Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Library Of Congress Appoints Musicians and Scholars To American Folklife Center Board Of Trustees

Legislative liaison Jean Dorton and theater professor John Patrick Rice have been reappointed to the board.

The Library of Congress has announced the appointment of prominent musicians and scholars to the American Folklife Center's board of trustees, who will provide crucial advice and policy direction for the center over a six-year term.

Platinum-selling recording artist Natalie Merchant, musician and Macarthur Fellow Martha González, and community archiving scholar Ricardo L. Punzalan have been appointed to the American Folklife Center Board of Trustees. Also, legislative liaison Jean Dorton and theater professor John Patrick Rice have been reappointed to the board.

Senate Majority leader Charles Schumer appointed Merchant, an alternative rock singer-songwriter, and Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden appointed González, a Chicana musician, and Punzalan, a Filipino scholar. Under the authority of the legislation that established the American Folklife Center in 1976, the Librarian of Congress can appoint four members of the Board of Trustees and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate can each appoint two members. The remaining members are appointed by the President of the United States and the majority and minority leaders in the House of Representatives.

Merchant, 59, began her musical career in 1981 as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop band 10,000 Maniacs. Since leaving the band in 1994, her solo career has involved recording her own songs as well as traditional folk songs inspired by archival collections. As an artist-in-residence with the Head Start Program in Troy, NY, Merchant created a multidisciplinary arts curriculum for preschoolers called The Mother Goose Project (2018-2019). She has served on the New York State Council on the Arts, and has won The Library Lion Award from the New York Public Library, The American Society of Authors Composers & Publishers Champion Award, and The John Lennon Real Love Award.

González, 49, is a 2022 MacArthur fellow also known for her work as a Chicana "artivista" (artist/activist), combining her passions as a longtime musician, feminist scholar, and activist. Born in Los Angeles to Mexican immigrants, González teaches Chicano/a Latino/a studies at Scripps College and is currently the 2022-2023 Scripps Humanities Institute director. She has been a Fulbright Scholar (2007-2008), a Ford Fellow (2012-2013), a Woodrow Wilson Fellow (2016-2017), and United States Artist Fellow (2020), and her academic interests have been fueled by her work as a vocalist, songwriter and percussionist for Grammy-award (2013) winning rock band Quetzal. She published her first book, "Chican@ Artivistas: Music, Community and Transborder Tactics in East Los Angeles", in 2020.

Punzalan, 47, is an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and is on the faculty of the Museum Studies Program at the institution. Punzalan's research has raised the profile of a critical challenge faced by underserved and indigenous communities and created dialogues between communities and cultural institutions. He has held elected leadership posts in the Society of American Archivists, including chair of Native American Archives Section (2017-2018) and council member (2018-2021), the highest governing body of the society. He co-chairs the Archival Repatriation Committee of the Society of American Archivists.

Jean Dorton, who was reappointed by Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, is the Community and Legislative Liaison of Big Sandy Community and Technical College in Paintsville, Kentucky. 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.

John Patrick Rice, who was reappointed by Senate Majority leader Charles Schumer, is a professor of theatre at Great Basin College in Elko, Nevada. He served on the Board of Trustees of Nevada Humanities for six years, the last two as its chair. As a member of the Elko City Council, he established the city's Arts and Cultural Advisory Committee, which has recommended and funded several public art projects and humanities forums. He is a frequent host at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. As an actor, he performed Off-Broadway and in regional theatres throughout the nation, including Boston and Washington, D.C. He also played roles in several New York-based daytime television series.



Review: THE TEMPEST at Round House Theatre // Folger Theatre Photo
It’s clear that a tremendous amount of talent, effort, and care has gone into this telling of The Tempest, and those affiliated certainly deserve high praise. Do yourself a favor and go see this production.

Interview: Theatre Life with Lauren Pekel Photo
Today’s subject Lauren Pekel is currently living her theatre life as the Production Stage Manager for what is easily one of the more technically complex productions running in DC theatre right now. Nightly (with two matinees) at Studio Theatre, Lauren calls over 300 light cues and close to 100 sound cues for People, Places and Things. The show runs through December 11th in Studio Theatre’s recently open new space known as the Victor Shargai Theatre. Did I mention her only view of the stage is through two ten-inch TV screens? Read on to see how that all works.

The “King Of Waltz” Bringing Musical Extravaganza To UBS Arena At Belmont Park Photo
Petaluma’s premier theater company, Cinnabar Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Nathan Cummings and Executive Director Diane Dragone, is proud to host a “Swingin’ New Years Eve” concert, Saturday December 31st, at 7:30pm.

Voting Now Open For The 2022 BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards Photo
Voting is now open for the 2022 BroadwayWorld Washington, DC Awards! Nominations were reader-submitted and now our readers get to vote for their favorites.


More Hot Stories For You


Video Exclusive: Nova Y. Payton Performs 'Children Will Listen' in INTO THE WOODS at Signature TheatreVideo Exclusive: Nova Y. Payton Performs 'Children Will Listen' in INTO THE WOODS at Signature Theatre
December 1, 2022

Watch an exclusive video of Nova Y. Payton singing 'Children Will Listen' Signature Theatre's production of Into the Woods!

The “King Of Waltz” Bringing Musical Extravaganza To UBS Arena At Belmont Park On September 17The “King Of Waltz” Bringing Musical Extravaganza To UBS Arena At Belmont Park On September 17
November 30, 2022

Petaluma’s premier theater company, Cinnabar Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Nathan Cummings and Executive Director Diane Dragone, is proud to host a “Swingin’ New Years Eve” concert, Saturday December 31st, at 7:30pm.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to Attend 45th Annual Kennedy Center HonorsPresident Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to Attend 45th Annual Kennedy Center Honors
November 29, 2022

President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff will attend the 45th Kennedy Center Honors on Sunday, December 4.

Photos: First Look At A CHRISTMAS CAROL At Ford's TheatrePhotos: First Look At A CHRISTMAS CAROL At Ford's Theatre
November 28, 2022

See photos of Charles Dickens's 'A Christmas Carol' returning to the historic Ford's Theatre with the revelry and magical moments audiences have come to know and love.

King Center & Brevard Music Group Announces R N R - Richard Elliot & Rick Braun This AprilKing Center & Brevard Music Group Announces R N R - Richard Elliot & Rick Braun This April
November 28, 2022

The King Center for the Performing Arts along with Brevard Music Group / Regalitos Foundation announces a new show coming to the King Center! “R n R – Richard Elliot and Rick Braun” performing LIVE at the King Center on Saturday April 1 at 7:30 PM.  Tickets on sale this Friday!