NERFA Committees

The NERFA Committees are vital to guiding the organization’s growth and enhancing our community and conference offerings. These committees are divided into two main types: executive committees and board committees. The executive committees, including the Programming Committee and the COMM Committee, focus on specific operational aspects like event planning and communications. Meanwhile, the board committees, which consist of DIET (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity, and Transparency), Education, Finance, Governance, and SAFE (Safety, Accessibility, Fairness, and Ethics), address broader strategic and governance issues. Together, these committees work collaboratively to ensure NERFA continues to provide valuable growth opportunities and maintain its role as a leader in the folk music community.

Executive Committees

Programming Committee

NERFA’s Programming Committee, affectionately known as the Panel Panel, is a vibrant collective of seasoned industry professionals from across the Northeast. This dedicated team is committed to fostering growth and development within the folk roots and Americana music community. Their primary focus is on designing and implementing a diverse range of development programs tailored specifically for artists, venue operators, and music professionals. Through expertly curated panels, engaging peer group sessions, and practical workshops, the Panel Panel strives to equip participants with the tools and insights needed to thrive in the ever-evolving music landscape.

Submit ideas for NERFA programming here!

Committee Chair: Ethan Baird

Ethan Baird

Committee Chair

Ethan Scott Baird runs the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance and specializes in virtual collaboration. In his previous life as a member of Pesky J. Nixon, Ethan has performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Connecticut Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and NERFA. Throughout his career, he has developed internal collaboration sites for over 100 government programs and managed more than 650 Collaboration Spaces and Theaters. As the managing partner of Tribal Mischief, Ethan has worked with multimedia, PR, and presenting communities from Washington, D.C., through the Maritimes. In his role as NERFA's executive director, he has been privileged to turn the organization into a year-round resource focused on creating opportunities for people looking to build a life in music.

Erik Balkey

Erik Balkey is a national award-winning songwriter. He has written hundreds of songs and has toured the country. He charted No. 1 on the FolkDJ album charts as a solo artist and with the duo The Copper Ponies. He was a 2005 Kerrville New Folk Winner. He is now an artists' rep for CD distribution and promotion to folk radio with his company Hudson Harding Music. With a history in folk music starting in the mid-nineties, Erik was a volunteer at the Fast Folk Cafe (NYC), Music Among Friends (Hoboken, NJ), Nameless Coffeehouse (Cambridge, MA) and Philadelphia Songwriters Association. He created and organized the Plowshares Songwriting Contest (Philadelphia, PA) which ran for seven years, and wrote a pre-blog era daily tour journal called "The Songwriter's Tour Guide" chronicling years on the road. His song “Baseball in my Blood” has been featured on NESN, the Boston Red Sox television network.

Meghan Cary

"Critically-acclaimed artist Meghan Cary didn’t mean to be a musician. When her fiancé unexpectedly died, she picked up his guitar and wrote her debut record, earning her Billboard’s “Critic’s Choice”. Her latest album, SING LOUDER, debuted top 10 on the US/International Folk DJ Chart, and John Platt of WFUV extols, ""These times require songs of compassion and commitment, and Meghan has several which inspire us to reach our higher selves. She sings them with such infectious joy you can’t resist joining in."" A fan-favorite on the fest circuit, find Cary at Philly Folk, Black Bear Americana, Falcon Ridge, Woodstock and others, as well as music halls across the US. A professional stage, screen and voice actor, Cary has written and performs a one-woman show, records VO’s for tv and radio, and is currently collaborating on a Broadway-bound musical. Cary coaches performance and songwriting for universities, arts organizations, festivals and privately. "

A.J. Kiernan

A.J. Kiernan has been performing in front of audiences since she was 13. With influences spanning from Joni Mitchell all the way to B.B. King, you can find this mother of three singing songs about life, love, politics and people. “Everyone has a story. I’m just more comfortable singing mine.” - A.J. Kiernan

