Ringers

Meet our talented team of handbell ringers!

Patti Aldridge
  Patti started ringing with AHE in 2004 then took 2 years off with busy children and returned in 2013. She has been ringing on and off since junior high and has attended a number of national and international handbell events. Once she saw 'what handbells can do' at her first national event, she was hooked. Patti grew up in Iowa and Nebraska, then travelled around during school and training until guided to Austin in 2000. In her non-bell life she is a physician in the Pediatric ICU at Dell Children’s Medical Center. She also enjoys teaching Jazzercise in her “free time”. She and her husband Mike and children Isaac and Grace keep busy with scouting, swimming, reading, learning piano, and traveling, especially to Disney World and Estes Park, CO.
Amy Berg
Amy teaches music at Grace Academy in Georgetown. On Sunday mornings she plays piano at Hope Lutheran Church in Cedar Park. Amy joined AHE in 2003, but she has rung bells since 1986. She grew up in Michigan, attended college in Minnesota, and has lived in Wisconsin, Austin, and Pflugerville. Amy's favorite hobby is making music with her husband Stephen.
Susan Geist
Susan joined AHE in Fall 2016 after returning to Austin from North Carolina. She began ringing in 2006, and was most recently a member of the HUMRingers handbell choir in Raleigh, NC, where she also taught preschool handbell classes at an early learning center. She’s a planner by trade, having worked in both highway and airport planning, and currently works for the federal government creating economic development plans for disadvantaged areas. When not ringing or working, Susan enjoys traveling, hiking, playing guitar, and spending time with her husband and two young sons.
Colin Gilligan
Marketing Team
Colin is Vice President of Media & Planning at Archer Malmo, one of the largest independent advertising agencies in the country, where he has worked since 2009. Colin studied marketing at The University of Texas at Austin's Red McCombs School of Business. Serving as AHE's Treasurer in 2011, he joined the ensemble as a ringer in 2012. An active member at First Baptist Church, Colin serves on the Communications Committee, rings handbells, and sings with the choir. In June 2012, he joined the Avant family band and married the love of his life, Elizabeth. In May 2016, he and Elizabeth welcomed their first child, a beautiful baby girl, future ringer, and granddaughter of the Director.
Elizabeth Avant Gilligan
Assistant Director and Marketing Team
Elizabeth is Austin-born and a graduate of The University of Texas with a Bachelor of Music in Choral Studies. She taught elementary music for six years. Elizabeth is very involved in First Baptist Church – ringing handbells, singing in three choirs and teaching a children's choir. Elizabeth joined AHE in 2010 and yes, she is related to the director and the other Marketing Team member! She and Colin welcomed their beautiful first child, daughter Carys, in May 2016.
Chuck Hesse
Chuck has been a member of AHE since 1997. He began ringing in junior high school in Corpus and has been a member of numerous choirs over the years. He is the Business Manager at New Hope Health Care during the day, but he spends nights and weekends working as a House Manager at both the UT Performing Arts Center and the Long Center for the Performing Arts. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, hanging out with friends, and taking classes in a wide range of subjects. He also has five very spoiled, wonderful rescue dogs that he loves unashamedly.
Patty Highland
Patty was an original member of AHE, and, after an extended break, she is happy to be back ringing with AHE. Patty has been ringing or directing bells since middle school. Patty is the Director of Music Ministries at Lake Travis United Methodist Church, directing both handbell and vocal ensembles. She serves as Chair Elect on the Area 9 board of Handbell Musicians of America. She is also busy as a piano accompanist, accompanying ballet classes at a local dance studio, or accompanying local school choirs and young musicians. Patty is married to David, and they have two wonderful children.
Teresa Jessani
Concert Coordinator
Prior to joining the Austin Handbell Ensemble in 1999, Teresa played handbells for five years with Oak Hill United Methodist Church. Teresa is a Registered Nurse in the Mother/Baby Unit at Seton Medical Center. She is married to Romesh and they have two little girls named Scarlett and Violet. She ALSO has two grown sons, Van and Lance, of whom she is very proud. She loves animals and has three cats. Her hobbies include gardening, decorating, shopping and swimming.
David Martin
David is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Northern Illinois University, where he studied Composition and Conducting. He has served in Church Music Ministry for over 20 years. Enjoying handbells since his college days, David has directed a number of church bell choirs over the years. As a composer and an arranger, David has published two handbell pieces. David and his wife Sonya have four children, all of whom have developed into fine young musicians.
