Article by Jerry Epstein in the July/August 2005 CDSS News
Country Dance & Song Society
116 Pleasant Street, Suite 345 •
Easthampton, MA 01027-2759 •
413-203-5467 • firstname.lastname@example.org
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Thanks to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their generous support.
The following bylaws contain changes approved by the CDSS Membership in September 2021.
Download the bylaws as a PDF
1.1 Name. The name of the corporation shall be THE COUNTRY DANCE AND SONG SOCIETY, INC. (hereafter referred to in these Bylaws as “the Society”).
1.2 Purposes. The purposes of the corporation shall be as set forth in the Articles of Organization as they may be amended from time to time and approved by the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (hereafter referred to in these Bylaws as “the Articles of Organization”).
1.3 Offices. The office(s) of the corporation shall be at such place or places within or without the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as the Governing Board of the Society (hereinafter referred to in these Bylaws as “the Board”) may determine or the business of the corporation may require.
1.4 Seal. The seal of the corporation shall be in the form of a circle inscribed with the name of the corporation, the year of its incorporation, and the word “Massachusetts.” When authorized by the Board and to the extent not prohibited by law, a facsimile of the corporate seal may be affixed or reproduced.
1.5 Members. All persons subscribing to the objectives of the Society are eligible to become members. They become members upon payment of dues. Dues and classes of membership shall be set by the Board, but the Board may delegate this power to the Executive Director. Membership in the Society lapses on failure to pay dues after reasonable notice. The Board may, at its discretion, terminate the membership of any person at any time by returning that person’s current dues. The Board may appoint to honorary office or honorary membership persons who have contributed exceptional services to the Society.
1.6 Notice. Whenever notice is required in these Bylaws, it shall be considered sufficient to deliver such notice by any communication protocol, the use of which is reasonably likely to make the intended recipients aware of the proposed action; provided that a record of the content, time and manner of communication is maintained by the Secretary.
1.7 Written Communication. Whenever an action is required in these Bylaws to be “written” or “in writing,” such action may be conveyed through any communication protocol that ensures that the information is legible and that a written record can be recorded and/or stored by the Secretary and by the recipients.
1.8 Meetings by Remote Communication. Whenever these Bylaws provide that a class of people may participate in a meeting, those people are eligible to participate through telephone or video conference or other electronic arrangements by means of which all persons participating in the meeting can hear each other at the same time. Participation by such means shall constitute presence in person at a meeting.
1.9 Votes. When conducting any vote or poll of the members authorized by these Bylaws, the procedure employed shall preserve the secrecy of the voting and provide for validation of the voter’s membership. Any ballot not appropriately validated shall be rejected.
2.1 Place of Meeting. Meetings of members shall be held at the principal office of the corporation or, to the extent permitted by the Articles of Organization, at such other place within or without Massachusetts as the Board may from time to time designate.
2.2 Special Meetings. The President may call a meeting of the general membership of the Society when the President deems it appropriate to report to the membership or to permit the membership to express its views directly to the Board on matters of concern. The President must call a meeting upon vote of a majority of the Board.
The President must call such a meeting, to be held within 90 days, upon written application of five percent of the membership in good standing of the Society stating the purpose of the proposed meeting. The Board must set the date, time, and place of such a meeting.
2.3 Preliminary Agenda. The preliminary agenda of any meeting shall include any item requested in writing by at least ten members in good standing of the Society, received by the Secretary prior to the notice of the meeting as defined in Article 2.4.
2.4 Notice of Meetings. At least 30 days in advance of all meetings the Secretary shall give notice to all members entitled to attend. Such notice shall include a preliminary agenda and proxy forms as needed.
2.5 Quorum. The quorum for the transaction of business is 10% of the membership, present in person or by proxy.
2.6 Voting. At all meetings of members each member shall have one vote. Any such member may vote in person or by proxy dated not more than six months prior to the meeting and filed with the Secretary of the meeting. Every proxy shall be in writing, signed by a member or his or her authorized attorney-in-fact, and dated. No proxy shall be valid after the final adjournment of the meeting. A proxy purporting to be executed by or on behalf of a member shall be deemed valid unless challenged at or prior to its exercise and the burden of proving invalidity shall rest on the challenger. Except as otherwise provided by law, the Articles of Organization, or these Bylaws, at all meetings of members all questions shall be determined by a vote of a majority of the members voting, present in person or represented by proxy.
3.1 Powers. The Governing Board (referred to as “the Board” in the rest of these bylaws) is elected by the members and is the governing body of the Society. Except as otherwise provided by law, the Articles of Organization, or these Bylaws, the business of the corporation shall be managed by a Board who may exercise all the powers of the corporation.
3.2 Number. The Board shall consist of the following members, each with one vote:
(a) The Officers (see Article 4)
(b) No less than 8 nor more than 21 Members-at-large. Within these bounds, the Board shall determine each year at its annual meeting how many members-at-large are to be elected the following year. If no action is taken, the number shall be the same as the previous year.
3.3 Place of Meeting. Meetings of the Board may be held at any place within or without the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
3.4 Annual Meeting. The annual meeting of the Board shall be held in April each year at such a time as may be designated by the Board or at such other time and place as the Board may determine.
3.5 Special Meetings. Special meetings of the Board may be held at such time and place as the Board may determine. Any Board members not present at the time of the determination shall be advised in writing of any such determination.
The President may call special meetings of the Board and shall call a special meeting, to be held within 90 days, on the written request of six or more Board members.
3.6 Notice of Meetings. The Secretary shall give Board members at least 30 days’ notice of the annual meeting and special meetings, except that at least two weeks’ notice shall be given for special meetings held by remote communication or email. Notice may be waived if all Board members agree in writing before the meeting.
3.7 Quorum. The quorum for the transaction of business is a majority of the Board.
3.8 Voting. At any meeting of the Board the vote of a majority of those present shall decide any matter except as otherwise provided by law, the Articles of Organization, or these Bylaws.
3.9 Rules of Order. Meetings of the Board, committees, and task groups shall be conducted in a spirit of cooperation. Should questions or disputes as to procedure arise, they shall be settled by reference to the most recent available edition of Robert’s Rules of Order.
3.10 Executive Session. At any meeting of the Board, where a quorum is present, the Board may, by a majority vote, decide to enter an executive session from which some or all who are not voting members of the Board may be excluded, at the Board’s discretion. The decision to enter executive session shall be recorded in the minutes, and actions taken must be recorded in the minutes. Executive session minutes may be kept separately and confidentially.
3.11 Open Meetings. Except for executive sessions, meetings of the Board and of the Executive Committee are open to attendance by all members of the Society. Such visitors have no votes, and shall not speak except on the express invitation of the chair.
3.12 Acting Without Meeting. Any action which may be taken at any meeting of the Board may be taken without a meeting if every member receives timely notice of the proposal and the forum for discussion, the date for submitting written consents is at least two weeks from the date the proposal is circulated, and all of the Board members consent to the action in writing and the written consents are filed with the records of the meetings of the Board. Such consents shall be treated for all purposes as a vote at a meeting.
3.13 No Compensation for Board Members. Board members may not be paid compensation for their Board service but may be reimbursed for expenses of attendance at meetings. Board members may be paid reasonable compensation for necessary work performed for the organization provided that doing so complies with any restrictions and standards of conduct that the Board adopts.
3.14 Executive Committee.
(a) Between meetings of the Board all of its powers and duties are delegated to the Executive Committee except that the following powers are reserved to the Board:
(b) The Executive Committee shall consist of the following members, each with one vote: the Officers, as set out in Article 4; and other members of the Board for a total of no fewer than seven. The other members shall be appointed at the Annual Meeting of the Board for a one year term.
(c) At each meeting of the Executive Committee fifty percent or more of members present shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(d) An appointed member may be removed from the Executive Committee, with cause, by vote of a majority of the entire Committee.
(e) The minimum frequency of Executive Committee meetings shall be determined by the Board. A meeting of the Executive Committee must be called at the written request of five Committee members.
(f) Any Board member may attend an Executive Committee meeting and speak, but only officers and appointed members of the Executive Committee may vote.
(g) At any meeting of the Executive Committee the vote of a majority of those present shall decide any matter except as otherwise provided by law, the Articles of Organization, or these Bylaws.
(h) Any appointed member on the Executive Committee may resign from the Executive Committee by giving written notice to the President or the Secretary.
