Melissa Barlow to Move to USBands; Lainey Braatz to Join YEA! and Cadets Team

The Cadets and USBands announce some shifts in staffing for 2014

MelissaBarlow.jpgMelissa Barlow, currently YEA!'s Performing Ensembles Assistant, will be moving to a new position in USBands working alongside Justin Heimbecker and the team.

Melissa Babalonis Barlow served The Cadets, then Cadets2, as Youth Education in the Arts' assistant director of performing ensembles.

A deft administrator, Melissa managed the members records, volunteer efforts, tour paperwork, copyrights which were enormous amounts of information that needed to be coordinated day and night.

"I am very proud of the work I have done with The Cadets and Cadets2 over the last five and a half years," Melissa said. "As an alumnus, The Cadets has been close to my heart for many years, and now Cadets2 is very dear to me as well. Not too many people can say they helped to start a drum corps, and I am truly grateful for my time there."

Melissa continued, "All of the people involved have made my time with both corps truly special. Members, staff, volunteers, parents -- I could not accomplish all that we do without their support. I look forward to providing amazing opportunities to even more students in my new role with USBands. I may have a new role at YEA!, but I will always be available to all those connected with The Cadets and Cadets2."

As much as we are sad to lose Melissa to the bands department, those on the corps side of YEA! realize that the demands of the position are excessive, and after so many years, a change of duties could be perfect for all involved. Melissa and Justin were a great team with The Cadets, and transferring that team to USBands offers even greater opportunity for fabulous service for 700 and more bands.

Melissa’s new role with Team USBands will be similar to her position with The Cadets. There are a multitude of administrative and management duties that take timeliness, accuracy and detail – mailings, reporting, surveys, statistics analysis, event logistics, just to name a few - and shifting several of these responsibilities away from the Band Relations team and into Melissa’s role will allow the team to better spend their time and resources working with band directors, supporting hosts, and ensuring that we are caring for our constituents with a great quality of service. We look forward to having Melissa behind the scenes, as a key to making the entire program move forward.

In announcing the new position, USBands Director Justin Heimbecker said, "After working with Melissa for several years with The Cadets, I am ecstatic for the opportunity to work with her again in our respective new roles."


With the void in drum corps, YEA! is proud to announce that Lainey Braatz has been brought to the team as the associate director of performing ensembles and as the tour manager for The Cadets.

Lainey has previously worked on the tour team for Teal Sound and spent the past two years as a key member of the Boston Crusaders' administrative staff. She comes with a very high recommendation from Justin Heimbecker (known to The Cadets as "Rudy" during his several years as tour manager), as well as others in the drum corps activity.

"I'm thrilled to get to work with George, the administration team, the volunteers and the YEA! family, and I am honored to work with talented individuals who strive for excellence in every aspect," Lainey said. "It's how I try to live my life every day."

She added, "After years of being a tour director, there are still challenges to over come no matter how much you have prepared, but being three steps ahead of every problem is now a normal occurrence in my every day life."

Currently a Florida resident, Lainey and her husband, Gerry, whom she recently married on August 28, 2013, will be relocating to the Allentown area, where she will take on a full-time role at Youth Education in the Arts beginning in January.

The Cadets' administrative team will once again be under the direction of George Hopkins and Bruno Zuccala.


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