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Sally A. Van de Water
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Sally A. Van de Water, Independent, New Park, Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania State Folklorist, 2015-

Loyal AFS member since 1996. Other professional experience includes managing national, regional, and local folklife programs at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, City of Boston, and the Institute for Cultural Partnerships. Participant in the 2012 China-US Forum on Intangible Cultural Heritage Professional Exchange. Co-Convener of the AFS Public Programs Section (2009-2012) and member of the AFS Nominating Committee (2012-2014). She holds an AB in Folklore and Folklife from Bryn Mawr College and a MA in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University.

I’m proud to be a member of AFS. Our field’s great strengths are our collegiality, our passion for our work, our capacity for mentorship, and our ethical commitment to cultural equity.  We must use these strengths to confront our biggest challenges, both borne of insularity. Those outside our field don’t know we exist, and we appear homogenous. These challenges are not unrelated, nor are they insurmountable. If our practice is to align with our ethics, we must embark upon and sustain projects both serious and whimsical that demonstrate our relevance to the world’s concerns and our commitment to diversity. We must continue to welcome colleagues of color and believe them when they say we are a problematic field, confront our legacies of exclusivity, and work to be more inclusive. We must also continue to look for partnerships beyond our field’s boundaries. Several notable folklore organizations are already partnering with those in health care, social justice, and other realms. As a Board member, I would look to these examples. I would work with the Board and Executive Director for ways to make our work relevant to those outside our discipline, and more relevant to those within it. We must mentor each other, across generations and genres, galvanizing the intellectual curiosity that informs our field. As a member of the Executive Board, I would work with the Board and Executive Director to capitalize on the strengths of our field, to enact programs and initiatives that broaden our reach, to welcome and amplify the voices of colleagues of color, to mentor newcomers, and to foster partnerships beyond our field for the benefit of all.

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