Board of Trustees
The American Folklife Center was created by the U.S. Congress in 1976
through Public Law 94-201, the "American Folklife Preservation Act." According
to the law, the Center receives policy direction from a Board of Trustees
that is made up of representatives from departments and agencies of the
federal government concerned with some aspect of American folklife traditions
and the arts; the heads of four of the major federal institutions concerned
with culture and the arts (see below); persons from private life who are
able to provide regional balance; and the director of the Center. Included
in the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1999, are provisions for
the board to be expanded to include four new members appointed by the Librarian
of Congress, and, ex officio, the president of the American Folklore Society
and the president of the Society for Ethnomusicology. The board meets several
times a year, in Washington, D.C., or in other locations around the country,
to review the operations of the Center, engage in long-range planning and
policy formulation, and share information on matters of cultural programming.
Congressional Appointees | Presidential Appointees | Librarian Appointees | Ex Officio Members
C. Kurt Dewherst, Chair of the AFC Board of Trustees
C. Kurt Dewhurst (Chair) serves as the Director of Arts and Cultural Initiatives and Senior Fellow, University Outreach & Engagement and Curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Michigan State University Museum. He is also a Professor of English at Michigan State University.
A founder of the folk and traditional arts programs at the MSU museum, he coordinates a variety of folklife research, collection development, and outreach programs. He is one of the founding directors of the Festival of Michigan Folklife, a coordinator for the
National Folk Festival when it was in East Lansing, and is a founding director for the Great Lakes Folk Festival. Dewhurst is currently the President of the American Folklore Society.
Patricia A. Atkinson, a native westerner, joined the Nevada Arts Council as its Folklife Program Coordinator in December 2007. She has initiated the Nevada Heritage Award to honor and celebrate the state's living cultural treasures. Atkinson has been a professional folklorist for over 35 years and has
served as an independent consultant and trainer for programs in more than a dozen states and four regions.
Jean Dorton is the Community and Legislative Liaison of Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Paintsville, Kentucky. Ms. Dorton has served as a board member for various organizations, including as a member and chair of the Kentucky Folk Art Museum, the Kentucky Arts Council, East Kentucky Concert Series, and the Apple Festival Arts and Crafts Board.
Joanna Hess is the founder of the Indigenous Language Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has also served as the producer of two documentaries, Beyond Words (1988) and Life is Language, Language is our Life (1997). She serves on numerous arts and cultural boards, including the Santa Fe Art Institute, Native Americans International, and the Center for Contemporary Arts.
Margaret Z. Robson received her B.B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota. Ms. Robson has spent many years in public service, primarily in the fields of health, art, and historic preservation. She was a member of the Board of Directors of the Northwestern Memorial Foundation in Chicago and was a Trustee of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital. From 1987-1990, Ms. Robson served as a Commissioner on the Georgia Boxing Commission, Atlanta, Georgia. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Santa Fe Art Institute; College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, Minnesota; and the American Folk Art Museum in New York. She was a Regent for the Museums of New Mexico and a member of the Board of the Foundation for Self Taught Artists and the Vice President's Residence Foundation. She has served on the President's Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Defense Advisory Commission on Women in the Military (DACOWITS), and the President's Committee on Arts and Humanities.
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On January 19, 2011, President Obama appointed Susan Hildreth to be director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The nomination to her new post was confirmed by the US Senate by unanimous consent on December 22, 2010. Hildreth is the former city librarian of Seattle where she managed the Seattle Public Library, which includes the world-renowned Central Library and twenty-six new and expanded branches.
Hildreth was the former state librarian of California, where she managed a seventy-million-dollar administrative budget supporting library and research services for the state government, as well as funding and consultation for California libraries. Before her 2004 appointment to that position by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hildreth was city librarian of San Francisco. Hildreth was president of the Public Library Association and served on its board of directors. She was an elected member of the council that governs the American Library Association. She was a longtime member of the California Library Association and served as its president and treasurer. Hildreth graduated cum laude from Syracuse University and holds a master's degree in library science from the State University of New York at Albany and a master's degree in business from Rutgers University.
