Board - Carolina Winter Ensemble Association

Executive Board of Directors

The Carolina Winter Ensemble Association is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating under the leadership of the Executive Board of Directors as elected by the general membership. The Executive Board and its appointees are responsible for managing and organizing the operations of the circuit. CWEA operating procedures are governed by the organization’s Bylaws document. Each director is elected to a two year term.

Cody Crawford


Cody Crawford, originally from Greenwood, South Carolina, moved to Rock Hill in the winter of 2012. Serving the circuit in many roles over the years including Media Manager, Contest Assistant, Contest Administrator, Director of Events and now President, Cody has overseen historic growth within CWEA. Under his guidance, CWEA has tripled in size and has become the premiere circuit serving the Carolinas.

Outside of his time with CWEA, Cody is the Director of Business Operations for the Carolina Crown Organization which includes the Carolina Crown Drum & Bugle Corps. Joining the Crown team in the Fall of 2012, Cody has filled many rolls within the organization, including overseeing the company’s fundraising efforts, event management, graphic design, web development and IT support, event ticketing firm and music store. In addition to CWEA and Crown, he also served as a Contest Administrator for Winter Guard International, where he oversaw and managed WGI Regional Events across the country.

Before entering the non-profit sector, Cody began as a student at Greenwood High School, eventually going on to attend the University of South Carolina. As a percussionist, Cody worked with many programs throughout the Carolinas including Belton Honea-Path HS, Greenwood HS, Spring Valley HS, Lexington HS, Paradigm Percussion, Marvin Ridge HS and Batesburg-Leesville HS, where he helped lead the program to its first of several SCBDA State Championships. When he’s not working (which isn’t often), you’ll find Cody enjoying time at home with his family. And if he’s not there, he’s in the air going somewhere – most likely Las Vegas!

Clayton Parker

Vice President

Clayton Parker has been an instructor and designer for over twenty-five years. He has worked with color guards, marching bands, and winter guards in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. Prior to becoming Vice President, he served on the CWEA Board of Directors in several positions, including Contest Administrator, Judges Liaison, and President.

Currently, Clayton is a freelance visual consultant and designer. He has judged as a member of the Florida Federation Judges Association in the captions General Effect and Design Analysis. He has also been an adjudicator for Fiesta-Val of Richmond, Virginia. Mr. Parker is a graduate of South Carolina State University where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marketing. Currently, Mr. Parker resides in Columbia, SC, where he is an Information Resource Coordinator for the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

Ben Hipp

Director of Events (appointed)

Mr. Hipp has served as an adjudicator, clinician, designer, and consultant for numerous finalist programs across the Southeast including the Chapin, Batesburg-Leesville, Pickens, Blythewood, Summerville, White Knoll, Swansea, Ninety-Six, Lexington, Irmo, Hanahan and Boiling Springs High School Bands, the 2006 World Champion Etude Winter Guard, the Epiphany Indoor Youth Ensemble, Charles Towne Independent Winter Guard and the Kiwanis Kavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Mr. Hipp has also served as an executive and advisory board member for both the Carolina Indoor Performance Association and the Carolina Winter Ensemble Association in various roles since 1998.

Born in Lexington, SC; Mr. Hipp graduated from the University of South Carolina with a major in music and minor in education and art studio. He has performed with the USC Marching Band Flag Line and with Millennia Carolina Independent A Winter Guard where he was the captain in 1999 and 2000.

Under Mr. Hipp's direction, the Summerville Color Guard has won various field and indoor awards and has been named the 2016 Cadet and Scholastic Open State Champions, 2010 Winter Guard International World Championships Scholastic A Class Finalist, 2016 Winter Guard International World Championships Scholastic Open Class Finalist and the 2004, 2014 State 5A State Marching Band Champions. Mr. Hipp is currently in his twelfth year as Color Guard Director at Summerville High School. Mr. Hipp was formerly the Early College Program Coordinator at Summerville High School coordinating with Trident Technical College on dual enrollment classes. In addition, Mr. Hipp is the proprietor of Hipp Visual Solutions.

