for Choral Music Education (IPCME). She will assist in the creation & facilitation of workshops in music literacy, conducting, & vocal pedagogy, as a part of the non-profit organization’s mission to cultivate continuing education for choral directors worldwide. Ms. Claiborne wears many hats in the American Choral Directors Association. She serves as the Southern Division Conference Registration Chair, as well as the Southern Division Membership Chair. She is also a supervising teacher for ChorTransform, a new choral initiative for the development of pre-service teachers. Ms. Claiborne is a proud & active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.




Ashlee Poole is Director of Choral Activities at Sumter High School where she has been a faculty member since 2015. In that time the SHS choral program has grown significantly from approximately 67 students to well over 100. Under her direction, several students have participated in Sumter’s district honor choir, USC’s Honor Choir, SC ACDA (2017), and 18 of her students have been accepted into the SC All-State chorus. Ms. Poole also directs choral groups including the Concert Choir, Women’s Choir, Show Choir and most recently the SHS Chamber Ensemble.


As a native of Sumter, SC Ms. Poole chose to return to her roots so she could give back to the community that initially fostered her love of music. Now Ms. Poole enriches the lives of her students through immersing them in music and inspiring them in all aspects of their lives.


Ms. Poole is a graduate of the University of South Carolina where she received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and a Masters of Music in Conducting, both with a special emphasis in Choral Arts.  During her education at USC she studied under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt, Dr. Joe Modica, Dr. Tina Stallard, Ms. Ellen Schlaefer, and Dr. Alicia Walker.  Throughout the years Ms. Poole has expanded her knowledge of music by traveling both nationally and internationally to areas such as New York, Memphis, Minneapolis, Ireland, and Scotland among others.

Dr. Walker
Carol Joy Sparkman
Kristin Claiborne
Ashlee Poole
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