Our Staff

Founded in 2001, Children’s Choir of Chico has served over 1000 children, young people and women in the greater Chico area, performing for numerous organizations and community events each year. Bel Canto and Cantiamo have traveled to central and southern California, performed in Disneyland, and delighted audiences in Petaluma, Santa Rosa, and San Francisco; and Bel Canto members have sung on the historic stage at Carnegie Hall.

Our highly-trained staff leads choirs of many ages and is committed to the development and nurturing of our young voices.

Kristin Williams Baugher

Conductor, Bel Canto


Kristin Baugher has been involved in music and stage performance since a young age. She received a Bachelor's in Musical Theater from the University of Redlands in 2005 and a Master's in Vocal Performance from UC Santa Barbara in 2008. After graduating from UCSB, Kristin continued her studies in Graz, Austria. While teaching as a student instructor at UCSB, Kristin learned that she has a passion for teaching her art. In 2010 Kristin began teaching privately in the North Valley area.

Outside of CCoC, Kristin continues to teach private voice lessons, direct the Chancel Choir of the Federated Church in Orland, and teaches classroom music at Nord Country School. Kristin resides in Orland with her husband Bradley, five-year-old son Seldon and two-year-old daughter Charlotte.

Mary Jensen-Thackery

Conductor, Cantiamo


Mary Jensen-Thackery is a Northern California native who has lived in Chico for nine years. She studied vocal music at Marylhurst College, near Portland, Oregon, and has been singing in choirs throughout her life.

Professionally, Mary has worked in a number of business capacities, including human resources for a large home builder and operating a Waldorf preschool. She has also taught a number of classes at the Children’s Choir, including leadership of the “Mommy and Me” musical class for infants and new moms.

When not leading our middle-grade choir, Mary can be found spending quality time with her husband and three daughters. She is also an avid baker, who enjoys bringing sweet treats to share with her singers.

Christine Buckstead

Co-Conductor, Ready, Set, Sing

Co-Conductor, Preparatory Choir


Christine Buckstead comes to Children’s Choir of Chico with over 20 years experience singing and teaching music. She has directed adult and high school choirs and taught elementary music in Palestine, TX. She also taught applied voice as Assistant Professor of Music at Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX. She has music-directed community theater productions and maintains a private voice and piano studio. 

Ms. Buckstead earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from St. Olaf College, in Northfield, MN. Her Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees come from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Ms. Buckstead loves singing French art songs and Baroque chamber music. She has toured nationally with the St. Olaf Choir, and has performed in over a dozen operas and musicals. She loves sharing her joy of vocal music with the youth in our choirs!

Dr. Michelle S. McConkey

Co-Conductor, Ready, Set, Sing

Co-Conductor, Preparatory Choir

Michelle Bio Photo copy.jpg

Dr. Michelle S. McConkey, is an Associate Professor of music education at California State University in Chico.  She teaches courses in Music Education, Aural Musicianship, and Music for Children for Liberal Studies students. Michelle received her doctorate degree from ASU, a Masters of Music at BYU, and a Bachelor of Music from the Crane School of Music, all in Music Education.

Michelle taught for nine years as an elementary music specialist in public and private schools in New York State, Utah, and Arizona. She has completed Kodàly certification, and has presented professional development workshops and research sessions at various state, national and international conferences. Michelle’s research interest includes the music teacher’s role in the emotional development of children.

Patricia Kelley

Conductor, Bella Voce

Accompanist, Bel Canto and Cantiamo


Patricia Kelley began accompanying the Children’s Choir of Chico in the spring of 2014. She  started accompanying music students and choirs while attaining her Bachelor of Music Education degree at Central Michigan University. She has over 30 years experience teaching piano and accompanying choirs and soloists in churches and community events.

Currently, Patricia serves in Paradise, California as the accompanist for the Paradise Intermediate School and Paradise High School choirs, as well as the Paradise Community Chorus. In addition, she is the accompanist for the annual CMEA Northern Section Junior High Honor Band and Select Choir Festival. Patricia is the director of a church choir in Paradise.

Susan Tevis

Founder and Immediate Past Artistic Director (2001-2019)


Susan Tevis is the Founder and Immediate Past Artistic Director of the Children’s Choir of Chico. Ms. Tevis holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in piano pedagogy and music education from California State University, Chico. She completed a Kodály Certificate at the Kodály Institute at McNeese State University (Lake Charles, Louisiana) and completed advanced studies both at the McNeese Institute and at the Kodály Pedagogical Institute in Kecskemét, Hungary.

Ms. Tevis has been an adjunct faculty member at McNeese State University, CSU Chico, Capital University Conservatory of Music (Columbus, Ohio), and the Kodály Pedagogical Institute in Kecskemét, Hungary. Susan has been on the faculty at the Kodály Institute at McNeese and the Kodály Institute at Capital University, teaching in summer courses for professional music educators.

As a choral specialist, Susan is active as a guest clinician and conductor for treble choirs, and is frequently invited to present music education workshops for various state and national music organizations and at regional, state & national music conferences. In addition to clinics and workshops, she also presented a scholarly paper, in conjunction with two colleagues, at the 1999 Symposium of the International Kodály Society. The Classroom Music Project, founded by Ms. Tevis at Citrus Elementary School in Chico, provided a field studies opportunity for music education majors at CSU, Chico for 5 years.

She is currently enjoying retirement with her husband Royce, but still finds time to enjoy the music created by this warm organization.