Folk Arts Center of New England leadership

The Folk Arts Center of New England is run by the FAC Executive Director, Office Manager, Program Manager, Board of Directors, and coordinators of events and projects.


The Folk Arts Center of New England is run by the FAC Executive Director, Office Manager, Program Manager, Board of Directors, and coordinators of events and projects.

Marcie Van Cleave, Executive Director (since 1988)

Katy Bishop, Office Manager (since 2019)

Anna Alter, Program Manager (since 2023)

Board of Directors

Carolyn Ramm (President)

Carolyn Ramm has served on FAC's Board of Directors for over 15 years and during that time has come to care deeply about the organization and its people. Her background is as a musician, and she appreciates and supports FAC's involvement in traditional music as well as dance.
In her professional life Carolyn has been a practicing attorney for many years, with a special emphasis on corporate governance, and holds an M.B.A. in nonprofit management.

Jim Madigan (Vice President)

Jim Madigan first started folk dancing at Yale in 1974, and performed with the Ajde! Folk Ensemble in New Haven. Jim has remained active in folk dance communities ever since, including stints in Oregon and Washington DC before arriving in Boston in 1988.
Professionally, he retired from a long career in Information Technology in 2016 to enjoy time away from the computer - spending time dancing, hiking and traveling. When Covid-19 hit, Jim returned to the computer, and helped to spearhead FAC's turn to virtual programming using Zoom, and can still be found behind-the-scenes at most of the FAC virtual events! Jim has been a member of the FAC board since 2016, is currently the VP, while still serving on the FAC Technology Committee, Nominating Committee, and Balkan Music Night organizing committee.
Jim is married to a Yale Slavic Chorus alumna (Daphne), and has two sons (Elliot and Julian), who are alumni of FAC’s FolkDays at Pinewoods Camp.

Carl Lazarus (Treasurer)

Carl Lazarus has been active in folk dancing since 1976, and met his wife, Joyce, at MIT folk dancing. His 40-plus-year professional life was spent in computer software and services, beginning in medical computing; two computer start-ups provided him with a variety of business and technical challenges.
He is retired, lives in Newton with Joyce and two parrots, has two adult children out of the nest, and loves travel, reading, all kinds of music (including classical, opera, and jazz), Frank Lloyd Wright, and Alfred Hitchcock. Carl attends and gives classes at the Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and is active in the Balkan Music Night organizing committee. He is most happy when he can combine travel and folk dance.

Almas Dossa (Secretary)

Almas Dossa grew up in India and Pakistan and came to the United States in 1977. She went to her first Friday night International Folk Dance in the Fall of 1981, where she met her husband, Ron. They continued to dance at both FAC and MIT events and had a folk dance wedding with the Mandala Folk Orchestra in 1986. Almas was an active member of the International Folk Music Club for many years until the pandemic hit.
Almas worked for 20+ years as a physical therapist both in the clinical and academic field and has her PhD in Health/Social Policy from Brandeis University. She has worked in the research field for many years primarily in the elder wellness and disability arena and has presented at conferences both nationally and internationally. Currently, Almas works for Massachusetts Medicaid (MassHealth) to direct and manage health care policy initiatives and implementation. As a member of the Brookline Unitarian church, she actively participates in the Racial Justice Action Committee to fulfill its mission of demanding social justice and dismantling racism. She enjoys reading fantasy novels, bicycling, hiking, travelling, and cross-country skiing.

Ron Wilkinson (Assistant Secretary)

Ron Wilkinson discovered international folk dancing in New Haven in 1974 and found it a great source of multicultural awareness, exercise, comradery, and fun! Upon moving to Boston in 1977, Ron quickly connected with both the MIT Folk Dance Club and the Folk Arts Center of New England for their rich offerings of weekly dance sessions and seasonal special events. In the early 80’s, Ron was a member of the MIT Folk Dance Club’s Performing Group, known colloquially as the “PG”, which performed at NEFFA, First Night Boston, nursing homes, and assorted other venues.
Ron met his wife, Almas Dossa, in 1981 at a Folks Arts Center weekly dance session. Their wedding reception in 1986 featured the Mandala Folk Orchestra and guest Marianne Taylor showing some of their non-folk dancing family and friends how to join in the fun! After 35 years of marriage, Ron and Almas count folk dancing as one of the great highlights of their lives together!
Ron has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale and Masters degrees in both Statistics and Computer Science from Boston University. He has spent his professional life applying information technology to healthcare, in 2022 rounding out his 28th year at Boston Children’s Hospital and still not quite ready to retire. In addition to dancing, Ron enjoys, bicycling, photography, hiking, reading, and international travel.

