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.”
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.
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 is involved in the planning and provision of treatment for Veterans in the clinic where he provides individual and group therapy. He specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, and readjustment issues of returning Veterans. Prior to his work with Veterans, Kevin worked for 15 years in both residential and community mental healthcare settings.
A Veteran of the United States Marine Corps, he completed his Pre-Doctoral internship at the VA Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. He completed 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. Kevin has served as a Consultant and Trainer for the National Center for PTSD. He has trained hundreds of VA clinicians in Prolonged Exposure therapy for Post-traumatic stress. He is also a Senior Trainer for Seeking Safety, a therapy for PTSD and co-occurring substance use.
He is a consultant to the FBI and the North Little Rock Police Department in the area of effective interactions with Veterans. He is a Verbal De-escalation Trainer, for the Central Arkansas Crisis Intervention Team assisting in crisis negotiations with Veterans. He has been appointed by the Governor to serve on the Arkansas Psychology Board. He is a past recipient of the Psychologist of the Year award for Hospitals and Medical Centers by the Arkansas Psychological Association. He 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. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife and stepdaughter.