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 Pinto Guira making guiramaking lacemaking a mandala

[We] have a stake in culture and its future, in the humanities, the arts, and the social sciences, and in world understanding; if we don’t make ourselves heard and felt in the councils of cultural strategy, then we (and mankind) will be losers.
—Benjamin Botkin, New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1952)

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NYFS Staff

Ellen McHale, Executive Director
Ellen holds a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. A native New Yorker, she has worked for the last 17 years as a consulting folklorist in many areas of upstate New York and western Massachusetts. Before taking the position as executive director of New York Folklore Society, Ellen held posts as director of the Schoharie County Historical Society/Old Stone Fort Museum (1990–1994), director of the Shaker Heritage Society (1986–1987), and assistant director of the Folklife Center of the International House of Philadelphia (1983–1985). A Fulbright Scholar, she received a Senior Fellowship to lecture at the Institute for Folklife Studies (Institutet for folklivsforskning) at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, from 1988–1989 and has taught folklore courses at the university level for Empire State College and for Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. She has published numerous scholarly articles and programmatic pieces about her folklore scholarship.

Ellen McHale is no stranger to the New York Folklore Society, having served on the Board of NYFS from 1987 to 1997, with a term as president from 1993–1996. Actively involved with the Society’s archives project from its inception, she was a major contributor to the New York Folklore Society’s publication, Working with Folk Materials in New York State.

Lisa Overholser, Staff Folklorist
Lisa holds a PhD in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University-Bloomington. Involved with the Society’s New York State Music Project and workshop series in 2008–9, she is working to develop the Traditional Musicians’ Resource pages on the Society’s website. She conducts documentation within the Capital District Region, and has also worked as a contract folklorist in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and in Brooklyn, where she was instrumental in the start-up of the “Folk Feet Project” at the Brooklyn Arts Council while serving as a NYSCA-supported public sector folklore intern. Her fieldwork has taken her to Hungary, and she has worked specifically with Hungarian and Caribbean communities in the United States. Recent programs she has organized at the Society include a Folk Arts Series at the Albany Institute of History and Art in early 2010, and a statewide series of Hungarian dancehouses, called “Hungarian Trilogy,” in spring 2011.

Laurie Longfield, Gallery and Administration
Laurie Longfield was born and raised in Schenectady, New York, and has lived in many areas of the US, from Seattle, Washington, to New York City and Brooklyn, to Burbank, California. Laurie has worked in the arts and banking and finance for most of her business career, having worked at EF Hutton, European American Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust on Wall Street, and at Chase Manhattan Bank and the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado. She has an associate degree in Advertising Design and Production. At NYFS, Laurie is the gallery manager, coordinating the gallery inventory and maintaining artist records and fulfilling web-based sales. She also processes and records membership activity and maintains the membership database. She is the administrative manager for Voices, and works very closely with executive director Ellen McHale on the administration of various projects such as the CD Club, Voices of New York, and Dr. McHale’s and Dr. Elizabeth Tucker’s forthcoming book, New York State Folklife: A Reader.

Todd Degarmo, Acquisitions Editor for Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore.
Beginning with the Spring-Summer 2012 issue (delayed til October 2012), Todd DeGarmo has assumed the position as acquisitions editor for Voices. Todd DeGarmo is the founding director of the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, New York, an award-winning program known for its research collections, gallery exhibits, and innovative public programming that showcase the cultural traditions of the lower Adirondacks and upper Hudson valley. Todd cut his professional teeth in folklife studies with the Smithsonian’s Festival of American Folklife, came back to eastern upstate New York in the mid-1980s, and has been active in public sector folklore ever since. He has a BA from Colgate University, MA in anthropology and archives coursework from SUNY-Albany, and ABD. in American Studies (with an emphasis on Folklife Studies) from George Washington University. He has taught a variety of courses to various students, including corporate Tokyo, Skidmore and Empire State Colleges, Massachusetts Audubon, and BOCES Gifted and Talented. He has served as President of the New York Folklore Society, is an advisor to the Capital District Library Council’s Documentary Heritage Program, a Folk Arts panel member to the New York State Council on the Arts, and has provided professional services to many organizations in the Northeast. Todd grew up in the mid-Hudson valley (rural Dutchess County) with family ties to his father’s family farm in Saratoga County, and his mother’s homeplace on the north shore of Long Island. He currently lives a stone’s throw from the Batten Kill in Washington County, near the Vermont border with his wife, three children, and assorted animals.

Patti Mason, Website Manager and Voices Copy Editor
Patti joined the New York Folklore Society in 1997, working as an administrative assistant in the Ithaca office through May, 1999. She has served as the Society’s website manager since its inception in 1998. With sadness, she left Ithaca, New York, to accompany her family to Arizona in 2002, but continues her relationship with the Folklore Society through cyberspace. She assumed copy editing responsibilities for Voices in 2012, in addition to website management and development for NYFS.

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