Robert G. Stanton, former Director of the National Park Service, U.S.Department of the Interior, is a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. He advises the Secretary on a wide range of environmental, educational, organizational and management challenges and opportunities, and works closely with the bureaus and offices in advancing the Secretary and the President's goals for the Department. Included among the bureaus and offices are the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Indian Education, and National Park Service. He represents the Secretary and the Department on Presidential Interagency Policy Review Committees, Boards, and Commissions. He also provides executive leadership and program direction for the Interior Museum at the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building, and the congressionally authorized Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Prior to assuming this position, Mr. Stanton served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Program Management in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget.
Since beginning his career as a National Park Service ranger 48 years ago, in Grand Teton National Park, Mr. Stanton has dedicated his life to improving the conservation and management of our treasured landscapes and heritage resources. He has served with the National Park Service in several key management positions including Park Superintendent, Deputy Regional Director, Regional Director, Assistant Director, and Associate Director. He has received numerous national awards for outstanding public service and leadership in conservation, historic preservation, youth programs, and diversity in employment and public programs. A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Mr. Stanton grew up in Mosier Valley, one of the oldest communities in Texas founded by African Americans shortly after the U. S. Civil War.
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Born in Cuba and raised in Puerto Rico, Maribel Alvarez holds a dual appointment as Assistant Research Professor in the English Department and Research Social Scientist at the Southwest Center, University of Arizona. She is deeply devoted to Chicano folk arts and culture, and her teaching and research interests focus primarily on cultural objects, oral histories, and visual representations of the US-Mexico border. Alvarez serves on
several boards, including the Board of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC).
Bob Edwards is a national leader in the field of radio journalism. He is currently the host of "The Bob Edwards Show" on Sirius XM Radio, and "Bob Edwards Weekend," which is distributed to public radio stations by Public Radio International. Both programs feature in-depth interviews with newsmakers, journalists, entertainers, and other compelling figures. For several years, the shows have featured segments highlighting audio recordings from the collections of the American Folklife Center.
Edwards was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and began his radio career there. Following service as a broadcaster in the U.S. Army, Edwards moved to Washington, D.C. He joined National Public Radio (NPR) in 1974, and was co-host of their evening news magazine, "All Things Considered," until 1979, when he helped launch the morning news program "Morning Edition." He hosted "Morning Edition" for over twenty-four years, attracting more than thirteen million listeners weekly.
Bob Edwards has won the duPont-Columbia Award for radio journalism, a George Foster Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting, and the Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio. He serves as national first vice president of AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In November of 2004, Edwards was inducted into the national Radio Hall of Fame. He is the author of three books: Fridays with Red (2000), which chronicled his radio friendship with legendary sportscaster Red Barber, Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism (2004), and his autobiograpy, A Voice in the Box: My Life in Radio (2011).
Tom Rankin is Director of the Center for Documentary Studies and Associate Professor of the Practice of Art and Documentary Studies at Duke University. Rankin is formerly Associate Professor of Art and Southern Studies at the
University of Mississippi and Chair of the Art Department at Delta State University. A native of Kentucky, he is a graduate of Tufts University (BA, summa cum laude, American History), the University of North Carolina at Chapel
Hill (MA, Folklore), and Georgia State University (MFA, Photography). His books include Sacred Space: Photographs from the Mississippi Delta (1993), which received the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for
Photography; Deaf Maggie Lee Sayre: Photographs of a River Life (1995); Faulkner's World: The Photographs of Martin J. Dain (1997); and Local Heroes Changing America: Indivisible (2000).
Brigadier General Donald L. Scott
Donald Lavern Scott entered the United States Army in 1960 as a Distinguished Military Graduate from Lincoln University (MO), with the rank of Second Lieutenant and retired in 1991 with the rank of Brigadier General.
