Program Director for Traditional Arts & Accessibility Southern Arts Federation
Where do you currently work?
I'm the Program Director for Traditional Arts & Accessibility for the Southern Arts Federation (SAF). The SAF, a private non-profit, is one of six Regional Arts Organizations in the country. We promote and support the arts in the South. I have the privilege of working with folklorists from nine Southern state folklife programs. As the organization's senior manager, I coordinate the annual Folklorists in the South meeting, oversee Southern Visions: The Southern Arts and Culture Traveling Exhibits Program (which includes developing exhibits), and serve on various grant panels. I'm the Exhibit Director for Tradition/Innovation, American Masterpieces of Southern Craft & Traditional Art, a project of the National Endowment for the Art's American Masterpieces' Initiative. I also served as Co-Chair of the 2005 American Folklore Society Annual Meeting (a true learning experience!) and am a charter member of the Craft Advisory Committee for the HandMade Institute/HandMade in America.
Tell me a bit about your career?
I have been extremely fortunate to have continuous employment as a public sector folklorist since graduating from WKU. An internship with Bob Gates of the Kentucky Folklife Program resulted in a series of contracts with the KFP (1989-1990). Michael Ann Williams encouraged me to apply for an NEA-funded position with the Maine Folklife Program at the University of Maine (1990-1993). Working with Dr. Sandy Ives was a remarkable experience! He and Lynwood Montell were wonderful fieldwork mentors. The next stop was with the Florida Folklife Program (1993 ' 1999); first in White Springs, Florida, and later in Tallahassee. These combined experiences have provided opportunities for fieldwork, writing, exhibit production, festival development, event coordination, educator and artist training, concert tour production, fundraising, grant writing, etc. See Question #1 for my current status.
How has folklore prepared you for your career?
WKU provided an incredible balance of folklore theory and applied folklife experience. One of my most valuable lessons was dissecting NEA grant guidelines, and producing and defending a faux federal grant. (Thank you, Cam Collins!) Little did I know at the time, the countless grant applications that were ahead of me! A career as a folklorist has given me the opportunity to meet fascinating traditional artists and community leaders whose paths I would have never crossed. I've had the opportunity to travel, work consistently in my chosen field, and always have a topic of conversation for cocktail parties.