Heather Lloyd

Heather Aubrey Lloyd has played bait shops, biker weeks … basically anywhere nationwide for two decades, a recovering reporter whose love of travel and story evolved into equally adventurous songwriting. A sing-me-the-phone-book voice comfortable in any genre, accompanied by folky finger-picked guitar and lyrical rhythms/hand percussion influenced by Baltimore's slam poetry scene. "Janis Joplin ... and Joni Mitchell blended together and injected into a spark plug with curly black locks.” Best known as the co-front of Baltimore’s ilyAIMY, Lloyd's recent solo efforts are gaining national recognition: Falcon Ridge Folk Fest Most-Wanted Artist, National Women’s Music Fest Emerging Artist, No Depression/FreshGrass Finalist and Top 4 Telluride Troubadour. She is also a Grand Prize Winner of the prestigious Bernard Ebb Songwriting Award. Lloyd is finally touring again, along with mixing new music about mental health, aging gracefully and all the highs and lows along the way.

Dan Gottfried ([email protected])

Dan is a lifelong music lover and the producer of Voices in the Heights, a monthly concert series in Brooklyn, New York. He is the board treasurer of The Ashokan Center and the former longtime executive director of the Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center, Unirondack. He is passionate about creating listening spaces for musicians where they are paid well to perform for appreciative audiences. He loves to bake and creates gourmet desserts for each concert at Voices in the Heights. He believes music is at the heart of building a more loving world.

Ron Olesko

For over 40 years, Ron has hosted a folk radio show on WFDU-FM in Teaneck, NJ and since 2019 he is the Director of www.FolkMusicNotebook.com, a 24/7 Internet radio station devoted to folk music.

Jessica Smucker

Jessica Smucker believes that the best way to change the world is to channel our pain into connection. Her songs have a way of reaching deeply into people’s souls and inviting the kind of reflection that feels both reassuring and unsettling. Wrapped in catchy melodies, her lyrics appear simple and relatable on the surface, but each listen will uncover more hidden pockets of nuance. She’s the kind of writer and performer who can lull a noisy room into a hush with a single line. Based in Lancaster, PA, Jessica was raised in the Mennonite faith tradition by a family full of storytellers, activists, adventurers, and pranksters. She performs regularly throughout the U.S. In her life beyond music, Jessica is a published poet and essayist, a social justice warrior, a freakishly good Scrabble player, and mother to two of the smartest people she’s ever met in real life!

Natalia Zukerman

Conference Coordinator

Natalia Zukerman is a versatile artist, educator, and cultural ambassador. Raised in New York City, she studied art at Oberlin before launching her mural business, Off The Wall, in San Francisco. Her artistic journey took her to Boston, where she began her songwriting career. Now residing in the Hudson Valley, Natalia wears many creative hats. With eight independent albums under her belt, Natalia has been touring worldwide as a solo musician since 2005. In 2017, she became a Cultural Diplomat for the US Department of State, performing and conducting workshops in Africa with her trio, The Northern Lights. She also collaborated virtually with Raining Jane to lead workshops in Zimbabwe in 2022 and is slated to do so again in person in 2023/24. Natalia is passionate about teaching, offering private songwriting lessons and contributing to various programs and festivals in the US and Canada. She was an artist in residence at the cell theatre in NYC, where she developed her one-woman show, "The Women Who Rode Away." During the initial lockdown in 2020, Natalia co-produced the online music festival "Shut In & Sing," providing vital financial relief to independent musicians. She works as a teacher with Kid Pan Alley and is a certified yoga teacher. Natalia's talents extend to writing a column and producing a cartoon for her local paper, The Millerton News. Additionally, she serves as the artistic director for SoulCall Global, a conscious global community. Natalia Zukerman's creative spirit knows no bounds, enriching lives through her art, music, and educational endeavors.

COMM Committee (Communication, Outreach, Marketing, & Merriment)

NERFA’s COMM Committee, short for Communication, Outreach, Marketing, and Merriment, is a dynamic group of creative and passionate individuals committed to spreading the joy and vitality of folk roots and Americana music. This team focuses on connecting with diverse audiences and building meaningful relationships within the music community. Their efforts center on innovative communication strategies, expansive outreach initiatives, effective marketing campaigns, and fostering a sense of joy and camaraderie at every event. The COMM Committee’s mission is not only to promote the rich musical traditions of the Northeast but also to create memorable experiences that celebrate the spirit of folk music.

For questions about the COMM committee please write [email protected].

