AFS Welcomes New Staff and Shifts Team Responsibilities

AFS News
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By October 1, AFS will implement a reorganization of staff responsibilities as we welcome the talents of staff members Rosalind Rini Larson and TJ Smith as they step into core responsibilities, and Lorraine Walsh Cashman shifts into an advisory role.

After more than 12 years as Associate Director, Lorraine is handing on the mantle of meeting planning and communications so that she can reduce her hours and devote more energy to other commitments and interests. Lorraine will shift her attention to providing leadership and support on a variety of AFS projects as Special Projects Consultant for about 10-15 hours a week.

Rosalind (Roz) Rini Larson officially began a full-time position as the new AFS Annual Meeting and Programs Director on September 1, but she has been part of the AFS professional team for five years. Roz knows AFS from the ground up, as she first started in 2017-2018 as the AFS graduate student assistant and has worked in some capacity almost continuously since then in meeting and member support, as well as providing assistance with a wide range of other AFS projects. She has taken the lead in planning the 2021 Annual Meeting since July, when she completed her PhD in Folklore from Indiana University’s Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology. Roz will also be the primary point of contact for AFS Sections next year ([email protected]).

TJ Smith has served as a consultant on digital communications since summer 2020, shepherding AFS through the long process of redesigning and constructing the new AFS website launched in June this year. Now, he will step up his commitment to AFS to 30 hours a week to serve as Communications and Outreach Manager, with chief responsibility for AFS social media, news, website, and general communications. TJ also provides technical assistance across AFS projects. TJ draws on his former experience as executive director of The Foxfire Fund, Inc. (2017 – 2020), and co-founder and branding consultant for design firm Braizen in Atlanta, GA (2011 – 2019), as well as his PhD in folklore from the University of Louisiana.

Changes extend to Meredith McGriff’s position, too, as we recognize the important role she plays in managing AFS data and information systems of our organization, including everything from invaluable high-level tech knowledge and system design to frequent and critical user support, like assisting with forgotten passwords. As of now, Meredith’s title changes from “Membership Director” to “Director of Membership and Information Systems.”

Additionally, AFS welcomes Violet Baron in the role of graduate assistant this year. Violet is enrolled in a dual degree program in Folklore and Media Studies at Indiana University, and her journalism and media background provides an opportunity to work more directly on important content generation. Violet will work on building additional website resources, including aggregating folklore-related podcasts and other media, as well as wide-ranging tasks in support of AFS projects.

On a final note, Maria Lewis, who is the Access Services Manager at Simmons College Library in Louisville, KY, will work up to 10 hours a week this year as a project assistant on the AFS Notable Folklorists of Color exhibition project, replacing Gloria Colom Braña, who left for a full-time position. Maria studied folklore at Western Kentucky University and serves on the AFS Cultural Diversity Committee.

“This is a convergence of good things happening to an already strong staff, giving us the chance to rework our internal structures and processes to meet the organization’s needs and goals and also to better support our members,” said Jessica A. Turner, Executive Director. “This restructuring allows newer staff members to flex more fully into broader responsibilities while also preserving and building on our collective knowledge and experience as we work together to better serve the field.”  

Here’s a revised list of full-time, part-time, and project staff

Violet Baron, 2021-2022 Program Assistant

Lorraine Walsh Cashman, Special Projects Consultant 

Maria Lewis, Project Assistant, Notable Folklorists of Color 

Meredith McGriff, Director of Membership and Information Systems

Rosalind Rini Larson, Annual Meeting and Programs Director

TJ Smith, Communications and Outreach Manager

Jessica Turner, Executive Director

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