Melody Capote 

was appointed executive director of CCCADI in 2018. She began her long tenure at the organization in 1984 and throughout the years has established herself as a leader in arts administration and cultural activism. She is a vocal and bold voice in advocating for cultural equity, racial and social justice for African descendant communities.

Experienced in development, government relations, external affairs, and special event programming, she has also supervised and mentored countless individuals who have gone on to pursue careers in the nonprofit arts field and other community-based organizations.

Melody is a Bronx native and graduate of The City College of New York, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with a major in Dance and a minor in Black and Latino Studies. She is a New School Tennenbaum Leadership Institute Fellow, and received her Not-for-Profit Executive Management Certification from Columbia University. Melody is currently one of the first 12 arts leaders selected to participate in The Pinkerton Advanced Leadership Network launched after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police.

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Nydia Edgecombe

has worked at Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY) since August 2, 1977 and retired from there in 2017. During her tenure as Director of Admissions and Recruitment, she chaired the CUNY Council of Admissions Directors from 2000 to 2002. In 2003, she was named the first chair for the newly formed CUNY Community College Enrollment Committee. After 18 years at the helm at the Admissions and Recruitment Office, Nydia became the first Director of Alumni Relations at Hostos, developing this office from the ground up. Nydia was instrumental in establishing Hostos’ Josephine Aguado Scholarship for Single Parents (2010), the Virginia Paris Scholarship for Social Justice (2012), the Gerald J. Meyer Transfer Scholarship (2014), and the Ramón J. Jiménez Memorial Scholarship (2016). From 2004 to 2014, Nydia also secured more than $50,000 in scholarship funding from the Diversity Foundation, Inc., which included funds from The New York Yankees and the Puerto Rican Parade, Inc. Nydia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lehman College, class of 1982, and a Master in Science in Education from Baruch College, with a concentration in Higher Education Administration, class of 1992. She also completed two training certificates (2008 and 2010) with the Invest-in-CUNY Fundraising Academy, at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. She received her Ph.D in History of Puerto Rico from El Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y El Caribe in old San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2018. Nydia’s thesis was, “The Hell Lady from the Bronx” Evelina López Antonetty, el activismo comunitario de una puertorriqueña en la diáspora del Sur del Bronx.”

Mariposa María Teresa Fernández

is an award-winning Afro Puerto Rican poet, spoken word performance artist, visual artist, educator, activist, scholar and Bronx native.Mariposa’s poetry has been published in numerous anthologies including African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle and Song, a Library of America Anthology, The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature and The Afro Latin@ Reader: History & Culture in the United States. Inspired by the poets who forged the Black Arts and Nuyorican Poetry movement and Old School hip hop, she writes about identity, belonging, decolonization, social justice, blackness and the Puerto Rican experience in Nueva York. Mariposa merges art with community organizing to uplift youth & adults. Mariposa has served New York City as a teaching artist and has taught creative writing for numerous public schools and non-profit organizations including THE POINT CDC, The Caribbean Cultural Center, Poets & Writers, Poets House, The Bronx Council of the Arts, The Nuyorican Poets Café and Teachers and Writers Collaborative. She has also led poetry workshops at the Sankofa Sisterhood Writers Retreat for BIPOC women. Mariposa is a CUNY faculty member and teaches at Herbert H. Lehman College in the Women and Gender Studies Program and the Africana Studies Department, as well as the Black Studies Program at The City College of New York. Mariposa is a recipient of the 2020 CUNY Adjunct Incubator Grant, awarded by The Center for Humanities. The award will fund the Be A Buddy Multimedia Project, an exciting multimedia project of documenting community and neighborhood resilience, gathering stories of strength in the South Bronx.

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Dr. Orlando José Hernández

is recently retired faculty from Hostos Community College, Dr. Hernández is a writer, translator, and critic who has written about and translated contemporary English- and Spanish-language authors, including Elizabeth Bishop’s Antología poética; Graciany Miranda Archilla’s Hungry Dust / Polvo hambriento; and Eugenio María de Hostos’s short story En barco de papel / In a Paper Boat (with Elizabeth Macklin). His most recent book was 50 Aforismos/50 Aphorisms, by Eugenio María de Hostos, Hostos Community College, 2018. Dr. Hernández is currently working on two books: a critical anthology of Eugenio María de Hostos’s writings translated into English, and a book on Hostos en Nueva York .


