Alaska Officers

Carolyn Soderlund - President - North Pole, AK

Kyle Schneider - President-Elect - Homer, AK

Laura Blackwood is a passionate, lifelong choral musician, singing and accompanying choirs for over 25 years.  Laura holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Liberty University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Tennessee.  After spending several years in non-profit organization leadership, she began her music education career in Austin, Texas, directing choirs, vocal coaching and teaching, and accompanying in public and private schools. 
Past President
Laura Blackwood
Kodiak, AK

Laura moved to Kodiak, Alaska, in 2010 where she is the middle and high school choral director of the dynamic Kodiak Island Borough School District Music Department.  The choral programs in Kodiak have tripled in size and number of students qualifying for state contests during her tenure.  Laura has also taught AP music theory, college dual-credit music theory, beginning group piano, and piano for rural village students via VTC.  She will be teaching at Bartlett High School in Anchorage beginning the 2016-2017 school year.

Since her arrival in Alaska, Laura has actively participated in ASAA choral events.  She currently serves as the President of the Alaska Chapter of the American Choral Directors’ Association through July 2015.  Laura coordinated Alaska judges for the 2013 and 2015 NAfME All Northwest High School Honor Choir and served for a year as the KIBSD representative for the Kennedy Center Partners in Education program. Laura is a strong advocate for the teaching of music reading and literacy and is in the forefront of music educators working with standards-based education and assessment.

When she isn't making music, Laura enjoys hiking, fishing, yoga, reading, gardening, and working on her home in Kodiak.

Shane Artz
Houston, AK
K. Shane Artz is a high school music teacher from Palmer, Alaska. He joined the staff at Houston High School as music director in 2011, where he teaches guitar, choir and band. In addition to teaching classes, leading an after school rock band, and teaching privately he is a member of the Mat-Su Community Band and the Alaska Blaskapelle.

Prior to teaching music in Houston, Alaska he received a Bachelor’s of Music Education (B.M.) from the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he studied trumpet with Karen Gustafson and Music Education with Vince Cee. He has also served as a clinician, adjudicator, presenter and guest conductor for various community and statewide musical events.

Shane is an active member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), the International Trumpet Guild (ITG), and the International Society for Improvised Music (ISIM). He is also involved in state organizations such as the Alaska Music Educators Association (AMEA), the Alaska Band Directors Association (ABDA) and serves as treasurer for the Alaska Choral Directors Association (AkCDA).

In his spare time Shane enjoys contemporary electronic, rock and improvised music as well as riding his motorcycle as often as possible in the summer.