Sarah Bryan named new Executive Director of ACE

May 23, 2023

The Association for Cultural Equity is excited to announce the appointment of Sarah Luisa Bryan as Executive Director of ACE, a role fulfilled so productively by the cultural visionary Anna Lomax Wood.

The Association for Cultural Equity, founded over 40 years ago by Alan Lomax, is committed to sustaining the world’s expressive traditions through preservation, research, dissemination and reconnecting communities with their cultural heritage. ACE is a living archive that puts its collections at the service of source communities, endangered cultures, emerging cultural leaders, students and teachers at all levels, and the scientific community. ACE’s board looks forward to Bryan coming into her role and bringing her many extraordinary capabilities as an administrator and researcher and deep interest in Traditional Culture to the organization, this transition being greatly facilitated by Wood’s invaluable assistance. “We believe Sarah is an ideal person to help ACE thrive into the next phase of its vital life, and brings an ideal combination of experience, passion for traditional culture, and managerial experience to the organization,” Board Chair Barry Dornfeld noted.

Sarah Bryan has been working in the field of public folklore for some 20 years, most recently serving as the Executive Director of the North Carolina Folklife Institute, an organization which she had previously served in several different capacities since first being hired as a contract fieldworker in 2007. In this position, she’s developed and overseen major fieldwork initiatives; built large networks of traditional musicians and craftspeople, documentarians, and community-based cultural organizations; sustained operations through grants, contracts, and public support; and consistently increased the organization’s income from year to year, skill sets invaluable to her work at ACE.

In addition, Bryan has edited several periodical publications devoted to Traditional Culture and had essays about vernacular music published in the Oxford American, U.K. arts magazine The Wire, as well as in liner notes to the compilation albums Never a Pal Like Mother and Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard, for which producer Nathan Salsburg (curator of the Alan Lomax Archive) received a Grammy nomination. She also co-curated the collection Lead Kindly Light: Pre-War Music and Photographs from the American South with Peter Honig and co-authored the book African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina with Beverly Patterson and Michelle Lanier.

Bryan will focus on continuing ACE’s initiatives on cultural repatriation, endangered cultures, and archival connections, as well as supporting the Global Jukebox. She also seeks to promote the democratization of folklife documentation and continue outreach to and inclusivity of people and groups of all cultural sectors, from foundations to families, promoting cultural equity at an organizational level. Bryan graduated from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies and received her Master’s in Folklore from the University of North Carolina.