The Southwest Folklife Alliance (SFA) is an affiliate non-profit organization of the University of Arizona, housed within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. The Jim Griffith Chair in Public Folklore at the Southwest Center and UA School of Anthropology serves as lead curator for SFA programs and activities.
We are the Arizona Commission for the Arts‘ designated State Partner for Folk Arts for the National Endowment for the Arts. We also work in partnership with traditional and folklife communities throughout the state.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lynn Hourani (Chair)
Islamic Center of Tucson
Berlin Loa (Vice Chair)
Assistant Professor UA School of Information; Knowledge River Program Manager
Teresa Bravo (Secretary)
Government Relations at Tucson Electric Power
Maribel Alvarez (Treasurer)
Director, Tucson Meet Yourself; Interim Associate Vice Provost, University of Arizona Office of Diversity and Inclusion
Jim Griffith Chair of Public Folklore
Dr. Robert Breunig
Retired Museum Curator and Professor
Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President, Chicanos por la Causa
President of the Latinos@ Amazon Affinity Group
Dr. Praise Zenenga
UA / Africana Studies
STAFF & REGIONAL LEADERSHIP
Leia Maahs, Executive Director: email@example.com
Leia is a cultural worker and administrator with over 18 years of expertise in the non-profit arts and cultural sector. Leia served as SFA’s Programs Manager then as Managing Director. With a BA in Liberal Arts/Cultural Policy from Prescott College and an MBA from the UA Eller College of Business, Maahs pays attention to the role of equity in communities and fosters development strategies that center the role of folklore in public life. She has contributed nationally to evaluation initiatives associated with the social impacts of the arts and civic engagement. In Tucson she has contributed to the production of regional exhibits, festivals, grantmaking, teaching artist programs, and community cultural development initiatives that center everyday forms of expression that reflect sense of place and belonging.
Kimi Eisele, Folklorist/Communications Specialist: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kimi is a writer, editor, folklorist, and multidisciplinary artist. She manages SFA’s communications, curates programs and exhibits, and writes for and edits BorderLore, an online monthly on culture and heritage of the borderlands. Her writing and arts-based work aims to illuminate kinship between people, cultures, plants, animals, and places. She is the author of THE LIGHTEST OBJECT IN THE UNIVERSE (Algonquin Books, 2019), and her essays have appeared in Guernica, Longreads, Literary Hub, Orion, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. She is a cohort member of Julie’s Bicycle’s Cultural Climate Leadership program.
Nelda Ruiz, Programs Manager in Cultural Organizing: email@example.com
Nelda is a community organizer, cultural worker, and folklorist from the Sonoran borderlands. She manages SFA’s participatory action research (PAR) projects and community-based documentation projects. Nelda is a 2019 National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC) Leadership Institute Fellow (NLI), a 2019 Adelita Del Año awardee presented by Las Adelitas AZ, and a 2017 Mujer En La Lucha awardee presented by the Arizona Cesar E. Chavez Holiday Coalition. Her first essay “Seeds Planted by Nana Tota” will be published in Nourishing Resistance: Stories of Food, Protest, and Mutual Aid by PM Press in Spring 2023.
Denise Uyehara, Programs Manager in Artist Services: firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Uyehara is a writer, contemporary performance artist and director. She manages SFA’s services for artists, including the Master-Apprentice Artist Award and strives to make these services more accessible for all. A fourth-generation Japanese and Okinawan American, Denise is interested in how we shape identity, culture, and social movements. Most recently, she helped create the multi-discipline performance “Shooting Columbus” by the Fifth World Collective, a collaboration between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. More info at www.deniseuyehara.com.
Maggie Rush-Miller, Operations Manager: email@example.com
Maggie Rush-Miller (she/her/hers) is second-generation artist from Rancho Linda Vista, an art commune adjacent to Oracle, Arizona. She has been an actor (Juice), director, and K-12 art teacher and is the founder of RLV OracleArt, supporting artistic expression, education and preservation, particularly for BIPOC communities and underserved youth of the “Copper Corridor.” She is also a diversity, equity, inclusion and access consultant, grant writer, volunteer mediator, and Youth Justice Reform community member. She currently sits on the board of Tucson’s The Drawing Studio. She holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Arizona and writes African American historical fiction, including a one-woman show, Crossing the Atlantic on my Back, which integrates the life-size drawings of local master artist, Andrew Rush.
Selina Morales, Lead Folklorist Folklife/PAR: firstname.lastname@example.org
Selina Morales is a Philadelphia-based public folklorist who consults nationally with a focus on urban folklore, particularly the intersection of community aesthetics, heritage, and social justice. Selina earned a BA in Anthropology at Oberlin College and an M.A. in Folklore at Indiana University-Bloomington. She is a member of the Advisory Council to the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and serves as the Board Chair of the Folk Arts Cultural Treasures Charter School in Philadelphia. Selina is the Lead Folklorist for the Southwest Folklife Alliance’s Folklife PAR Network.
Alisha Vasquez, SFA & NFN Communications / Accessibility Manager: email@example.com
As an historian and 5th-gen Tucsonense, Alisha Vasquez holds a unique perspective to analyze the socio-political landscape of these borderlands to push back against the metanarrative. She has taught all ages inside and outside the classroom, was nourished by punk rock, and is the co-director of the Mexican American Heritage and History Museum in Tucson. As a self-proclaimed Krip, Chicana mama, many of her personal experiences influence the way she authentically engages people and encourages them to be the agents in their own lives.
Guillermo Nuñez, Director, Alianza para Folclore y Patrimonio Del Norte: firstname.lastname@example.org
Guillermo Núñez Noriega holds a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Arizona. He is a full professor and researcher at the Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo in Hermosillo, Sonora and the author of seven books on gender and sexual culture in Mexico. His most recent book, Fariseos, a study of the ritual performance of Easter ceremonies as interpreted and carried out by non-indigenous men in the small town of San Pedro de la Cueva, Sonora.