Julie Cook Ramirez serves as Director of Handbell Ministries. A Rockford native, Julie began studying guitar at the age of nine and soon after found herself accompanying the Cherub Choir at Trinity Lutheran, her childhood church. A graduate of Jefferson High School, she received the prestigious Arion Award as outstanding senior music student after spending four years as a guitarist in the jazz ensemble. In the years that followed, Julie earned an Associate in Arts degree in Music from Rock Valley College, where she played guitar in the jazz ensemble and trumpet in the concert band. She then earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Rockford University and embarked on a career as an award-winning business journalist and copywriter. Julie’s interest in handbells began at the age of 17 when her beloved mentor, Rev. Kathryn Nichols, enlisted her to ring in Trinity’s bell choir. She subsequently spent 10 years ringing bells in Westminster Presbyterian’s Glenn Ringers, where she also served as assistant director of the junior high bell choir. Since 1994, she has rung and/or directed at Second First, occasionally arranging pieces herself. Julie remains an avid classical guitarist and has performed at various churches, community events, and private occasions in the Rockford area.