New Jersey native, Ward started playing drums shortly before her 8th birthday, and as a teenager she studied drumset, music theory, and symphonic percussion. She received a BA in music from Wesleyan University, where she was introduced to the rhythms of West African and South Sudian music. During this time, Ward also had the unique opportunity to study with jazz drumming legend Ed Blackwell. After College, she performed in a variety of bands throughout western New England and relocated to Seattle in 1990. Ward set aside her musical interests for the next 8 years to pursue bicycle racing. She moved to Portland in 1999 and is happy to be sitting behind the drumset once again.