(i) The Board may appoint a member of the Board to fill any vacancy among appointed members on the Executive Committee for any reason until the next annual meeting of the Board. The Board may, at its discretion, leave any such position unfilled for such time as it may determine, provided that vacancies which reduce the Executive Committee below the minimum number of appointed members and all four officers must be filled within 30 days.
(a) Authorization to form committees and task groups. The Board and Executive Committee may form committees and task groups. Task groups cease to exist after a term set by the authorizing body unless renewed by that body, whereas committees are terminated only by explicit action of the Board or Executive Committee. The chair of a committee or task group need not be a Board member.
(b) Definition of Committee. In the remainder of this article, the term “committee” shall refer to committees and task groups constituted by the Board or by these Bylaws.
(c) The Executive Director shall be a non-voting, ex officio member of each committee unless otherwise decided by the Board or Executive Committee or provided for elsewhere in these Bylaws. When the Executive Director is an ex officio member, the Executive Director may designate, in writing to the respective committee chair, other individuals to participate in this role, alongside or in the stead of the Executive Director.
(d) Membership. In these Bylaws, membership in a committee or the full Board includes, without limitation: being entitled to participate in the scheduling of meetings; to receive reasonable notice of their place, time, and medium; to speak at meetings; and to review and comment on minutes.
(e) Quorum and voting thresholds. Unless otherwise specified in these bylaws, fifty percent or more of members present shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Non-voting members of a committee are not counted when determining whether a quorum is present, nor whether a voting threshold, such as one-half or two-thirds, has been met.
(f) Voting. At any meeting of a committee the vote of a majority of voting members present shall decide any matter except as otherwise provided by law, the Articles of Organization, or these Bylaws.
(g) Inclusion of non–Board members. Unless otherwise decided by the Board or Executive Committee, a committee may include people who are not members of the Board. Unless otherwise decided by the Board or Executive Committee, the chair of a committee need not be a Board member.
(h) Removal of members. At its discretion, the Board or the Executive Committee may by a majority vote remove non–ex officio members of a committee.
(i) Executive session. At any meeting of a committee, where a quorum is present, the body may, by a majority vote, decide to enter an executive session from which some or all who are not voting members of the body may be excluded, at the body’s discretion. The decision to enter executive session shall be recorded in the minutes, and actions taken must be recorded in the minutes. Executive session minutes may be kept separately and confidentially.
4.1 Officers. The officers of the Society shall consist of a President, a Treasurer, a Vice President, and a Secretary. Each is responsible for the duties set out in this Section but may delegate the actual performance of said duties, subject to any restrictions stated elsewhere in the Bylaws. No individual shall hold more than one office concurrently.
(a) President. The President presides at meetings of the general membership, of the Board, and of the Executive Committee. The President is the official representative of the Society in conducting its general affairs and promoting its purposes, may serve ex officio on any committee, and reports annually to the members on the state of the Society.
(b) Vice President. The Vice President performs the duties of the President in the absence, or at the request, of the President.
(c) Treasurer. The Treasurer shall be the lead Board member for oversight of the financial condition and affairs of the Society. The Treasurer shall oversee and keep the Board informed of the financial condition of the corporation and of audit or financial review results. The Treasurer shall oversee budget preparation and shall ensure that appropriate financial reports, including an account of major transactions and the financial condition of the corporation, are made available to the Board on a timely basis or as may be required by the Board. The Treasurer may appoint, with approval of the Board, a qualified fiscal agent or member of the staff to assist in performance of all or part of the duties of the Treasurer.
(d) Secretary. The Secretary keeps minutes of all meetings of the general membership, Board, and Executive Committee; circulates notices of meetings; and circulates to the general membership notices of vacancies to be filled and required ballots, and records the returns. The Secretary maintains the list of members of the Society, the Board, the Executive Committee, the Nominating Committee, and all appointed committees.
(e) The Secretary shall be available to receive service of process on the Corporation and shall perform all functions required of clerks under Massachusetts Law. The Secretary shall certify all documents requiring his or her certification, and shall be the keeper of the corporate seal. The Secretary shall be a resident of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts unless a resident agent has been appointed by the Board pursuant to law to accept service of process.
4.2 Election. Except as provided in Article 4.6, the Officers are nominated and elected in accordance with the provisions for nomination and election set out in Article 7 of these Bylaws.
4.3 Term of Office. Officers shall hold office for five years or until their successors are chosen and qualified. Any individual who becomes an officer shall have served as a member-at-large for the year immediately prior, with the additional title of officer-elect; however the Nominating Committee may make exceptions to this requirement. Officers may not serve more than one consecutive full term; however, the Nominating Committee may, in rare and compelling circumstances, request an exception from the Board in order to renominate an incumbent officer. The Nominating Committee shall state in writing why it believes the renomination to be essential for the welfare of the Society; dissenting opinion from the Nominating Committee, if any, shall also be put in writing for the consideration of the Board. The Board must concur in the request to renominate by two-thirds of the votes cast.
4.4 Resignations. Any officer may resign by giving written notice to the President or the Secretary.
4.5 Removal. An officer may be removed from office with or without cause by a vote of two-thirds of the Board orby vote of two-thirds of all members of the Society present at a duly constituted meeting of the membership; or by a vote of two-thirds of those responding to a poll of all members of the Society, providing that a number equal to the quorum for a meeting of the membership cast a vote.
4.6 Vacancies. The Board may appoint a member of the Society to fill any vacancy among the officers for any reason until the next annual election, at which time the appointee or another person may be elected to serve out the remainder of the term. The Board shall fill as soon as is practicable any vacancies in the offices of President, Treasurer, or Secretary.
A person appointed to fill a vacancy until the next annual election, and/or elected to complete the unexpired term of an officer, is then eligible to be nominated and elected to an additional full term. However, they may not be appointed or elected to complete a different unfinished term as an officer until at least one year has elapsed from the end of their last previous interim appointment or elected term.
5.1 Election. Except as provided in Article 5.5, members-at-large on the Board are nominated and elected in accordance with the provisions for nomination and election set out in Article 7 of these Bylaws.
(a) Members-at-large elected to the Board shall serve on the Board for three-year terms, approximately one-third with terms to expire in each successive year. They may not serve more than two consecutive full terms as Board members, but may be reelected after a lapse of one year.
(b) Members-at-large may be nominated to an officer position. At the discretion of the Nominating Committee the nominee lay serve one year as an officer-elect (see Article 4.3). When a member-at-large assumes the role of the officer they will serve that role for five years.
5.3 Resignations. Any member-at-large may resign from the Board by giving written notice to the President or the Secretary.
5.4 Removal. A member-at-large may be removed from office with or without cause by a vote of two-thirds of the Board, or by vote of two-thirds of all members of the Society present at a duly constituted meeting of the membership; or by a vote of two-thirds of those responding to a poll of all members of the Society, providing that a number equal to the quorum for a meeting of the membership cast a vote.
5.5 Vacancies. The Board may appoint a member of the Society to fill any vacancy among members-at-large for any reason until the next annual election, at which time the appointee or another person may be elected to serve out the remainder of the term. The Board may, at its discretion, leave unfilled for such time as it may determine any member-at-large position.
A person appointed to fill a vacancy until the next annual election, and/or elected to complete the unexpired term of another member-at-large, is then eligible to be nominated and elected to two more terms of their own. However, they may not be appointed or elected to complete a different unfinished term as a member-at- large until at least one year has elapsed from the end of his or her last previous interim appointment or elected term.
6.1 Members. The Nominating Committee shall have 5 to 6 members, of whom not more than three are members of the Board. Their terms are three years, no more than two to expire in any one year. They may not serve more than two consecutive full terms, but may be reappointed after a lapse of one year. In addition, the Executive Director and President are non-voting, ex officio members. The Executive Director may designate other individuals to participate in this role, alongside or in the stead of the Executive Director.
6.2 Slate of Candidates. A slate of candidates for the Nominating Committee is proposed each year by the Executive Committee and circulated to each member of the Board. Additions to the slate may be made by any member of the Board either in writing or from the floor. On the basis of the slate, the Board appoints the Nominating Committee at its regular annual meeting.
6.3 Vacancies. The President has the power to appoint persons to fill vacancies on the Nominating Committee, such appointees to serve until the next election.
