Bobby Sanabria

Guest Scholar and Artist, is a 7-time Grammy nominee as a leader. He is a noted drummer, percussionist, composer, arranger, conductor, producer, educator, documentary filmmaker, and bandleader of Puerto Rican descent born and raised in NYC’s South Bronx. He was the drummer for the acknowledgded creator of Afro-Cuban jazz, Mario Bauzá, touring and recording three CD’s with him, two of which were Grammy nominated, as well as an incredible variety of artists. From Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puente, The Mills Brothers, Ray Barretto, Chico O’Farrill, Francisco Aguabella, Henry Threadgill, and many more. In addition, he has guest conducted and performed as a soloist with numerous orchestras like the WDR Big Band, The Airmen of Note, The U.S. Jazz Ambassadors, Eau Claire University Big, The University of Calgary Big Band, and others. His first big band recording, Live & in Clave!!! Was nominated for a Grammy in 2001. Sanabria’s 2012 big band recording, inspired by the writings of 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 category after NARAS decided to eliminate many ethnic and regional categories in 2010.He is an associate producer of and featured interviewee in the documentaries, The Palladium: Where Mambo Was King, winner of the IMAGINE award for Best TV documentary in 2003, and the Alma Award winning From Mambo to Hip Hop: A South Bronx Tale for which he composed the score. In 2017 he was a consultant and featured musician for the documentary We Like it Like That: The Story of Latin Boogaloo.  He is the composer for the score of the 2017 documentary Some Girls. DRUM! Magazine named him Percussionist of the Year in 2005; he was also named 2011 and 2013 Percussionist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. The South Bronx native 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 the New School University.  Sanabria has conducted hundred of clinics in the states and worldwide under the auspices of TAMA Drums, Sabian Cymbals, Remo Drumheads, Vic Firth Sticks and Latine Percussion, Inc. He is the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center and is part of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Jazz Academy as well as the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall.  His latest recording released in July 2018 is a monumental  Latin jazz reworking of the entire score of West Side Story, entitled, West Side Story Reimagined, on the Jazzheads label  in celebration of the show’s recent 60th anniversary (2017) and its composer, Maestro Leonard Bernstein’s centennial (2018). Partial proceeds from the sale of this historic double CD set go to Jazz Foundation of America’s Puerto Relief Fund to aid Bobby’s a ancestral homeland after the devastation from hurricanes Irma and Maria. wider engagement with the climate debate. The texts by Gerald Bast, Steve Kapelke, Chris Rapley, David Buckland, Chris Wainwright and Helga Kromp-Kolb provoke, within an educational context, a discussion around what are the legitimate agendas for arts education and arts practitioners, in relation to some of the most pressing and urgent issues of our times.

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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 here. 


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Suzanne Seriff

Guest Scholar, is an award winning innovator and educator in the academic, museum, and community arts world. Her interactive community-engaged exhibitions have been recognized by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council for Museum Anthropology, the International Sites of Conscience, and the American Alliance for Museums. Nationally travelling museum exhibits include, “Recycled Reseen: Folk Art from the Global Scrap Heap” for the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, and “Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island,” for the Bullock Texas History Museum. From 2010 to 2017, 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 conversation around social justice and human rights issues of our time, including immigration, HIV/AIDS, women’s empowerment, genocide, natural disaster, and the ethics of the marketplace.  A professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Austin, Seriff brings her vast experience and commitment to hands on learning, community engagement, and career mentoring to design innovative classes in anthropology, folklore, museum studies, immigration, civil rights, and Jewish studies. Classroom curricula are designed to engage students in critical, analytical thinking, hands on learning, creative problem solving, reflective practice, and community collaborations. 

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Basilio Serrano 

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. 

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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.

