Smithsonian Folkways Staff

Contact Information

Richard James Burgess
Associate Director for Business Strategies


Richard James Burgess brings more than forty years of international music business experience to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. As a music producer and recording artist he has many gold and platinum recordings to his name. He has worked as a studio musician, audio engineer, artist manager, and major label consultant, and has owned record labels and booking agencies. Richard authored the book The Art of Music Production (currently being updated for a 4th ed.), and he lectures internationally on the subject of music production and the music business. Educated at Berklee College of Music, Boston; Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, he earned his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Glamorgan. He played with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain and has won awards from Music Week (UK Producers Award), British Arts Council, Park Lane Group, and the Greater London Arts Association.

Cecille Chen
Royalty Manager


Cecille Chen joined Smithsonian Folkways Recordings in 2013. She is responsible for royalty payments to the artists and songwriters who have contributed to Smithsonian Folkways’ growing collection of music. She also assists with pre-production by drafting contracts and researching copyright information. Prior to joining Smithsonian Folkways, Cecille worked in entertainment law and artist management, handling contracts, licensing, publishing, copyrights, and tour logistics. Originally from the Philippines, Cecille came to Washington, D.C., to pursue an undergraduate business degree at Georgetown University. She holds a law degree from The George Washington University School of Law and supplemented her academic work with internships at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Public Broadcasting Service, and The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. 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
Production 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.

Henri Goodson
Financial Assistant


William Griffin
Licensing & Marketing Specialist


William Griffin joined Smithsonian Folkways in January 2013 as a licensing and marketing specialist. 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.

Emily Hilliard
Marketing Assistant


Emily holds a B.A. in English and French from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in Folklore from the University of North Carolina. She has worked for the American Folklife Center, the National Council for the Traditional Arts, and previously at Folkways where she started as an intern in 2007. She most recently was a 2014 Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives Fellow and her writing and media work has been featured on NPR, The Southern Foodways Alliance, and Food & Wine. She also plays old-time fiddle and writes the pie blog Nothing in the House.

Meredith Holmgren
Principal Investigator and Project Manager
Managing Editor and Education Coordinator


Meredith Holmgren joined the Center in 2012 after seven years of experience overseas, primarily in Europe and Asia. She currently serves as the principal investigator and project manager of the Smithsonian's pan-institutional Consortia project Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian. She also serves as education coordinator and managing editor of Smithsonian Folkways Magazine. Her professional interests span cultural heritage policy, ethnomusicology, sociocultural research, area studies, and education. Her work has contributed to international organizations such as the International Institute for Asian Studies, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), International Council for Traditional Music, and Freemuse, among others. She holds an M.Phil. in Asian & Middle Eastern area 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 serves as a board member of the East-West Center’s Asia-Pacific Leadership Program Alumni Association.

David Horgan
Marketing and Licensing Manager


David Horgan joined Smithsonian Folkways in April 2008 to manage online marketing and sales of the collection via Smithsonian websites, distributors such as iTunes and eMusic, and other outlets. Prior to joining Smithsonian Folkways, David was the director of marketing & analytics for Musictoday, an online music services company based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was an associate for Dean & Company, a strategy consulting firm located in Tysons Corner, Virginia. David holds a B.S. in finance and marketing from the University of Virginia, and was the lead vocalist/guitarist for Southwater, a Charlottesville-based bluegrass band.

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.

Keisha Martin
Manufacturing and Inventory Coordinator


Keisha Martin is the newest addition to the Folkways staff, joining us in 2005 after volunteering at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. Originally from Jamaica, Martin has also lived in New York City and North Carolina, where she received a B.A. in art from the University of North Carolina.

Mary Monseur
Production Manager, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings


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. He has been involved in numerous award-winning recordings and received two GRAMMYs. 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). He is currently on the Board of Governors for the Washington, D.C. Chapter of NARAS. 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
Financial Operations Manager


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.

Daniel Sheehy
Curator and Director


Daniel Sheehy joined the Smithsonian in 2000. Prior to this, he served as director of Folk & Traditional Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts (1992-2000) and staff ethnomusicologist and assistant director (1978-1992). A Fulbright-Hays scholar in Veracruz, Mexico, he earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from UCLA. He co-edited the South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean (1998) volume of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. His book Mariachi Music in America: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture was published by Oxford University Press in 2006. The American Folklore Society honored him with the Américo Paredes award (2010), recognizing a career of excellence in integrating scholarship and engagement with the people and communities one studies, and the Benjamin A. Botkin prize (1997), recognizing major impact on the field of public folklore.

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
Assistant Archivist


Assistant Archivist Stephanie Smith came to the Center in 1995, and has served as the Center's visual materials archivist since then. Smith earned master's and Ph.D. degrees in Scottish ethnology from the University of Edinburgh, and a master's degree in library science from the University of North Carolina. Her research specialties are English country dance; Scottish, English, and Appalachian folk music and dance traditions; and the British and American folk revival. Stephanie's current project is a documentary film about English country dance co-produced with the Center's video producer Charles Weber, and colleague Daniel Walkowitz of New York University, due for completion in 2013. Stephanie is an active member of the International Council for Traditional Music Ethnochoreology Study Group and presents her research at biennial study group symposia. In her spare time, Stephanie is a community dance caller and organizer, a photographer, a meditator, and an avid traveler.

Atesh Sonneborn
Associate Director for Programs and Acquisitions


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.

Jonathan Wright
Customer Service Representative


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