VASTA History


In August 1986, a nucleus of voice and speech trainers met in New York City. They were motivated by a common concern—the need for an organization to advance the cause of voice and speech training through the promotion of better training programs and the development of more highly trained voice and speech teachers.

At this meeting, the Voice and Speech Trainers Association—VASTA—was born. VASTA held its first conference in New York City in June 1987, where a Constitution and By-Laws were approved. Incorporation took place the following month.

Although the founding group was particularly concerned with actor training, a broader vision for the organization quickly evolved when it became clear that vocal communication skills were not only paramount for the actor, but for all professional voice users. So as the idea of the professional voice began to reach into sectors far beyond the actor's stage, VASTA strove for greater advocacy through the creation and dissemination of numerous training and informational aids. Annual conferences became a mainstay for those wishing to enhance and/or improve their practical and teaching skills, while the inclusion of voice science grew to be core. VASTA quickly grew into a mature service organization for its members, and in so doing created an organized and structured identity for the voice and speech profession.

As the voice and speech profession's identity became more widespread, VASTA's outreach pursued the inclusion of any and all practitioners who serve the functional voice, and any and all those interested outside the United States. Most recently, VASTA conferences are venturing beyond US borders, and the organization is reaching out with a committed effort to connect and exchange ideas and practices with related organizations and minorities.

Today, VASTA has approximately 500 members including academics, actors and singers, voice and speech pathologists, medical doctors, and private studio trainers and healers. Members hail from the U.S, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Ireland, continental Europe, South Africa, Southeast Asia and Australia, and clients range from actors and singers to auctioneers to lawyers to politicians to the clergy, to CEOs—to anyone for whom the voice and vocal communication are important.


Presidents of VASTA

1986-1990     Dorothy Runk Mennen, Founding President  
1991-1992     Barbara Acker    
1992-1994     Barry Kur     
1994-1996     Marian Hampton    
1996-1998     BettyAnn Leeseberg-Lange   
1998-2000     Janet Rodgers    
2000-2002     Kate Burke     
2002-2004     Kate Ufema     
2004-2006     Lisa Wilson     
2006-2008     Philip Thompson    
2008-2010     Beth McGee     
2010-2012     Patricia Raun     
2012-2014     Mandy Rees    
2014-2016     Lynn Watson
2016-2018     Betty Moulton 


VASTA Annual Conferences


1987 New York, NY— Inaugural Conference led by Cicely Berry, Dorothy Mennen & Bonnie Raphael
1988 New York, NY— Bob Parks: Awareness Enhancement – Making the Voco/Physical Connections
1989 New York, NY— Sound Connections: Body & Voice
1990 Evanston, IL— Vocal Perspectives: Phonation/Text/Physicalization
1991 Seattle, WA— Lessac Training: Vocal & Body NRG States with Arthur Lessac and Sue Ann Park
1992 Atlanta, GA— Linklater Training: Kristin Linklater, Susan Dibble and Louis Colaianni
1993 Philadelphia, PA— Vocal Extensions
1994 Evanston, IL— Master Teachers: Michael Johnson-Chase, Ivan Midderigh, Kittie Verdolini & Ralph Zito
1995 Berkeley, CA— Master Teachers: Patsy Rodenburg, Jeannette Nelson & Kelly McEvenue
1996 New York, NY— 10th Anniversary Conference:  Celebrating VASTA’s Origination Date of 1986
1997 Chicago, IL— Joint conference with ATME
1998 San Antonio, TX— Voice & Healing
1999 Toronto, Canada— Bridges Across Disciplines
2000 Washington, DC— Celebrating Difference: The Performing Voice from Around the World
2001 Chicago, IL— The Lost Secrets of Speaking Shakespeare
2002 San Diego, CA— Breathe
2003 New York, NY— Voice & Ritual: Beyond the Spoken Word
2004 Philadelphia, PA— Diversity
2005 Glasgow, Scotland— Breaking Boundaries: Crossing the Cultural Divide; Cicely Berry - Keynote
2006 Chicago, IL— Babble: Encountering Sound and Speech
2007 Denver, CO— Practical Voice Science: Watch, Learn, Play
2008 Ashland, OR— Your Most Sweet Voices: Coaching Shakespeare
2009 New York, NY— Vocal Methodologies from the Source: Lessac, Linklater, Fitzmaurice & Rodenburg
2010 Mexico City, Mexico— CeuVoz/VASTA:  Muchas Lenguas, Una Voz - Many Languages, One Voice
2011 Chicago, IL— Vocal Play: Improv, Comedy, Song & Character
2012 Washington, DC— 25th Conference Anniversary:  A Voice for Good
2013 Minneapolis, MN— Guthrie Theatre: Voices of Wisdom, Spanning Generations
2014 London, England— Royal Central School of Speech and Drama: Voicing the Future. Reinventing Tradition.
2015 Montreal, Canada— Cirque des Voix/Circus of Voices
2016 Chicago, IL— Dynamic Dialogues and Connections
2017 Singapore— The Art of Storytelling
2018 Seattle, WA