Committee Chair: Ethan Baird

Ethan Baird

Committee Chair

Ethan Scott Baird runs the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance and specializes in virtual collaboration. As a member of Pesky J. Nixon, Ethan has performed at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Connecticut Folk Festival, Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, and NERFA. Throughout his career, he has developed internal collaboration sites for over 100 government programs and managed more than 650 Collaboration Spaces and Theaters. As the managing partner of Tribal Mischief, Ethan has worked with multimedia, PR, and presenting communities from Washington, D.C., through the Maritimes. In his role as NERFA's executive director, he has been privileged to turn the organization into a year-round resource for every music professional.

Wanda Fischer

I worked for more than four decades in PR/marketing/media relations while also doing folk DJ work at a major public radio station. Since I retired from my "day" job, I have been writing and marketing my own fiction. I am a member of the Folk Alliance Folk Radio Hall of Fame.

Heather Lloyd

Heather Aubrey Lloyd has played bait shops, biker weeks … basically anywhere nationwide for two decades, a recovering reporter whose love of travel and story evolved into equally adventurous songwriting. A sing-me-the-phone-book voice comfortable in any genre, accompanied by folky finger-picked guitar and lyrical rhythms/hand percussion influenced by Baltimore's slam poetry scene. "Janis Joplin ... and Joni Mitchell blended together and injected into a spark plug with curly black locks.” Best known as the co-front of Baltimore’s ilyAIMY, Lloyd's recent solo efforts are gaining national recognition: Falcon Ridge Folk Fest Most-Wanted Artist, National Women’s Music Fest Emerging Artist, No Depression/FreshGrass Finalist and Top 4 Telluride Troubadour. She is also a Grand Prize Winner of the prestigious Bernard Ebb Songwriting Award. Lloyd is finally touring again, along with mixing new music about mental health, aging gracefully and all the highs and lows along the way.

Jillian Matundan

Jillian Matundan is an award-winning, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter living in Northern Virginia. After a fifteen-year hiatus from music, she ventured to open mics in 2019 and has been on a tear ever since, winning multiple songwriting awards, playing numerous shows, and collaborating with musicians on stage and in the studio. She released her debut EP, Hangin’ On, in June 2020 and released her first full-length and fully crowd-funded album, Singing to the Moon in March 2024. Jillian is a proud first-generation Filipina American and has spent her career in the labor movement. She has sat on several Boards of Directors and currently sits on the National Executive Board of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA), is a member of the Edwards Arts Council in Northern New York, and is the President of FocusMusic in DC/Maryland/Virginia. She also plays with the Reston Community Orchestra and the McLean Symphony.

Board Committees

Governance

The Governance Committee of the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) is tasked with the crucial role of overseeing the drafting, reviewing, and submission of policy and bylaw changes to the NERFA Board. This committee ensures that our governance structures align with our mission to serve and strengthen the folk music community across the Northeast. 

Responsibilities of the Governance Committee include:

  • Reviewing existing bylaws and policies to identify areas for improvement or updates.
  • Drafting proposed changes to ensure compliance with legal standards and alignment with strategic goals.
  • Facilitating open discussions among stakeholders to gather input and build consensus.
  • Submitting final proposals to the NERFA Board for approval.

For more information please contact [email protected].

Committee Chair: Tara Shannon

Tara Shannon

Committee Chair

Joining the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) board, Tara Shannon is a singer/songwriter from Russell, Ontario, with a passion for philanthropy. As the founder of Willow Sound Records, she released her album "Unfinished," recorded in Nashville and Ottawa. Tara's dedication to various causes is evident in her music. Her single "Butterfly Child" raised funds for her young neighbor with Epidermolysis Bullosa, while "Someone Who Understands" raised awareness for aboriginal youth and mental health services. As a NERFA board member, Tara brings a unique perspective as a mother of seven who balanced family life with a music career. Declining a record deal in 1997 to focus on her children, Tara continues to produce music while prioritizing her family. Her experiences as a mother have deepened her songwriting, enriching her contributions to NERFA and the folk community.

