ROCKFORD, Ill. (Aug. 7, 2023) – Phantom Regiment is proud to introduce Amanda Hamaker as its CEO. A highly respected and experienced leader, Hamaker has a proven track record in various executive roles. She has been Winnebago County Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of Girl Scouts Rock River Valley Council (now Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois), in addition to holding key product strategy positions for Girl Scouts of the USA, and brings a wealth of expertise to the organization.
“Amanda Hamaker joining our team is a bold move for Phantom Regiment,” said Jeff Hassan, president of the board of directors. “This hire tells our constituents that the organization is serious about accelerating our momentum forward. Under Amanda’s direction, we will look to make significant gains on opportunities on which Phantom Regiment has been eager to embark.
“Next-level engagement with the City of Rockford, PR Academy expansion, greater community outreach and grant opportunities, stronger corporate partnerships, and new business ventures will all be on deck with this dynamic leader in place.”
Hamaker met with several members of the board of directors in multiple interviews, after which she outlined her plan with a detailed presentation that showcased a remarkable ability to quickly comprehend the needs of Phantom Regiment. Her ability to pivot in numerous directions, learn quickly and understand Phantom Regiment impressed the interview committee.
“We’ve never seriously looked at a candidate outside of the activity. Winter guard, yes. Marching band, yes. But never someone with absolutely no affiliation to drum corps,” said Kelly Couvelaire, treasurer of the board of directors. “Amanda brings a unique skill set, rarely found in most in the marching arts community, even those with decades in the activity. We are really excited to see where she takes this organization.”
Hamaker left Rockford and moved back to her native Southern California in 2018 but was looking to return to Rockford, where her husband grew up (he’s an Auburn High School graduate), and to be closer to family and friends in the area. She accepted the position with Phantom Regiment in June and made the trek to Rockford in July, leaving the Pacific Ocean behind her. And she is anxious to get to work.
“Phantom Regiment is a Rockford institution. I’m excited and humbled to steward our community’s relationship with such an important youth arts organization,” Hamaker said. “My goal is to build even more excitement locally, and to create more opportunities and partnerships in support of the organization to ultimately get more kids involved.”
She will lead a terrific team that includes programs director Todd Snead, operations director Tim Farrell, and merchandise and marketing director Robert Cawthorne, among numerous others.
“Without the foundation set by our previous leaders, this type of move wouldn’t have been possible,” Hassan said. “Because of their work, our organization is firing on all cylinders. As a result, we can look beyond our conventional drum corps model and begin to explore the types of ideas we’ve been discussing for years.”
Phantom Regiment’s primary program, its drum and bugle corps, is currently on tour competing around the country. The corps has been on an impressive upswing after numerous changes the past 3-plus years following its lowest finish (12th in 2019) since starting its streak of 47 straight finalist placements at the Drum Corps International World Championships. The 2020 season was canceled because of COVID, and the 2021 season was shortened and exhibition only. Then, Phantom Regiment surged into an eighth-place finish in 2022. The corps is in a tightly contested race among the top seven heading into the world championships next week in Indianapolis, Ind.
“When I accepted the CEO role, Jeff Hassan told me my first priority was to fall in love with Phantom Regiment,” Hamaker said. “I was already hooked thanks to a solid, nationwide cadre of YouTube videographers, but nothing compares to seeing the corps live. After seeing Rockford’s Show of Shows in July, I’m totally in love!”
Founded in 1956, Phantom Regiment offers a world-class drum corps as its crown jewel. It also runs brass, percussion, color guard, drum major and leadership camps in several states under its Phantom Regiment Academy umbrella, drum corps shows in Rockford and DeKalb, a high school marching band competition in DeKalb, a concert band festival at Northern Illinois University, and the Rockford Rhythm percussion ensemble for youth in Rockford.