music education

For Immediate Release
Contact: Kim Henry at NAfME or (703) 860-4000

Christopher B.L. Woodside Is New Executive Director
of the National Association for Music Education

RESTON, VA (May 14, 2021) —The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) today announced the appointment of Christopher B.L. Woodside as its new executive director.

Christopher Woodside

Photo: John Boal for Mark Finkenstaedt

Prior to being named NAfME Executive Director, Woodside served NAfME for more than a decade in a variety of roles. Most recently as Interim Executive Director, he guided NAfME through the height of the COVID-19 global pandemic, working to ensure financial stability and mission-driven activity reflective of the needs of music educators serving students in a constantly evolving landscape.

“As National President of NAfME, it is my belief that we have made the best decision ever to select Chris Woodside as the Executive Director of NAfME,” said Mackie V. Spradley, NAfME National President and Board Chair. “I have known Chris for a number of years and have always respected him for his professionalism, expertise, and empathy for those around him. Over the last year, Chris has demonstrated his wisdom, knowledge of organizational structure, and commitment to promote and support the interests of NAfME.”

“I am very excited to be working with him for the next several years,” added Scott Sheehan, NAfME National President-Elect. “As Interim Executive Director, Chris has been a stalwart leader during the past year as we navigated the many challenges of the pandemic, and I know he will continue to bring passion and perspective as we work to advance music education for future generations. His strong work ethic, dedication to the association, and federal-level experience will serve the association well.”

In a video message to NAfME members, Woodside noted that his career started on Capitol Hill, where he worked for a member of Congress on a myriad of different public policy issues. “There was one that stood out for me, and that was music education,” he said. “Soon enough I left the Hill for NAfME, where I’ve spent over a decade in a variety of different roles supporting the association’s operations.”

Chris Woodside Message to NAfME Members from NAfME on Vimeo.


Reflecting on his career, Woodside added that his grandparents had been a particularly strong influence: “My grandparents escaped Nazi-occupied Europe during the height of World War II, immigrated to the United States and became professors of the arts and philanthropists for the arts. Because I had a very close relationship with my grandparents as a child, I was able to enrich myself with the experience of understanding the value of access to music and the arts at a young age,” he said. “I’ve now spent most of my professional career advocating to ensure that people no matter their background or experience have that access.”

Woodside has contributed extensively to NAfME public policy and advocacy achievements, helping grow the association’s advocacy footprint through state-level capacity building, creation of the Music Education Policy Roundtable, expansion of the NAfME Hill Day advocacy event, and through legislative and regulatory lobbying, including efforts to ensure the inclusion of music-specific provisions in federal education law. In 2016, Woodside received the honor of Lowell Mason Fellow in recognition of his advocacy work on behalf of the profession.

Prior to his time with NAfME, Woodside was the Policy Coordinator for The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues. He also served on the legislative staff of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and has worked on several political campaigns. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Miami University. He is a spouse, the father of two young children, and a proud Washingtonian.

The following are comments of members of the NAfME National Executive Board on the selection of Chris Woodside:

“Chris Woodside’s promotion to Executive Director recognizes the strength of his leadership through a tough year,” shared Karen Salvador, NAfME North Central Division President. “I look forward to continuing to work with him, as I value his responsiveness, organizational acumen, and transparency, and I believe he will help NAfME move forward toward the reality of music education for all.”

“Chris is a tireless champion for music educators and music education for all students,” said Scott Barnes, NAfME Northwest Division President. “His background in advocacy, as well as business operations, make him uniquely qualified to lead this organization. Most importantly, his passion for the mission and vision of NAfME truly exemplifies HEART of music education. We are thrilled to partner with Chris in this next chapter of the NAfME story.”

“Chris has gained a decade of experience in many capacities of our association and has recently helped navigate NAfME through very challenging times,” added Keith Hodgson, NAfME Eastern Division President. “He is a visionary, an inspiring leader, and a creative thinker. Chris’s infectious enthusiasm, collaborative leadership style, and passion for music education, makes him an outstanding choice to lead our association.”

Sonja Williams, NAfME Southern Division President; Anne Dawson, NAfME Southwestern Division President; and Renee Shane-Boyd, NAfME Western Division President also offered their congratulations on Woodside’s appointment.

Woodside’s immediate priorities are leading the association through the next stage in its COVID-19 pandemic response and advocating for music education experiences “no matter the circumstances or background a person may come from. We have an opportunity to reimagine music education together,” he said. “I’m so excited to be one small part of that journey with the amazing members of NAfME.”


National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, is the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. NAfME advocates at the local, state, and national levels; provides resources for teachers, parents, and administrators; hosts professional development events; and offers a variety of opportunities for students and teachers. The Association has supported music educators at all teaching levels for more than a century. With more than 60,000 members teaching millions of students nationwide, the organization is the national voice of music education in the United States. Follow NAfME on Twitter ( and on Facebook (

April 2024 Teaching Music

Published Date

May 14, 2021


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May 14, 2021. © National Association for Music Education (

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