Board of Trustees
The American Folklife Center was created by the U.S. Congress in 1976
through Public Law 94-201, the "American Folklife Preservation Act." According
to the law, the Center receives policy direction from a Board of Trustees
that is made up of representatives from departments and agencies of the
federal government concerned with some aspect of American folklife traditions
and the arts; the heads of four of the major federal institutions concerned
with culture and the arts (see below); persons from private life who are
able to provide regional balance; and the director of the Center. Included
in the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 1999, are provisions for
the board to be expanded to include four new members appointed by the Librarian
of Congress, and, ex officio, the president of the American Folklore Society
and the president of the Society for Ethnomusicology. The board meets several
times a year, in Washington, D.C., or in other locations around the country,
to review the operations of the Center, engage in long-range planning and
policy formulation, and share information on matters of cultural programming.
Congressional Appointees | Presidential Appointees | Librarian Appointees | Ex Officio Members
Amy Kitchener. Photo by Craig Kohlruss, 2017.
Amy Kitchener (Chair) co-founded the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) in 1997 and is its current executive director. Understanding California's unique position as the nation's epicenter for diverse cultural and multi-national communities, ACTA's work has focused on social change through grantmaking, capacity and leadership development, technical assistance, and bilingual program development. Trained as a public folklorist with an MA from UCLA, Amy has piloted participatory cultural asset mapping in neglected and rural areas of the state and consults with other organizations and across sectors on this method of discovery and inclusion of community voices. She continues to serve as a consultant for many national organizations and has taken part in two U.S.-China Intangible Cultural Heritage exchanges. She has published on a variety of subjects involving California folklife, including immigrant arts training and transmission, and Asian American folk arts. Amy and husband Hugo Morales are the proud parents of twin boys who dance and sing with regularity.
Anne Arrington, a native of New Orleans, studied at Southern Methodist University and at the University College of London receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology. She also earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans. After working in International Relations at NASA, she continued her public service as Associate Director for Policy in the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Anne married her husband, Jodey C. Arrington, and moved to Lubbock, Texas, where she served on the Board of Trustees for the Texas Tech University Museum of Art. Her passion for art, music and diverse cultures stems from growing up in New Orleans and traveling and teaching English abroad. She also brings a love of Western and Native American art and culture from her 15 years living in the Southwest. She currently resides in a region of Western Texas known as the Llano Estacado, which means the palisaded plains, an area with strong Native American and American Frontier heritage. Anne and Jodey, who is now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, have three children, Nate, Jane, and Henry.
Patricia A. Atkinson, a native westerner, joined the Nevada Arts Council as its Folklife Program Coordinator in December 2007. She has initiated the Nevada Heritage Award to honor and celebrate the state's living cultural treasures. Atkinson has been a professional folklorist for over 35 years and has served as an independent consultant and trainer for programs in more than a dozen states and four regions.
Jean Dorton is the Community and Legislative Liaison of Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Paintsville, Kentucky. Ms. Dorton has served as a board member for various organizations, including as a member and chair of the Kentucky Folk Art Museum, the Kentucky Arts Council, East Kentucky Concert Series, and the Apple Festival Arts and Crafts Board.
Robert Anacletus Underwood, a former member of the US Congress, was the president of the University of Guam from 2008 until July 2018. He is a distinguished educator with many publications and major presentations to his credit. He served as a classroom teacher, curriculum writer, school administrator, Guam school board member, dean of the College of Education and academic vice president of the University of Guam.
His public service and professional record reflects his passion for his homeland, Guam, commitment to high educational standards and his devotion to issues of justice and equity. He is widely acknowledged as a leading authority on cultural, educational and linguistic issues as well as federal-territorial relations in Guam and Micronesia.
Jay Winik is one of the nation’s leading public historians, an acclaimed best-selling writer, a popular public speaker, and a frequent television and radio guest. He is the author of the New York Times best-selling April 1865, which was adapted for an Emmy nominated TV special on the History Channel. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers, The Great Upheaval and 1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History.
He is the on-air Fox News Presidential Historian for such major events as the presidential inaugurations for Donald Trump and Barack Obama. He is an Advisor for the start-up newsmagazine, Franknews; he is also their Columnist and Historian in Residence. He was until recently the Inaugural Historian-in-Residence at the Council on Foreign Relations. At the invitation of the Librarian of Congress, he was interviewed by noted philanthropist David Rubenstein in January 2017 about 1944 before 250 Members of Congress. Winik has been a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal as well as the New York Times, and numerous other major publications. Winik is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, an elected Fellow of the Society of American Historians, and served or serves on the Governing Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as the boards for American Heritage magazine, Ford's Theatre, the Lincoln Legacy Project, the journal World Affair, the Civil War Preservation Trust, The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and the Potomac School. He has a BA and PhD from Yale University, and an MSc with distinction from the London School of Economics.