Bethany McMillan
Bethany began playing with AHE in 1996 and has served as President and Secretary on the Board for many of those years. She was not involved with music before handbells but loves the challenge. Married to David for 35 years, they have two children, Christopher and Catherine, and a son-in-law Seth (all Aggie graduates). She loves to cook, hike, travel, try new restaurants, and is obsessed with playing Mah Jong. She works as an RN at Austin Gastroenterology and encourages everyone over the age of 50 to get a colonoscopy.
Tara Minor
Tara is a lifelong Texan, born on Galveston Island. She grew up on the mainland in Galveston county and got married 2 days after Hurricane Alicia blew through there in 1983 (but that’s another story). She works with First Baptist Church in Elgin as the Treasurer, as well as serving as Treasurer for the Keep Bastrop County Beautiful board and secretary for the City of Elgin Parks and Recreation board. She has been playing handbells since the early 90’s in Austin and Houston. Fall and winter seasons are spent waterfowl hunting with her husband, Patrick, and black lab, Remy. In her spare time, she enjoys knitting, home improvement projects, and singing in her church choir.
Jaynette Odegaard
Jaynette has rung with AHE since 2012 when she moved from Minnesota to Texas. Jaynette grew up in Utah, went to school in California, and moved to Minnesota, where her two boys were born. Jaynette works as the Accounting/Payroll Technician with the City of Pflugerville, where she lives with her husband Michael, her two boys David and TJ, and her black lab Angel. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, reading, playing the piano, and going for walks.
Margaret Aymer Oget
Margaret was born on the island of Barbados of a Jamaican mother and Antiguan father. In 2004, she married a Frenchman; in 2013, they became parents of Gabriel; and, in 2015, they all moved to Austin from Atlanta. Margaret rang handbells for fourteen years in the Geneva Handbell Choir of Central Presbyterian Church, under the direction of David VanderMeer. She is also a serious avocational singer. When not making music, Margaret is Associate Professor of New Testament at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Mike Rich
After moving from Indiana to Tyler, Texas, Mike began ringing in sixth grade under Arnold Sherman at Pollard UMC. He eventually moved into Sherman's premiere group, the East Texas Handbell Ensemble, in high school. During that time, he met Bob and AHE at the Pinnacle conference in Las Vegas. After moving to Austin to attend college, Mike joined AHE and has rung with them since 2000. Mike works as an IT consultant, a Lyft/Uber driver, and is a co-founder of ATX Hackerspace, a collaborative tech/maker space.
Alice Sears
Secretary
Alice joined AHE in 2013, although she has been playing handbells since she was 8. She has found a choir to play in or sub with in every place she has lived—Hong Kong, Utah, Ohio, and now Texas. She has performed handbells in 10 different countries through attending international handbell symposiums and other overseas travels. She also enjoys playing the piano and sings alto in her church choir. She received her degree from Brigham Young University in Special Education and taught a kindergarten class for kids with Autism before having her first child. She now has 4 children (and two cats) with whom she stays at home while her husband works hard attending UT to get a PhD in the Old Testament.
Dee Susong
Dee put down roots in Austin in l986 after graduating from UT with a degree in Special Education. She enjoys teaching at Bryker Woods Elementary. Her students inspire and teach her everyday. She also enjoys reading, bike riding, gardening, adventuring with husband Dan, visiting with friends, and cooking new recipes. She joined AHE in 2005, rings with the Ring of Faith at Northwest Hills United Methodist Church, and directs 4th – 6th graders in the Bryker Woods Chime Club.
Laura Teinert
Treasurer
Laura joined AHE in Fall 2011 after ten years of playing in church handbells. Her musical background also includes flute, bassoon, and drumline. Laura has bachelor of accounting and master of business administration degrees from Western Governors University Texas and works in commercial real estate accounting. She enjoys Longhorns Baseball, knitting, sci-fi, and her Mustang GT. She lives in Round Rock with her three cats: Kara, Kaylee, and Karl.
Amy Whiteaker
President
After learning to play handbells with the Baron Ringers at Brewton-Parker College in Georgia, Amy fell in love with handbells and was thrilled to join AHE in 2013. She moved to Austin to attend graduate school at UT in 2006 and has lived here for ever since. She currently stays at home with her young children, but will return to teaching science when they are older. Amy loves to travel. She has backpacked around Europe and she lived in Prague for seven months while teaching English as a Second Language.