Our Staff Story this week focuses on the incredible connection between James Stephens, Director of Advocacy and Education Resources, and Cam Stasa, Director of Participant Relations and Special Projects, at Music for All.
Cam Stasa has a long history with Music for All. She performed in the first “Marching Bands of America” event in 1976, and was Drum Major when she marched again in Summer Nationals in 1979.
Stasa continued her involvement when she joined the Bands of America staff in 1989 as the Director of Operations. She was serving as the Director of Band Relations when she first encountered James Stephens.
“Everyone knows Cam Stasa and everyone has a story of how they are connected to her. My story begins when I was in high school and she told me ‘Oh my gosh we are so glad you are here!’ at the 1994 Bands of America Grand Nationals.’” Stephens, a senior Drum Major at Bellbrook High School at the time, remembers Stasa as the nice woman who spoke to him as she lined him and fellow drum majors up to take the field. It was this year that Bellbrook H.S. was named the Class A Grand National Champions.
On the bus ride home Stephens remembers how grateful he felt for his Bellbrook H.S. directors and their willingness to take a group of students to compete at BOA. He also remembers reflecting on the day at Grand Nationals and thinking, “Who are these Bands of America people who have given so much of their time, energy, and talent to create a space, a national stage, where we get to do what we just did?” He never expected that he would later come to know several of those people on a much deeper level, specifically the woman who excitedly welcomed him, and many others, on the field at Grand Nationals in 1994. He also never imagined he would work alongside them one day.
“I have known Cam for 27 years,” Stephens said, “Actually my whole family has known her for a long time.” Due to Stephens’s siblings’ involvement in the Bands of America program, Stasa has become an important figure in all of their lives.
While in college Stephens volunteered at BOA events and eventually started bringing his own students once he became a director. This was when he started to see Cam more frequently and began cultivating his relationship with her. He then continued his involvement when he agreed to become a faculty member at the Music for All Summer Symposium. In 2014, Stephens filled the position of Director of Advocacy and Education Resources at Music for All. He now works closely with Stasa everyday and has an office just down the hall from hers. Stephens said, “Music for All is a family and Cam is part of my personal family as well”. Stephens even named Stasa the godmother of his one-year-old son.
When asked about how she feels about her impact on a young boy from Bellbrook High School, Stasa said, “It is very overwhelming to realize the impact we have had on individuals, and music education in the entire world. For every life we have touched through our events, that experience remains with each individual. It is immensely gratifying to hear stories from people who participated years ago. The connecting point never ends.” She also stated, “It’s family, it’s generational, and it keeps going. There is a large number of young people who we impacted in their career who have gone on to become directors and now they want to participate with us.”
The connections and impact on others is what keeps the organization of Music for All growing and evolving. “Our mission at Music for All is to create positively life-changing experiences and we are, that is just fact, “ Stasa said. She then explained how the organization is only in its 40’s and has many more years to go. “There will be a whole new generation of people sitting in this office who I assume are going to be as dedicated and as driven, and who have had their own experience with us,” said Stasa. It is Stasa’s and Stephens’ hope that all students who attend Music for All and Bands of America events receive a similar positive experience that they both received as students.