Smithsonian Folkways Staff

Contact Information

Cecille Chen
Director of Business Affairs and Royalties


Cecille Chen joined Smithsonian Folkways in 2013 and is responsible for contracts, copyrights and royalties. She brings more than a decade of experience in entertainment law and artist management, having previously handled licensing, publishing administration, digital music distribution, royalties, and bookings. Cecille’s professional interest in arts management stems from internships at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Public Broadcasting Service, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. She holds an undergraduate business degree from Georgetown University and a law degree from The George Washington University School of Law. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar.

Laura Dion
Sales and Marketing Specialist


Laura joined Smithsonian Folkways in 2007 after spending 16 years in the music business doing Sales & Marketing, A & R, and Distribution.

Toby Dodds
Technology Director/Webmaster


Toby Dodds came to the Center in April, 2001. Since that time he has helped introduce many technology innovations at the Center including the launch of Smithsonian Global Sound and the digitization of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Prior to coming to the Smithsonian he was employed by the Experience Music Project, a music museum in Seattle. He holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy from the University of Washington in Seattle, and a Masters in Library and Information Science degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Claudia Foronda
Sales, Marketing & Customer Relations Manager


Claudia Foronda joined the staff of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in October 2012. She works with the mail order and marketing teams and brings to this an extensive background in customer relations. She previously worked in the Graphics and Customer Service departments for the Ecommerce site “Birthday in a Box.” She graduated from Pennsylvania State University with an integrative arts degree; and she is overjoyed to incorporate the Folklife Center into her life and art.

Beshou Gedamu
Marketing Assistant


Beshou Gedamu joined Smithsonian Folkways in October 2014 to assist with customer service, fulfillment, and a project with Richard Burgess. She holds a B.A. in information systems management from Bridgewater College in Virginia. She previously worked as the marketing director for fashion company Bernos, social media manager for Brooklyn Bodega and the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival, and a digital media specialist for D.C.-based production company HedRush Music, working on the D.C. Loves Dilla concert. Beshou was born in the Ivory Coast with family heritage from Ethiopia.

William Griffin
Licensing Manager


William Griffin joined Smithsonian Folkways in early 2013 and works with creative professionals in film, television, theater, video games, and advertising, as well as educators, scholars, and museum curators, to pair recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways catalog with a variety of visual and multimedia projects. Previously, William worked for nearly a decade in a variety of roles such as A&R, production management, and as director of music licensing at ESL Music — the independent Washington DC record label founded by electronic dance music group Thievery Corporation. William earned a BA in English from The George Washington University, and has worked as a political media analyst and as a professional club DJ playing venues nationwide, including a longtime weekly residency at DC's Eighteenth Street Lounge.

Tony Harvin
Director of Marketing, Sales and Licensing


Tony Harvin joined Smithsonian Folkways in February 2017 to direct the marketing, sales and licensing team, and develop and implement initiatives that advance the Smithsonian Folkways brand. Prior to joining Folkways, Tony led the marketing and recruitment team for The George Washington University‘s College of Professional Studies, and launched and directed its first office of alumni relations. Before joining GW, Tony was the Director of International Program Sales at Discovery Channel where he led an international team of sales representatives that licensed programs to national TV broadcasters outside of North America. Prior to this, Tony worked for 10 years in global marketing and branding at Rhino, Blue Note, Capitol, and Arista Records, culminating as Motown Records’ Vice President of International Marketing. Tony earned a M.B.A. from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and a B.S. in Computer Science (with courses in music education) from the Catholic University of America. He is also an alto saxophonist, formally trained oboist, and former world music DJ.

Meredith Holmgren
Program Manager


Meredith Holmgren joined the Center in 2012 after seven years of experience overseas, primarily in Europe and Asia. She currently serves as the program manager for education and cultural sustainability initiatives. Previously, she served as the principal investigator and project manager of the Smithsonian's pan-institutional project on intangible cultural heritage. Her professional interests span ethnomusicology, cultural heritage policy, sociocultural research, Asian studies, and education. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, she worked with the International Institute for Asian Studies, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Council for Traditional Music, Freemuse, and UCLA's Center for Intercultural Performance. She holds an M.Phil. in Asian studies (Leiden), an M.A. in cultural anthropology and development sociology (Leiden), a PGCert. in Asia-Pacific Leadership (East-West Center/University of Hawai’i at Manoa), and a B.A. in ethnomusicology (UCLA). She is a member of several professional organizations and holds service leadership positions with the Smithsonian's Institutional Review Board, Smithsonian Music, and the Association of Critical Heritage Studies.

Frederick Knittel
Marketing Assistant


Fred Knittel joined the staff of Smithsonian Folkways in May 2016 to assist with marketing & distribution activities related to the extensive back catalog. He holds an M.B.A. and a B.S. in Music Industry from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the organization, Fred worked as the Volunteer & Student Coordinator at WXPN, a leading East Coast non-commercial radio station. At WXPN, he continues to host a weekly "folk and beyond" radio program called Folkadelphia.

Helen Lindsay
Lead Customer Service Representative


Helen Lindsay has worked in the mail order department of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings since November 1999. Her duties include artist relations, quality control for artists and domestic accounts orders and overall customer service for any customer.

