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.
Zakia Ruffin has been part of the marching and indoor performance activity for over 25 years. She found her passion for Colorguard in high school, performing with Concord High School's Colorguard & winter guard programs. After graduating from Concord High School, she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Ruffin continued to grow in the Colorguard activity by performing with Phantom Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps and Independent Winterguards around the Raleigh area. These groups included Carolina Visual Productions, The Study, Croatan World, and First Flight World.
Zakia has continued her involvement in the activity by being a Colorguard Instructor, working with many programs in North Carolina and South Carolina since 2005. She has enjoyed working with remarkable organizations, including South Mecklenburg High School, East Lincoln High School, Northwest Cabarrus High School, the University of South Carolina Band, and Étude.
Zakia was honored to participate in the CWEA Advisory Council from 2019 to 2022 and be on the WGI Advisory Board for 2019 & 2020. She has served on the CWEA board as the Advisory Council Chair 2019-2021 and has served as the Classifications Chair for the 2022 winter season. Recently Ms. Ruffin was appointed as President of CWEA, she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to help support all groups in this outstanding organization. Bringing out the best in performers and creating an environment where all feel welcome and encouraged to succeed.
Originally from Queens, NY, and currently resides in Charlotte, NC. Zakia enjoys spending time with her Chow Chow mix, Zeke, and loves to play Pickleball and train for her next marathon.
Clayton Parker has continuously been an active instructor/designer/adjudicator/consultant for over thirty years. He has worked with color guards/marching bands/winter guards in North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina. His bands have won numerous South Carolina Band Directors Association (SCBDA) lower state and upper state championships and three SCBDA State Championships. Currently, Mr. Parker is the Visual Coordinator at North Augusta High School and clinician/consultant for several well-known marching bands.
Currently Mr. Parker is on the Board of Directors of the Carolina Winter Ensembles Association (CWEA) where he serves as Vice President. CWEA, an indoor performance organization that includes winter guards, indoor percussion and indoor wind units serves units from North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. He has served many roles in CWEA which includes as a member of the Advisory Board, Circuit President, Judges Liaison and contest director. He has been awarded the CWEA Sport of the Arts Award and has been inducted into the esteemed CWEA Hall of Fame.
Mr. Parker has judged as a member of the Florida Federation Judges Association judging General Effect and Design Analysis. He has also been an adjudicator for Fiesta-Val of Richmond, Virginia, the South Carolina Odyssey of The Mind competition as well as several local marching band competitions. Mr. Parker currently is a Timing and Penalties judge for SCBDA and CWEA.
Mr. Parker is a proud graduate of W. J. Keenan High School and credits his band director, Mr. Willie E. Lyles for his encouragement in the color guard activity. Mr. Parker attended South Carolina State University which is when began his career as an instructor/designer at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School under the direction of Mr. Dwight McMillan. Mr. Parker graduated from South Carolina State University with a B.S. Degree in Marketing. Mr. Parker resides in Columbia, S.C. where he is an Information Resource Coordinator, for the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
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 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!
Torey Riser, a huge Manchester United supporter, is a native of Greenwood, SC where he attended Lander University, majoring in Music Education. Mr. Riser currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Carolina Winter Ensemble Association, a position he has held for 5 years. He has previously served on the CWEA Board of Directors as the organizations A Class Percussion Representative and as Interim Percussion Coordinator, and on the Palmetto Indoor Marching Arts Board of Directors from 2020-2022.
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 and independent programs in South Carolina as an instructor, designer, and composer, including: BHP High School (2004-07), Greenwood High School (2008-2012 & 2019), Palmetto Percussion (2010), Bluffton High School (2013-2017), North Greenville Independent (2016), and Civitas Independent (2018-2019), Charles Towne Percussion (2018, 2023) Midland Valley High School (2023), Lewisville High School (2023) and, since 2014, has served as Director of Percussion and Show Designer/Arranger for Ninety Six High School and Edgewood Middle School in Ninety Six, SC.