(a) Each year the Nominating Committee nominates one or more candidates for each position becoming vacant among Officers and Members-at-large on the Board.
(b) Members of the Society may ensure that a specific person is included in the candidates considered by the Nominating Committee by submitting a nomination in writing, signed by ten members of the Society, and sent to the Secretary by April 30.
(c) To be nominated, a person must provide the Nominating Committee with written assent for the nomination.
(d) Candidates for Officers and Board Members-at-large shall be members in good standing when nominated. Those elected must maintain membership in good standing in the Society throughout their term of office.
(e) The slate should reasonably reflect the geographical distribution and variety of activities of the membership of the Society.
(f) The Nominating Committee sends the slate to the Secretary by December 1.
(a) If there are no more nominees than vacancies, the nominees are deemed elected and take office at the beginning of the first day of the Annual Meeting of the Board. The Secretary sends to every member by January 15 a listing of nominees selected, along with a description of the procedure for ensuring that a candidate of one’s choice is included for consideration by the Nominating Committee as described in section 7.1(b).
(b) If there are more nominees than vacancies the Secretary sends to every member by January 15 a written ballot containing the names of the nominees and the pertinent positions, together with information about the nominees’ qualifications.
(c) Ballots must reach the Secretary by February 15 to be valid. Electronic balloting, if any, will close at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 15.
(d) Tellers appointed by the President will verify the validity and count of the votes. The Secretary certifies the result to the Executive Committee and the successful candidates take office at the beginning of the first day of the Annual Meeting of the Board. In the case of a tie the Executive Committee decides between the tied candidates.
8.1 The Board may establish one or more Advisory Boards. The Board shall appoint members of any such Advisory Board, who will serve at the pleasure of the Board. Such persons need not be members of the Society. Goals and procedures of any Advisory Board will be set by the Board.
(a) Groups or organizations whose objectives are similar and who wish to support and further the goals of the Society may affiliate with it. Categories and dues of group affiliation are established by the Board, but the Board may delegate this power to the Executive Director.
(b) Affiliation carries the privileges approved by the Board, and carries the responsibility of continuing to meet the established standards. In exceptional circumstances any of the standards, including payment of dues, may be waived or modified by the Board.
(c) Affiliation in any category becomes effective upon payment of dues and acceptance of the application. Affiliation lapses on failure to pay dues after notification and may be terminated for other cause by the Board.
10.1 No officer or director of the corporation shall be personally liable to the corporation or its members for monetary damages for or arising out of a breach of fiduciary duty as an officer or director notwithstanding any provision of law imposing such liability; provided, however, that the foregoing shall not eliminate or limit the liability of an officer or director to the extent that such liability is imposed by applicable law (i) for a breach of the director’s duty of loyalty to the corporation or its members, (ii) for acts or omissions not in good faith or which involve intentional misconduct or a knowing violation of the law, or (iii) for any transaction from which the officer or director derived an improper personal benefit. No provision adopted pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph shall eliminate or limit the liability of an officer or director for any act or omission occurring prior to the date upon which such provision becomes effective.
(a) The Board has the authority to amend these Bylaws by a vote of three-fourths of the Board. Notice of proposed Amendments and opportunity to comment on them must be given to the membership at least 60 days before final approval of the Board. The Board will consider all member comments and respond as they deem appropriate and in accordance with the existing Bylaws.
(b) Amendments to these Bylaws may be proposed by five percent of the members of the Society and submitted to the Board for approval.
Joel Bluestein (Arlington, VA) has been involved in traditional music and dance for pretty much his whole life. His father was a folk musician and scholar, so Joel’s exposure started at birth. He later performed in a folk group with his father and three siblings. He first attended a CDSS camp at Pinewoods as a teenager in the early 1970s. He and his family have been part of the CDSS Buffalo Gap/Timber Ridge/Cascade community for the last 20 years, and he and his wife Michal Warshow were Program Directors for the camp for three years.
Joel has been an active member of the Washington, DC area dance community since 1979, dancing and playing for dances. He served on the Board of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington for 8 years including as President and Treasurer. He was a co-founder and organizer of the Chesapeake Dance Weekend for 36 years, and currently helps to organize the Terpsichore’s Holiday program. He serves as a sound technician for dances and festivals in the DC area and elsewhere.
Avia Moore (Montreal, QC) grew up in the British Columbia folk arts scene; it rubbed off on her and is evident in almost everything she does. Avia has worked extensively as a creative producer with festivals and cultural organizations across North America as well as on individual artistic projects in North America and Europe. Avia is the Artistic Director of KlezKanada.
Avia holds a BA Honors in Drama from the University of Alberta and an MA in Devised Theatre from Dartington College of Arts (England). A PhD candidate in Theatre and Performance Studies at York University (Toronto), she studies heritage cultural practices in/as contemporary performance.
Avia has been making theatre, dancing, and singing her whole life. She has danced with several folk dance performance ensembles and teaches Yiddish dance at festivals and private events around the world. She has been part of organizing committees for contra dances (Brooklyn Contra) and contra weekends (Form the Ocean) and has danced with Ring O’Bells Morris (New York) and Toronto Women’s Sword.
Gaye Fifer (Pittsburgh, PA) hasn’t stopped dancing since she found contras in 1979. Introduced to the community in St. Louis, she has found dancing wherever she goes. Gaye learned to call contras in Charlottesville, VA and has been traveling to call and dance for the past 25 years. After 15 years of dancing, she finally realized that someone had to be doing work to make the dances happen. She began serving on her local dance committee, organizing her local dance weekend, serving on the CDSS Board and leading workshops for other organizers. Gaye is also a passionate teacher and dancer of waltz, having led workshops with her partner, Wayne, at numerous dance weekends around the country. She participated in a course at Pinewoods several years ago to learn how to call English Country dances and now includes that in her repertoire of offerings. She now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. where she retired from a 30 year elementary school teaching career.
Gaye believes in the power of our dance and song community and is delighted to be part of the work CDSS does!
Jeremy Carter-Gordon (Concord, MA) grew up singing and dancing around Boston and has woven the threads of that upbringing through the rest of his life. Upon graduating college, Jeremy spent a year on a Watson Fellowship studying sword dancing, which led to an MA in Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage from Choreomundus, a multi-university EU initiative. Jeremy currently tours and teaches most of the year with Windborne, an acclaimed vocal ensemble, singing music from the US and countries and cultures around the world, with a focus on songs of social struggle. Jeremy works for Village Harmony as the Strategic Planning Officer and teaches singing camps for teens. The rest of the time, he can be found teaching rapper and longsword, traditional dance from France (Bal Folk) and Sweden, juggling, dancing ECD, waltzing, and dabbling in tango.
Marni Rachmiel (Cambridge, UK) grew up outside Detroit and studied Music History/Musicology at the University of Michigan, where she played & sang in concert bands, Early Music Ensemble, Javanese Gamelan, and the U-M Gilbert & Sullivan Society. She started dancing and playing for contra and English dances in 1990 in Albuquerque, NM, when she stumbled into a Bare Necessities weekend that totally changed her life. Returning to Michigan, she was active in the Ann Arbor dance and music scenes and became an avid dance-wanderer, including pilgrimages to Buffalo Gap and Pinewoods.
Shifting west in the later ‘90s, Marni danced and played in and around Boulder, CO, while getting her MA in Contemplative Psychotherapy at Naropa University. The siren song of the Northwest Folklife Festival drew her further west to Seattle, where she moved in 2004.
After many years in Seattle playing with bands, including Contra Sutra, Reverie, and The End Effects, among other dance band configurations, serving on the boards of the Seattle Folklore Society and FAR-West (Folk Alliance Region West), and co-hosting Two Pools House Concerts, currently Marni is on a British adventure living in Cambridge, UK, and gradually getting involved in dance music and organizing across the pond. If you’re traveling to England, say hello!
David Smukler (Syracuse, NY) grew up singing folk songs with his mom and began dancing contras in New Hampshire as a teen. In 1981 he was drafted to call for his local dance and has been calling ever since. David calls contras and squares, English country dances, and family and community dances, and is also a choreographer.
David served two previous terms on the CDSS Board and has been a long-time Board member of the Syracuse (New York) Country Dancers. He was involved in creating an innovative Central New York callers gathering, as well as the world’s first Contra Prom.
