A Northwest Missouri State University alumna has stepped into a leadership role in the world of bluegrass music.
Nancy Cardwell, who graduated in 1980 with a degree in English, was recently appointed executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Association. IBMA is an international trade association with members in 50 states and 30 countries.
As executive director, Cardwell manages the day-to-day operations of IBMA, helps plan the annual World of Bluegrass conference, oversees marketing and membership and writes for IBMA publications.
Cardwell was raised in Springfield and began performing on mandolin with her father’s band at age 7.
"I was a teenager in the 1970s," she said. “At a time when a lot of my friends were rebelling against their parents and getting into trouble, I was hanging out with my parents and playing bluegrass music and getting paid for it. It was a thing that our family liked to do together. It was just a lot of fun."
Cardwell has been with IBMA for 17 years, including a stint as the special projects director. Previously, she taught English and Spanish at schools in Bolivar and Seymour and was a field executive for Dogwood Trails Girl Scout Council in Springfield.
She also toured with an all-female bluegrass group based in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., called the Wildwood Girls and worked as a musician and journalist in Branson.