Dr. Virginia Sánchez Korrol

a historian and creative writer, holds a Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in History. Throughout an extensive academic career, she has documented the Puerto Rican and Latino experience in U.S. History, focusing primarily on community development and women’s diverse roles from the 19 th century to the present.

In 1978 she joined the faculty of the Puerto Rican Studies Department at Brooklyn College, and with the publication of From Colonia to Community: The History of Puerto Ricans in New York City, broke new ground in the emerging field. Among her publications are the award-winning three volume Latinas in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia, co-edited with Dr. Vicki L. Ruiz, the first scholarly collection to detail the lives of America’s Latinas from the 1565 settlement of St. Augustine to the end of the 20 th century.

Dr. Sánchez Korrol serve on the West Side Story, Community Advisory Board, the Scholars Advisory Board of the Center for Women’s History, New York Historical Society; the Board of Directors of Arte Público’s Recovery Project; and the American Latino Scholars Expert Panel of the National Park Service. Her recognitions include the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Service to New York History (2020); a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., (2018); and the Inter-University Program on Latino Research, Lifetime Achievement Award, (2013). She is historical consultant for the Spielberg and Kushner 2021 West Side Story. Based on that experience, she developed West Side Story, the Brooklyn Connection Lecture Series for an undergraduate course, New York Latinx Culture & the Arts, in the Puerto Rican and Latino Studies Department.

Alex LaSalle

Alexander LaSalle 

is a spiritual healer, musician, songwriter, and proud father of his children and countless religious godchildren throughout the world. Alex is the head of the religious house of Bejuco Nfinda Batalla Sacaraempeño in the United States, providing leadership and support to more than 150 people in the United States in the Afro-Cuban Kongo healing system known as Palo Mayombe. A Mayombe priest for over 2 decades, Alex has dedicated his life to helping people of African descent restore balance, heal from trauma, spiritually fortify and evolve using their own African-derived indigenous healing systems. Alex LaSalle is also a priest of Oshun in the Yoruba-derived Lukumi tradition known as Santeria and a skilled diviner in African-based divination systems. A long-time educator and teaching artist in the public schools of NY and universities nationwide, Alex has taught through the Caribbean Cultural Center, City Lore, Boys & Girls Club, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and a variety of cultural, arts education, and community organizations and universities such as Columbia, Yale, NYU, University of Virginia, Hostos, John Jay, Lehman, Make the Road NY, and countless others.

A soulful Afro-Puerto Rican and Afro-Cuban singer with a near-photographic memory, Alex is a master in the folkloric roots drum tradition known as bomba. Alex’s near photographic memory is the repository of hundreds of bomba songs, and he is recognized by elders of the Mayombe spiritual system as being amongst the top interpreters of the AfroCuban songs of Mayombe known as “mambos de palo.” A gifted singer, songwriter, arranger and percussionist well versed in roots, rock, and blues, Alex is the founder and musical director of NYC’s powerhouse bomba ensemble Alma Moyo, a group that helped promote the maroon warrior spirit inherent in the musical practice. Alex performs with Los Pleneros de la 21 and the seasoned iconic Afro-Cuba musicians of Grupo Folklorico Experimental Nueva Yorquino. Alex also has Latin Jazz credits to his name, having recorded in Elio Villafranca’s Cinque, a CD documenting the Kongo musical heritage in Cuba, Brazil, Dominican Republic, with John Santos on the track Ayiti, William Cepeda’s Afro-Boricua and many other accomplished music groups.

Felipe Luciano

Felipe Luciano

is an Emmy-Award-winning journalist, news anchor, and former adjunct professor at Fordham University.  He is the founder and chairman of the Young Lords Party, a member of the Original Last Poets, an advocate for inter-ethnic communication, and the host of “Latin Roots,” a Latino music program in New York City.  A talented diversity speaker, Luciano is committed to community empowerment, ethnic pride, and civil rights.  He is a regular contributor to many New York-area newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times and Essence.  His poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times. He just published his memoir, Flash & Spirit: Confessions of aYoung Lord (Empire State editions, 2023).


