Community Bell Advocates, LLC are bell consultants who help institutions repair, perform on, and program their bells at a time when too many are falling into disrepair and silence. Our projects include St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church, Chicago, and the Leaning Tower of Niles, Illinois. We believe that when properly cared for and programmed, tower bells can function like business cards, offering a distinct sonic calling card and marketing tool for remarkable institutions.
Kim Schafer began studying the carillon in college and went on to incorporate research on the instrument in her musicology PhD. After moving to Chicago, Kim researched the history of tower bells around the city and learned that many institutional leaders knew little about their bells and found many in disrepair. Through her bell research, she also strengthened her professional relationship with Jim Fackenthal, fellow Chicago carillonneur, and met innovative strategist and bell enthusiast Dan Frysinger. In November 2015, we hatched the idea to form Chicago Bell Advocates—an organization dedicated to advocating the good use and maintenance of bells in Chicago to strengthen institutions and communities. Since then, we have gradually gained clients throughout Chicago and the suburbs to promote institutional tower bells through repair, performance, and programming. In 2018, we changed our name to Community Bell Advocates, LLC to position ourselves to help others in the region and beyond.
Our clients comprise not only churches but also municipalities and universities. The communities enhanced by the bells spread farther than the immediate church congregations and campus residents, however—the residential and commercial communities surrounding the tower bells also benefit from bell ringing.
Kim Schafer, Founder and Partner, is a dedicated bell performer, researcher, and advocate. She has performed on the carillon, a tower bell instrument, for eighteen years while in residence at universities across the country and in recital in the United States and Europe. She persuaded St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago to ring their bells again, and she currently plays there regularly for Sunday services. She studied bell instruments as part of her musicological dissertation research, and she now serves as the editor-in-chief of the Bulletin, the scholarly journal of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. Her evolving interest in bells has led her to advocacy: she promotes the beautiful sound, rich associations, and potential of bells and bell instruments in North America.
Dan Frysinger, Partner, is an innovation consultant who advises global organizations on building innovation programs by setting program strategy, engaging stakeholders, running strategically-aligned innovation activities, and proving their return-on-investment. He learned carillon at the University of Michigan, where he also developed a marketing plan for the carillon program. Dan is passionate about helping champions of community engagement and culture development at churches, universities, and cities to leverage the unique cultural assets in their bells so they can engage, promote, and strengthen their communities.
Jim Fackenthal, Contracts Specialist, is a cancer researcher and Associate Professor of Biology at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. He also works as a carillon player at the Millennium Carillon in Naperville, IL, and St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago, IL. Jim began his carillon studies at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY, then played the carillons at Indiana University and the University of Chicago for many years. He continues to perform as a guest recitalist on carillons throughout North America. As a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, Jim has served on the board of directors, as co-editor of the guild newsletter, and as a juror on examination and scholarship committees.