Riley Pagett


After discovering a love for the performing arts as a member of the Fort Mill High School Marching Band, Riley taught and consulted with marching bands around the Charlotte area. While freelance work in audio engineering and software design took him around the country, working with the Providence High School band drove him back to Winthrop University to pursue a Music Education degree. He is now the Director of Bands at Newberry High School in Newberry, SC. Outside of teaching duties, Riley has served on a number of technology and finance-related non-profit councils and committees. Before assuming the role of Treasurer with CWEA, he was a Contest Administrator and Timing & Penalties judge.

Torey Riser

Secretary - Operations

Torey Riser is a native of Greenwood, SC where he attended Lander University, majoring in Music Education. Mr. Riser has previously served on the CWEA Board of Directors as Percussion Representative and on the advisory board as PSA Representative.

Mr. Riser was a charter member of Palmetto Percussion in 2007 and aged out as the snare line section leader in 2009. For the last 13 years, he has worked with many successful high school programs in South Carolina as an instructor, designer, and composer, including Greenwood High School, Belton Honea Path High School, Bluffton High School, and works currently as the Director of Percussion at Ninety Six High School. In his free time, Mr. Riser has also worked with many ensembles in the state, including Palmetto Percussion (2010), NGI (2016), and Civitas (2018)

Recently at Ninety Six, Riser founded the school’s first ever indoor percussion program in 2015 which. The organization has since won 4 SCBDA State Championships, 2 CWEA titles, 1 WGI Regional and advanced to the 2018 WGI Semifinals for the first time in the program’s history.

Mr. Riser also coaches Varsity Girls Soccer and instructs the 7-time 1A State Champion Ninety Six Marching Band.

Mr. Riser would like to credit A.J. Pace, Erik Crook, Colin Brown, Joel Gardner, Luiz Riviera, Mike McIntosh, Paul Rennick, Cliff Sutton, and Chris Turner for their direct and indirect influences on his life as a music educator.

Tracy Smith

Secretary - Communications

Tracy Smith resides in Charleston, SC and is the Director of Charles Towne Independent. She also serves as an instructional staff member for Summerville High School. Before relocating to Charleston in 2016, Tracy was involved with several programs in North Carolina. Some of the groups that she has had the privilege of working with are: Aria Winter Guard (2014-2016), Carolina Gold Independent (2012-2014), and Reynolda Winter Guard (2008-2012). In 2014 she also worked with two Independent Percussion units as a movement trainer and choreographer, Paradigm and Revelation. Tracy also served as the color guard caption head at Coastal Surge Drum and Bugle Corps for two years. For the 2018-2019 season she will also have the honor of participating as a member of the WGI Advisory Board.

Brian Winn


Brian Winn, a native of Rock Hill, SC, began his performing experience in the marching arts playing trumpet and performing in his high school winter guard. After graduating, he began his drum corps experience marching in the color guard at the Capital Regiment in 2004. He then went on to perform with the Phantom Regiment in 2006 and 2007, where he aged out. In the winter seasons, Brian performed with Étude Winter Guard from 2005-2007 and Phantom Regiment Winter Guard in 2008.

Brian has had the honor of teaching and designing for various programs including East Lincoln High School, The District Independent Winterguard, and Tampa Independent. He is currently the color guard director at Marvin Ridge High School and Etude Winter Guard. Brian taught on the color guard staff for 5 years at the Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps, where he served as a caption head in 2017. Currently, Brian is a choreographer at the Crossmen Drum and Bugle Corps.

Brian received his degree in Dance Education from Winthrop University and continues to stay active in the dance community in Charlotte, NC. He has performed professionally with Plexus Dance and Caroline Calouche & Company, where he trained, performed, and taught aerial dance as well as contemporary dance. Additionally, he was cast in Martha Graham’s Panorama, where he had the honor of working with former Graham dancer Kim Jones. As a strong advocate for life-long learning, Brian continues to train with various professional teachers and studios in the Charlotte area. He is currently in his 7th year teaching on the dance faculty at Northwest School of the Arts in Charlotte, NC.

