STAFF & BOARD

STAFF

Ellen McHale 
Executive Director

Hannah Davis
Upstate New York Regional Representative for Folk Arts (NYSCA Partnership)

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

Laurie Longfield
Gallery, Administration and Publications Manager

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

Chibuikem Ajulu-Okeke
Web Developer Intern

Kira Born
Digital Media Intern

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Tom van Buren, President
Independent Folklorist
Mid-Hudson

Julie Tay, Vice-President/Secretary
Mencius Society for the Arts
NYC

John Braungard, Treasurer
Hudson Valley Community College
Capital District

Naomi Sturm, Secretary
Center for Traditional Music and Dance
NYC

Gabrielle Berlinger
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Out of State

John Gleason
Independent Archivist
Central NY

James Hall
Rochester Institute of Technology
Finger Lakes

Maria Kennedy
Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes
Out of State

Wilfredo Morel
Hudson River Health Care
Mid-Hudson

Gregory S. Shatan
Moses & Singer
NYC

Kay Turner
Independent Folklorist
NYC

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. 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. It was around that time that Ellen realized folklore was a field she could study, and she dove in.  

Ellen has worked at NYF for over 18 years. As the CEO of NYF, her responsibilities include grant writing, serving as managing editor of “Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore,” working with the NYF Board of Directors, working with the NYSCA Folk Arts Program, and serving as spokesperson for NYF. She enjoys the variety of activities each day in her job and the people that she works with. 

Before she joined NYF, Ellen worked as a public sector folklorist throughout 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 organizations. Ellen served as Executive Director of the Shaker Heritage Society and later as the Director of the Schoharie County Historical Society, where she gained experience managing staff, working with a board of directors, and raising funds. 

In her free time, Ellen enjoys sailing. She went on her first ocean sailing trip in 2017 with a few friends, traveling from Key West to Cuba.

 

Hannah Davis

Upstate New York Regional Representative for Folk Arts (NYSCA Partnership)

M.A. in Folk Studies, Western Kentucky University

B.A. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University

Hannah’s work at NYF involves field research on traditional music, dance, material culture, occupational traditions, narrative, occupational folklife, and other customary practices, as well as identifying traditions and folk artists. If you know of an artist or cultural tradition that hasn’t yet been documented and should be, please contact Hannah! 

Hannah is a native of Noblesville, Indiana. Before joining NYF she served as Program Coordinator of Traditional Arts Indiana. She has also gained experience as an intern at the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the American Folklore Society. 

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, Manufacturers Hanover Trust on Wall Street, and the Aspen Art Museum, and Chase Manhattan Bank in Colorado. She has extensive experience as a manager and human resources liaison. Laurie is a licensed New York State Notary Public. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and visiting her family in New York City and New England.

 

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 NYF in 1997, working in the Ithaca office through May 1999. She developed, maintained, redesigned, and administered NYF’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 NYF. 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).

 

Chibuikem Ajulu-Okeke

Web Developer Intern

Graduate student in Software Engineering & Cyber Security, San Jose State University

B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, University at Albany, SUNY

Chibuikem joined NYF in April of 2018 and has been responsible for the creation of the new New York Folklore website. Before Chibuikem joined NYF, he had gained some work experience at various organizations such as the United Nations and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Chibuikem has interests in Arts and Folklore and some of his hobbies include drawing, writing code and stepping, through which he led a competitive step team while at the University at Albany.

Kira Born

Digital Media Intern

B.S. in Communication & Information Design, summa cum laude, SUNY Polytechnic Institute 

Coursework in Graduate Filmmaking, Rochester Institute of Technology 

Kira joined NYF in February of 2018. Her responsibilities include designing print collateral, developing and implementing brand strategy, writing copy for the web and print, photographing folk art, video production, and providing marketing consultation. Kira enjoys the variety of work at NYF and coming up with ideas for new projects. 

Before she joined NYF, Kira worked as a copywriter and videographer at Brockett Creative Group, where she gained substantial experience in online marketing, branding, and video production. She has filmed multiple promotional videos for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, and her creative nonfiction and photography have been published in SUNY’s statewide literary magazine, Gandy Dancer. 

Kira has long been interested in folk activities, especially traditional homesteading and gardening. She learned to knit and crochet from her grandmother and is currently exploring weaving on a rigid heddle loom. In her spare time, Kira enjoys hiking, creative writing, and playing acoustic guitar.