David is a retired inclusive early childhood and childhood educator who has also taught for years at the college level in a teacher preparation program. He has frequently used dance and song in his teaching, both with children and adults, sometimes to the great surprise of his students. A teacher through and through, David believes that people can always learn and grow. While welcoming change and evolution, David has enormous respect for the value of folk traditions and is the author (with David Millstone) of Cracking Chestnuts: The Living Tradition of Classic American Contra Dances, published in 2008 by CDSS.
Glenn Manuel (Richardson, TX) started contra dancing in the early 1980’s, when a co-worker posted a flyer about the dance on the office bulletin board. When the informal dance group morphed into the CDSS affiliate North Texas Traditional Dance Society, Glenn was a founding member. Over the years, he has served on the Board in every role except Secretary, as well as chairing dance weekends, and doing sound at the dances. He took the Sound Operator’s Course at Pinewoods taught by Warren Argo, so actually helped with sound there.
Glenn is the webmaster for the dance group, and has developed and released a free open-source online registration system that is used by several groups. One of Glenn’s hobbies is photography. Besides dance events, his favorite subjects are landscapes and abstracts. He has won a few awards at local photo shows. Besides enjoying the music and dancing, Glenn loves the community aspect of contra dancing. Walking into a dance in nearby cities, neighboring states, or across the country, it always feels like one big dance family. He is excited to support the dance community by serving on the CDSS board.
Michael Bean (Ann Arbor, MI) was introduced to the dance community by joining a local back row band and learning to play for contra dances. He was asked to join a local committee to organize a monthly contra and was soon after nominated for the Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music and Dance’s Board of Directors. Michael was elected to two terms and served two consecutive years as President of the AACTMAD Board.
Michael is active as an organizer and leader in AACTMAD, Michigan Dance Heritage’s Fall Camp, and CDSS’s Dance, Music, and Spice Camp. Michael led the contra dance band Hotline Strings for four years and still actively plays for contra and ECD. When at home, he enjoys making and restoring violins.
Juliette Webb (Nashville, TN) started dancing in California after seeing a performance by a demonstration team at the local Scottish Highland Gathering and Games. She and her husband, John Webb, moved away less than a year later. In Tennessee, she enrolled in a class on English country dancing. Seeing the age range of the dancers there made her realize that dancing was an activity that she and her husband could enjoy together throughout their entire lifetimes.
Juliette’s home dance community runs weekly English country dance classes, monthly English dances, and weekly contra dances. The Nashville Country Dancers also hold both an English country dance weekend, the Nashville Playford Ball, and a contra dance weekend, Music City Masquerade, each year, in addition to hosting special dance events when visiting musicians or callers come to town. She feels lucky to have such an amazing, supportive dance community and leadership at home.
Juliette is also fortunate to enjoy dancing regularly in the San Francisco Bay Area. Juliette began calling English as a way of helping to ensure that her home dance community would continue.
Juliette’s earliest memory of dancing is of a Maypole, in a place where May Day baskets of flowers were still left for friends and neighbors. After an early childhood filled with the typical ballet classes, she didn’t dance again for decades, not even in gym class in school. Now, she dances as often as she can.
Justin Morrison (he/him, Richmond, VT) has been a part of song and dance communities in Canada and the US for as long as he can remember. He earned his first Pinewoods crew t-shirt around age 7, and has taught Morris classes there in (much) later years. During a tour with the dance collective he co-founded, Maple Morris, Justin won the Best New Entrant prize at the Sidmouth Folkweek Morris jig competition in 2011 and respectfully declines to mention how many other new entrants were performing that year. In 2013, he was an organizer and artistic director of an international Morris stage show for Maple, which brought together dancers from Canada, the US, and the UK. He currently travels various distances to enjoy English, Contra, and song, and dances Morris with the Toronto Morris Men, Pinewoods Morris Men, and Thames Valley International.
He is an educator in his professional life, and seeks to bring singing, music, or dance into the classroom every day. He has been excited to share songs with colleagues to bring into their own classrooms and even teach them to play mandolin.
Justin feels that dance and song can find a chord in all of us, and comprise a natural language understood by young and old alike.
Last updated September 29, 2022
The Cultural Equity Advisory Group met from March 2021 to March 2022 to critically analyze our programs, operations, and governance, and to provide recommendations for changes. In recognition of the importance of this work, members were paid an honorarium for their time, energy, and participation.
Click here to view the Executive Summary and Recommended Equity Action Plan from the CDSS Cultural Equity Advisory Group. We are taking these recommendations into consideration as we plan for 2023 and our new strategic plan.
Click here to view the steps we are taking to intertwine equity and inclusion in the remainder of our work this year. (We will update this list to include our 2023 work later this year.)
Dena Ross Jennings (she/her) is a human rights activist, musician, instrument-maker, and a medical doctor, and brings over 20 years of experience working on conflict transformation with her organization Imani Works.
You can find out more about Dena’s work on her website.
Hannah Assefa (she/her) is an elementary educator who has worked with children for most of her life, whether it be through private instruction in traditional fiddle or as an educator in the classroom. She grew up in Northern Vermont playing Scottish and Cape Breton style fiddle. Hannah has taught in various classroom settings from early childhood education to elementary and, in each environment, she has worked to make a classroom community in which each student is celebrated, nurtured, seen, and heard.
Hannah currently teaches kindergarten at Milton Elementary School. She holds a Master of Education degree in curriculum & instruction from Southern New Hampshire University (2016) and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music & elementary education from Saint Michael’s College (2013).
Cayley Buckner (she/her or they/them) will be graduating from the University of Florida in May 2021 with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in natural resource conservation and a minor in education. She is passionate about outdoor education. She fell in love with contra dancing in August 2016 at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC.
Cayley is the 2020-2021 president of the Gainesville Oldtime Dance Society, where she has been a strong advocate for gender neutral calling, especially positional calling. She is also the co-founder of the Safety Team (a group of individuals who ensure that all feel welcome and secure) and the I.D.E.A. (inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility) subcommittee (which brings a diverse group of individuals together to address social justice issues within our community).
Rima (she/her) has over 25 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations in public media, arts, education & the human service sectors. She is currently the general manager at WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, CT, having previously worked at New England Public Radio in Springfield, MA. Rima is passionate about the essential role of public media in our communities and the transformational power of the arts. Rima was the executive director for the Country Dance & Song Society during its centennial celebration in 2015, transitioning the membership organization to a capacity building, arts service organization through a multi-city community residency model to build resilient dance, music, and song communities and improve skills of dance organizers. Rima was also a founding faculty member in the Nonprofit Management & Philanthropy master’s degree program at Bay Path University. She continues to enjoy teaching online as an adjunct professor in the program.
Originally from the Philippines, Rima spent her early years in Connecticut, and in several Southeast Asian countries with her family attending international schools. Living overseas also exposed Rima to military coups in Thailand, the People’s Revolution in the Philippines, and she participated in the Tiananmen Square protests in Hong Kong as a teenager. These foundational experiences brought forth Rima’s interest in working in mission driven organizations that promote social justice and community advancement.
Rima received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and theater arts from Mt. Holyoke College. Her master’s degree is in nonprofit management from the Milano School of Management & Urban Policy at the New School University, where she was a Community Development Finance Fellow.
Ezra (he/him) started making the trip from his home in New Jersey to Pinewoods for Campers’ Week 30 years ago. Since then, that trip has become a regular part of his life and much shorter since he moved to the Boston area where he now lives in Arlington, MA. He was particularly thrilled to work for CDSS as a Salesforce admin and consultant over the past few years because of the opportunity to contribute to an organization that has been such a steadily positive influence on his life. Ezra dances with Still River Sword, sings with Boston Harmony, and studiously does not play either the trombone or concertina.
Nadia Gaya (she/her) was the little kid sleeping under the piano at her fiddle-playing parents’ gigs and grew up immersed in the traditional music and dance community of Western New York, where she was raised. Nadia currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and was on the organizing board of Brooklyn Contra from 2012-2015. Nadia currently dances and plays diatonic button accordion with the Ring O’ Bells Morris team, plays piano for the CDNY in-house band, the Contrapolitans, and plays piano accordion with the scottish-inspired contra dance band, Torrent. When she’s not playing, dancing, singing or crafting, Nadia is a tax attorney/accountant for an advertising technology company and is busy raising her 4-year old daughter in whom she hopes to foster a lifelong love of traditional music, song and dance.
