STAFF & BOARD

STAFF

Ellen McHale 
Executive Director

Todd DeGarmo 
Editor and Chair, Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Laurie Longfield
Gallery, Administration and Publications Manager

Elinor Levy
Regional Coordinator, Mentoring and Professional Development Program

Iryna Voloshyna
Upstate Regional Representative

Patti Mason
Associate Editor, Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

Chibuikem Ajulu-Okeke
Web Developer Intern

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Tom van Buren, President
Independent Folklorist
Mid-Hudson

Kay Turner, Vice-President
Independent Folklorist
New York City

John Braungard, Treasurer
Hudson Valley Community College
Capital District

Mira C Johnson, Secretary
Bronx Community College
Mid-Hudson

James Hall
Rochester Institute of Technology
Finger Lakes

Gamileh Jamil
Independent Management Consultant
Western New York

Maria Kennedy
Rutgers University
Out of State

Wilfredo Morel
Hudson River Health Care
Mid-Hudson

Naomi Sturm-Wijesinghe
Philadelphia Folklore Project
Out of State

Julie Tay
Mencius Society for the Arts
New York City

Ellen McHale

Executive Director

Ph.D. in Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania 

M.A. Folklore and Folklife, University of Pennsylvania 

B.A. Music and American Studies, Wesleyan University 

Ellen grew up in rural Upstate New York, surrounded by local arts, community life, and her great Aunt’s handmade rag rugs and quilts. During her senior year of high school, Ellen traveled to Sweden as an exchange student and fell in love with Swedish traditional music. Planning to become a musician, Ellen studied world music at Wesleyan University, where she conducted her senior thesis on fiddlers and vocal musicians in Northern Vermont. At Wesleyan, she first learned of the field of folklore and decided to make that her career.  

Ellen has worked at New York Folklore for over twenty years. As the CEO of New York Folklore, her responsibilities include grant writing, serving as managing editor of “Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore,” working with the New York Folklore Board of Directors, communicating with funders and potential donors and funders, and serving as spokesperson for the organization. She enjoys the variety of activities each day in her job and the people that she works with. 

Before she joined New York Folklore, Ellen McHale worked as a public sector folklorist in several locations in New York State. She initiated folk arts programs at Arts Mid-Hudson and the Arts Center for the Capital District, and served as a consulting folklorist for many cultural organizations. Ellen served as Executive Director of the Shaker Heritage Society and later as the Director of the Schoharie County Historical Society. 

As a folklorist, Ellen has conducted fieldwork and written about the occupational life and lore of workers at Thoroughbred Racetracks in the United State, (Stable Views: Voices and Stories of the Thoroughbred Racetrack, Mississippi Press, 2014).  Her other research interests include responses to climate change and flooding caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, refugee and immigrant inclusion and adaptation, and the intersection of culture and the environment.  She is a Fulbright Fellow (Sweden/Senior Fellow) and was awarded an Archie Green Fellowship from the Library of Congress in 2012.  She has served as an adjunct for Empire State College, Cobleskill and for Utica College, Utica.

 

Todd DeGarmo

Editor and Chair, Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

A.B.D. American Studies with an emphasis on Folklife Studies, George Washington University

M.A. in Anthropology, and Archives coursework, SUNY Albany 

B.A., Colgate University

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 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 and as a Folk Arts panel member to the New York State Council on the Arts, is an advisor to the Documentary Heritage and Preservation Services for New York, and has provided professional services to many organizations throughout 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. 

 

Laurie Longfield

Gallery,  Administration and Publications Manager

A.S. in Advertising Design & Production

Laurie was born and raised in Schenectady, New York, and has also lived in Seattle, Washington, New York City, Brooklyn, Colorado, and Burbank, California. Laurie joined NYF in 2009, bringing with her years of experience in the arts, banking and finance. Laurie is Manager of the Gallery of New York Folk Art and enjoys working with the gallery folk artists. She coordinates the gallery inventory and maintains artists’ records in that capacity. Laurie is also the Administrative Manager, tracking membership activity, and the administration of Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore. Before she joined NYF, Laurie worked at EF Hutton, European American Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust on Wall Street, as well as the Aspen Art Museum and Chase Manhattan Bank in Colorado. She has extensive experience as a manager and human resources liaison. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking (and has had several recipes published, most notably in the Seattle (WA) Times, and the Vidalia Onion Cookbook), and visiting her family in New York City and New England. Laurie is a licensed New York State Notary Public and is Secretary of the Jay Street Business Association.

