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Brent Björkman

BRENT BJÖRKMAN, Director, Kentucky Folklife Program, Western Kentucky University

MA In Folk Studies, Western Kentucky University (1998); Träslöjd Betyg (Traditional Woodwork Degree), Västerberg Folkhögskola, Sweden (1996); BS, Social Studies/History-Secondary Education, Saint Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota (1992); Assistant Research Professor and Director of the Kentucky Folklife Program, Western Kentucky University (2012-present); Executive Director, Vermont Folklife Center (2007-2012); Associate Director, American Folklore Society (2005-2007); Independent Folklorist (2004-2005); Folklife Specialist, Kentucky Folklife Program (1999-2004); Member, Folklorists in New England, (2007-2012), Co-convener (2011-2012); Member, Preserving America’s Cultural Traditions (PACT), (2007-2012), Co-convener (2008-2010); Member, American Folklore Society (1996-present); Member, AFS Public Programs Section (1996 to present), Co-convener (2012-present); Graduate of Vermont Leadership Institute, Snelling Center for Government, University of Vermont (2009); Regional Representative, State Arts Agency Folk Arts Peer Group Planning Committee, Chicago, Illinois (2011)

Like my esteemed colleagues also running for the executive board, I was asked to consider the challenges and opportunities I see as we take AFS into the future. Although the challenges facing our society are many, I feel that our road to the future will be best navigated by capitalizing and concentrating on our strengths and opportunities.

Increasingly, AFS is a vibrant organization that works effectively to listen to the multi-faceted needs of members. The board and staff have initiated important steps forward in recent years, including a new AFS website that allows greater connection to resources and communication networks in the field, greater on-line sharing of scholarly works in the form of such collaborative endeavors as Open Folklore, and the National Folklore Archive Initiative, a project that will make folklore archival collections more easily available to all through an open-access online database.

If elected to the Executive Board, I would bring my experience as a former AFS staff member and long-time active member of the Society as well as my experience in the many spheres in which folklorists work: as a folklorist within state government, as an independent contractor, as head of a non-profit folklife center and most recently as a program director within a university setting. I would work with members, board, and staff to continue to listen to the needs of the membership and build on our strengths as we work together to tackle the issues that continue to be most challenging, such as increasing diversity in our ranks, thoughtfully engaging the next generation of folklorists, and increasing our discipline’s visibility and viability over time.

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