Aravind Natarajan (he/him) is a contra dancer and identifies as a cis-hetero male from India. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, and is passionate about fostering diversity, equity and inclusion in academic spaces. He founded the Science Blender podcast to capture the experiences of scientists from diverse backgrounds and identities. He loves how music and dance bring people together and is eager to make this joy more widely accessible.
Stephanie Marie Voncannon (she/her) is a contra dancer and caller in the Charlotte, NC, area. She has been dancing mostly in North Carolina since 2009 and calling regularly since 2013. Stephanie attended Lisa Greenleaf’s week-long caller class at Pinewoods Camp in summer 2016. She has called at both mainstream and gender-free dances. Stephanie also enjoys helping others discover a love of dancing, whether calling or dancing at home. Stephanie was also very involved in the LGBT community in Charlotte, including planning the Transgender Day of Remembrance from 2008 to 2010.
Bailey Walton (she/they) is a community organizer, research ethicist by trade, and banjo player from Missouri. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in public administration, and currently studies studio art. She is passionate about community-building, growing and sharing food, and connecting people with resources. She is excited to have the opportunity to provide her input in this advisory group as a relative newcomer to the traditional music community.
Earl White (he/him) has been a prominent member of the music and dance community for more than 50 years. He is an original and founding member of the famed Green Grass Cloggers. He is one of few Black Americans perpetuating Appalachian music, which was once an important part of Black communities. Now retired from healthcare as a Registered Respiratory Therapist, he continues to play music as a semi-professional, and co-owns and runs the Big Indian Farm sourdough bakery in Floyd County, VA.
CDSS is convening a Cultural Equity Advisory Group to help us move forward in our commitment to cultural equity. We are asking ourselves: In a CDSS with a fully realized core value of cultural equity, how would things look/feel different? How would we know that we were successful in an ongoing way?
We recognize that our organization and leadership do not currently have the kind of representation—particularly of non-white people—needed for this work. We want to make decisions informed by the voices of the people most affected; however, we don’t want to tokenize anyone by placing the expectation of labor solely on them.
We are asking the Advisory Group to give guidance within the broad framework of our existing mission. We seek to support and promote the living traditions that are dear to us in ways that are actively anti-oppressive. We want to understand the ways that harm was done in the past and work to stop perpetuating that harm. We want to make sure that, in our work and play, we carry out our mission of strengthening and supporting communities in a way that builds more equitable relationships.
We are engaged in the process of analyzing how the ways that we operate – both historically and currently – contribute to inequity. We are re-evaluating our programming, research and scholarship, education, access, marketing, relationships with other organizations, organizational structure, and compensation. We are committed to investing labor and financial resources into this work.
The Cultural Equity Advisory Group will consist of a contracted facilitator and 6-10 people, drawn from our current communities as well as the larger participatory arts community and beyond. The group will prioritize the voices of those who have been marginalized and/or erased in the history and current practice of North American folkways. The group should also include a diversity of skill sets, including non-profit experience, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) work, and historical scholarship.
We are asking that Advisors commit to 1 year of service, which will include attending monthly remote group meetings, and some research and preparation between meetings. The Facilitator will work with the Cultural Equity Task Group (staff and board) to create a timeline and benchmarks.
In recognition of the time and labor inherent in a working Advisory Group, CDSS is able to offer the Advisors an honorarium in the amount of $750. The Group Facilitator will receive a consulting fee of $3000.
A CRT is a way to put significant appreciated assets into a trust whose beneficiaries are charities. You get a tax deduction up front by not having to pay taxes on the appreciated values; you get a yearly dividend from the trust, and the charities get the remainder when you die. Ask your financial advisor whether a CRT makes sense for you.
If you are age 72 or older, IRS rules require you to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) each year from your tax-deferred retirement accounts. A Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA, payable directly to a qualified charity, as described in the QCD provision in the Internal Revenue Code.
Amounts distributed as a QCD can be counted toward satisfying your RMD for the year, up to $100,000. The QCD is excluded from your taxable income. This is not the case with a regular withdrawal from an IRA, even if you use the money to make a charitable contribution later on. If you take a withdrawal, the funds would be counted as taxable income even if you later offset that income with the charitable contribution deduction.
Transfer of Securities from an Existing Brokerage Account
Deliver to Vanguard DTC Clearing 0062 (there is no additional code number)
Account Name: Country Dance and Song Society
Account Number 37210623
Please send us a letter in reference to this gift (include your name, the name and number of shares of security transferred to us, and the specific purpose); otherwise, we have no way of knowing who the gift is from.
Luanne Stiles (Asheville, NC) discovered traditional dance later in life upon spotting an advertisement in the local Amherst, MA, newspaper for a Monday night English country dance. She thought, “‘No experience needed, no partner needed, all dances taught,’ that’s me!” Her love of the variety of dance tempos, amazing musicians, thoughtful teaching, and a generous community had her immediately hooked. For over 15 years, Luanne has danced extensively in communities and at camps throughout the Northeast and Southeast as well as California, Ohio, Illinois, and Canada. Luanne organized dance events in Massachusetts, and, after moving to the Carolinas, she and her husband John lead a biweekly ECD in South Carolina. After moving to Asheville, she continues calling and has joined the Ashegrove Garland team. It was the move south that really drove home the support CDSS provides to its affiliates. She was a community member on the Fund Development Committee for the past two years and is happy to continue to “pay it forward” by contributing as a board member. Luanne believes that her professional experiences within the corporate world of insurance services will serve to assist CDSS’s vision and goals.
Pam Paulson (Waukesha, WI) has lived in WI all of her life and started contra dancing in Kansas City, KS. It’s quite fitting that she started contra dancing as an itinerant dancer. After that start in Kansas City, she found the local communities in Delafield and Madison. After dancing locally for two years, she started going to dance weekends, Squirrel Moon, Breaking Up Thanksgiving, and then Pigtown! She was hooked on travel, and for the next several years she was able to go to around 25 weekends a year! Things have slowed down a bit as far as weekends go, only 12-15 a year now. Pam has danced in 25 states with the goal of dancing in all 50! This year was the first time she was able to go to Pinewoods and it was amazing! She’s fortunate to be able to help with Squirrel Moon held at Folk Lore Village near Madison, WI in September. She makes sure everyone is fed all weekend. In 2008 Pam was the driving force behind starting IndepenDance, held in July in Delafield, WI.
Because of her experience traveling, Pam was able to incorporate many of the best ideas and the weekend was a success from the first year! Pam is passionate about contra dancing and loves waltzing. No matter where she is, local dance or weekend, the contra dance feels like home. She’s looking forward to serving on the board to help continue the traditions and link those who love them. To support her dance habit, Pam is the Business Manager for a Waukesha funeral home.
Susan English (Wooster, OH) taught her first dance class on a rooftop in China in 1980. In 2017, she returned to China with a $50,000 cultural exchange grant from the US State Department featuring the Country Dancers of Berea, KY. With living and working experience also in Europe, West Africa, and the US, Susan brings her enthusiasm for people of every background.
A competitive swing dancer for a year in DC, Susan has called monthly contra and square dances since 1990. With her late husband, Bill Alkire, Susan co-developed the intergenerational program at Terpsichore’s Holiday. Together, they choreographed and performed “Minuet to Macarena: The History of Couple Dance in 20 Minutes.”
At home in Wooster, OH, Susan is artistic director of the Madrigal Dancers, an intergenerational performing group. Since the start of the pandemic, Susan has broadcast weekly Zoom dances from her basement and has called virtual contra dances for Atlanta; Glen Echo; Bloomington, IN; and Lake City, WA. She looks forward to again calling live contra, square, and English country dances, plus weddings and barn dances, homeschool, Civil War, and Jane Austen Balls. With her PhD in higher education and consulting experience with strategic evaluation, Susan cares a lot about quality programs for lifelong growth and learning.
Peter Baker (Ann Arbor, MI) began square dancing in 7th grade in Bay County, MI. He was introduced to contra and ECD in the early 1980’s, and within six weeks was attending Kentucky Summer Dance School and Berea Christmas Country Dance School. He began leading dances because there was no dancing within 100 miles of where he lived. He later became staff for Kentucky Heritage Institute dance camps. Peter leads contra and community dancing. He believes dancing is for everyone and has lead numerous events for “non dancers”, including organizing the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records “Longest Contra Line” in Ann Arbor. He leads dances in schools, churches, street festivals, and wherever he is invited to share this passion. He has been an active organizer and leader in the Ann Arbor Community for Traditional Music and Dance.