Dan Gottfried

Dan is a lifelong music lover and the producer of Voices in the Heights, a monthly concert series in Brooklyn, New York. He is the board treasurer of The Ashokan Center and the former longtime executive director of the Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center, Unirondack. He is passionate about creating listening spaces for musicians where they are paid well to perform for appreciative audiences. He loves to bake and creates gourmet desserts for each concert at Voices in the Heights. He believes music is at the heart of building a more loving world.

Lisa Kaston ([email protected])

Secretary (2026)

Lisa Kaston has been co-planning and presenting concerts, online showcases, special events and festivals for the past ten years, three of which she served as board president of Connecticut Folk. She also recently served two terms on New Haven’s literacy volunteer board. While on CT Folk’s board, Lisa’s passion and efforts were directed toward engaging a widening community through collaborative planning and grant-funded programming. The main stage of the 2023 CT Folk Festival was named in Lisa’s honor, in recognition of her work with CT Folk and the community. Her musical interests remain eclectic, having spent her earlier years exploring jazz, rock and folk music in NYC.

Jillian Matundan

Jillian Matundan is an award-winning, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter living in Northern Virginia. After a fifteen-year hiatus from music, she ventured to open mics in 2019 and has been on a tear ever since, winning multiple songwriting awards, playing numerous shows, and collaborating with musicians on stage and in the studio. She released her debut EP, Hangin’ On, in June 2020 and released her first full-length and fully crowd-funded album, Singing to the Moon in March 2024. Jillian is a proud first-generation Filipina American and has spent her career in the labor movement. She has sat on several Boards of Directors and currently sits on the National Executive Board of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA), is a member of the Edwards Arts Council in Northern New York, and is the President of FocusMusic in DC/Maryland/Virginia. She also plays with the Reston Community Orchestra and the McLean Symphony.

Rees Shad

"Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rees Shad began his musical journey with Anderson, Ohio (1994), and critics called him a “wordsmith to watch.” It’s a reputation the remarkably prolific and eclectic singer-songwriter/storyteller has proudly cultivated. Shad now boasts a catalog of 16 solo albums, each of which reflect an unyielding combination of emotion and expression that has become his hallmark. American Songwriter hailed 6 Strings and a Story (2023), as “a superb sampling of the skill and savvy that have been a hallmark of Shad’s career.” His latest, The Galahad Blues (2024) “etches a film-noir atmosphere as a soundtrack to an unseen movie” (Nippertown).

Peter Shafran

Peter is the Founder and Chief Amazement Officer of River Spirit Music and CLIVE. He has produced over 125 shows in multiple venues, 3 festivals, 5 concert series and, since the pandemic, over 200 livestreaming events. Peter has been attending and volunteering at NERFA Conferences for over 10 years and has been a long time member of the Board of Directors of Tribes Hill, an organization uniting musicians of the lower Hudson Valley region and their patrons. Peter is also a founder of the Tri-State Folk Music Presenters Association, whose membership includes 50+ venues in NY, NJ, CT and PA.

Laini Sporbert

Laini is the founder and organizer of Railway Concerts, located in North Adams MA. Railway Concerts ran from 2001-12, then 2020 to 2021 (with a pandemic in between). Now, after nearly a year of conversation, the Railway is housed at a beautiful new performance space, Studio 9 at the Porches Inn. When Laini is not hosting or going to music events, she is the Assistant Director for Health Education at Williams College. She has been on several Boards of Directors including regional non-profits, her college alma mater and commissions of the City of North Adams.

Education Committee

NERFA’s Education Committee is a dedicated group of knowledgeable and enthusiastic folk music advocates focused on nurturing the next generation of talent and supporting ongoing professional development. This committee spearheads initiatives like the Mentoring programs, which pair emerging artists with seasoned professionals, the Young Folk Program, designed to ignite a passion for folk music among younger audiences, and conference speed consultancies that offer personalized advice to attendees in quick, efficient sessions. The Education Committee’s goal is to provide valuable learning opportunities and resources that enable musicians and industry professionals to enhance their skills and paths in the folk music industry.

For questions about the Education Committee, please write [email protected].

