I received my MA in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John’s, NF, Canada) and my BA in Slavic Cultural Studies/Russian from Hampshire College (Amherst, MA). I have been the executive director of Nevada Humanities, Nevada’s nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, since 2009. Previously I worked as Archivist/Folklorist for the Vermont Folklife Center (1999-2001), as Folklife Program Associate for the Nevada Arts Council (2001 – 2003), and as Program Outreach Coordinator for the Western Folklife Center (2003 – 2009). As a folklorist I have documented traditional art forms, communities, and cultural issues around North America and abroad, and have shared my work through presentations about folklife fieldwork, scholarship, and community-based cultural work. I have undertaken fieldwork, produced programs, or developed collaborations, in nearly every state in the West (and beyond), nurturing a widely based network of folklorists based in universities, public institutions, and nonprofit organizations. My fieldwork-based projects have resulted in public programs that include written works, exhibitions, media productions, workshops, festivals, and a wide variety community programs. Much of my work has centered around the exploration of creative personal expression, sense of place, and the multifaceted dimensions of occupational folklife. After moving to Nevada to work at the Nevada Arts Council and then the Western Folklife Center, I worked throughout the region organizing programs and convening people around topics as various as public land use, sheep and cattle ranching, foodways, community stories, the folklife of casino and entertainment workers, immigration, and cowboy/vernacular poetry. I view our work as folklorists to have wide application and can see a place for our essential values in everything we undertake and influence. Now, at Nevada Humanities, I weave this work into the fabric of our state humanities council activities, supporting and producing programs that articulate the diverse perspectives of Nevadans and emphasize local culture and heritage, engagement, social justice, sense of place, and the core concepts of our field. I also serve as a panelist and consultant for numerous organizations and agencies nationwide, and regularly speak about my work as a folklorist. I am an active participant in national and regional cultural organizations, and have been a member of the Association of Western States Folklorists since 2003, hosting our annual meeting in Nevada for three years. My advocacy for the health and sustenance of vibrant cultural communities – and the infrastructure that supports them – has extended into a variety of sectors. In 2008 I founded the Arts and Culture Advisory Board to the City of Elko, NV, and joined with folklorist Craig Miller to found of the Salt Lake City based nonprofit Culture Conservation Corps. I now regularly advocate – at local and national levels – on behalf of cultural nonprofits throughout Nevada and affiliations of Nevada Humanities such as the Federation of State Humanities Councils and NEH.
Since attending my first AFS meeting in 1994, I have come to rely on AFS for professional growth, collegial fellowship, and as a think tank for the development – and critique – of ideas and issues relevant to our vibrant and interdisciplinary field. In addition to participating in and convening numerous panels, roundtables, and forums, my service to the Society has included: participation in a variety of special programs for AFS; serving on the planning committee for the 2009 annual meeting in Boise, ID; convening both the Public Programs Section (2006 – 2009) and Folklore, Politics & Social Justice Section (2009 – present); and serving on numerous committees including the Benjamin A. Botkin Prize for Excellence in Public Folklore (2005 – 2007). Years of experience in the nonprofit sector has given me insight into the critical importance of board development and governance. My 16 years of experience as an active member of AFS has made me aware of the issues facing both the Society and our field: the evolving legacy of our field and the creation, and nurturing, of emerging professionals through our academic programs and nonprofit organizations; advocating for our field at all levels of policymaking and influence; articulating fresh relevance as our field continues to grow and develop nationally and internationally; meeting the needs of current AFS members and offering greater opportunities for networking, mentorship, and constructive interaction; growing our membership to reflect the potential of the Society in terms of diverse representation of our constituencies; and creating a bright future for all folklorists and the Society that binds us together. Over the next couple of years the Society will most likely develop a new strategic plan, and the selection of board members is critical to ensuring that this plan represents the needs, perspectives, and vision of all members. If elected to the nominating committee I will work closely with fellow members of the committee, AFS’ Executive Board, staff, and membership to seek nominees who will fulfill the goals of the Society, reach with new vision, and represent the regional, ethnic, and occupational diversity of AFS.