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Lisa Rathje Becomes New Executive Director of Local Learning

Tuesday, May 9, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jesse A. Fivecoate
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Please join the board of Local Learning in welcoming Lisa Rathje as the new Executive Director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education. She will direct the administration and programs of Local Learning to meet its strategic plan and ensure the organization’s mission of creating strong partnerships that advocate for the full inclusion of folklife and folk arts in diverse educational settings.

Dr. Rathje has served as the Assistant Director of Local Learning since 2012. Rathje previously served as Director of Folklife Programs with Company of Folk in Chicago, Illinois, where she was responsible for planning and directing projects focused on identifying, preserving, and promoting folk and traditional arts. At the Institute for Cultural Partnerships (2006-2010) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, she conceptualized and served as project director for the multi-faceted education program The Art of Many Voices, including curriculum development, assessment, and community outreach. She will continue to serve as an adjunct faculty member in the Goucher College Masters in Cultural Sustainability program and will continue to be based in Chicago.

Rathje succeeds Paddy Bowman, who will remain with Local Learning in the position of Founding Director. As a national thought leader in education, Bowman will focus on offering professional development and training, writing publications for academic as well as general audiences, and networking with partners, peer organizations, and Local Learning affiliates to share best practices, create resources, and advocate for folk arts in education. Both directors will continue to co-edit the flagship publication of Local Learning: The Journal of Folklore and Education, a digital peer reviewed publication for interdisciplinary, multimedia approaches to community-based teaching, learning, and cultural stewardship.

In support of this transition, the Board of Directors of Local Learning issued this statement, “We embrace the expertise and visionary leadership that Lisa will bring to the organization in a time when the relevance and resilience of folklore and education is more important than ever. We have full confidence that Lisa will continue Local Learning’s commitment to traditional culture and local knowledge as a way to transform learning, build inter-cultural understanding, and create stronger communities.”

Local Learning began as the National Task Force for Folk Arts in Education during a 1993 national folk arts roundtable at the National Endowment for the Arts. Today, the core activities and programs of Local Learning provide services to the field of Folk Arts in Education and support practitioners. We convene with other national arts service organizations to ensure folk arts’ presence in national conversations and participate in the crafting of national policy and advocacy initiatives.  We offer technical assistance, circulate news of the field through a variety of media and platforms, and provide professional development for educators, folk artists, and folklorists. Our publication, the Journal of Folklore and Education, publishes work representing ethnographic approaches that tap the knowledge and life experience of students, their families, community members, and educators in K-16, higher education, museum, and community education.


The Local Learning Board

Betty Belanus, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

Linda Deafenbaugh, Philadelphia Folklore Project

Mike Knoll, HistoryMiami

Maida Owens, Louisiana Diversion of the Arts

Anne Pryor, Wisconsin Teachers of Local Culture

Steve Zeitlin, City Lore


You may reach Lisa Rathje at

Paddy Bowman may be reached at

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