David Simmons, Artistic Director
David Simmons has been Artistic Director of Congressional Chorus since 2006 and in 2008, he helped found American Youth Chorus, which he also conducts. Mr. Simmons has taught elementary and middle school choral music in Washington, DC and Maryland for 15 years. He has served as music director and orchestral conductor for numerous children’s opera and musical theatre companies, including the Washington National Opera.
Since 1990, David has worked in the education outreach programs of numerous organizations, including The Washington Chorus and the Choral Arts Society of Washington. He has conducted choruses and orchestras for a wide variety of organizations including the Washington Saengerbund, the Washington Savoyards and the Washington National Opera.
David Simmons holds degrees from Muhlenberg College and the American University College of Law. He worked on Capitol Hill for the late Senator John Heinz and practiced law in Maryland and the District of Columbia for five years.
Harlie Sponaugle, Executive Director
Harlie Sponaugle, Executive Director, is the Co-founder of the Chorus, which started in 1987 as a group of Congressional staffers who wanted to share their love of music with their friends, colleagues and the world. For the first 20 years, she guided the growth of the chorus as Executive Director, serving along with Michael Patterson as Musical Director. When Mr. Patterson passed away suddenly, Ms. Sponaugle pursued other opportunities. But the Chorus was a tightly bound organization and moved forward to hire a new Artistic Director, David Simmons, who continues to serve in this capacity. Recently, anticipating their 30th season, the Chorus made a decision to reach out to former members who might be interested in participating in celebrating the milestone. Ms. Sponaugle reconnected with the group, started volunteering, and it became apparent that she was an excellent fit with the organization’s needs and she was soon asked to again take on the title of Executive Director.
Under Ms. Sponaugle’s leadership, the Congressional Chorus sang as part of the Presidential Inaugural Ceremonies in 1997 and 2001. The Chorus also regularly performed at the White House Congressional Ball, the lighting of the Capitol holiday tree, in the atrium of the Senate Hart Office Building, at various homeless shelters around the city, and at Anacostia and Cardoza High Schools.Ms. Sponaugle is an accomplished singer and has appeared widely throughout the DC Metro area in opera, oratorio, recital and theater. She specializes in American music, as does the Chorus. She earned her master’s degree in vocal performance from George Mason University and is a graduate of the Honors Conservatory of the Theatre Lab School for the Dramatic Arts.
Susan Kennedy, American Youth Chorus Manager
Susan is in her fourth season as an alto of the Congressional Chorus, and has been working with the AYC since its inception in 2008. Her youngest daughter was a founding member of the AYC in 2008. For the past 25 years, she has taught preschool/3rd/4th grades in various Lutheran schools in Missouri and Maryland. She has assisted artistic director David Simmons with the production of over 70 children's concerts and musical theatre productions for the past 18 years.
Susan received ber Bachelor of Arts from Concordia College (New York), with a major in elementary education and a minor in music. The mother of two daughters, she loves playing her flute, going to the beach and learning about Maryland history.
Walt Cooper, Business Manager
Walt Cooper joined the Congressional Chorus as a tenor in 2012. In addition to singing with the Chorus, he volunteers as the business manager.
Walt served for more than twenty years as a Regular Army officer. He later was a senior cost analyst in the Office, Secretary of Defense, where he was responsible for analyses of costs of major acquisition and construction programs. In addition to his government service, Walt has volunteered in a variety of positions with local school and civic associations over the years. He is a docent at the National Museum of American History and a piano student at Levine Music.
Walt holds degrees from the University of Vermont (BA in mathematics), Tulane University (MBA), and The American University (MS in finance). Walt lives in the Lake Barcroft community near Falls Church, Virginia with his lovely partner Jan. He and Jan have four children and nine grandchildren.