Emily Williams Burch
Founder & Artistic Director

Emily Williams Burch is the founder and artistic director of RISE Chorales, an organization built to create choirs that revolutionize and inspire singing excellence. Each RISE Chorale has a mission of experiencing musical artistry, education, and personal growth through the choral arts and community experiences. RISE Chorales are united through a love of singing, but purposely seek out service projects and social events to enhance the singer and the community they live in. Mrs. Burch served on the podium as Director of Education and Music for the Savannah Children’s Choir for nearly ten years. Prior to that, Mrs. Burch served as Department Chair and taught General Music/Piano Teacher at Garrison School of Visual and Performing Arts. She has continues to have the privilege of traveling the country as a teacher/trainer for Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music, an interactive K-8 music curriculum. She also serves as an Artistic Adviser for Perform International, where she helps organizations create and realize their dreams on tours in the US and abroad. In addition to a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Music Education, Emily also holds an Orff Level 1 certification and has served on the Quaver’s Marvelous World of Music Teacher Advisory Council since 2010. Choirs under Mrs. Burch’s direction have performed regionally, nationally, and internationally including appearances at the Georgia Music Educator’s In-service Conference and the 23rd Annual Concors Internazionale Di Canto Corale, an international choir competition in Verona, Italy, where they received a gold award. Mrs. Burch has served on the Georgia American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) board and as the Treble Honor Choir Coordinator for both the 2014 and 2016 Southern Division ACDA Conferences. She is in her third term as Repertoire & Resources Chair for Children’s and Youth Community Choirs for the Southern Division ACDA. Most recently she traveled to Sweden as part of the International Conductors Exchange Program. She is a highly sought after clinician for both treble and middle school honor choirs. Mrs. Burch lives between Savannah, GA with her husband, their two dogs, Maestreaux and Boudreaux, and Columbia, SC where she is pursuing her DMA at the University of South Carolina.  She actively trains for Ironman Triathlons, and has qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Cuffy Sullivan
Director of Operations

Sullivan co-founded the Savannah Children's Choir, and for 10 years served as the organization's Executive Director, and later Chief Operations Officer. With a varied background, Sullivan has over 30 years in non-profit management, organization and volunteer development experience. Having earned a BFA in Historic Preservation at the Savannah College of Art and Design, Sullivan served as executive director to three downtown development authorities, as well as on staff at the National Main Street Center, where she traveled the country consulting with numerous downtown revitalization programs. In addition to her duties with RISE Chorales, she also has a busy consulting company, working with numerous local businesses and non-profits, as well as being a professional organizing coach. As a singer, Sullivan was the founder and managing director of Ensemble Con Spirito, a women's sacred music ensemble, and now sings with the Goliards, an early music ensemble. She has three musically-talented daughters, and with them, her husband and a Havanese named Geraldine, lives in Savannah.

Spencer Burch
Chief Financial Officer
Spencer Burch is a Mechanical Engineer at Gulfstream Aerospace. He is married to Emily Burch, and is a member of Metro Savannah Rotary Club., A native of Brunswick, GA, he has lived in Savannah for 13 years. Spencer holds a Bachelor's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and a Masters of Applied Systems Engineering also from Georgia Tech. He is pursuing his career with a focus on project management and leadership rooted in a strong (and strict) engineering foundation.
Emma Huennekens
Vocal Coach

Emma Huennekens is a senior Vocal Performance major at Georgia Southern University and will be graduating in May with a Bachelor of Music. She has been found on the stage in various performances throughout her collegiate career and will be performing in Street Scene, as her last operatic role at Georgia Southern. She looks forward to moving back to Savannah and is excited to be actively auditioning for many opportunities in the future. Ms. Emma is ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with Rise Chorales and be their Vocal Coach. She cannot wait to be able to share what she has been learning the past four years at Georgia Southern and hopes to continue learning while working with RISE Chorales. 

Amy Patriarco
Amy Patriarco is a RISE alumna who while interning for RISE Chorales is taking time off to save up in order to pursue her Bachelor‘s degree. During this time she endeavors to gain as much learning experience as she can through multiple opportunities for volunteering and shadowing.
In addition to planning and implementing our robust social media plan, she also responsible for communicating with parents about upcoming plans and any changes in schedule.  She also serves as music librarian.
Taking one day at a time, this big sister’s focus in RISE is to make sure the girls are provided with major encouragement and moral and emotional support as they venture along this fantastic musical adventure.


Dan Biggerstaff
Staff Photographer
Having two jobs I love, gynecology and photography, is a blessing. The photographer in me actually started about the same time as the doctor in me. A manual film camera, purchased during my senior year of medical school, was my first “real” camera. From a photography standpoint, I have never looked back. My training in obstetrics-gynecology was done in the U.S. Army, and my medical practice became gynecology-only many years ago, allowing more time to pursue other interests. Several years of active duty in the Army in southern Germany provided an opportunity to travel and take lots of photographs. I married my wife, Elisabeth, during medical school, and we had our two children, a daughter and son, during my residency training. We now have four grandchildren that provide great photography subjects. I wanted to move from the level of serious amateur to professional in photography. A pro-photographer friend suggested I take thousands of photos and be my own strongest critic. Street photography became my passion, and it became easy to move from street photography to women’s fashion. In working with RISE Chorales, what I most look forward to is to witness the evolution of RISE Chorales as a cohesive unit as each season progresses.
Erin Waterman
Director of Development
Mrs. Waterman brings to RISE a unique combination of experience and abilities. She has been active as a performer and as a founder of musical organizations; she has had a long and successful business career where she exercised her abilities as a manager and a developer of young professionals; she has been a counselor and guide to young woman and is active today as a life coach. She began ensemble singing at the age of 8, and sang, as a 16 year-old, in an otherwise an all- adult choir. She has sung in some of the best choruses in the country. She helped launch a boys’ choir in a private school in New York. She was also a founder of a Baroque ensemble in New York City. Erin spent most of her professional career in residential real estate sales and management. She and her staff excelled, demonstrating that it is possible to succeed in a highly competitive field while maintaining the highest ethical standards. Erin has long worked as a volunteer counselor, working initially with young woman as they navigated through the difficult teen years. Today, she is working mostly with individuals of all ages who are looking for help in balancing their minds, bodies, and spiritual lives. Erin has three wonderful sons and five grandchildren. She and her husband, Jim, live in Savannah and Connecticut.