Jeff Bridges


Jeff Bridges currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. He served 4 years as an A and Open Class Representative on the Advisory Board and Steering Committee for WGI and is an active adjudicator for WGI Winds. He also judges guard, percussion and winds for various circuits around the United States, in addition to marching band. Jeff also is a designer for many high school bands across the country including the states of Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia, and South Carolina. In 40 years as a designer and instructor, Jeff has produced multiple State Champions and finalists. He proudly serves as the designer and consultant for Somerset Academy marching band and winter guard in Pembroke Pines, FL.

Jeff's drum corps experience as a member was with the Crossmen in the years 1980 and 1981. He has taught and designed for Florida Wave, Colts, Spirit of Atlanta, Troopers and Southwind. While with the Colts from 1990 to 1997, Jeff served as the Visual Caption Head and designer, helping guide the corps to its first DCI finals in 1993. In 2000, Jeff became the director of the Crossmen, where he served them for 2 years and returned the corps to the Top 8 in 2001.

Jeff Served as President for the South Florida Winter Guard Circuit for 10 years. He currently instructs or consults with winter guards. Among his instructed and consulted winter guards are 2 WGI Scholastic A Class champions, multiple A Class finalists, 3 Scholastic Open Class multiple-time finalists, 1 independent A and Open class finalist at WGI Championships and Regionals. He proudly has been voted into 3 Hall of Fames with The Colts Drum and Bugle Corps, South Florida Winter Guard Association and most recently with the Florida Marching Band Coalition.

Zakia Ruffin

Chair - Guard Advisory Council

Zakia Ruffin is the current Color Guard Director for Northwest Cabarrus High school where she has been on staff going on 10 years. She found her passion for colorguard, marching with Concord High School's color guard & winter guard programs and after graduating she has continued to grow in the performing arts. She has marched drum corps with Phantom Regiment (2001, 2003, & 2004), as well as performed with many Independent winterguards including: Carolina Visual Productions (2001-2002, & 2004), The Study 2006, Croatan World (2007-2009) & First Flight World (2010). She has been an instructor and has worked with many programs in the Charlotte area including East Lincoln High School, Concord High School, and South Mecklenburg High School.

Zakia was honored to participate in the Advisory Council for CWEA in 2019 and was able to be on the WGI Advisory Board for 2019-2020. She hopes to use the knowledge and experience to become further involved in this amazing activity, so all performers can have the best performing experience.

David Shives

Chair - Percussion/Winds Advisory Council

David Shives is the Associate Director of Bands at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, NC. The Ardrey Kell band program consists of over 300 students in four concert bands, two jazz ensembles, two winter guards, winter winds and marching band. Prior to his position at Ardrey Kell Mr. Shives spent 5 years as the Director of Bands at Community House Middle School in Charlotte, NC.

As the band director at Community House his bands earned consistent superior ratings at local and regional band competitions. In 2017, the Community House Middle School 8th grade band was awarded the Charlotte Musical Showcase Award of Excellence for the most outstanding middle school musical ensemble in Charlotte.

Mr. Shives has also served as director of the Ardrey Kell indoor winds program for the past 3 season. In 2019, the Ardrey Kell Indoor Winds were second in Scholastic A competition at the WGI Winds World Championships and were the Scholastic A Champions at the WGI Atlanta regional.

Mr. Shives is a graduate of Appalachian State University with a B.A. in Music Education and a B.A. in Euphonium Performance. Mr. Shives is also a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a M.M. in Music Education. He holds professional memberships in National Education Association, National Association for Music Education, Society for Music Teacher Education and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He lives in Fort Mill with his wife Kati, and their dog Lily.