Committee Chair: Justin Nordell

Justin Nordell

Committee Chair

Justin began at the Philadelphia Folksong Society over a decade ago before taking a job with a recording studio in Texas. Justin became culturally promiscuous upon his return to Philadelphia, working with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Film Festival, FringeArts, etc., with a pit stop as Director of Business Development for a law firm, before returning to PFS as Executive Director in 2015. It didn’t feel as if he was taking a new job – it felt as if he’d come home. Justin hopes to bring his youthful exuberance to the NERFA board with his music industry, nonprofit, and development expertise.

A.J. Kiernan

A.J. Kiernan has been performing in front of audiences since she was 13. With influences spanning from Joni Mitchell all the way to B.B. King, you can find this mother of three singing songs about life, love, politics and people. “Everyone has a story. I’m just more comfortable singing mine.” - A.J. Kiernan

Cheryl Prashker ([email protected])

Cheryl Prashker studied classical percussion at McGill University in her hometown of Montreal, where she landed her first international tour. She honed her skills as an accompanist in New York City, earning tour spots with Eric Andersen, Pat Wictor, Tracy Grammer, Jonathan Edwards, Zoe Mulford and more. She is a founding member of Celtic Roots band RUNA. As an administrator, Cheryl spent 15 years working alongside NERFA founder Dianne Tankle, eventually joining the Board of Directors and serving seven years as President. Cheryl now makes her home in Ontario, where she is Artistic Director and General Manager of the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, College, and Kids Camp. 

Jessica Smucker

Jessica Smucker believes that the best way to change the world is to channel our pain into connection. Her songs have a way of reaching deeply into people’s souls and inviting the kind of reflection that feels both reassuring and unsettling. Wrapped in catchy melodies, her lyrics appear simple and relatable on the surface, but each listen will uncover more hidden pockets of nuance. She’s the kind of writer and performer who can lull a noisy room into a hush with a single line. Based in Lancaster, PA, Jessica was raised in the Mennonite faith tradition by a family full of storytellers, activists, adventurers, and pranksters. She performs regularly throughout the U.S. In her life beyond music, Jessica is a published poet and essayist, a social justice warrior, a freakishly good Scrabble player, and mother to two of the smartest people she’s ever met in real life!

Natalia Zukerman

Natalia Zukerman is a versatile artist, educator, and cultural ambassador. Raised in New York City, she studied art at Oberlin before launching her mural business, Off The Wall, in San Francisco. Her artistic journey took her to Boston, where she began her songwriting career. Now residing in the Hudson Valley, Natalia wears many creative hats. With eight independent albums under her belt, Natalia has been touring worldwide as a solo musician since 2005. In 2017, she became a Cultural Diplomat for the US Department of State, performing and conducting workshops in Africa with her trio, The Northern Lights. She also collaborated virtually with Raining Jane to lead workshops in Zimbabwe in 2022 and is slated to do so again in person in 2023/24. Natalia is passionate about teaching, offering private songwriting lessons and contributing to various programs and festivals in the US and Canada. She was an artist in residence at the cell theatre in NYC, where she developed her one-woman show, "The Women Who Rode Away." During the initial lockdown in 2020, Natalia co-produced the online music festival "Shut In & Sing," providing vital financial relief to independent musicians. She works as a teacher with Kid Pan Alley and is a certified yoga teacher. Natalia's talents extend to writing a column and producing a cartoon for her local paper, The Millerton News. Additionally, she serves as the artistic director for SoulCall Global, a conscious global community. Natalia Zukerman's creative spirit knows no bounds, enriching lives through her art, music, and educational endeavors.

Finance Committee

The Financial Committee is tasked with overseeing and reviewing the organization’s financial processes to ensure accuracy, transparency, and compliance with applicable standards and regulations. This committee plays a critical role in safeguarding the organization’s assets by monitoring its financial activities, auditing accounts, and recommending improvements to financial policies and procedures. Additionally, the Financial Committee assists in budget preparation and financial planning to support the organization’s strategic goals, while also providing regular financial reports to the board and relevant stakeholders. This committee is essential for maintaining financial health and integrity within the organization.

For more information please contact [email protected].

Committee Chair: Dan Gottfried

Dan Gottfried ([email protected])

Committee Chair

Dan is a lifelong music lover and the producer of Voices in the Heights, a monthly concert series in Brooklyn, New York. He is the board treasurer of The Ashokan Center and the former longtime executive director of the Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center, Unirondack. He is passionate about creating listening spaces for musicians where they are paid well to perform for appreciative audiences. He loves to bake and creates gourmet desserts for each concert at Voices in the Heights. He believes music is at the heart of building a more loving world.