Nancy Mercado, PhD 

Nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize, Nancy Mercado received the American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement presented by the Before Columbus Foundation. She was named one of 200 living individuals who best embody the work and spirit of Frederick Douglass on the occasion of his bicentennial, by The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives and the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University.

Mercado is the guest editor for Konch Magazine’s, Remembering Miguel Algarín: A Celebration and editor of the first Nuyorican Women Writers Anthology published in Voices e/Magazine, Hunter College-CUNY. She authored: It Concerns the Madness (Long Shot), Las Tres Hermanas (Casita Maria), and edited if the world were mine (Independent publication). Among the many places she has featured are: the University of Nantes, France, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and (by invitation from the renowned Cuban poet Roberto Fernández Retamar), Casa de las Americas, Havana Cuba. For more information go to: nancy–

César Colón Montijo

César Colón Montijo is a journalist and ethnomusicologist. He is the author of Viaje a la casita: notas de plena en el Rincón Criollo (2016) and Se llamaba doña Margot (2022), editor of Cocinando suave: ensayos de salsa en Puerto Rico (2015), and co-editor of De coco y anís: un proyecto de amor para Rafael Coritjo (2023). Currently, he is working on a book manuscript about the music and myth of Afro-Puerto Rican singer Ismael Rivera.


Norka Hernandez Nadal

is a member of one of the great Bomba families of the region of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Outside of her professional position with the NYC DOE, she is a dancer, singer/song writer, percussionist and drum artisan/maker. She is a co-founder of BombaWorksNYC (est. 2003), with its headquarter space located in the Bronx, providing AfroPuerto Rican music classes, workshops and performances by past and current students.  She is a member of the following ensembles: AyaTitilayoDemwazèl and Priyè Mawon. She is the founder of Women’s Bomba Jam Sessions (est. 2003) which highlights the importance of women in all aspects of Afro Puerto Rican musical genres. She is also the founder of AfroPuerto Rican ensemble Bámbula (est. 2003) focusing on the styles of bomba and plena mayaguezana. Norka is currently one of the lead singers for Kinto Zonó, and has previously sang for Banda M1, Tato Torres & Yerbabuena, William Cepeda & Grupo Afro Boricua, Grupo Yaguembe de Mayaguez, Los Pleneros de la 21, Alma Moyo, Juan Usera & Su Tribu, Bomberas de La Bahia, Las Bompleneras, and has collaborated with Danny Rivera, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Louise George & The Salsa Gang, Marlon Fernandez, Rene (Calle 13), and Venuzs Ensemble amongst others.

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Dr. Clara E. Rodríguez

is a Professor of Sociology at Fordham University’s College at Lincoln Center. She is the author of numerous books including: Heroes, Lovers and Others (Washington, D. C.: Oxford University Press, 2008; Smithsonian Institution Press, 2004); Changing Race: Latinos, The Census and the History of Ethnicity in the United States (New York: New York University Press, 2000); Hispanics in the Labor Force: Issues and Policies, with Meléndez, E. and Barry Figueroa, J., eds. (New York: Plenum Press, 1991); Puerto Ricans: Born in the USA (Boulder, CO.: Westview Press, 1991); and Latin Looks: Images of Latinas and Latinos in U.S. Media (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997). She is the recipient of numerous research and teaching awards, including the American Sociological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in the Field of Latina/o Studies, her university’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in the Social Sciences, and she was designated “Distinguished Lecturer” by the Organization of American Historians.


