Press Release: MENC Announces New Executive Director

Michael A. Butera is New Executive Director of MENC: The National Association for Music Education

RESTON, VA (April 9, 2010) – MENC: The National Association for Music Education today announced the appointment of Michael A. Butera, a seasoned association executive and former public school music teacher, as its new executive director.

According to Scott C. Shuler, MENC president-elect and co-chair of the MENC Executive Director Search Committee, Butera brings “extensive experience building educator organizations in a number of states; considerable experience as a legislative advocate and registered federal lobbyist; expertise in refining and implementing effective strategic plans; and a fresh perspective and creative ideas regarding how MENC can improve its service to members and state organizations.”

“MENC has undergone some major changes over the past few years in governance, conference structure and communication,” said Barbara Geer, MENC’s national president. “Michael Butera is a person who comes to us with vision and detailed new ideas. These characteristics certainly have the potential to raise the bar for our organization in ways that will be beneficial to all of our membership.”

“I am looking forward to being a part of the MENC family,” said Butera. “The power and beauty of music is fundamental to a well-rounded education for every student. I celebrate the many accomplishments of MENC and its state affiliates in a time when the challenges are so great. Together our leadership will foster new gains in best practices, research and advocacy. I believe that partnering with the state affiliates, our many constituencies and arts coalitions will bring us to new levels of member engagement from prekindergarten through graduate school.”

He added, “While today’s challenges are great, there is no better organization to fight for the cause of music education and educators than MENC.”

Michael A. Butera is a former music teacher whose career path led him to numerous leadership roles at the state and national levels. After years of dedicated service to teachers of all subjects, becoming MENC’s executive director marks a return to his roots, working to support music teachers and their young musicians. He has served as the state executive director in three National Education Association state affiliates: Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin. Recently he left NEA’s national office where he served as the Northeast Regional Director, an area covering nine NE state affiliates. Before that assignment, he managed the Western States Government Relations Team which covers all states west of the Mississippi River. He also served in various association positions in NEA affiliates in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Oklahoma.

Butera began his career as a public school music teacher in Munhall, Pennsylvania, teaching instrumental music in the entire system and directing high school band. He is a graduate of Duquesne University with a degree in Music Education. His primary instrument was the clarinet, which he studied under Nestor Koval.

During his career he has served as President of the National Council of State Education Associations, chaired NEA’s Technology Compact Committee, was Treasurer of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice and a member of the Board of Directors’ of the Member Benefits Corporation, a for-profit entity of the NEA.

Butera has extensive experience in government relations. He served on the Economic Development Transition Team of Maryland Governor Glendening and as a gubernatorial appointee to the Maryland Task Force on School Funding, Accountability and Partnerships. He also served on Wisconsin Governor Doyle’s Job Creation and Economic Development Transition Team.

MENC retained a professional executive search firm, Association Strategies, Inc., to assist in the process of determining its first new executive director in more than 27 years. Nearly 100 applicants were initially considered. Candidates were then screened through two telephone interviews, a live interview with the search firm, a live interview with the MENC Executive Director Search Committee, and last, a live interview with the members of MENC’s National Executive Board, who made the final selection.

The MENC Executive Director Search Committee was comprised of MENC members representing all MENC divisions and teaching levels, including state presidents and managers. The members were:

  • Scott C. Shuler, Connecticut Department of Education – MENC National President-Elect (co-chair of committee)
  • Paul Lehman, University of Michigan emeritus – MENC National Past President (co-chair of committee)
  • Ron Meers – Immediate Past President, Tennessee Music Educators Association
  • Cristi Miller – President, Oklahoma Music Educators Association
  • Steven Schopp – Executive Director, New York State School Music Association; Past President, NYSSMA and MENC Eastern Division
  • Betty Ellis – Past President, Alaska Music Educators Association and MENC Northwest Division
  • Martha O’Neill – President, MENC Western Division; Past President, Nevada Music Educators Association
  • Pamela Kaul, President, Association Strategies, Inc. (non-voting advisor)
  • James Zaniello, Vice President, Association Strategies, Inc. (non-voting advisor)

The following are comments of members of the search committee and the MENC National Executive Board on the selection of Michael Butera. To read additional comments and view his full biography, visit

  • “Michael Butera began as a music educator but has made his career in the field of association management, where he has demonstrated a truly impressive array of skills and knowledge that will serve MENC very well in meeting the challenges that lie ahead.” — Paul Lehman, MENC Past National President; co-chair of search committee
  • “Michael Butera brings expertise to MENC that will allow us as an organization to take a fresh look at how we can best support music educators and the students we serve.” — Craig Welle, MENC Southwestern Division President
  • “Michael Butera brings his vast and varied experience to MENC at a time when we face some new and unique challenges. His strong background in negotiation and problem solving should serve us well.” — Steven E. Schopp, Executive Director, NYSSMA–New York State School Music Association; MENC search committee member
  • “Michael Butera is the epitome of ‘thinking outside the box’ — exploring refreshing strategies that will ensure the success of MENC’s mission and goals.” — Betty Ellis, MENC search committee member
  • “I found Michael Butera to be direct, yet sensitive to those he spoke with. He is a sincere, intensely interested, thorough individual. I believe he exhibits the qualities necessary to lead MENC and all its members into a full leadership position in the 21st century. His knowledge of MENC is astounding — he did an incredible amount of research about all our states, for example, and I believe this approach to leadership will benefit all our members. Data collection is another one of his strengths and I know we can all appreciate how this will help him as he begins the difficult task of leading MENC when our country is in this terrible financial crisis.” — Martha Damon O’Neill, Reno, NV, MENC Western Division President; MENC search committee member
  • “The three issues that members are most concerned about are areas of strength in our new executive director: the ability to reach out to rank and file members and state leaders; expert, experienced skills with national advocacy imperatives; and the connections to make his voice heard.” — Jeffrey E. Bush, MENC Western Division President-Elect
  • “I was impressed that he had researched MENC so thoroughly. He had a very strong grasp of our entire association and the complexities associated with it. He knows teaching and performing music.” — Lynn Brinckmeyer, MENC Immediate Past National President
  • “I found Mr. Butera to be very organized, perceptive, and personable. He is a leader with vision and an entrepreneurial spirit!” — Ron Meers, MENC search committee member
  • “I was impressed with his experience, knowledge, and understanding of state level associations and their relationships to a strong national office.” — David Neves, MENC Eastern Division Immediate Past President
  • “Michael Butera is a ‘detail’ person. His special attention to every aspect of MENC will obviously make him an incredible leader in our organization.” — Cristi Miller, MENC search committee member
  • “Mr. Butera is a person whose attention to details, skillful questioning techniques, and political savvy will help MENC realize many objectives in its strategic plan.” — Glenn Nierman, MENC North Central Division President

Butera is currently working with senior staff and officers to better understand MENC’s structure and national organization. He assumes full-time duties on May 1.
MENC: The National Association for Music Education, among the world’s largest arts education organizations, marked its centennial in 2007 as the only association that addresses all aspects of music education. Through membership of more than 75,000 active, retired, and pre-service music teachers, and with 60,000 honor students and supporters, MENC serves millions of students nationwide through activities at all teaching levels, from preschool to graduate school. MENC’s mission is to advance music education by encouraging the study and making of music by all. Since 1907, MENC has worked to ensure that every student has access to a well-balanced, comprehensive, and high-quality program of music instruction taught by qualified teachers. MENC’s activities and resources have been largely responsible for the establishment of music education as a profession, for the promotion and guidance of music study as an integral part of the school curriculum, and for the development of the National Standards for Arts Education. MENC is located at the National Center for Music Education in Reston, VA.