Lisa Kaston ([email protected])

Secretary (2026)

Lisa Kaston has been co-planning and presenting concerts, online showcases, special events and festivals for the past ten years, three of which she served as board president of Connecticut Folk. She also recently served two terms on New Haven’s literacy volunteer board. While on CT Folk’s board, Lisa’s passion and efforts were directed toward engaging a widening community through collaborative planning and grant-funded programming. The main stage of the 2023 CT Folk Festival was named in Lisa’s honor, in recognition of her work with CT Folk and the community. Her musical interests remain eclectic, having spent her earlier years exploring jazz, rock and folk music in NYC.

Matthew Ramer ([email protected])

Board Member (2024)

Matt is the Principal & CEO of a Wealth Management firm located in Philadelphia & Vero Beach, FL. His lifelong passion has been music, specifically music production. He has worked as a part-time mastering engineer for 22 years and is currently a student at The Berklee School of Music. In his side-career of philanthropy, he serves as an advisor to several non-profits in the realm in financial matters and fund-raising. He commits roughly 250-350 hours annually to charity and volunteerism and has managed finances for both Multi-Grammy winners and Emmy Nominees.

Tara Shannon ([email protected])

Joining the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) board, Tara Shannon is a singer/songwriter from Russell, Ontario, with a passion for philanthropy. As the founder of Willow Sound Records, she released her album "Unfinished," recorded in Nashville and Ottawa. Tara's dedication to various causes is evident in her music. Her single "Butterfly Child" raised funds for her young neighbor with Epidermolysis Bullosa, while "Someone Who Understands" raised awareness for aboriginal youth and mental health services. As a NERFA board member, Tara brings a unique perspective as a mother of seven who balanced family life with a music career. Declining a record deal in 1997 to focus on her children, Tara continues to produce music while prioritizing her family. Her experiences as a mother have deepened her songwriting, enriching her contributions to NERFA and the folk community.

Peter Shafran ([email protected])

Board Member (2025)

Peter is the Founder and Chief Amazement Officer of River Spirit Music and CLIVE. He has produced over 125 shows in multiple venues, 3 festivals, 5 concert series and, since the pandemic, over 200 livestreaming events. Peter has been attending and volunteering at NERFA Conferences for over 10 years and has been a long time member of the Board of Directors of Tribes Hill, an organization uniting musicians of the lower Hudson Valley region and their patrons. Peter is also a founder of the Tri-State Folk Music Presenters Association, whose membership includes 50+ venues in NY, NJ, CT and PA.

Development Committee

The Development Committee is dedicated to enhancing NERFA’s financial stability by identifying and securing new financial opportunities through grants, fundraising, and sponsorship initiatives. This committee actively seeks and manages relationships with potential donors, sponsors, and grant-making organizations to ensure a steady stream of financial support. They are instrumental in organizing fundraising events and campaigns that align with NERFA’s mission and community values. Additionally, the Development Committee works closely with other committees to align fundraising efforts with the organization’s strategic objectives, ensuring that all financial activities bolster NERFA’s goals for growth and community engagement. Regular updates and reports on fundraising progress are provided to the board and relevant stakeholders, ensuring transparency and accountability in all development activities. This committee is crucial for fostering long-term financial health and advancing the organization’s objectives.

For more information, please contact [email protected].

Committee Chair: Dan Gottfried

Dan Gottfried ([email protected])

Committee Chair

Dan is a lifelong music lover and the producer of Voices in the Heights, a monthly concert series in Brooklyn, New York. He is the board treasurer of The Ashokan Center and the former longtime executive director of the Unitarian Universalist camp and conference center, Unirondack. He is passionate about creating listening spaces for musicians where they are paid well to perform for appreciative audiences. He loves to bake and creates gourmet desserts for each concert at Voices in the Heights. He believes music is at the heart of building a more loving world.