Bobby Sanabria

GuestScholar and Artist, is a 7-time Grammy nominee as a leader. Heis a noted drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer,educator, documentary filmmaker, and bandleader of Puerto Rican descent bornand raised in NYC’s South Bronx. He was the drummer for the acknowledgdedcreator of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá, touring and recording three CD’s withhim, two of which were Grammy nominated, as well as an incredible variety ofartists. From Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, The Mills Brothers, Ray Barretto,Chico O’Farrill, Francisco Aguabella, Henry Threadgill, and many more. Inaddition, he has guest conducted and performed as a soloist with numerousorchestras like the WDR Big Band, The Airmen of Note, The U.S. JazzAmbassadors, Eau Claire University Big, The University of Calgary Big Band, andothers. His first big band recording, Live & in Clave!!! Was nominated fora Grammy in 2001. Sanabria’s 2012 big band recording, inspired by the writingsof Mexican author Octavio Paz, entitled MULTIVERSE was nominated for 2 Grammys.His work as an activist led him to fight to reinstate the Latin Jazz categoryafter NARAS decided to eliminate many ethnic and regional categories in 2010.Heis an associate producer of and featured interviewee in the documentaries, ThePalladium: Where Mambo Was King, winner of the IMAGINE award for Best TVdocumentary in 2003, and the Alma Award winning From Mambo to Hip Hop: A SouthBronx Tale for which he composed the score. In 2017 he was a consultant andfeatured musician for the documentary We Like it Like That: The Story of LatinBoogaloo.  He is the composer for thescore of the 2017 documentary Some Girls. DRUM! Magazine named himPercussionist of the Year in 2005; he was also named 2011 and 2013Percussionist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. The South Bronxnative of Puerto Rican parents was a 2006 inductee into the Bronx Wall of Fame.He holds a B.M. from the Berklee College of Music and is on the faculty of theNew School University.  Sanabria hasconducted hundred of clinics in the states and worldwide under the auspices ofTAMA Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Vic Firth Sticks and LatinePercussion, Inc. He is the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music HeritageCenter and is part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy as well as theWeill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall. His latest recording released in July 2018 is a monumental  Latin jazz reworking of the entire score ofWest Side Story, entitled, West Side Story Reimagined, on the Jazzheads label  in celebration of the show’s recent 60thanniversary (2017) and its composer, Maestro Leonard Bernstein’s centennial (2018). Partialproceeds from the sale of this historic double CD set go to Jazz Foundation ofAmerica’s Puerto Relief Fund to aid Bobby’s a ancestral homeland after the devastation fromhurricanes Irma and Maria.


Suzanne Seriff

is an award winning innovator in the museum and community arts world with over 30 years experience working with traditional artists, performers and storytellers to transform communities through the power of local, place-based expressive arts. A PhD in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin, Seriff combines innovative teaching on civic engagement through the traditional arts at the University of Texas at Austin with consultation and curation, nationwide, on issues relating the intersection of traditional arts and social justice to museum and public arts projects. Seriff has directed several nationally traveling museum projects include “Recycled, Re-Seen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap,” produced for the Museum of International Folk Art, which won AAM’s 1997 Curator’s Committee Exhibition Award and the NEH-funded exhibit “Forgotten Gateway: Coming to American Through Galveston Island,” which uses history to engage contemporary stakeholders in a conversation about enduring issues faced by immigrants throughout our nation’s history such as “Who can be an American?” and “Who gets to decide?” From 2010-2017, Dr. Seriff served as guest curator and later Director of the Gallery of Conscience at the Museum of International Folk Art, a participatory exhibition space that draws on the power of folk art to spark meaningful community engagement around social justice and human rights issues of our time including women’s empowerment, natural disaster, forced internment during war, and HIV/AIDS.


Basilio Serrano

was born in San Sebastián, Puerto Rico but grew up in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side. He graduated from the City College of the City University of New York where he completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He also holds a PhD from New York University. Dr. Serrano is a Professor Emeritus and former chair of the Childhood Education Department of State University of New York – College at Old Westbury. In addition to preparing teachers, Professor Serrano has served as a curriculum writer specializing in the area of Latin American Studies. A major challenge facing curriculum developers in this area is the lack of centralized sources of information and as a result, they have to embark on conducting the research. Very often, the research is ground-breaking. His work in this field has led him to research many facets of the Latin American experience in the United States. An area that has been his focus is the Puerto Rican Diaspora and the wide range of experiences that Boricuas have had in the States. In recent years, Dr. Serrano has researched the Puerto Rican participation in the development of popular music and jazz.

