About Us


The Women's Hope Chorale of St. Louis (WHCSL) is an auditioned, multifaceted chorus that is committed to creative, quality vocal programming that highlights issues faced by women around the globe. We are the Ensemble in Residence at Maryville University. This provides us with access to fantastic educational resources and allows us to introduce younger women to mentoring from experienced chorale members who demonstrate a commitment to music and community. 

For over 20 years, the Women’s Hope Chorale of St. Louis has empowered women to discover the impact of their voices. Over the past several years, the Chorale has leveraged its commitment to excellence in performance and passion for women’s issues to create positive change in the community through partnerships with nonprofit organizations. While our world-class ensemble has been honored to perform on stages from London to New York, we see our most important role as bringing excellent choral music to St.Louis and inspiring hope and optimism in others.


WHCSL’s mission is to give the community excellent music and join with organizations that share our values of hope and optimism for women. At the heart of the Chorale is a commitment to excellence and innovation in programming and performance. We collaborate with artists, composers, and other musical organizations to commission new pieces, feature women composers, and use music as a starting point for community conversations. We often perform gratis at events designed to raise funds for women’s issues and use our university connection to provide educational opportunities for emerging musician leaders.

Musical Staff

leanne magnuson latuda, artistic director & conductor

Leanne Magnuson Latuda has been performing professionally, directing and teaching for more than 25 years. She has a Master of Music Degree from the University of Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Augustana College, where she was a Presidential Scholar and graduated cum laude.

Leanne is a gifted mezzo-soprano who has sung professionally with opera companies, musical theaters, and choral ensembles. She has performed locally as a soloist with the St. Louis Symphony, The Bach Society, and the Masterworks Chorale and has been directing WHCSL since 2012.

ruth stith, Accompanist

Ruth Stith is an adjunct faculty member of Saint Louis University and the Community Music School of Webster University, where she teaches class piano, piano ensemble, and applied piano lessons. She is an accompanist for the St. Louis Children's Choir and is director and accompanist for the children's choir at Central Presbyterian Church in Clayton. Before moving to St. Louis in 2004, Ruth was an adjunct artist teacher of piano and theory at Vanderbilt University, as well as staff accompanist.

Ruth has a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville and a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance from Vanderbilt University.

Young Artists



 Erika Cockerham has a BFA in musical theatre; has her own private studio where she teaches voice, piano, and acting; and plays the piano each Sunday for Overland Christian Church. In 2016, Erika made her operatic debut as Harriet in Gateway Opera's production of The Clever Artifice of Harriet and Margaret, was a finalist in the internationally renowned Lotte Lenya Competition, and is continuing operatic roles this season. 



 Beth Davey, the vocal music teacher at Iveland Elementary in Overland, holds a degree in Choral Music Education from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. She regularly performs with St. Louis Pro-Arte, an early music chamber ensemble, and holds membership in the American Choral Directors Association, the Missouri Music Educators Association, the American Orff-Schulwerk Association, and the National Association for Music Education. 



 Sarah Shulman graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will receive her Master of Music Therapy degree from Maryville University after the completion of her thesis and internship hours. In November, Sarah begins her internship working with children with disabilities at the Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative. 



 Jessica Tobin attends Maryville University, completing her internship for music therapy at Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative, working mainly with children diagnosed with autism. Jessica received the Excellence in Music Award from the College of Arts and Sciences at Maryville and hopes to continue working in school districts to help children with special needs reach their full potential through the work of Music Therapy. 



 Lori Hoffman received her Master of Arts in Music from Webster University, and currently teaches piano and voice lessons. Favorite past performances include masterclasses with Christine Brewer and chorus roles with Union Avenue Opera. She currently sings with Bach Society, St. Louis Symphony Chorus, and Second Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, and is a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and NATS. 

Young Artist Awards


We have 4-5 paid positions in the form of Young Artist Awards. Our Young Artists also function as our Section Leaders. A Young Artist must have or be pursuing a degree in music and must be in the early stages of her career. Candidates must be above average sight-readers and have choral and solo singing experience. Interested candidates should memorize two contrasting solos, one in English and one in a foreign language. Contact Leanne Latuda, Artistic Director, for more information and to schedule an audition.


  • Richard Shaw, President
  • Veronica McGee, Vice President
  • Cynthia Deffenbaugh, Secretary
  • Mary Wittry, Treasurer
  • Christine Alsop, Member
  • Courtney Arndt, Member
  • Mary Lou Calzaretta, Member
  • Susan Kissinger, ex officio
  • Leanne Latuda, ex officio
  • Judy Rosen, ex officio
  • Mary Ann Shaw, Member
  • Barbara Washington, Member