Lisa Kaston ([email protected])

Lisa Kaston has been co-planning and presenting concerts, online showcases, special events and festivals for the past ten years, three of which she served as board president of Connecticut Folk. She also recently served two terms on New Haven’s literacy volunteer board. While on CT Folk’s board, Lisa’s passion and efforts were directed toward engaging a widening community through collaborative planning and grant-funded programming. The main stage of the 2023 CT Folk Festival was named in Lisa’s honor, in recognition of her work with CT Folk and the community. Her musical interests remain eclectic, having spent her earlier years exploring jazz, rock and folk music in NYC.

A.J. Kiernan

A.J. Kiernan has been performing in front of audiences since she was 13. With influences spanning from Joni Mitchell all the way to B.B. King, you can find this mother of three singing songs about life, love, politics and people. “Everyone has a story. I’m just more comfortable singing mine.” - A.J. Kiernan

Ralph Jaccodine ([email protected])

Ralph Jaccodine began his music career as a musician and concert promoter in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and then as the concert director at the University of Notre Dame. He has worked with artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, Rush, Hall & Oates, Foreigner, Yes, the Doobie Brothers, Linda Rondstadt, and Kansas, among many others. In 1992, he started Ralph Jaccodine Management by guiding the career of songwriter Ellis Paul, then expanded the business by working with artists like Livingston Taylor, Rebecca Loebe, Martin Sexton, Eric Andersen, Vinx and the Push Stars, Adam Ezra and Bang Camaro, among others. Jaccodine is the cofounder of the Boston Management Group, a professional organization he started 25+ years ago with Tim Collins, the longtime manager of Aerosmith. He has been active on various boards, including Folk Alliance International, Club Passim, Right Turn, and Hope Collaborative. Jaccodine is a full-time faculty member at Berklee College of Music. He joined the Music Business/Management Department in 2013 and in 2015 won the Dean's Award for Innovation and Service. He serves as the faculty advisor for the Berklee Law and Management Club.

Matthew Ramer ([email protected])

Matt is the Principal & CEO of a Wealth Management firm located in Philadelphia & Vero Beach, FL. His lifelong passion has been music, specifically music production. He has worked as a part-time mastering engineer for 22 years and is currently a student at The Berklee School of Music. In his side-career of philanthropy, he serves as an advisor to several non-profits in the realm in financial matters and fund-raising. He commits roughly 250-350 hours annually to charity and volunteerism and has managed finances for both Multi-Grammy winners and Emmy Nominees.

Tara Shannon ([email protected])

Joining the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) board, Tara Shannon is a singer/songwriter from Russell, Ontario, with a passion for philanthropy. As the founder of Willow Sound Records, she released her album "Unfinished," recorded in Nashville and Ottawa. Tara's dedication to various causes is evident in her music. Her single "Butterfly Child" raised funds for her young neighbor with Epidermolysis Bullosa, while "Someone Who Understands" raised awareness for aboriginal youth and mental health services. As a NERFA board member, Tara brings a unique perspective as a mother of seven who balanced family life with a music career. Declining a record deal in 1997 to focus on her children, Tara continues to produce music while prioritizing her family. Her experiences as a mother have deepened her songwriting, enriching her contributions to NERFA and the folk community.

Peter Shafran ([email protected])

Peter is the Founder and Chief Amazement Officer of River Spirit Music and CLIVE. He has produced over 125 shows in multiple venues, 3 festivals, 5 concert series and, since the pandemic, over 200 livestreaming events. Peter has been attending and volunteering at NERFA Conferences for over 10 years and has been a long time member of the Board of Directors of Tribes Hill, an organization uniting musicians of the lower Hudson Valley region and their patrons. Peter is also a founder of the Tri-State Folk Music Presenters Association, whose membership includes 50+ venues in NY, NJ, CT and PA.

NERFA Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Transparency Committee (DEIT)

At NERFA, we believe in the power of diversity to enrich our community and the folk music scene. The DIET Committee is dedicated to ensuring that every voice is heard and valued. Our mission is to create an inclusive space where artists, venue owners, agents, managers, publicists, and DJs from diverse backgrounds can thrive. We are committed to addressing issues of equity and inclusion through transparent actions and ongoing dialogue. By embracing a broad spectrum of experiences and perspectives, the DIET Committee works to foster a welcoming environment that reflects the vibrant tapestry of our community.