Peter has also been organizing folk events since the mid-1980’s, starting with the Dow Gardens Folk Festival in Midland, and has been a co-founder of several organizations and events including the Midland Country Dance Society (1984), the Michigan Dance Heritage organization (1987), Dancing in the Streets in Ann Arbor (1998), and most recently, the new CDSS Dance, Music and Spice Camp at Camp Cavell (2016) in Michigan.
Jenna Barron (Easthampton, MA) literally stumbled across contra dancing almost 15 years ago in Washington, DC. Heading to Glen Echo to see a performance, she spied a large group of people in the ballroom holding hands and walking in a circle. After blowing off the performance and spending all night at the Friday Night Dance instead, she was hooked! After dancing contras, squares, waltzes, and English in the DC area for several years, she and her husband moved to the Pioneer Valley, in no small part due to the great music and dance community. She is a founding member of Oxbow Morris and has enjoyed attending programming at Pinewoods and Cascade camp weeks.
After a decade in regional theater as a stage manager, Jenna is now the Director of Communications and Development for a nonprofit focused on equitable clean energy deployment. Jenna also serves on the Board of Directors for her local library, leading their fundraising efforts. She looks forward to using these skills to help CDSS build and sustain vibrant communities through participatory dance, music, and song.
Margaret Bary (Brooklyn, NY) is a lifelong dancer and dance educator. She teaches English country dance at Country Dance New York and other dances in the region, founded a family folk dance at her school, and calls community dances at a variety of local venues. Along with her family, she has been a regular participant in CDSS Campers’ Week for many years, leading dances for all ages, teaching sword dance workshops, and serving a stint as Program Director.
Margaret is active on the steering committee of Pourparler, a national gathering of teachers of traditional dance and music in schools and communities. As a member of Half Moon Sword, she hosts the NYC English Sword Dance Ale and performs locally, as well as at festivals such as NEFFA and the Marlboro Ale.
Margaret has a background in modern dance, holds an MFA in Dance Choreography and is a Certified Laban Movement Analyst. She recently retired as Dance Specialist and the Performing Arts Chair at Brooklyn Friends School, where she incorporated folk and sword dances into her creative dance curriculum. Underlying all of her work with children and adults, Margaret believes that participatory dance experiences foster joy, self-expression, and connection between people.
Norman Farrell (Ridgefield, WA) discovered community dance by accident in 2006 after years of wondering why the dancing he enjoyed so much at fiddle camp wasn’t happening everywhere. Go figure. Tulsa, OK, and Lawrence, KS, were Norman’s original dance communities, and he soon found himself volunteering at the annual Pilgrims Progression Dance Weekend and playing for a local family dance in Bartlesville, OK.
Now, retired in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, OR, and Vancouver, WA, have become Norman’s dance home where weekly dancing (in the “before times”), paid and volunteer music, and being part of the Vancouver contra dance organization are a vital part of life. Playing in the Portland Megaband horn section has been an annual thrill since 2017.
Norman grew up in Oklahoma as part of a large dairy farming family and has been a lifelong musician since successfully begging for piano lessons at age 10. An omnivorous musical appetite led to performing at local cultural events and festivals and playing for several years with the Amarillo Wind Ensemble. Work-related travel brought a chance to encounter the rich tapestry of community dance and music around the world from Alaska to Australia and life-enriching experiences which Norman hopes to support and grow through direct CDSS participation.
Alice Kenney (Leyden, MA) moved to southern Vermont where she was introduced to contra dancing, shape note singing, and the wonderful music and storytelling of Peter and Mary Alice Amidon. She was introduced to CDSS Family Week to help the Amidons care for their (then) toddler, Sam, while they worked. Long before they were married, it was there she met Stuart Kenney, with whom she established a successful dance series at the renowned Guiding Star Grange in Greenfield, MA. In addition to contra dancing, they offered a Quebecois Immersion Weekend intensive for musicians for ten years and produced countless concerts of traditional music.
Alice believes that music and dance are an integral part of her life and others’. In her longtime professional career as a physical therapist, she is known to dance with her clients, using music to facilitate their recovery. For all it has brought and continues to bring to her quality of life and the lives of so many others, Alice is delighted to give back to CDSS!
Susie Lorand (Ann Arbor, MI) has been a CDSS member for most of her adult life. She had few opportunities for dancing before college, but pursued classical violin training in central Michigan and at Interlochen Arts Academy. Then the student folk musicians at Earlham College decided to “corrupt” her into a fiddler. Later she spent many years in the central New Jersey and Philadelphia dance communities, playing for English, contra, colonial, morris, and sword dancing (when not dancing herself). Leadership roles there included coordinating the Princeton Country Dancers pick-up band, co-directing Rum & Onions, serving on the PCD executive committee and the Lambertville Country Dancers board, and writing the PCD Newsletter.
Susie has appeared on the music staff of dance weeks at Pinewoods, Buffalo Gap, and Berea, and numerous weekends and festivals. Now in Ann Arbor, she performs with the “Celtic roots” band Nutshell, directs music for Scottish dancing, plays for English, contra, and morris, co-directs the local Threshold Choir, serves on the AACTMAD board, and dreams of getting back into Renaissance music for voices and recorders. She enjoys welcoming and helping new dancers of all ages as well as mentoring musicians. In her spare time she works as an editor and librarian.
Robbin Marcus (Stonecrest, GA) is a well-known caller of contras, squares and community dances. Robbin started dancing contra, English and morris in Baltimore, MD after college, and happily attended American Week at Pinewoods for the first time in 1986. As a music educator, Robbin quickly ascertained the importance of accurate traditional music and dance performance styles in the classroom — something she might not have understood were it not for CDSS. Subsequently she has been on staff for numerous CDSS weeks at Pinewoods Camp teaching both adult and kids classes (including a stint as Program Director of Family Week), and has enjoyed several recent opportunities to call contras and teach Alexander Technique at Christmas Country Dance School in Berea, KY.
Robbin teaches graduate level certification courses in Kodály Music Education, Folk Song Research/Analysis, Folk Dance, and Alexander Technique in the summer at George Mason University, where she is the Summer Kodály Program Director Emeritus. She is frequently in demand as a clinician throughout the United States. At home, Robbin teaches piano and Alexander Technique lessons in Atlanta, GA. Robbin plays piano for both contras and English country dances throughout the South, and is greatly enjoying branching out as a musician in bands with her husband Dave Marcus.
Craig Meltzner (Santa Rosa, CA) began contra dancing in the late 1980s. Craig and his wife Elaine met international folk dancing and later took up contra dancing with a passion. They raised their daughters dancing and value how this community embraced their family. Craig began English country dancing 10 years ago and enjoys sharing ECD with his contra dance friends. He is also an avid modern western square dancer.
Craig has been a board member of North Bay Country Dance Society (NBCDS) in California’s Bay Area for about 15 years, serving several terms as president. Pre-COVID, Craig helped program a monthly contra dance series and the two NBCDS contra dance weekends. During the pandemic, Craig has assisted with the popular weekly Saturday Evening Waltz Party on Zoom.
Craig leads a small affordable housing finance group, working extensively with non-profit organizations. He has also worked as a non-profit executive director and senior program director.
Craig previously served on the CDSS Board from 2015-2018, including as Treasurer. “Participation – that’s what’s gonna save the human race,” said Pete Seeger. That’s how Craig sees our local dance and music communities functioning and that’s what CDSS is here to encourage and support. Craig is honored to rejoin the CDSS Board. Let’s spread the joy we share singing, dancing, and making music together!
Diane Silver (Asheville, NC) is an environmental educator with 20+ years providing environmental outreach and action-taking in the non-profit arena. From work with zoos, residential program centers, the NC Extension Service, and charter schools, she brings extensive experience in program development and management, teaching, team-building, staff supervision and evaluation, budget management, grant writing, and logistics. She also has significant training in conflict resolution and positive communication. She has over 15 years’ experience serving on other boards-of-directors for educational, environmental, and dance organizations, including terms as President.
