Executive DirectorPeter Rushefsky has served as CTMD’s Executive Director since 2006 following a successful career as a non-profit health care executive. A practicing klezmer musician, Rushefsky performs and records internationally with violinist Itzhak Perlman, the renowned Klezmer Conservatory Band and NEA National Heritage Fellows Andy Statman and Michael Alpert among others. He has been featured at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Hollywood Bowl, and performed on the air for NPR’s Prairie Home Companion, All Things Considered and PBS’s Great Performances. Rushefsky curated the Yiddish performing arts program for the Smithsonian Institution’s 2013 Folklife Festival on the National Mall, helped to found the annual Yiddish New York festival, and has taught and organized numerous Yiddish folk arts workshops internationally. He has served as a grant panelist for New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. A graduate of Cornell University and the University of Michigan, Rushefsky has authored a number of published articles and other writings on traditional performing arts.
Co-Founder and Artistic Director EmeritusEthel Raim is co-founder and Artistic Director emeritus of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. A pioneering figure in public sector folklore, she has been a national leader in revitalizing diverse ethnic traditions and was recognized for her achievements in 2018 as a Bess Lomax Hawes NEA National Heritage Fellow. In 2012, Raim was awarded the American Folklore Society’s Benjamin Botkin Award for her career impact in furthering the field of public sector folklore. Raim is also a renowned singer/ethnographer of Yiddish and Slavic music from Eastern Europe. One of the Bulgarian field recordings she made with CTMD co-founder Martin Koenig was featured on NASA’s 1977 Voyager “Golden Record,” a collection of music specially curated to represent the music of humankind throughout the galaxy.
Andrew Colwell, Ph.D.
Program Director and Staff EthnomusicologistAndrew Colwell is a public ethnomusicologist with a focus on indigeneity, heritage-making, and globalization. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy in ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University and a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree in visual and critical studies from the Art Institute of Chicago. His dissertation on the globalization of Mongol xöömei (throat-singing) explores the transformative relationships between pastoral communities, professional musicians, foreign audiences, and cultural institutions in Mongolia, Germany, and beyond. During this work, he facilitated various locally driven efforts among these communities and persons to realize environmental justice, cultural representation, and economic resilience through the performing arts. His doctoral research has received generous support from the Fulbright Institute for International Education, the American Center for Mongolian Studies, and the Portable Title VIII program, while a conference paper based upon this work received the Martin Hatch award. In addition to publishing in the Journal of Folklore Research and the Asian Music journal, he has a forthcoming chapter in an edited volume with the University of Illinois Press. As a practicing xöömeich (throat-singer) himself and multi-instrumentalist, he has given workshops at the University of Pittsburgh, MIT, and Berkeley, performed at the Roaring Hooves Festival and the International Xöömei Festival in western Mongolia, and collaborated with artists such as ethno-rock band Altan Urag and English pianist Steve Tromans, among others.
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Marketing Coordinator & Program AssistantSachindara Navinna, is a recent graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology where she received a Bachelor’s of Science in Advertising and Marketing Communications. In her position as Marketing Coordinator & Program Assistant, Navinna works to gain recognition, increase engagement, and build brand awareness for the organization and artists we support. She also assists with CTMD’s day to day operations as well as with our diverse public programs. A second generation Sri Lankan American, Navinna grew up in a creative home with a passion for working in and amongst her community. A trained Kandyan dancer since the age of four, she is an active member of the Sri Lankan Dance Academy of NY to this day. While continuing her passion for dance, she handles much of the social media and digital marketing for the school. Navinna began her work in folk and traditional arts as a long time program intern and later Folklife Fellow for Staten Island Arts. Her mentor during this period was CTMD’s current Director of Public Programs Naomi Sturm (formerly Director of Folklife for Staten Island Arts). In these positions, she assisted with hands-on event planning, production assistance, fieldwork assignments and PR management. Navinna remains passionate about community outreach and long term community organizing with immigrant populations.
Program Advisor (Soorya NYC)Naomi Sturm - Wijesinghe is a folklorist and ethnomusicologist who specializes in urban and immigrant folklife, cultural sustainability and arts - based social change, and transmedia storytelling. As the founder of the Soorya NYC Sustaining Cultures program, Sturm continues to advise and support this initiative via its ongoing programming and fieldwork. Sturm also co-teaches Global Voices: Sri Lanka with New School faculty Dr. Evan Rapport, based on her years of work with NYC’s Sri Lankan community.