Mary Monseur
Production Manager


Mary Monseur joined the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage in 1993. Together with her colleagues at Smithsonian Folkways, she has worked with scholars and artists worldwide to produce more than 300 recordings. She received a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the University of Arizona and an M.A. in English with a folklore concentration from George Mason University.

Jeff Place


Jeff Place has been at the Center’s Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections since 1988. He holds an MLS from the University of Maryland and specializes in sound archives. He oversees the cataloging of the Center's collections and has been involved in the compilation of over fifty CDs of American music for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings including the Lead Belly Legacy Series, Lead Belly Sings for Children; the Pete Seeger American Favorite Ballads series; and The Asch Recordings (Woody Guthrie). Place has been nominated for four GRAMMY Awards and eleven Indie Awards, winning two GRAMMYs and five Indies. He was one of the producers and writers of the acclaimed 1997 edition of the Anthology of American Folk Music and The Best of Broadside, 1962-1988 (2000). He has served on the curatorial team for a number of exhibitions including the traveling Woody Guthrie exhibition This Land is Your Land. In 2003, he co-curated the Smithsonian Folklife Festival program on Appalachian culture. In 2012, he is produced and co-authored (with Robert Santelli) the publication and CD-box set Woody at 100.

Pete Reiniger
Sound Production Supervisor


Pete Reiniger is sound production supervisor and chief engineer for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. He has been involved in numerous award-winning recordings and is a three time GRAMMY recipient. His professional affiliations include the Audio Engineering Society (AES), the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS). Prior to working at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Pete also served for many years as technical director for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Anthony Seeger
Curator and Director, Emeritus


Anthony Seeger is an anthropologist, ethnomusicologist, archivist, and musician. He received his B.A. from Harvard University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Chicago. His research has concentrated on the music of Amazonian Indians in Brazil, where he lived for nearly ten years between. In 1982 he returned to the United States as Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Indiana University Archives of Traditional Music. In 1988 he moved to the Smithsonian Institution to assume the direction of Folkways Records and to become the curator of the archival collections of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In 2000 he accepted a position as Professor in the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California at Los Angeles, and was appointed Curator Emeritus at the Smithsonian. Seeger is the author of four books and over fifty articles on anthropological, ethnomusicological, archival, intellectual property, and Indian rights issues.

Sayem Sharif
Director of Financial Operations


Sayem Sharif joined Smithsonian Folkways in February 2014 with over 10 years of corporate accounting and business management experience. Prior to joining Folkways, Sayem worked in an outsourcing accounting firm as financial controller. His expertise includes management of staff, strategic planning, budget preparation, financial statement presentation, and tax preparation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in accounting. He is a member of the American Institute of CPA, Maryland CPA, and Project Management Institute. Sayem is actively engaged with the Bangladeshi community of the D.C. metro area. He was involved in forming a nonprofit organization called Ektara, Inc., which provides a platform for upcoming talent through various folk-based cultural programs. Sayem is a life-long fan of the Washington Redskins and the Manchester United soccer club.

Ronnie Simpkins
Audio Recording Specialist


Ronnie Simpkins joined Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in 1996, serving in Mail Order before taking over duties as dubbing engineer for the archival collection.

Stephanie Smith
Archives Director


Stephanie Smith came to the Center in 1995 as assistant archivist and became archives director in 2014. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Scottish ethnology from the University of Edinburgh, and a master’s degree in library science from the University of North Carolina. Stephanie’s archival focuses include digital asset management, collections management and preservation, and project management. Her research specialties are English country dance; Scottish, English, and Appalachian folk music and dance traditions; and the British and American folk revival. Stephanie co-produced a documentary film about English country dance in America, due out on Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in 2016. She is an active member of the International Council for Traditional Music Ethnochoreology Study Group and presents her research at biennial study group symposia. Her current research focuses on American contra dance in urban contexts.

Atesh Sonneborn
Associate Director


Before coming to the Smithsonian, Atesh Sonneborn wrote new music for theater, film, and dance in the United States and Western Europe, taught piano to children and adults, managed and produced concerts, festivals, recordings and artists. His articles, reviews, and photos appear in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and other scholarly publications, and he co-authored Planet Drum (1991) with drummer Mickey Hart and Professor Fredric Lieberman. He lectures internationally on applied ethnomusicology topics, and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses at UCLA and University of Maryland. He is chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology's Audio-Visual Publication Committee and a founding member of its Applied Ethnomusicology Section. Current research interests include Garifuna and other Caribbean percussion traditions, folk music of the Veneto (Italy), music in Sufism, intentionality in music performance, digital music distribution, and arts management methodology. He holds a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA.

Sandy Wang
Web Designer and Developer


Sandy Wang joined the Center in 2011 as a web designer and developer. She holds a degree in communication and interactive design from Northern Virginia Community College as well as a Master of Economic Sciences degree from Université d’Orléans, France.

Brian Zimmerman
Customer Service Representative


Brian Zimmerman joined Smithsonian Folkways in September 2015. He holds a B.S. in business marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University and has spent the last five years working in various facets of the music industry, including independent radio, music marketing and PR, and venue management. He also works for I.M.P Productions at the 9:30 Club and Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 2001
Washington, DC 20024 USA
Phone: 1-888-FOLKWAYS or
Fax: 202-633-6477