Torres photo

Julie Torres

is an Assistant Professor of Women’s and Ethnic Studies and the Latina/o/x Studies Certificate Coordinator at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs. She earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.A. in Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research and teaching focus on issues related to Latinx/Puerto Rican studies, diaspora, feminism, social activism, and transnationalism. She has published in academic venues, such as Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, Feminist Anthropology, Anthropology News, and CENTRO Journal for the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Her forthcoming book, Border Zones of Crisis: Community, Resistance and the Puerto Rican Diaspora to Orlando, ethnographically examines Puerto Rican women’s activism in Orlando, Florida in light of contemporary crises.


Nitza Tufino

Nitza Tufiño

was born in Mexico City, the first child of late Puerto Rican artist, Rafael Tufiño and Mexican dancer and model, Luz Maria Aguirre. During her early childhood, it was evident to both her parents that Nitza inherited her father’s artistic gene, and after graduating from high school in Puerto Rico, her mother insisted that she study art at the Academia San Carlos in Mexico City, that was also her father’s Alma Mater. During her college years in Mexico she was privileged to meet Alfaro Siquieros, who was instrumental in inspiring her to understand and love the world of murals. It is because of Siquieros, that she chose to become known first as a muralist and public artist. It is because of her father’s influence and family tradition, that she also excelled in printmaking. Upon receiving her BFA in 1970 she decided to settle in Manhattan, where she worked as an artist. In 1973 she created her first public mural for the façade of then community-based El Museo del Barrio, of which she is a founder as an artist activist, that is now located on New York’s Museum Mile on 5th Avenue. During the 1970s she also served as a consultant on Puerto Rican and Caribbean art at the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan Museum. In the early 1980s she returned to school and obtained an M.S. in Urban Affairs from Hunter College with the support of a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Her career as a muralist and public artist flourished and was commissioned by various educational institutions and governmental agencies. As resident artist teaching art and design at the Central Connecticut State University, she developed and created the first murals public art program at CCSU. Tufiño’s commitment to public art led her to be recognized as El Taller Boricua’s first female artist in 1970, and has been involved with El Taller since that time. Nitza is also a proud member of “El Consejo Grafico”, a national coalition of Latino printmaking workshops and individual printmakers.

Valentin-GIDEST Portrait V2

Wilson Valentín-Escobar PhD

(he/him/él) is an Assistant Professor of American Studies and Public Humanities. Valentín is the author of two books: Bodega Surrealism: Latina/o/x Artivists in New York City (NYU Press, forthcoming) and Rican-Structing the Roots and Routes of Puerto Rican Music and Dance  (Centro Press, forthcoming). He has curated numerous exhibits, including ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New YorkMontage Quotidien: The Photographs of Máximo Rafael Colón, and Power and Memory: 50 Years of Struggle, Shared Legacies of Resistance, among others. Valentín has also presented at national and international conferences, and has published his scholarship in academic refereed journals, book anthologies, and museum catalogs.  He teaches courses in Community Engagement and Social Action, US Ethnic Studies, Latina/o/x Studies, Puerto Rican Studies, Art and Activism, Oral History Theory and Methods, Self-Directed Learning, and Cultural Studies.Before joining The New School, Valentín was an Associate Professor of American Studies and Sociology at Hampshire College (2004-2022), Director of the cross-campus Five College Latin, Caribbean and Latina/o/x Studies Program (2011-2018), and Director of the interdisciplinary Bachelor of Liberal Arts Program at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (2019-2021).

As an interdisciplinary scholar trained in the Critical Ethnic Studies tradition, he has long been committed to community engaged pedagogy and collaborative, transdisciplinary, public-facing scholarship that fosters praxis-oriented intellectual inquiry. His scholarship and teaching is at the intersections of various fields and subjects, including artivism (arts and activism), US Latinx Studies, Cultural Studies, Museum Studies, Performance Studies, Urban Studies, Historical Studies, Sociology, Aesthetics, and Oral History. He aims to create pathways for aesthetic innovation, arts-based civic engagement, community activism, community-based arts education, and multi/interdisciplinary arts that foster and hold space for socio-political and academic collaborations. Valentín believes that decolonial teaching practices and knowledge production are best realized within spaces of freedom and equity, allowing for creative and imaginative thinking beyond conventional paradigms and disciplines.