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Garrick Davis is the historian of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington DC and Program Manager for the Deputy Chairman for Partnerships. He has also served as the NEA's Literature Specialist (2005–2008) as well as the specialist responsible for the NEA's Arts Journalism Institutes and the Poetry Out Loud program. Davis is a poet and the founding editor of the Contemporary Poetry Review, the largest online archive of poetry criticism in the English-speaking world and founded in 1998. His criticism appears regularly in the Contemporary Poetry Review. His work has also been published in the New Criterion, the Weekly Standard and Humanities magazine. His poetry has appeared in a numerous literary magazines including Verse, McSweeney’s, the Alabama Literary Review, and the New York Sun. A collection of his poems, Terminal Diagrams, was published in 2010.
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Heather L. Hodges is the director of external relations at the Historic New Orleans Collection: a museum, research center, and publisher dedicated to preserving the history and culture of New Orleans and the Gulf South. She was the executive director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, a federal National Heritage Area, from 2017-2020. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Joyner Institute for Gullah Geechee and African Diaspora Studies at Coastal Carolina University.
Lori Pourier (Oglala Lakota) is the President of the First Peoples Fund (FPF) . FPF takes a holistic approach to providing support to Indigenous culture bearers, artists, youth and community-based organizations located in tribal Nations. Under Ms. Pourier’s leadership since 1999, FPF has directly supported nearly 5,000 Native cultural bearers and artists as deeply rooted community leaders and entrepreneurs, recognizing their unique role in bringing about social and economic change and in inspiring next generation leaders. Lori has been involved in the arts, social justice, and community development fields for 28 years. She has dedicated much of her efforts on reconnecting Native communities to their cultural assets and bringing new philanthropic resources to Indigenous artists and culture bearers directly.
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Ex Officio Members
Carla Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress on September 14, 2016. Hayden, the first woman and the first African American to lead the national library, was nominated to the position by President Barack Obama on February 24, 2016, and her nomination was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 13. Prior to her latest post she served, since 1993, as CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. Hayden was nominated by President Obama to be a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board in January 2010 and was confirmed to that post by the Senate in June 2010. Prior to joining the Pratt Library, Hayden was deputy commissioner and chief librarian of the Chicago Public Library from 1991 to 1993. She was an assistant professor for Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh from 1987 to 1991.
Nicole (Nicki) Saylor is Director of the American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress. The AFC is designated by the U.S. Congress as the national center for folklife documentation and research. AFC works with communities to document living traditional culture, while preserving the nation’s oldest and largest archive of ethnographic documentation. Saylor has led the Library’s Digital Innovation Lab, which explores creative ways to share the Library’s content and connect with researchers, artists and the public. She served as the head, and then director, of the Center's Archive of Folk Culture from 2012 to 2021.
Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He assumed his position June 16, 2019. As Secretary, he oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers. Previously, Bunch was the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. When he started as director in July 2005, he had one staff member, no collections, no funding and no site for a museum. Driven by optimism, determination and a commitment to build “a place that would make America better,” Bunch transformed a vision into a bold reality. The museum has welcomed more than 5 million visitors since it opened in September 2016 and compiled a collection of 40,000 objects that are housed in the first “green building” on the National Mall.