General Scott served as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer under the late Maynard H. Jackson for the city of Atlanta, GA; founded the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps; and served for ten years as the
Deputy Librarian and Chief Operating Officer for the Library of Congress. Since retirement from the Library of Congress, General Scott has served as a board member of the Missouri State Parks Foundation and a member of the
Five Star council of the AFC's Veterans History Project.
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Ex Officio Members
Harris M. Berger is the current president of the Society for Ethnomusicology and professor of music in the Department of Performance Studies at Texas A&M University. His publications include Metal, Rock, and Jazz: Perception and the Phenomenology of Musical Experience (Wesleyan University Press, 1999), Global Pop, Local Language (editor, with Michael T. Carroll, University Press of Mississippi, 2003), Identity and Everyday Life: Essays in the Study of Folklore, Music, and Popular Culture (with Giovanna P. Del Negro, Wesleyan University Press, 2004), and Stance: Ideas about Emotion, Style, and Meaning for the Study of Expressive Culture (Wesleyan University Press, 2009), and Metal Rules the Globe (editor, with Jeremy Wallach and Paul D. Greene, Duke University Press, 2011).
James Hadley Billington was sworn in as the Librarian of Congress on September 14, 1987. He is the 13th incumbent of that position since the Library was established in 1800. Under his leadership, the Library has expanded its public outreach,
most notably in major international exhibits and through the establishment of a new National Digital Library and other electronic services for users in remote locations. Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Billington was educated in the public
schools of the Philadelphia area. He was class valedictorian at both Lower Merion High School and Princeton University, where he graduated with highest honors in 1950. Three years later, he earned his doctorate from Oxford University, where
he was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College. Following service with the U. S. Army, he taught history at Harvard University from 1957 to 1962, then moved to the faculty of Princeton University, where he was professor of history from 1964 to 1974.
From 1973 to 1987, Billington was director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Billington was a longtime member of the editorial advisory boards of Foreign Affairs and of Theology Today, and a member of the Board of
Foreign Scholarships in 1971-76 (chairman, 1971-73), which has executive responsibility for academic exchanges worldwide under the Fulbright-Hays Act. He is on the Board of the Center for Theological Inquiry and a member of the American Philosophical
Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Alternate for James H. Billington: Roberta Shaffer, Associate Librarian for Library Services, Library of Congress.
G. Wayne Clough is the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Since he began as Secretary in July 2008, he has overseen several major openings at the Smithsonian, including the reopening of the National
Museum of American History, the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, and the Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History. Before his appointment, Clough was president of the Georgia Institute of
Technology for 14 years. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech, in 1964 and 1965 respectively, and a doctorate in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1969.
Alternate for G. Wayne Clough: Daniel Sheehy, Director of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and Curator of the Smithsonian Folkways Collections.
Diane Goldstein is President of the American Folklore Society and a Professor in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University at Bloomington. She earned a BA at Memorial University of Newfoundland in religious studies (1979) and a doctorate in folklore and folklife at the University of Pennsylvania (1987). Between 1987 and 2009 she was a professor in the Department of Folklore at the Memorial University of Newfoundland. She is author of Once Upon A Virus: AIDS Legends and Vernacular Risk Perception (Utah State University Press 2004), co-editor (with Cindy Patton and Heather Worth) of a special issue of Sexuality Research and Social Policy entitled "Reckless Vectors: The Infecting 'Other' in HIV/AIDS Law" (2005), author of Haunting Experiences: Ghosts in Contemporary Folklore (with Sylvia Grider and Jeannie Banks Thomas, Utah State University Press 2009), and editor of a special issue of Western Folklore: 9/11 and After… Folklore in Times of Terror (2009). She was also the editor of one of the earliest interdisciplinary anthologies on AIDS, entitled Talking AIDS: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (ISER Books 1991).