 

Elinor Levy

Regional Coordinator, Mentoring and Professional Development Program

Ph.D. in Folklore, Indiana University

M.A. in Anthropology, California State University

B.A. in Performing Arts Management, University of California

Elinor Levy, Ph.D. was raised in a family dedicated to art patronage in Oakland, CA. She earned a bachelor’s in Performing Arts Management, a self-designed major, at University of California, Riverside and worked briefly in the field in San Francisco. In 1995 she received her master’s in anthropology from California State University, Sacramento after completing a thesis on Vietnam Veterans Memorials as religious shrines. Following the advice of her mentors, who thought she was too funny for anthropology, she pursued a doctorate in folklore at Indiana University, Bloomington which she completed in 2003. Her dissertation focused on the use of folklore in collaborative methodologies using Habitat for Humanity as a case study.

Elinor has bounced around the country from California to Indiana, Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and now New York. Previously, she worked in Las Vegas as the folklorist for Clark County Parks and Recreation and as executive director of the Northwest Jersey Folklife Project. She loves working in the culturally rich Mid-Hudson Valley.

Elinor is a folk artist in her own right as a third generation knitter on her mother’s side. She has added spinning her own yarn to her skills and looks forward each year to helping a friend shear a small flock of Jacob sheep.

 

Iryna Voloshyna

Upstate Regional Representative

M.A. in Folklore, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill

Growing up in Ukraine, Iryna was a member of a folk song ensemble “Ladovytsi” for 9 years. The musicians went to the villages along the Dnister river, talked to the elderly people, and learned old songs from them and with them. “Ladovytsi” participated in folk festivals in Ukraine and abroad (Lithuania, Georgia, Poland), as well as organized several local, regional, and international folk festivals too. In the USA, Iryna has been performing and hosting Ukrainian folk singing workshops in North Carolina, New York and Ontario.

After receiving a Fulbright scholarship and doing her research in Folklore studies education in the USA, in 2017 Iryna started a Master’s program in Folklore at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Her Master’s thesis was on Petrykivka painting, a Ukrainian folk painting technique that was inscribed in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. Having researched a complex history of the development of this form of folk art, especially the Soviet hegemonic influences onto it, industrialization and mass production, she looked at the role and meaning of Petrykivka painting in creating a modern Ukrainian national identity in the context of Ukraine’s struggle to remain an independent nation during an ongoing conflict with Russia.

After graduation, Iryna was selected to be a NYSCA/New York Folklore intern at the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, helping with the Lake George on the Water project, producing historical documentaries and conducting field research in the Lake George area.

 

Patti Mason

Associate Editor, Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore

B.S. in Biochemistry, Texas A&M University 

B.S. in Nutrition, University of Texas at Austin 

Cultural History and literature classes, Cornell University

Patti Mason joined New York Folklore in 1997, working in the Ithaca office through May 1999. She developed, maintained, redesigned, and administered the New York Folklore Society’s website from 1998-2018, including the management of the online store and digital publication archives on a part-time basis. She assumed copy editing responsibilities for Voices in 2012.

Patti held a variety of positions before joining New York Folklore. She has been a typesetter, a lab technician, a registered dietician, a database manager, a substitute teacher, and a school librarian. At Cornell University, she had the pleasure of studying cultural history and literature, taught by Dr. Michael Steinberg and Dr. Daniel R. Schwarz. She continues to assist Dr. David Sahn in the Cornell Food and Nutrition Policy Program with editing projects, including the recent volume The Fight against Hunger and Malnutrition: The Role of Food, Agriculture, and Targeted Policies (Oxford University Press, 2015).