North Carolina Folklife Institute Staff
Joy M. Salyers, Executive Director
Joy M. Salyers received her MA in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has conducted fieldwork in several states, including a long-term life review oral history project, and a collaborative project documenting, through text and photos, members of a modern performance community. She is the current secretary of the North Carolina Folklore Society.
Salyers has more than ten years’ experience in project management, including running her own consulting business, facilitating an innovative education program at UNC-Chapel Hill, and developing and executing projects with multiple partners, including county agencies, nonprofits, community groups, and museums. A decade of work in the white anti-racist movement informs her particular interest in the ethics and equity of engagement. Her work has been recognized with the Robert E. Bryan Public Service Fellowship from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Carolina Center for Public Service.
Salyers is also an award-winning curriculum developer who has developed and taught courses at the elementary, middle school, and university level. She has taught courses for the certificate in documentary arts at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies for more than ten years. Salyers was appointed in September, 2014 to a three-year term to the Arts Commission by the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Deborah Miller, Program Administrator
Deborah Miller joined the North Carolina Folklife Institute as Program Administrator in fall of 2012.
A North Carolina native, she grew up in Chapel Hill, spending summers helping her grandparents prime tobacco on their family farm in the Yadkin Valley and learning to cook from her grandmother. Her interest and experience in arts is wide-ranging, from working in restaurant kitchens to majoring in Painting and Printmaking at Virginia Commonwealth University, from pursuing a degree in culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu to spending many years in the music industry both on the production and promotion sides of the business.
Returning to North Carolina in 1998, she spent 14 years as Marketing & Communications Director at A Southern Season, Chapel Hill’s premier gourmet marketplace. Further nurturing a love of the foods and flavors of her home state, she was active in the Goodness Grows in NC and Got to be NC initiatives of the North Carolina Specialty Foods Association, the marketing division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Deborah serves on the board of the Triangle Blues Society as Communications Chair, and was a regular entertainment columnist for Chapel Hill Magazine’s The WEEKLY and host of SideDish, a weekly talk show on food and wine, on 97.9 WCHL from 2006-2013 .
André Nabors, Chair
Tourism Development Manager for the NC Division of Tourism, Film & Sports Development, André Nabors is a marketing professional with a focus on heritage tourism development. Nabors is committed to supporting sustainable efforts to preserve, protect and promote North Carolina’s natural, historic and cultural resources. During his tenure with West Virginia tourism, he created the first Civil War Trail Guide and the first African-American brochure identifying cultural and historic attractions throughout the state of West Virginia. He also serves as co-owner and co-director of Rising Star Athletics in Charleston, WV and is on the Concord University Foundation board.
Mikki Sager, Secretary-Treasurer
North Carolina Representative for The Conservation Fund and director of the Resourceful Communities Program. Resourceful Communities blends poverty alleviation, heritage preservation and community capacity-building with land and water protection, sustainable forestry, hazard mitigation, and watershed-based planning. Mikki Sager works with rural communities across the state, and she serves on the founding Board of the Black Family Land Trust.
Greg Bell has coordinated the Eno River Association’s Festival for the Eno since 2001, presenting many of North Carolina’s traditional performers and artisans to large mainstream audiences and creating opportunities for hands-on interactive learning for attendees. A musician, he has performed with artists ranging from Ora Watson to Blind Melon and worked extensively in both theatrical and musical production. Additionally he is on the Board of the Chapel Hill Library Foundation and leads the pre-school chapel service at the Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church.
Community & Rural Development (CRD) Agent for the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Edgecombe County, Jamilla was reared in Riegelwood, North Carolina and at an early age, the concept of “leading by serving” was etched into her heart. As the CRD Agent, Jamilla enjoys working with citizens and staff to promote tourism, small business development, community unity, and leadership development in Edgecombe County by providing workshops and facilitating group meetings. She has a passion for serving others and uses the tools of listening, healing, and commitment, to support growth and equity for all people. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.A. in Political Science and a graduate of North Carolina Central University with a Masters’ in Public Administration. Her greatest joy comes from reading, writing, enjoying nature and spending time with her family, godchildren and close friends.
An award-winning television producer, writer and journalist, Clay Johnson has worked as a television news reporter, newscast and special projects producer, segment producer and documentary producer at several network-affiliated television stations and a regional PBS network. He’s also produced many award-winning video projects for government and non-profit agencies and businesses. He is currently an adjunct faculty member and visiting lecturer at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, teaching a course in television journalism. He regularly speaks to other classes at public schools, colleges and universities.
As the Community Food Coordinator of the Resourceful Communities Program, Jesalyn supports grassroots organizations whose work increases low-income consumers’ access to local foods in Eastern North Carolina, combining her background in local food systems, justice organizing, and education to build capacity and deepen programming impact. She is driven by her deep roots in North Carolina, with Lumbee and Scots-Irish family heritage spanning from the coastal plain to the southern Appalachians. She was born and raised in the red clay of the Piedmont, where she sang bluegrass on Thursday nights in her great-grandfather’s shed, inherited her grandmother’s passion for cast-iron cornbread, and learned crafting and gardening from her mother. She brings to the NC Folklife Institute a deep and broad appreciation for North Carolina foodways and folkways, and spends her free time carrying forward many of these traditions – namely pottery, beekeeping, gardening, baking, hiking, and playing music.
Associate Director of the Resourceful Communities Program, Kathleen Marks brings 20 years of communication/ administration experience to the program. She administers Resourceful Communities’ small grants program, develops and coordinates workshops, provides project management, and connects partners and staff with information, resources and each other.
James “Bo” Taylor
Director of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Taylor has also served as Tribal Council representative for the Big Cove community. Known for his work in preserving and perpetuating Cherokee culture, Taylor has lectured around the country, appeared in documentary films, and teaches Cherokee language as a second-language learner. He is a founding member of the Warriors of AniKituhwa, a traditional dance group who are cultural ambassadors for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Taylor’s CD, Rebuilding the Fire: Traditional Songs of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, received a Nammy from the Native American Music Association in 2010.
Christina Strickland Theodorou
As a student, Christina Theodorou founded and organized the first national American Indian sorority in the United States, Alpha Pi Omega, at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she is now a consultant with the American Indian Center. Theodorou, a member of the Lumbee tribe, has extensive experience in program development, entrepreneurship training, documentation of Indian breast cancer survivors, and management of program services to tribal entities. She created the Native American Business Resource Council and now assists tribes and tribal business owners to be better connected and to identify and develop heritage tourism and small business opportunities.
Board members may click here for access to documents.