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City Lore Staff

Dr. Amanda Dargan

Education Coordinator, has been a public sector folklorist and educator for over 40 years.  As Education Director of City Lore for 27 years, she designed and implemented folk arts education programs that served over 10,000 New York City students each year and she provided professional development for teaching artists and classroom teachers. She also has taught folklore as an adjunct at several universities, has published numerous articles on folklore and education, and is a co-author of the book City Play, winner of an Opie Prize. She curates exhibits and produces documentary films, including, In the Moment: Poetry Duels and Improvisations. She has a Ph.D. in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in Folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland. She served as Education Director at City Lore for 27 years, and was awarded the Botkin Award for lifetime achievement in public folklore from the American Folklore Society.

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Molly Garfinkel

Program Coordinator, Serving as Co-Director of City Lore and the Director of City Lore’s Place Matters program, Molly Garfinkel leads initiatives related to cultural resource management, historic preservation, public history, exhibition curation, public education, and traditional arts presentation. Her research explores Western and non-Western building traditions, theories of cultural landscapes, cultural policy, and histories of urbanism and city planning. Molly has published articles in the University of Oregon’s CultureWork broadside, VoicesThe Journal of New York Folklore, University of Pennsylvania’s LA+ Design Journal, and the Journal of American Folklore. She holds a BA in Art History from Wesleyan University and an MA in Architectural History from the University of Virginia.

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Elena Martinez

is the Co-Artistic Director of the Bronx Music Heritage Center a gallery and
performance space which presents programs celebrating the Bronx’s musical and artistic legacy. She received a MA in Anthropology and an MA in Folklore from the University of Oregon and has been a Folklorist at City Lore since 1997 where she has curated exhibits, organized public programs, did research/fieldwork for Place Matters, coordinated the City Lore Documentary Institute, and continues to oversee the City Lore image archives. Her work 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 nominated 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 Like
That: 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 and the Center for
Puerto Rican Studies in 2017. It traveled to other venues in New York and New Jersey. 

She has contributed to Latinas in the United States: An Historical Encyclopedia by historians Virginia Sánchez Korrol and Vicki L. Ruíz (Indiana University Press 2006); Women’s Folklore & Folklife: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art (ABC-CLIO, 2008); Lox Stocks and Backstage Broadway: Iconic Trades of New York City, edited by Nancy Groce. (Smithsonian Institution, 2010); and The Dictionary Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography, edited by Franklin W. Knight and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Oxford University Press, 2016). Other articles include, “Flyin’ High: Kite Flying from the Silk Road to Roosevelt Avenue” in New York State Folklife Reader: Diverse Voices edited by Elizabeth Tucker (2013) and “¡Que Bonita Bandera!: Place, Space and Identity as Expressed Through the Puerto Rican Flag” in Public Performance: Studies in the Carnivelesque and Ritualesque (2017). 

She is on the Board of Directors for Los Pleneros de la 21. She has been awarded a 2013 BOROMIX Puerto Rican Heritage Award, Comité Noviembre’s Lo Mejor de Nuestra Comunidad 2013 and a 2016 Community Award by El Maestro’s Cultural & Educational Center. Her articles and reviews have been published in professional journals such as Centro: The Journal of Puerto Rican Studies, the Journal of American Folklore and Voices. 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. 

A current project involves researching the Afro-Puerto Rican participation in the 369th Regimental Band (the “Harlem Hellfighters”) during WWI. She has been working with the 369th Regimental Historical Society and the World War I Centennial Commemoration “369th Experience” to archive the music sheets from the Historical Society and received a 2015 LARAS (Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences) grant to aid in their preservation.

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Sahar Muradi

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.

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Dr. Steve Zeitlin 

Founding Director of City Lore, received his PhD in Folklore from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA in literature from Bucknell University. Prior to moving to New York, he served for eight years as a folklorist at the Smithsonian Institution and has taught as an adjunct at George Washington University, American University, NYU, Cooper Union, and CUNY. He is co-author of a number of award-winning books on America’s folk culture, including The Poetry of Everyday Life, from Cornell University Press, among others. He received the Botkin Award for lifetime achievement in public folklore from the American Folklore Society.

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