FOUNDER / CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Darden Smith is a master at making collaborative songwriting a safe place for personal expression and making creativity accessible and desirable. He is honored to put these skills to work with SW:S.
A singer-songwriter, arts entrepreneur and founder of The Be An Artist Program, his 30-year career as a musician includes fourteen critically acclaimed albums, TV appearances on Austin City Limits, The Tonight Show, and countless concerts and shows. Along with touring in the US and Europe, Smith works with Fortune 500 companies on creativity. His 2013 TEDxAUSTIN presentation, “Fearing Your Gift,” can be viewed here. An in-demand speaker on creativity, he was the 2011-2013 Artist-in-Residence at Oklahoma State University’s Institute for Creativity and Innovation.
CO-FOUNDER / PROGRAM DIRECTOR
Mary is a master at creating collaborative programs that inspire connections and highlight individual and community strengths. When witnessing Darden Smith write a song with a veteran, she was compelled to put her skills to work in creating the SongwritingWith:Soldiers program.
With vast experience in Positive Psychology, educational programming and organizational communications, Mary helps SW:S create the most effective and meaningful experiences for everyone involved. Her creative reach is reflected in her client list which includes New York State Department of Economic Development (I LOVE NY); MentorCoach training programs; VIA Institute on Character; Indian Ladder Farms: The Mayerson Academy, The HAPPY Movie; Discovery Retreats, and more. She has studied Positive Psychology with leading researchers from around the world, is an international workshop presenter on the subject and was a discussion facilitator at a United Nations meeting on Happiness and Well-Being. She serves on the editorial board for the India Journal of Positive Psychology and PsyInsight magazine. Mary co-founded The Barn School, an award-winning sustainable agriculture camp that raises funds for family farms and Heifer International®. She earned coaching certifications from Dr. Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, MentorCoach and others. She has a B.S. in Organizational Communications from the University of Texas at Austin and teaching certifications in Speech, English and Spanish.
Kristin’s passion for music, service and the power of the arts led her to SongwritingWith:Soldiers in the fall of 2017. She brings twenty years of non-profit development and leadership experience through her work at KCRW Los Angeles, the GRAMMY charities, and Nashville Opera.
“The work of SongwritingWith:Soliders aligns with and deepens all the reasons I came into non-profit work. I’m grateful to join at this important milestone and honored to continue the work with Darden, Mary and the entire SW:S community.”
Caleb is a native of Nashville, TN who recently moved back to town after many years on the east coast. He attended Boston University and then spent a decade in Washington, DC. He brings a passion for organization and a zeal for efficiency to the role of Collaboration Liaison. His hobbies include teaching marching band and Bernese Mountain Dogs.
Kim Wolfe has joined our team as the Advancement Associate this week. She is a Montgomery, Alabama native with 12 years non-profit experience. Her most recent experience at Brantwoods Children’s Home and the Central Alabama Aging Consortium include broad experience in fundraising, advocacy, events and marketing. Previous leadership positions at the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and the National Alliance on Mental Illness for the State of Alabama position her well for success in this newly developed role.
Kim is also a classically trained violinist and studied opera at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. She enjoys sharing the joy of music and is a strong advocate for those living with mental illness. The mission of SongwritingWith:Soldiers resonates with her through her own friendships with individual veterans who have bravely served.
RETREAT FACILITATION TEAM
Margaret has been part of the SongwritingWith:Soldiers’ team since the initial retreat in 2012 and has been key in assisting with program development. An accomplished editor, poet, short fiction writer and mixed-media artist, she also leads creative writing and journaling workshops as part of the Creative Connections component of our retreats.
MUSIC SUPPORT TEAM
Carl brings an enormous amount of music and engineering experience to the SWS team. He serves as the General Manager/Program Director for The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio in Albany, NY. He’s also been a recording engineer in upstate NY, working at Black Dog Recording Studio and running his own Warming Room Studio, Carl began working with SWS in 2015.
KEVIN REEDER, PHD
SPECIAL ADVISOR / PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Kevin currently serves as the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder-Substance Use Disorder specialist at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. He specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and readjustment issues of returning Veterans.
A Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, he completed his Pre-Doctoral internship at the VA Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee and his Postdoctoral Residency at the VA Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri. He is a faculty member of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and has served as a Consultant and Trainer for the National Center for PTSD, as well as consulting for the FBI.
He is a past recipient of the Psychologist of the Year award for Hospitals and Medical Centers by the Arkansas Psychological Association. Kevin was featured on a 2013 episode of 60 Minutes called “The War Within” that brought national awareness to Veterans; their courage in recovery and the therapies the VA is using to help them.
Kevin attended his first SongwritingwithSoldiers retreat in October 2015 as a participant, and has returned several times to help facilitate the retreats.
Sean McKenna is a thinker, designer, writer, director, marketer, data geek, musician and all-around useful character.
He has a 25-year track record in the creation of thoughtful, strategic marketing and design for local, national and international brands. Sean brings the unique mix of marketing professional with an award-winning design aesthetic, and a creative professional with a curiosity for data and passion for results. He is honored to bring these skills and passions to bear for SongwritingWith:Soldiers.