Diane has been a contra dancer, flatfoot-clogger, caller, teacher, and developing fiddle-player for over 20 years. She has served in many roles in her local dance and music community: booking performers, serving on the board, helping produce the annual dance weekend, and serving on various task forces and committees. She continues to be drawn by the sense of community within and among local dance groups, and the generally welcoming culture of home-grown music and dance. She sees in the dance community the opportunity to discuss, practice, and model the ideals she holds for larger society, facilitating joy and neighborliness from the grass-roots up.
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A will is the most common way for a person to make a gift at death to charitable organizations. It’s important for a will to be kept up to date and valid, making sure it reflects the person’s wishes and clearly expresses the desired distributions. Since the laws and requirements for wills vary by location and tax laws change frequently, we recommend seeking professional help to create or update your will.
To name CDSS as a beneficiary, the following wording is suggested: “I bequeath to the Country Dance and Song Society, Inc., a nonprofit corporation in Easthampton, Massachusetts, the following…”
Legal name: Country Dance and Song Society, Inc.
Address: 116 Pleasant St., Suite 345, Easthampton, MA 01067
CDSS is incorporated in the state of Massachusetts.
CDSS is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, nonprofit educational organization.
Our IRS employer identification number (EIN) is 04-3031125.
Bequests made through wills do not qualify for a current tax charitable contributions deduction. However, the value of the gift will be deductible for federal estate tax, and possibly state estate tax, purposes. In estates large enough to be subject to the federal estate tax, the savings can be substantial.
Please consult your financial or legal adviser on these and other planned giving options.
It is not necessary to share with us your plans for a future gift to CDSS. We understand and respect the personal and confidential nature of such decisions. We do, however, appreciate having the opportunity to personally thank the members and friends who have planned future gifts. When we are informed of such a plan, the information is treated in confidence and with the understanding that the donor’s plans may change in future years.
To share your plans, please fill out this form.
If you have questions about making a future gift to CDSS, please write or call Robin Hayden, Director of Development: email@example.com, 413-203-5467 x107.
Note: This is strictly optional. You do not have to share details of your plans.
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CDSS has a single, group policy that Affiliates and callers may join that provides general liability insurance for those Affiliates and callers. The limits on the policy have been calculated to provide enough coverage for all covered groups.
The CDSS policy is a general liability insurance policy, which generally covers the organization, volunteers, employees directors and officers, for their work for the insured entity if there is a claim of liability brought due to their operations. It potentially covers the legal costs, expenses, and settlement. In all cases, a claim would need to be submitted to the underwriter who will assign a council and determine payment. In addition to the $4,000,000 aggregate, $2,000,000 per-occurrence limits on liability coverage, the following is included:
$300,000 Rented To You Limit (any one premises)
$5,000 Medical Expense Limit (any one person)
A claim could be submitted for any of these scenarios if an allegation of negligence made against the group. The carrier/adjuster will review the specifics of the incident to determine if coverage applies.
Many venues require groups to have insurance before renting or holding events in their space. The CDSS policy meets and exceeds the minimum coverage amounts required by most venues. Many groups find the peace of mind afforded by the policy to be worth the cost when thinking about the long-term health of their organization.
We are unable to offer D&O insurance because we are under a single policy, which cannot cover multiple directors and officers of different organizations. We’re happy to put you in touch with our insurance agent, who has helped other Affiliates obtain D&O insurance.
It’s difficult to give generalized advice on this subject—each organization is unique and has different needs. You’ll need to decide for yourself if the cost of D&O insurance is worthwhile. General Liability and D&O insurance cover separate things. The General Liability policy CDSS has covers directors or officers (or employees, volunteers, etc.) for their work for the insured entity if there is a claim of liability brought due to their operations. A D&O policy covers you as officers/directors of the organization.
This article provides some information on the difference and what D&O covers, but you should speak with a lawyer or insurance agent if you have further questions.
$500-$1000 is a very general estimate of the cost of a D&O policy. The exact amount will depend on the size of the organization and location.
Only list a venue as Additional Insured if specifically requested by the venue. This is additional coverage for the venue and is not required unless specifically requested.
Some insurers require waivers for certain activities; ours does not. A waiver won’t prevent you from being sued, but may provide additional protection if you are. It may be worth consulting with a lawyer to discuss your particular situation if you feel it’s necessary.
You are not required to notify the insurer of every incident, but the policy states that the insurer needs to be notified in a timely manner in the event of a claim.
This will probably depend on the details of the suit. Per our agent “The General Liability policy CDSS has covers Directors or Officers (or employees, volunteers, etc) for their work for the insured entity if there is a claim of liability brought due to their operations.” But there are other situations where board members wouldn’t be covered by our General Liability policy, or could be sued separately from the organization.
There are usually between 0 and 2 claims under our policy per year.
We cannot offer definitive advice on what hypotheticals will or will not be covered by the policy. Each situation is unique and handled individually. Speaking to a lawyer or expert in the area is advised when exploring such hypotheticals. Feel free to contact us with questions and we can forward your question to our insurance agent if necessary.
Our policy beginning on May 1, 2021, will NOT allow for COVID-19 related claims due to an added virus exclusion—a change from the previous year’s policy. We are not aware of any general liability policy that will do so.
Yes! As long as they are essentially the same as other events you would be holding (dancing led or taught by an instructor/caller). As usual, filing a claim would require someone who attended your online event to sue and prove your negligence.
Events held at this time are covered by our insurance policy as they usually are, just not for COVID-related claims.
Absolutely! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to provide a copy of the policy for your review.
Have questions or need more information? Call Ben Williams at 413-203-5467 x106 or email email@example.com.
The CDSS News is published in March, June, September, and December and is distributed to about 2,000 people in print and 10,000 recipients digitally. Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis.
We welcome submissions of any of the following, with a focus on contra dance, English country dance, traditional square dance, morris and English sword dance, dance tunes, folksongs, and the dance and music community.
photographs and other visual art
newly-composed dances and tunes
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We may edit for submissions for length and clarity and to match CDSS’s grammar style. Photos should be 300-600 dpi (print resolution) and should be submitted in color.
CD+S Online is written in a style that is accessible and engaging. Articles are rigorously researched and analyzed so that scholars are pleased to include the journal on their publications list. Generally speaking, we do not accept opinion pieces. When reviewing articles for publication, we ask reviewers to consider the following points:
Is the content usable or does it require extensive, expensive, or impossible permissions issues?
Reviewers are asked to give one of the four following opinions on the submission:
Note that the General Editor, in consultation with CDSS staff, retains final decision-making authority.
We welcome submissions at any time on topics addressing traditional dance, music, and song rooted in England and North America. Articles in CD+S Online are longer and more detailed than those found in its sister publication, CDSS News, and represent an exploration of the past, a celebration of the present, speculations as to the future, and a means for future generations to mark the status and development of our shared art form at any given point in time.
Generally speaking, we do not accept personal memoirs or group histories unless they can be fitted into a broader theme or argument.
Requirements for publication: Articles should be limited to 2,000 to 3,500 words and conform to the MLA Style Manual, with parenthetical documentation for all sources and with American spelling and punctuation (except for historical quotations, as noted in the style sheet). Place any notes at the end, preceding the Works Cited list.
Submission of a paper to CD+S Online is a representation that it is the author’s original, unpublished work, that it has not been submitted elsewhere, and that the author has secured permission to publish any copyrighted material, including illustrations, and video or audio links. Authors retain the copyright to their essays, but essays accepted for publication in CD+S Online may not be reprinted elsewhere without the permission of CDSS and its journal Editor.
All articles should follow the style guide and editorial guidelines linked from this page. Email your paper as a text file to Allison Thompson at email@example.com.
CD+S Online refers to the MLA Style Manual in matters of grammar, usage, and, especially, documentation; exceptions are described later in these guidelines. Please note that it is the responsibility of the writer to put the manuscript into our preferred style.
The essential difference between MLA style and others is its system of parenthetical documentation. This is what we are asking for when we request a conversion to that style: sources noted in parentheses within the text, at the first natural pause.
Sources are cited by author’s name (unless recently mentioned) and page number (unless recently mentioned). The title of the source is included only if more than one source by the author is being used in the article and only if that title has not been clearly and recently mentioned. The aim is to keep the parenthetical reference as clean and brief as possible while still identifying the source clearly. If you have information to add, you may use endnotes. Because of space limitations, however, we encourage careful consideration of their inclusion in your article. Use endnotes for 1) comments, explanations, or information that the text cannot accommodate, or 2) a listing of several sources or comments on the source(s).
