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American Folklore Society Appoints Dr. Jessica A. Turner as Executive Director

Monday, December 11, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Meredith McGriff
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The American Folklore Society’s Executive Board is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Jessica A. Turner as the Society’s next Executive Director.

Dr. Turner, a native of Chilhowie, Virginia, has served as Director of the Smithsonian-affiliated Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, Tennessee/Virginia, since 2013. During the two years before her time as Director, she helped secure the decisive funding for the museum, and led the curatorial team during its design and development phase. She received her PhD from Indiana University’s Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology in 2010 and her MA from the same department in 2002. Her MA thesis examined the community at the Carter Family Fold music center in southwest Virginia, and her PhD dissertation focused on ethnic minority performances and heritage tourism in Guangxi Province in southwestern China.

During her six years with the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Dr. Turner’s creativity and vision were instrumental in providing that institution with a firm foundation. She cultivated the Museum’s initiatives in collections and interpretation, directed the development of innovative educational programming, helped to create strong and fruitful partnerships with other institutions, and was a key advocate for the Museum’s work within its local community. During Dr. Turner's tenure, the Museum received awards for excellence in museum practice and programming from the Tennessee Association of Museums, the Southeastern Museums Conference, and the American Association for State and Local History.

Alongside her museum work, Dr. Turner developed, coordinated, and taught in the Cultural Heritage Studies and Public Arts program at Virginia Intermont College. She has lectured at universities in the US and China. She served AFS as the convener of its Transnational Asia Pacific Section from 2009 to 2012, and has participated in US-China collaborations sponsored by AFS, the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Dr. Turner will begin work for the Society on February 1, 2018, following the retirement of Dr. Timothy Lloyd, who has been the Society’s Executive Director since 2001. Dr. Lloyd will continue to assist Dr. Turner as a volunteer Senior Advisor for Partnerships, focusing on AFS’s international and scholarly communications initiatives.

AFS President Kay Turner of New York University said, “We are very pleased to introduce Jessica Turner as the new Executive Director of the American Folklore Society. Dr. Turner’s high level of expertise and accomplishment as both scholar and administrator will surely serve the Society well. She’s worked the very local, documenting the Carter Family Fold music of Virginia and the very global, studying heritage tourism in China. Her visionary work has helped to create and sustain the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. She possesses an abundance of goodwill and good nature, both of which are qualities that bridge gaps and open up possibilities. We are deeply encouraged by her desire to serve AFS. Along with the entire Executive Board, I want to take this public opportunity to welcome her to a long and fulfilling tenure in an era ripe for further expansion of the folklore studies field.” 

AFS President-Elect (and 2018-2019 President) Dorothy Noyes of The Ohio State University added, “I am impressed by Jessica's success as an institution builder and fundraiser in a challenging climate. She demonstrates an ability to work through divides and to think creatively about the needs of all parties in ways that will foster collaboration across our heterogeneous Society and will build bridges to diverse communities as well as new organizational partnerships. Her international as well as regional field expertise speaks to her ability to support the scope of the Society's work."

Retiring Executive Director Timothy Lloyd noted, “Jessica’s leadership experience is extremely well suited for the challenges and opportunities facing AFS and its members. Her work has encompassed the academic and public dimensions of the field, and has included considerable attention to the role of folk culture in economic development and public education. In addition, our US-China partnership will be strengthened by her experience and her understanding of the politics of culture there.”

“I am honored to serve and eager to begin work for the American Folklore Society that has fostered my own work as a folklorist,” said Dr. Turner. “AFS is a strong organization poised to push forward the major issues identified as core values of its members. I look forward to working with the AFS staff, Executive Board, and members to sustain momentum to raise the profile of our discipline, advocate for our programs, foster our members, and to begin new initiatives that further the goals of diversity, inclusion, and broad relevance. These efforts take a village, and I am excited to work closely with our incredible village.” 

Please join with us in welcoming Jessica Turner to the Society’s leadership.



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American Folklore SocietySister Society: SIEF
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