Siu-ching Lui

Siu-Ching Lui discovered international folk dancing in 1995 at an evening class in Green Brook, NJ. She immediately fell in love with the beautifully eclectic music and the intricate footwork, and she and her husband (Paul Tong) have been folk dancing ever since. They enjoy being part of the folk dance community around New Jersey and beyond, especially in Vancouver, Canada where they lived for several years.

During the same time period when folk dancing came into her life, Siu-ching, along with Paul, began pursuing the practice of Chinese brush painting, which quickly became a second passion. Over the years, their work has been exhibited at local libraries and art centers. Besides folk dancing and painting, she enjoys hiking, skiing, windsurfing and traveling.

Siu-ching became a fan of the Folk Arts Center after attending the dance sessions on Zoom, and especially after venturing out to the 2020 Pinewoods Camp. She is thrilled to be joining the FAC Board as a Folk Leader, and looks forward to sharing her experience in starting and organizing dance groups in the NJ area to the Board.

Professionally, Siu-ching had a long career as a research scientist in R&D at Honeywell, Inc., after earning a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.

Barbara Merson

A third generation folk dancer, Barbara began dancing in New York and then migrated to the Boston area where she danced at MIT and Brandeis. After graduation, she returned to New York and performed with the George Tomov dancers. She currently lives in the Portland, Maine area where she teaches and leads international and Israeli folk dance groups. Barbara is also an avid belly dancer, swing dancer, and fitness instructor. She plays the dumbek with All Girl Band in the Boston area and the Portland Middle Eastern Ensemble.

Barbara’s has had extensive experience as a nonprofit leader with a wide variety of organizations, including the Maine Jewish Film Festival. She currently teaches nonprofit management at Colby College in Maine. She is on the board of Folk Dance Brunswick, Mainewoods Dance Camp, the National Folk Organization, and the Folk Arts Center of New England.

Sue Rose

Sue Rose began folk dancing in college at Brown in 1976. She discovered the MIT Folk Dance Club in 1981 and moved to Cambridge to lessen the commute. In order to subsidize her folk dance habit, she got a Masters of Public Health while programming and teaching at all three dance sessions at MIT’s Folk Dance Club.

She and her husband Bill met on the dance floor at the MIT Sunday Night International Dance and got married in 1986 to the musical talents of the Mandala Ensemble. Sue has led workshops at NEFFA with the Goats and at other venues; she and Bill were regular dance instructors at the Cajun and Bluegrass Festival in RI. Sue worked in public health research before switching to a career in Children’s Librarianship. She is currently a Lecturer at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School in Library Information Science.

Since moving back to Boston during the pandemic, Sue is thrilled to be more involved with folk dancing. Sue and Bill have two adult kids (Michael and Becky), whose happiest memories include the FAC session at Pinewoods and the FAC New Year’s Party. Athena and Iris, two fluffy golden retrievers, are icons at virtual dance events, and tolerate zurna music with calm resignation.

David Salstein

David Salstein started folk dancing in the Boston area in 1974, and has danced in other parts of the country while working outside of Boston. He is enthusiastic about many forms of music; he plays piano and often accompanies his wife, Jane, who plays flute. David and Jane both perform with the Waltham Philharmonic Orchestra as well as help with that orchestra’s finances.
Professionally, he is a researcher in atmospheric and Earth science, with a background in mathematics. His work at an environmental company has been supported through his government grants. David collaborates with scientists internationally, and has traveled for collaborative projects and meetings in Europe, Asia, and South America. He enjoys bicycling, hiking, languages, concerts, and theater.

Yaron Shragai

Yaron Shragai, born in Israel and come of age in New York, with stints elsewhere in the US before landing in Boston in 2003, is a music and dance leader in the local folk and folk-inspired music/dance community, including both the American-Anglo-Celtic sphere and the international sphere.
While his younger years saw him chasing the musical cutting edge, he has always cultivated an interest in the traditional as well, which over time became his primary interest. Yaron began international folk dancing at MIT in 2003 and playing the associated music after connecting with the International Music Club at NEFFA 2004, and subsequently became organizationally involved in the community and evolved into his current roles. In his spare time, Yaron is a computer engineer.

The Folk Arts Center of New England’s co-founders Conny and Marianne Taylor started their first weekly international folk dance series on Wednesdays in July 1955 at the Cambridge YWCA’s Hannum Hall in Central Square. The series switched to Thursdays the following year, then added Fridays in 1960.