In August, 2009, Rocco Landesman was confirmed as the tenth chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) by the United States Senate. Prior to joining the NEA, Mr. Landesman was a Broadway theater producer.
Mr. Landesman was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He pursued his undergraduate education at Colby College and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and earned a doctorate in Dramatic Literature at the Yale School of Drama.
Following the completion of his course work, Mr. Landesman stayed at the school for four years, working as an assistant professor.
Alternate for Rocco Landesman: Barry Bergey, Director of Folk and Traditional Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts.
James A. Leach is Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Prior to being nominated for the post by President Obama, Leach was a Professor at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and Interim Director of the Institute of Politics
and Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School. Leach's brief stint in academia was preceded by 30 years of service as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Iowa, where he chaired the Banking and Financial Services Committee, the Subcommittee on Asian and
Pacific Affairs, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. Leach attended Princeton University, the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University, and the London School of Economics. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
Leach holds ten honorary degrees. He has also received decorations from two foreign governments, and is the recipient of the Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award, the Adlai Stevenson Award from the United Nations Association, the Edger Wayburn Award from the Sierra Club,
the Norman Borlaug Public Service Award, and the Woodrow Wilson Award from Princeton. Leach has served on the boards of several public companies and non-profit organizations, including the Century Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Social Sciences
Research Council, Pro Publica and Common Cause. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and formerly served as a trustee of Princeton University.
Alternate for James A. Leach: Wilsonia Cherry, Deputy Director of the Division of Education Programs, National Endowment for the Humanities.
Judith McCulloh, who earned her PhD from Indiana University, is Editor Emerita, University of Illinois Press. Retiring in 2007 as Assistant Director and Executive Editor, she served as general editor of the Press's ongoing series
Music in American Life, publishing some 130 titles, and two new series, American Composers and Women Composers. She also created the sixteen-volume series Folklore and Society.
She served on the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress from 1986 to 2004; and as trustee emerita since 2004. In 2010, McCulloh received the NEA Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship.
Her publications include "Writing for the World," Journal of American Folklore (1988); Ethnic Recordings in America (editor, 1982); Folklore/Folklife (coeditor, 1984); Stars of Country Music (coeditor, 1975);
and music transcriptions of cowboy, hillbilly, and Anglo-and African American songs and fiddle tunes.
Elizabeth Peterson is the Director of the American Folklife Center (appointed in 2012). Since 2009 Peterson has been a consultant, specializing in folklife-related cultural planning, program planning and assessments, development, meeting facilitation, writing, and research. Her primary clients have included the American Folklore Society, the Wyoming Arts Council, the Association of Western States Folklorists, the Houston Arts Alliance and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In her consulting work for AFC, Peterson helped develop a national documentation project focusing on the transformation of work in 21st century American life. She brought together scholars and other stakeholders from folklore, oral history, anthropology, public policy, private philanthropy, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) leading to a partnership agreement between the AFC and the IMLS. She co-directed a project team that coordinated and presented a 2010 symposium, Work and Transformation: Documenting American Workers at the Library of Congress.
Prior to her work as a consultant, Peterson was executive director (2004-2009) and program director (1998-2004) of the Fund for Folk Culture. In these positions, she advocated with private foundations to increase national visibility and resources for the folklore field, initiated working relationships with Grantmakers in the Arts, Inc., established a donor-advised fund, cultivated over 30 individual donors, and attracted corporate support for the fund. She encouraged cross-sector exchange to stimulate collaboration, networking and resource sharing on timely topics, such as support systems for immigrant and refugee artists and communities; holistic approaches to cultural conservation, environmental stewardship and sustainable development; and the impact of changing demographics on artistic production among artists, cultural activists, folklorists, funders, and policy researchers. She co-founded Preserving America's Cultural Traditions (PACT), a coalition of folklore nonprofits and federal agencies whose members meet annually for knowledge-sharing and collaborative planning. She initiated and secured support for three collaborative projects with the American Folklore Society (AFS) that provided professional development services for the field.