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GNU Leadership

Jim Emery

VP of Music and Performance — Baritone, Lead — Charter member

Jim holds a Bachelor of Science from Michigan State University and Master of Science from Ohio State University in Computer Science.  He has recently retired from a productive career in high tech and is launching a second professional career as a voice coach for public speakers.  A 37 year member of the Barbershop Harmony Society, Jim is a founder of the GNU, a certified contest judge for 13 years, past Category Specialist of the BHS contest & judging program’s Singing category, a three-time district quartet champion and an international contest performer over 40 times in both quartets and chorus.  He is in high demand for coaching and teaching at the individual and ensemble level and gives classes and seminars across the country.

Jim's LinkedIn Profile

Kevin Lynch

VP of Chapter Development — Bass—GNU member since 1989

Kevin holds his B.S. in Business from Saint John’s University. He is a private consultant in philanthropy and social impact after serving as President & CEO of a national membership association, the Social Enterprise Alliance.  Previously he led Rebuild Resources, a social enterprise serving formerly incarcerated persons in St. Paul Minnesota for eight years, and spent 21 years in the ad agency business.  He is co-author of Mission, Inc., a well-regarded title in his field.  He leads strategic planning, fund development and governance for the GNU.

Merlyn Kruse

President — Bass — Member since 2013

Prior to joining the GNU, Merlyn completed a rewarding and wide-ranging career in education.  He not only enjoyed his years as a classroom teacher, but held positions as a school principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, finally completing his administration career as vice-president at the college level.  Today he serves as a consultant in the fields of international student education and institutional advancement.  Merlyn’s love of barbershop singing began with the Fox Valleyaires in Appleton, WI, where he also served as the chorus’s assistant director.

Peter Maddeaux

VP of Marketing — Lead — Member since 2009

Peter received his Masters Degree in Health Care Administration from Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas in 1970. After working as a Hospital Administrator, Medical Clinic CEO and Independent Physician Organization CEO for 30 years, Peter is now pursuing the development of Accountable Communities for Health (bringing the decisions for health care delivery to the local level).  Peter sang with the University of Texas at El Paso Concert Chorale for four years and has enjoyed 25 years singing in barbershop choruses in El Paso, Dallas and the past 7 years with the GNU. He has been a board member of the Chorus; headed up the Singing Valentines effort and is currently the VP of Marketing. He is responsible for communication, advertising, group sales and social media.

Bob Dowma

Treasurer — Tenor — GNU member since 1989

Bob received his B.S. degree in Business Administration (Accounting) from Macalester College. He is a retired Financial Controller and has been the GNU Treasurer for 8 years. Bob was a certified arrangement judge for 12 years and is the Tenor of 1975 International Quartet champions Happiness Emporium!

Rick Anderson

Secretary — Baritone — Member since 2006

Rick was introduced to Barbershop Harmony by his 9th grade Music teacher.  He’s now in his 40th year as a member of the Barbershop Harmony Society.  He’s achieved two District quartet gold medals and has participated on contest stage with the Great Northern Union many times.   By trade, Rick is IT computer professional and has been with HealthPartners for 25 years.   As a member of the Happiness Emporium quartet, Rick has been an annual faculty member of weekend Barbershop workshops across the country.   Rick’s current position with the GNU is secretary and board member.


Douglas Carnes

Musical Director (ex officio)

Douglas Carnes took the helm as director of the Great Northern Union in July 2015. Read more about Doug here

Chapter Operations Team

Kirk Lindberg

Executive Director of Operations — Lead — Charter Member

Kirk received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology. He has sung in a number of award winning quartets and was a charter member of the GNU when the chorus started in 1985 and was their second president. Then "life happened" and Kirk took a break from barbershop, but when he retired in 2011 after nearly 35 years with 3M he returned to GNU to pursue his passion for barbershop harmony and fellowship.

Rick Hurd

Chorus Manager —Bass — GNU member since 2007 — 2011 BOTY

Rick lives in Owatonna, MN with his wife, Vickie.  Both enjoy landscaping, antiquing, and of course music.  Rick is the chorus manager for GNU.  This involves arranging transportation for risers and people, coordinating with hotels, maintenance of the risers and trailer, and herding cats. 

Rick is a registered pharmacist and is employed by CVS.  Rick has been involved in music since high school in Beresford, SD where he sang in the choir and played bari sax in the band.  While attending SDSU, he continued playing bari sax and was the drum major for the Pride of the Dakotas marching band for 2 years.  Following college graduation, Rick marched with the Govenaires from St. Peter.  In 1988, Rick joined the Windom Chordhustlers.  He has sung bass with 2 quartets, Long Distance Connection (Jeff Galle-lead, Leonard Huls-tenor, and Kent Michelson-bari) and Double Down (Ken Kiehne-lead, Leonard Huls-tenor, Chuck McKown-tenor, and Nate Schmidt-bari).  In 2007, Rick joined the Great Northern Union and the rest is history!

Jim Barloon

Director of Membership - Bass - Member since 1999

Jim joined the society in 1975.  He has been in two Land o' Lakes District champion quartets: Special Edition, 1984 and Innovation, 2000. Jim enjoys his life with his wife of 47 years, Grace "a wonderful lady who also a big supporter of the Great Northern Union."

Jim looks forward to help the chorus increase its membership especially as we work toward the International Chorus Contest in Las Vegas in July 2017. Jim is available to answer questions from current, inactive, and prospective members. To learn more about membership visit our membership page

Vickie Hurd

Chair of Significant Others Organization