For more information please contact [email protected]

Committee Chair: Justin Nordell

Justin Nordell

Committee Chair

Justin began at the Philadelphia Folksong Society over a decade ago before taking a job with a recording studio in Texas. Justin became culturally promiscuous upon his return to Philadelphia, working with the Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Film Festival, FringeArts, etc., with a pit stop as Director of Business Development for a law firm, before returning to PFS as Executive Director in 2015. It didn’t feel as if he was taking a new job – it felt as if he’d come home. Justin hopes to bring his youthful exuberance to the NERFA board with his music industry, nonprofit, and development expertise.

Aaron Tornberg

Aaron Tornberg is an accomplished songleader, singer/songwriter, and music presenter. He has been writing for almost 40 years and is finally getting around to producing a comprehensive album of his work. He has a background in academia with several degrees in Education and Technology-related certifications. He has been managing non-profit music venues for the past 6 years and is also an experienced open mic host. He is currently working on collaborating with Hip-Hop artists to create something he is calling ""Folk-Hop""

Natalia Zukerman

Conference Coordinator

Natalia Zukerman is a versatile artist, educator, and cultural ambassador. Raised in New York City, she studied art at Oberlin before launching her mural business, Off The Wall, in San Francisco. Her artistic journey took her to Boston, where she began her songwriting career. Now residing in the Hudson Valley, Natalia wears many creative hats. With eight independent albums under her belt, Natalia has been touring worldwide as a solo musician since 2005. In 2017, she became a Cultural Diplomat for the US Department of State, performing and conducting workshops in Africa with her trio, The Northern Lights. She also collaborated virtually with Raining Jane to lead workshops in Zimbabwe in 2022. During the initial lockdown in 2020, Natalia co-produced the online music festival "Shut In & Sing," providing vital financial relief to independent musicians. She works as a teacher with Kid Pan Alley and is a certified yoga teacher. Natalia's talents extend to writing a column and producing a cartoon for her local paper, The Millerton News. Additionally, she serves as the artistic director for SoulCall Global, a conscious global community. Natalia Zukerman's creative spirit knows no bounds, enriching lives through her art, music, and educational endeavors.

SAFE Committee

The NERFA SAFE Committee is dedicated to promoting a secure and respectful environment within the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance, focusing on protecting employees, volunteers, and participants from abusive behavior. This committee brings together representatives from various levels of the organization, including management, supervisors, and frontline workers, to address critical safety and respect issues at NERFA events and activities. The committee’s primary goal is to ensure a safe environment free from abuse, bullying, and harassment. Key responsibilities include identifying potential abusive behaviors, developing preventive strategies, and fostering a culture of respect and safety.

For more information please contact [email protected]

Committee Chair: Tara Shannon

Tara Shannon ([email protected])

President (2025)

Joining the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) board, Tara Shannon is a singer/songwriter from Russell, Ontario, with a passion for philanthropy. As the founder of Willow Sound Records, she released her album "Unfinished," recorded in Nashville and Ottawa. Tara's dedication to various causes is evident in her music. Her single "Butterfly Child" raised funds for her young neighbor with Epidermolysis Bullosa, while "Someone Who Understands" raised awareness for aboriginal youth and mental health services. As a NERFA board member, Tara brings a unique perspective as a mother of seven who balanced family life with a music career. Declining a record deal in 1997 to focus on her children, Tara continues to produce music while prioritizing her family. Her experiences as a mother have deepened her songwriting, enriching her contributions to NERFA and the folk community.

Cheryl Prashker ([email protected])

Board Member (2026)

Cheryl Prashker studied classical percussion at McGill University in her hometown of Montreal, where she landed her first international tour. She honed her skills as an accompanist in New York City, earning tour spots with Eric Andersen, Pat Wictor, Tracy Grammer, Jonathan Edwards, Zoe Mulford and more. She is a founding member of Celtic Roots band RUNA. As an administrator, Cheryl spent 15 years working alongside NERFA founder Dianne Tankle, eventually joining the Board of Directors and serving seven years as President. Cheryl now makes her home in Ontario, where she is Artistic Director and General Manager of the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, College, and Kids Camp.