The parenthetical references are then keyed to a Works Cited list at the end of the article.
In the parenthetical reference, use only what is needed for readers’ clear understanding of the source. They will refer to the Works Cited section for details.
CDSS grant recipients must use the CDSS logo on their printed materials, website, and/or social media. When included on a web page, blog, or social media site, please link the logo to the CDSS website, cdss.org.
The logo is available in two versions, horizontal and square, in either two colors (2C) or black and white (B/W). It must be produced as shown without alteration.
Click on the link below the logo you want and the logo will open in another browser window. Then follow the instructions below
PC users: Right-click on the link below the image you desire and select ‘Save Target As’ or ‘Save Link Target As’ to save the file to your desktop or appropriate folder.
Mac users: Control-click on the link below the image you desire and select “Save Link As” to save the file to your desktop or appropriate folder.
Ben Williams grew up in the suburbs of Boston and now lives in Northampton, MA. He began working for CDSS in fall of 2018. He’s responsible for CDSS’s publications, including digital publications and the online library. He also runs the store and coordinates insurance and 501(c)(3) services for Group Affiliates.
Ben has been a life-long singer and began contra dancing in Greenfield while he attended UMass Amherst for journalism and psychology (after a brief stint in chemistry). While not singing and dancing he enjoys playing games (board, card, and otherwise), woodworking, and other craft projects. He also helps run a local meditation center and a Buddhist summer camp for children ages 10-16.
Anne lives and works in Orlando, FL. She graduated from Hampshire College in 1995 and has been designing and building websites ever since. In 2019, she joined the CDSS team as webmaster, taking care of updates, maintenance, and design.
Anne’s dance career began and ended at age 4, when the ballet teacher told her parents not to bother sending her back. However, she enjoys singing with the Orlando Gay Chorus, and her time with CDSS has inspired her to dip a toe into contra dance. Her other interests include travel, cooking, needlepoint, and Star Wars.
Nicki Perez is a long-time singer and dancer who grew up performing with Revels North, Village Harmony, and various other local groups in New England. After touring in Europe with Northern Harmony, she moved to Northampton, MA, where she now resides.
Nicki has worked at CDSS since 2016. Most recently, as the Gifts & Database Coordinator, she works with the Finance Team to ensure your gifts are processed quickly and correctly. Outside of work, you can find Nicki reading novels, powerlifting, and learning new languages.
Hailing from Honolulu and now living in San Diego, Audrey cut her folk teeth in the Boston area, attending Berklee College of Music and spending years exploring the thriving New England folk scene and attending her first Pinewoods camp thanks to the CDSS youth scholarship.
You probably know Audrey best as a contra and English country dance fiddle player, having traveled the country with her bands The Free Raisins, The Gaslight Tinkers, Audacious (with Larry Unger), and Wake Up Robin. As the new Membership Coordinator, she’s excited to get to know you more and pay it forward in the community.
Sarah grew up contra dancing near the Washington-Idaho border and now lives in Burlington, VT. She was introduced to English country dance at Oberlin College, where she also studied neuroscience, biology, math, and music. She has served on the board of directors for Pinewoods Camp in Plymouth, MA, and has a professional background in customer service and data management.
Sarah plays viola and violin for English country dances, where she has found her music and dance home. She loves her garden, native bee and bird visitors, and the bike path along Lake Champlain, where she also enjoys cross-country skiing and rollerblading. She appreciates a good word game or jigsaw puzzle and wishes she had more time for weaving and pottery.
Robin started dancing when she arrived at Swarthmore College in 1983, and soon after, following only a few years of teaching 4th grade, began working for CDSS as a volunteer when both she and the office (coincidentally) moved to Western MA. What began in 1987 as a volunteer Membership Secretary role grew, as CDSS grew over the next 35 years, into Robin’s deeply fulfilling work as Director of Development, in which she is grateful to be able to offer CDSS’s many friends the opportunity to support our important work through membership and generous giving.
After 22 years of residing and raising her two children in Amherst, MA, she has settled in a quiet house of her own in Greenfield. A widely-traveled English country dancer and leader, she recently retired from 25 years as the organizer of the weekly English dance in Amherst.
Sarah is a New England transplant from Takoma Park, MD, now living in Winooski, VT. Her first involvement with CDSS was as a young camper at Family Week. She went on to join the Governing Board as a college student, and then later in 2016, was hired to work in the office in Easthampton. Sarah currently serves as the Director of Operations, guiding the smooth functioning of the organization’s systems and processes.
Sarah grew up in a music & dance family and has been involved in the folk community her entire life. Recently, she has been developing her mellophone chops by playing with The Brass Balagan, an activist street band based in Burlington, VT. Sarah is a graduate of Oberlin College and Boston University and holds a M.A. in Marine Biology (ask her about talking to fish!). Other hobbies/interests include: board games, crochet, flower gardening, and parades.
Although many people in our community know Joanna as an excellent dance leader, what makes her perfect for this role is her expertise in nonprofit financial management and experience working with cultural organizations on data-driven program design. Joanna joins CDSS from SMU DataArts, where she evaluated cultural organization needs and designed organizational strength trainings for adult learners in the cultural community. She lives in Cheltenham, PA.
Kelsey works for CDSS from her home near Nashville, TN. As Marketing and Communications Manager, she oversees News publications, designs camp promotions, writes social media content, and much more.
Kelsey works with Robin Hayden and Nicki Perez on the Development team and with anyone else in the office who needs art! She joined CDSS in 2019 after having been a primary school music teacher, a university graphic designer, and a guitar builder.
Kelsey plays fiddle and banjo in the dance bands Turnip the Beet and Silver Sail, spending many weekends traveling to dance festivals around the country. She is the founder and co-leader of the Nashville Country Dancers community open band and served as the US delegate to the world folk music project Ethno Flanders in 2017. Outside of playing music, Kelsey enjoys making crankies and hiking with her pup, Isham.
Anna grew up in Canada and went to the University of Manitoba for her B.S. in Accounting and Mathematics. She now lives in West Springfield, MA with her husband and two children. Prior to joining CDSS, she started and ran her own business for 5 years in Canada, and then worked for Girl Scouts of Pioneer Valley as their Accounting/Finance Manager. She joined CDSS in December 2011. As Accounting Manager, she oversees organization accounting activities and processes.
During most of her time off from CDSS, she is busy driving her two kids to their activities and taking care of her mother both remotely and in Canada. She loves traveling and learning about different cultures from the places she visits. She was fortunate enough to be able to give her children their first overseas trip to Asia last summer. She hopes she will be able to continue her travels after the kids are all grown up.
Julie grew up in Barkhamsted, CT and after graduating from the University of Central Florida moved out to Missoula, MT for a brief period before moving back to Barkhamsted to raise her three children. She has a M.S. in Accounting from the University of Connecticut and B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida. Prior to joining CDSS, Julie worked at several nonprofit organizations in CT. She joined CDSS in December of 2019 as the Director of Finance and is responsible for the organization’s finances and human resources.
When Julie is not at the office, she is enjoying the outdoors, running, skiing or hiking with family and friends. She loves traveling and was fortunate to enjoy a month-long RV trip across the United States with her family in 2018. She visited 28 states and drove 9529 miles.
A native of Berea, Kentucky, Katy grew up immersed in traditional song, dance, and music. Her first involvement with CDSS was as a camper at CDSS Family Week at Pinewoods as a teenager, where she fell in love with the work of CDSS. Over the years she’s continued to support the organization as a CDSS member, donor, camp instructor, camp program director, and board member.
Before becoming the Executive Director of CDSS in 2017, Katy spent 6 years in clinical trials data management, and 7 years in food banking, where she supervised a remote team that worked with 200 partner agencies to end hunger in western North Carolina. Today Katy is blending her previous professional experiences with her love of traditional dance, music, and song, as she leads CDSS in becoming a high-functioning remote team, rooted in a strong mission, and harnessing today’s technology to bridge geographic distance.
Outside the office you might find Katy paddle-boarding with her family, singing with others, driving her two kids around to any number of activities, working in the yard, reading novels, or planning some big gathering or adventure.