Charles R Venator Santiago on Oct. 4, 2022. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Charles R. Venator-Santiago 

is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Political Science and El Instituto at the University of Connecticut. He is also the Director of El Instituto: Institute for Latino/a, Caribbean and Latin American Studies and the founding director of the Puerto Rican Studies Initiative for Community Engagement and Public Policy. He studies U.S. territorial law and policy. He teaches courses on U.S. legal history, legal theory, Latino and Puerto Rican politics. Venator Santiago is currently working on developing a series of research projects including developing a demographic profile of Puerto Ricans in Connecticut, the Northeast and Nationally, on an oral histories project, and a series of civic engagement projects. He is also the author of multiple digital archives including the Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives Project, the forthcoming Puerto Rico Status Archives Project, 1909 Survey of Puerto Rican Elites and the American Samoa Nationality and Citizenship Archives Project. For more information on Venator-Santiago’s current projects, see

City Lore Staff


Elena Martinez

received a MA in Anthropology and an MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon. She is the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center and has been a Folklorist at City Lore since 1997. Her work has included getting Casa Amadeo (the longest continually-run Latin music store in NYC) nominated to the National Register of Historic Places (the first nomination relating to the Puerto Rican experience on the mainland); and nominating master Puerto Rican lacemaker (the art of mundillo) Rosa Elena Egipciaco for a NEA National Heritage Award.

She co-produced the documentary, From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale, which aired on PBS in September 2006 and won the NCLR’s (National Council of La Raza) 2007 ALMA Award for Best TV Documentary. She was a producer for the documentary, We Like It LikeThat: The Story of Latin Boogaloo, which premiered at the SXSW Festival in 2015. She was also a producer on the short documentary, Eddie Palmieri: A Revolution on Harlem River Drive (Red Bull Academy 2016). Elena curated the exhibition, “¡Que bonita bandera!: The Puerto Rican Flag as Folk Art,” and was the Assistant Curator for the exhibit, “Nueva York: 1613-1945” at El Museo del Barrio (2010). She co-curated the exhibit, “Las Tres Hermanas: Art & Activism,” with Joe Conzo Jr. which was featured at the Bronx Music Heritage Center Hostos Community College and the Center forPuerto Rican Studies in 2017.

She has written “¡Que Bonita Bandera!: Place, Space and Identity as Expressed Through the Puerto Rican Flag” in Public Performance: Studies in the Carnivelesque and Ritualesque edited by Jack Santino(2017). In 2013 she gave the Botkin Lecture for the American Folklore Center at the Library of Congress, “I’d Still Be Puerto Rican, Even if Born on the Moon: Puerto Rican Migration and Community Through the Expressive Arts.” She was recently a contributor to Lincoln Center’s Legacies of San Juan Hill project and a consultant for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino. She was on the Community Advisory Board for Steven Spielberg’s 2022 West Side Story.


Amanda Dargan 

is the Director of Special Projects in Education at City Lore and served for 27 years as Education Director. Her research interests include children’s play, word play, world poetry duels, informal learning, family folklore, and folk arts in education. She currently serves on the boards of the American Folklore Society and the Association for Cultural Equity. Her publications include City Play, a book about children’s informal play in New York City, articles in the books A Celebration of American Family Folklore, Encyclopedia of New York City, New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Through the Schoolhouse Door, and Play from Birth to Twelve and Beyond, and in the journals, Journal of American Folklore, Journal of Learning through the Arts, Journal of Folklore and Education, Teachers and Writers Magazine, and Educational Leadership. She was co-editor for many years of CARTS, a magazine devoted to folk arts in education, and The Culture Catalog, that offered cultural arts resources for educators. She holds an MA in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2019, she was awarded the Benjamin A. Botkin award by the American Folklore Society for significant lifetime achievement in public sector folklore. 


Molly Garfinkel

As City Lore Co-Director and Director of the Place Matters program, Molly Garfinkel leads initiatives in cultural resource management, community history, exhibition curation, public education, grassroots preservation, and traditional arts presentation. Her research explores theories of cultural landscapes, cultural labor and policy, and histories of urbanism and city planning. Garfinkel has published articles in the University of Oregon’s CultureWork broadside, Voices, The Journal of New York Folklore, University of Pennsylvania’s LA+ Design Journal, the Journal of American Folklore, and with the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Office of Research & Analysis. She holds a B.A. in Art History from Wesleyan University and an M.A. in Architectural History from the University of Virginia.

