The Board of Governors

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Chris Utz - President 


Chris joined the Seaway Chorale in 1997 and served as President in 2005, as well as an earlier stint as Production Coordinator. A first tenor, he sang in high school but stopped afterward to focus on degrees in Chemistry and Mathematics, only to rediscover the joy of singing as a (much older) adult in church choir. He has enjoyed bringing that passion to Seaway, and he was excited to return to the role of President again in 2019. Chris recently retired after 35 years at BASF in Wyandotte and is enjoying improvement in his golf game.  He lives in Farmington Hills with his wife Jan and their two dogs, Chloe and Pippa.

Ken Pilon - Vice President 


Ken has been with Seaway Chorale since 2008 and has been on the Board since 2009. A bass, he has sung in several church choirs and on stage. His love of music began at a very young age and continues to this day. He also is an avid sports fan for all of the Detroit teams and the University of Michigan! He lives in Woodhaven with his lovely wife Karen, their two dogs  Frisco and Harwell and their cat Sabrina. Their kids and their 13 grandchildren bring great joy to their lives.


Dr. Edie Raleigh - Secretary 


Edie has been singing soprano with Seaway Chorale since retiring as Graduate School Dean from Madonna University in 2013. She became a member of the Board of Governors in 2015. She has been a music lover her entire life, playing flute, piccolo, and piano. Her family has become accustomed to her breaking out in song whenever something reminds her of a piece.  "It is somewhat like living in a musical!" she says. She has sung in several church choirs and praise teams as well as soloed for church and funerals. She lives on Grosse Ile with her husband, Bruce, and their Cairn Terrier, Misty. They love to travel and wear out I-75 with their frequent vists to see their grandchildren.

Claudia Simons - Treasurer


After having sung with an Oratorio society for several years, and then moving to the downriver area, Claudia first joined Seaway Chorale in 2006. She sings as a second alto, and enjoys the great variety of music that Seaway performs. Claudia has been serving as Seaway’s treasurer since 2013, and also serves as the group’s annual meeting/potluck hostess.  She enjoys “country life” in New Boston, where she resides with her husband, 5 cats, 3 alpacas, and numerous chickens. 

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Karen Best - Librarian


 Karen grew up surrounded by musical influences that fostered her love of music. As the daughter of a classically-trained pianist turned church organist and a multi- instrumentalist father, she has studied organ, flute and picked up guitar and piano along the way. One of the highlights of her life was being chosen by her church conference to travel the U.S. and Canada in an ensemble of 8, singing second soprano and also soloing. She also enjoyed the 23 years that she had the privilege of leading her church choir.

     She has been involved in church ministry as a soloist,  organist, praise team and small group member, but one of her greatest joys has been watching her daughter and son develop into gifted singers in their own right and having the opportunity to sing with them!

     A retired high school teacher, she has been a Seaway member since 2016. She and husband Mark have four grown children and reside in Brownstown.

Colleen Herman - Music Manager

Colleen Herman has performed with the Seaway Chorale for over 36
years, having started at the age of 8 in the Voices of the Young, moved on to Youth Sings and also played in the Orchestra while in college. She is now singing with the Chorale and is serving her 16th year on the Board of Governors. Previous positions have included Vice President and Publicity Manager. Colleen is also involved with assisting Mr.  Lai with Voices of the Young, a group that is near and dear to her heart.

Colleen has Flute Performance degrees from Western Michigan University (BM) and Wayne State University (MM). She currently owns her own flute studio where she teaches one on one lessons to students of all ages, and she also adjudicates for MSBOA's Solo and Ensemble Festivals. Colleen resides in Brownstown with her husband, Jerry, and her two children, Emily and Christopher.

Cindy Hewlett - Marketing Manager


Cindy has been a member of the Seaway Chorale since 2009. A Second Alto, she has been singing since High School during band functions and Coffee Houses. Before Seaway she was a member of The River Raisin Sweet Adelines, she also is a member of her Church Choir and Cantatas. Cindy lives in Brownstown with her wonderful husband, Tim, and their many animals! She enjoys being a grandma to Joe, Maddix, and Oaklee who also love to sing!

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Jeanne Rushman- Production

Jeanne joined the Seaway Chorale as a soprano in January of 2016. Prior to that she was a Sweet Adeline for 20 years, performing in several states as well as Europe. She was also part of an award-winning female a Capella quartet for many years. Music has always been a big part of her life. She is a member of the music selection committee with Seaway. She is retired and

enjoys traveling and being with her three grandchildren.

Rosemary Freeman-Thomas - Production

Rosemary joined Seaway Chorale, as a first soprano, in 2015. She joined the Production Committee and this year is co-chairing!  She is also on the Music Selection Committee.  She loves singing with Seaway Chorale.  She sang in choirs from Kindergarten through 12th grades and became a vocal major at Eastern Michigan University. She has sung in weddings, funerals, church choirs, The Madrigal Chorale, the DSO for several years, and 13 years with The Plymouth Oratorio Society.  Rosemary is a retired teacher who lives in Brownstown with her husband Michael. They have five children and six grandchildren.