Since joining Ninety Six High School in 2013, Mr. Riser has helped the program deliver 7 SCBDA Marching Band 1A State Championships (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022) and, after founding the school’s first ever indoor percussion program in 2015, 4 straight SCBDA Indoor PSA State Championships (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). The indoor percussion ensemble has also won 4 CWEA Gold Medals (2016 PSA, 2017 PSA, 2020 PSA, 2022 PSA) and 1 Silver (2023 PSO), 1 WGI Regional (2016), and advanced to WGI PSA Semifinals twice (2018, 2019). The ensemble won the PSA Bronze medal at the WGI World Championships in 2022, and after being promoted at the beginning of the 2023 season, advanced to PSO Finals at the WGI World Championships finishing in 13th place.
In the past, Mr. Riser coached Boys’ Soccer at Westview Middle School (2010-2012), Boys Varsity/JV Soccer at Battery Creek High School (2014) and Varsity Girls Soccer at Ninety Six High School (2015-2018).
In his free time, should he ever actually have any, Mr. Riser likes to hack it around the golf course, travel, or hang out with his dogs Georgia, Lily, Roxie, Jenny, Dilly, Dixie and LuLu (4 of which are rescues).
Mr. Riser would like to thanks E.L. Manigo, Tiger Woods, A.J. Pace, Erik Crook, Colin Brown, Joel Gardner, Luiz Riviera, Mike McIntosh, Paul Rennick, Cliff Sutton, Teddy Mascari, and Chris Turner for their immeasurable influences, while direct or indirect, on his life as a music educator.
David Shives is the Assistant Band Director at Catawba Ridge High School in Fort Mill, SC. During his time at Catawba Ridge the marching band has won two South Carolina Marching Band State Championships and the 2022 Bands of America Carolina Regional Championship. Under his direction the indoor winds program was a WGI Open Class World Championship finalist in its first season.
Prior to coming to Catawba Ridge Mr. Shives was the Associate Director of Bands at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, NC, where he served as director of the Ardrey Kell indoor winds program for the 3 seasons. In 2019, the Ardrey Kell Indoor Winds were silver medalist in Scholastic A competition at the WGI Winds World Championships. Mr. Shives is also an active judge, clinician and designer for several indoor and outdoor programs across the southeast.
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, their daughter Maggie, and their dogs Lily and Grace.
Susan Winfree is a native of Charlotte, NC where she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in Biology and Chemistry, and minoring in Music. She is currently a science teacher at Weddington High School, in Weddington NC, teaching AP Chemistry, Biology, and physical sciences. In addition to teaching science, Susan is also currently on the instructional team at Fort Mill High School, being a part of both the visual and color guard instructional teams. Prior to her position at Fort Mill High School, Susan was the director of color guards at Ardrey Kell High School, and Community House Middle School, in Charlotte NC, for over a decade.
Susan first discovered her love for the marching arts as a member of the Weddington High School marching band, where she participated in both fall and winter seasons. She was also a member of the Marching Tar Heels color guard and athletic pep bands at UNC-Chapel Hill. Susan has participated in many independent performing ensembles including Carolina Visual Productions (2007, 2008, 2010), Reynolda Winterguard (2011), and Carolina Gold Drum and Bugle Corps (2010). In addition to marching with these independent programs, Susan was also on the instructional staff for Reynolda Winterguard (2012), and Carolina Gold Independent Winter guard (2013 and 2014). Susan has also been on the instructional teams for groups in both the percussion and winds idioms, as well as serving as a clinician, judge, and visual designer in the Charlotte area.
Susan has been a part of the CWEA organization for over a decade, serving on the Advisory Council for the last five years. She is excited to continue working with the CWEA organization and hopes to help create the best possible experience for all students involved with CWEA.
Bio coming soon.
Zane Franco, a Western New York native, moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 2021 where he is a current Band Director in Charleston County Public Schools. Zane marched in the North Eastern Color Guard Circuit from 2009 to 2017, at Paramount Winter Guard in 2019, and The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps from 2014 to 2016.
Zane is on the instructional and design team for Étude Winter Guard, Tampa Independent Winter Guard, The Wando High School Marching Band and Color Guard, Carolina Crown Drum and Bugle Corps, and a handful of other programs.
Zane’s professional career has been in building brand-new band programs in schools where music education has been non-existent. He has built vital programs that are not only student-driven but deeply connected with the school communities.
This is Zane’s second year in the role of Advisory Council Chair, and he is ready to work hard for our circuit.
Bio coming soon.