Sahar Muradi photo cropped_credit Christopher Lucka

Sahar Muradi

is the Director of Education Programs at City Lore, which brings a cultural and community-based perspective to arts education. Her responsibilities include developing and overseeing school partnership programs, developing professional development programs for educators, helping grow and support a 30+ cohort of teaching artists, and collaboratively leading the Education Programs team. Before City Lore, she facilitated social advocacy and international service programs for young people, and prior to that, worked with government and civil society groups in her native Afghanistan. Sahar is author of the collection OCTOBERS, selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2022 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and a finalist for the National Poetry Series. She is author of the chapbooks [ G A T E S ], Ask Hafiz, A Garden Beyond My Hand, and A Ritual in X Movements.  She is co-editor, with Seelai Karzai, of EMERGENC(Y): Writing Afghan Lives Beyond the Forever War, An Anthology of Writing from Afghanistan and its Diaspora; and, with Zohra Saed, of One Story, Thirty. Stories: An Anthology of Contemporary Afghan American Literature.


Eva Pedriglieri

is City Lore’s Communications Manager overseeing all social media platforms and email communications for projects and public programs. She is also the Education Program Coordinator, bringing her own interest and experience as a teaching artist to the role. She has served as a cultural ambassador and English teacher for the US as part of a Fulbright grant in southern Italy. She is also a practicing interdisciplinary artist with a degree in fine arts from Parsons School of Design and has exhibited her artwork in various galleries and international festivals in the US, Europe and the Caribbean. Her work investigates and represents cultural tradition and heritage through personal and community identity through performance, installation, painting and social practice. Learn more about her work: 


Steve Zeitlin

is the founding Executive Director of City Lore, an organization dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage. With a focus on New York, but with an increasing number of projects of national and international scope, City Lore works with grassroots cultures to ensure their living legacy in stories and histories, places and traditions. City Lore’s successful programs include Place Matters, the People’s Hall of Fame, and the POEMobile which projects poems on to buildings in tandem with live readings and performances. In 2007, he received the Benjamin Botkin Award from the American Folklore Society for lifetime achievement in public folklore. In 2010, he was awarded an Archie Green fellowship from the Library of Congress.

Steve Zeitlin has served as a regular commentator for a number of nationally syndicated public radio shows, and his commentaries have appeared on the Op Ed pages of The New York Times and Newsday. He also coproduced with NPR producer Dave Isay the storytelling series American Talkers for NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and Morning Edition.

Prior to arriving in New York, Steve Zeitlin served for eight years as a folklorist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and has taught at George Washington, American University, NYU, and Cooper Union. He is coauthor of a number of award winning books on America’s folk culture including A Celebration of American Family Folklore (Pantheon Books, 1982); The Grand Generation: Memory Mastery and Legacy (U. of Washington Press, l987); City Play (Rutgers University Press, l990); Because God Loves Stories: An Anthology of Jewish Storytelling (Simon & Schuster, 1997); Giving a Voice to Sorrow: Personal Responses to Death and Mourning (Penguin-Putnam, 2001), and Hidden New York: A Guide to Places that Matter (Rutgers U. Press, October, 2006). He is the author of a volume of poetry, I Hear American Singing in the Rain (First Street Press, 2002), and his poems have appeared in Rolling Stone MagazineLiterary Review East and other publications. His book, The Poetry of Everyday Life, was published by Cornell University Press in 2016.

Steve has also coproduced a number of award winning film documentaries Free Show Tonight on the traveling medicine shows of the l920s and 30s; From Mambo to Hip Hop, broadcast on public television in the fall of 2006, and winner of an Alma Award for Best Documentary; Deaf Jam, about American Sign Language poets, recently broadcast by Independent Lens on PBS; and Let’s Get the Rhythm: the Life and Times of Miss Mary Mack, which premiered at the Margaret Mead Film Festival in 2014.

For Questions Please Contact 
Elena Martinez