FARM Board of Directors

Ellen Stanley

Ellen Stanley

Conference Director

Minneapolis based Ellen Stanley works as a publicist, promoter, DJ and organizer in our community. Formerly the Director of Publicity & Promotions for Red House Records, she is the owner of EFS Publicity and hosts the syndicated Womenfolk radio show as well as the Back Catalog Listening Party podcast. As a songwriter Ellen performs as Mother Banjo. Called “an outstanding poet” (Inside Bluegrass), she was a Midwest Finalist for the prestigious NewSong Contest and has been featured nationally on SiriusXM and CMT.com.

Karen Rigotti

Karen Rigotti

Secretary

Retiree Karen Rigotti focuses on non-profit arts advocacy. She volunteers at WFMT for “The Midnight Special” and “Folkstage” (20 years.) As an active singing member (35 years), former volunteer, and current contracted GM of the 110 members, 86 year old, Evanston, IL, community choral group North Shore Choral Society, she continues to facilitate administrative activities and a successful music outreach program. Ms. Rigotti gained extensive managerial experience at AT&T, especially with executive-level customer service escalations. She is self-directed, but collaborative and flexible, has problem-solving capabilities, and experience in team leadership, project management, budget/data analysis, and human resources.

Kristen Lee

Kristen Lee

Director

Kristen has had a passion for music enjoyment since first learning how to play her parents’ 8-track tapes as a toddler, picking out the desired tapes by color and pressing the right buttons by shape. She loved singing in musicals and choral groups growing up, has been an active attendee of a variety of local and regional concerts for nearly 20 years, and has been a regular attendee of FARM since coming to her first conference in 2018 at the encouragement of friends in the community. Professionally, Kristen has worked for Michigan State University Libraries for more than 22 years. She brings dedication, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail to all her pursuits and deeply values relationships and community.

John Keck

John Keck

Director

“John L Keck is a hidden gem and a singer songwriter any host would welcome to their venue with open arms. His sophisticated fingerpicking guitar music blends beautifully with his soulful voice. Together they tell stories of real feelings, real people and real relationships. Our audience connected immediately with John’s easy manner and personal style of storytelling. His original music is a journey of sadness, joy and hope leaving the listener feeling better for having been in his audience.” -Lakeside Music, Manhattan, Kansas

Smitty (Dudley) Smith

Smitty (Dudley) Smith

President

Smitty is a former punk rock guitar player, retired automotive engineer, and speaks a very little bit of Chinese. He has served on the FARM Board almost continuously since 2011, was conference co-director from 2015 to 2017, and is currently president. Smitty hosted Pump House Concerts (now inactive), a listening room in East Lansing, MI, for ten plus years. He also has presented the annual day long Pumpstock Festival of American Roots Music since 2009. He is spending his retirement focused on his family (three kids, six grandkids, one great-grandchild, wife Kristin McCool, dog Theo), music (he is also on the boards of three other music related nonprofits, and has booked shows as far away as Taipei, Taiwan), traveling, walking, and playing hockey.

Vania Kinard

Vania Kinard

Co-Treasurer

Vania Kinard is the Co-Treasurer on the Board of Directors for Folk Alliance Region Midwest and she currently lives in Naperville, IL. She is a Business Manager and Creative Collaborator at American Songster Productions alongside her husband Dom Flemons. She has over seven years worth of experience in the music industry and has traveled the world while being on tour with Dom Flemons since 2016. She is a producer and scriptwriter on American Songster Radio
Show and Podcast which airs on Nashville’s country music radio station WSM.
She has over eight years worth of experience in politics, including; working on President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign at the National Headquarters in Chicago and the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee in D.C. Recently, Vania started her own consulting business and is currently serving on the Chicago Advisory Board of Children’s Literacy Initiative.
Sue Fink

Sue Fink

Director

Chicago-based singer-songwriter Sue Fink fell in love with the FARM community since she first attended in 2003, and she’s attended nearly every conference since then. Over the years she’s served on the Board (previously, and now) and also as Registrar. She looks forward to meeting new attendees, reconnecting with returning friends, and sharing songs long into the night.

Elexa Dawson

Elexa Dawson

Vice President

Elexa Dawson gives audiences something to cry about. Her hopeful messages cut through the mundane without sidestepping pain. Deeply connected to land, her songs speak of the earth and community, and celebrate all relationships, from mother and child to friend and lover.

Elexa Dawson creates community-focused Americana music where sultry soul meets rural roots. Elexa is a Citizen of the Potawatomi Nation of Oklahoma, founder of Turns Out Records, founder of Good Way Gardens – a land-based arts organization based in Emporia, KS, and a founding member of Kansas folk darlings, Weda Skirts.

Lola Tyler

Lola Tyler

Co-Treasurer

Sandra Wong Ronkoske

Sandra Wong Ronkoske

Director

You might say she’s a groupie or just a fan, but without question, Sandy is believed to have lived at Amazingrace Coffeehouse-Evanston, IL many moons ago. Her exposure to folk music was formed by the talented acoustic singer-songwriters she grew to hear and follow. She became a volunteer and served on Unity Temple (Oak Park, IL) Concert Series BoD to learn how to present music. In 2016, opportunity knocked at her door through a high school friend and she co-founded St Tim’s Coffeehouse-Skokie, IL. Since then, she curates and operates the six-concert series. Motto: A busy person gets things done.

Joy Zimmerman

Joy Zimmerman

Director

Joy Zimmerman cultivates joy as a touring folk & acoustic roots singer-songwriter. A daughter of the Midwest, Joy began violin lessons before walking to kindergarten. She discovered songwriting and a clear, rich voice many miles down the road. Joy brings audiences powerful and tender songs, informed by activism, parenting and years as a social worker. Her two most recent albums debuted in the Folk Alliance International (FAI) Folk Chart Top Ten Albums of the Month. Joy has been awarded an American Songwriter Lyric Contest Honorable Mention, ten Walnut Valley Music Festival NewSong Showcase wins, and Heartland Song Network Artist of the Month. Believing in collaboration, she serves on the board of directors of the Folk Alliance Region Midwest and the Transformative Language Arts Network. When not playing music, Joy loves hiking in the woods with her wife or reading on her screened porch.

Your current Board of Directors are:

  • President: Smitty (Dudley) Smith (East Lansing, MI) info@farmfolk.org
  • Vice President: Elexa Dawson (Emporia, KS)
  • Secretary: Karen Rigotti (Naperville, IL)
  • Co-Treasurer: Lola Tyler (Remus, MI)
  • Co-Treasurer: Vania Kinard (Chicago, IL)
  • Director: Sandra Wong Ronkoske (Addison IL)
  • Director: John Keck (Kansas City, MO)
  • Director: Kristen Lee (Lansing, MI)
  • Director: Joy Zimmerman (Prairie Village, KS)
  • Director: Sue Fink (Chicago, IL)

FARM’s Conference Director is Ellen Stanley
If you want to take a more active role in FARM, consider applying to serve on the FARM board or otherwise volunteering.
Email info@farmfolk.org for more information or to contact any member of the board. Tell us how you want to support FARM or how FARM can support YOU.

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