Powers graduated from UMN Morris in 1996 with an instrumental music degree and licensed in K–12 music education. She went on to earn a master of arts degree in education from Saint Mary’s University of Winona. As a student at Morris, Powers was a strong advocate for orchestral music, working hard to recruit new students to the program and serving as student director of the orchestra in her last year at UMN Morris.
As director of bands at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, Powers rallied her community around “The Equity Project,” which was based on the idea that all students can achieve when they have the resources and support they need. The Equity Project provided free or reduced-price private music lessons during band class with professional musicians for any student who could not otherwise afford lessons. Peter Olson-Skog ’97, Sibley’s top administrator, shared that “Through the dedication and commitment of Director Powers and volunteer members of the Band Boosters, the Equity Project ensures there are no economic barriers to band participation. It is initiatives such as the Equity Project that prove that participation in the Henry Sibley Band Program is not just about the music—but also about building a supportive, caring community where students are given the tools to strive for excellence.”
As a result of her work Powers presented a marching band that would raise the first of Henry Sibley’s State Championship trophies, placing ahead of programs more than twice their size and boasting long standing traditions of competitive success. Her commitment to equity was further evident in 2018, when the marching band was invited to represent the state of Minnesota in the National Independence Day Parade in Washington D.C. Traveling to the parade was expensive, and many students couldn’t afford it. Together, the band boosters chose to raise enough money for each member to go free of charge, and raised a whopping $108,000. The Henry Sibley Wind Ensemble was also invited to perform at the prestigious and highly competitive 2020 Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA) conference, delivering what many of her nominators described as one of the single finest high school band performances ever seen at state convention.
In a male-dominated profession, Powers is recognized as a strong female leader and voice in the band world. She has coached and mentored numerous Minnesota music instructors who are also UMN Morris graduates. She’s even assisted her high school band students as they pursued enrollment at Morris.