Tomie Hahn is the president elect of the Society for Ethnomusicology. She is Associate Professor of performance ethnology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a practicing artist. She is a performer of shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute), nihon buyo (Japanese traditional dance), and experimental performance. Dr. Hahn's research spans a wide range of area studies and topics including: Japanese traditional performing arts, Monster Truck rallies, issues of display, the senses and transmission, movement and gesture, and relationships of technology and culture. In 2008 her book, Sensational Knowledge: Embodying Culture through Japanese Dance (Wesleyan University Press) was awarded the Alan P. Merriam prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Maria Rosario Jackson, PhD
Maria Rosario Jackson is the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) . With her historic appointment in January 2022, Dr. Jackson became the nation’s first African American and Mexican American woman to be an NEA chair. Dr. Jackson has a long career in strategic planning, policy research and evaluation with philanthropy, government, and nonprofit organizations. She has served as an advisor on philanthropic programs and investments at national, regional, and local foundations. For more than 25 years, her work has focused on understanding and elevating arts, culture, and design as critical elements of healthy communities. Her work blends social science and arts- and humanities-based approaches to comprehensive community revitalization, systems change, the dynamics of race and ethnicity, and the roles of arts and culture in communities. Dr. Jackson was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Barack Obama in 2012 where she served until becoming chair of the NEA. Dr. Jackson was co-chair of the County of Los Angeles Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative and, most recently, served on the advisory boards of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Equity Center at the University of Virginia, the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), and L.A. Commons, an arts intermediary organization focused on bridging communities through stories and creative practice. She served on the board of directors of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County (The Music Center), the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts. Previously, Dr. Jackson worked at the Urban Institute, a Washington, DC-based national public policy research organization for 18 years. While there, she was a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center and the founding director of the Urban Institute’s Culture, Creativity and Communities Program. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a doctorate in urban planning, Dr. Jackson holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Southern California. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Crosby Kemper III is the sixth director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) . He was commissioned by the White House on January 24, 2020, following his confirmation by the United States Senate. IMLS, an independent government agency, is the primary source of federal support for the nation's museums and libraries. Kemper is a dedicated advocate for education and learning for people of all ages and backgrounds. He came to IMLS from the Kansas City Public Library, where as director, he established the library as one of the city’s leading cultural destinations and a hub of community engagement. Kemper also recently served as chair of the board of directors of the Schools, Health, & Libraries Broadband Coalition, which supports open, affordable broadband connections for local community organizations. Kemper is the editor of, and a contributor to, Winston Churchill: Resolution, Defiance, Magnanimity, Good Will, published by the University of Missouri Press. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University.
Shelly C. Lowe is Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. From 2015 to 2021 she served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member advisory body to NEH, an appointment she received from President Obama. Lowe’s career in higher education has included roles as Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program, Assistant Dean in the Yale College Dean’s Office, and Director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University. Prior to these positions, she spent six years as the Graduate Education Program Facilitator for the American Indian Studies Programs at the University of Arizona. Lowe has served in a variety of leadership roles nationally, most recently as a member of the University of Arizona Alumni Association Governing Board and of the Challenge Leadership Group for the MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellowship. She has served on the board of the National Indian Education Association and as a trustee on the board for the National Museum of the American Indian. Lowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master of Arts in American Indian Studies, and has completed doctoral coursework in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.
Denis Richard McDonough is Secretary of Veterans Affairs, as of February 2021. In his previous service in government, Secretary McDonough was the 26th White House Chief of Staff in President Obama's administration from February 2013 to January 2017. Prior to his role as Chief of Staff, Mr. McDonough was Principal Deputy National Security Advisor from October 2010 to January 2013. He also served as the Chief of Staff of the National Security Staff and as the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. He chaired the National Security Council’s Deputies Committee, leading the multiagency team to address complex challenges including crisis management and national security policymaking. And throughout his service in the White House, Secretary McDonough helped lead the Obama-Biden administration’s work on behalf of military families and Veterans. Before his eight-year tenure in the White House, Secretary McDonough served in senior leadership and policymaking positions in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Professional Staff Member on the International Relations Committee and in the U.S. Senate for Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Senator Ken Salazar. Since his White House tenure, Secretary McDonough was Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame, Senior Advisor and Senior Principal at the Markle Foundation, and on the board of directors of the National Democratic Institute, the Tent Partnership for Refugees, and the SAFE Project, a national nonprofit working to end the nation’s catastrophic addiction epidemic. Secretary McDonough grew up in Minnesota in a family of 11 children, graduated from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minnesota, and earned his master's degree from Georgetown University. Secretary McDonough and his wife, Kari, have three children.
Marilyn M. White is President of the American Folklore Society. Dr. White is a retired Professor of Anthropology at Kean University in NJ, where she taught from 1985 to 2011. She previously taught at Western Kentucky University for eight years. For the American Folklore Society, she has served on the Executive Board and was an early member, and then Chair, of the Cultural Diversity Committee. She has also served on the following committees: Nominating, Zora Neale Hurston Prize, Gerald L. Davis Travel Stipend, Américo Paredes Prize. She is the long-term President of the Association of African and African American Folklorists. She is on the board of the New Jersey Folklore Society and of City Lore (NYC). She is also a member of the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association and previously served on its board and as Vice President. She has served on folk arts panels for the NEA, as well as for a number of state arts agencies, and as an evaluator for folk arts apprenticeships or programs in New Jersey and Kentucky. Dr. White received her Ph.D. in Anthropology (Folklore) from The University of Texas at Austin, her MA in Folklore from Indiana University, and her BA in English from Hampton University. She has several publications and has presented papers and organized panels and forums at numerous annual meetings of the American Folklore Society. She served on the Editorial Board of the Encyclopedia of Women’s Folklore and Folklife (2008). She has given a number of lectures for various community, university, and school groups in the United States and abroad. Her research interests include African American folklore, family folklore, stratification, jokes and humor, and she has been conducting long-term research in Little Cayman.