Gwen Meister, Interim Director

Gwen Meister has an MA in cultural anthropology and an MBA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her specialty is public folklore. Gwen served as folk arts coordinator for the Nebraska Arts Council from 1991 to1995. Gwen is passionate about ensuring a bright future for the traditions of Nebraska’s unique variety of cultural groups. With help from other Nebraskans who recognized this need and with financial support from the Nebraska Arts Council, Humanities Nebraska and the National Endowment for the Arts, Gwen founded the Nebraska Folklife Network in 2003.


Justin Firestone

Justin Firestone is an attorney specializing in technology and
intellectual property law. He has a Master’s degree in Classics and in
Computer Science, and has played and composed music since he was five
years old. He plays saxophone, bassoon, trumpet, keyboards, and gong,
and has a passion for learning music from all cultures.

Blanca Ramirez-Salazar

Blanca Ramirez-Salazar holds a master’s in community and regional planning and a bachelor’s in social work. She is bilingual in English and Spanish and has worked for years to support Nebraska Latinos and other immigrants in positions with the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Census Bureau. Currently she is employed with the Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services as a Health Program Manager-Native American Health Liaison for the Office of Health Disparities & Health Equity.

Seif Balul

Sief Mahagoub is currently a community liaison with the Lincoln Public Schools and works primarily with at-risk youth. He was formerly with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services where he conducted outreach programs and leadership training for refugees and other newer immigrants. He is originally from North Sudan but has lived in Japan and several other countries since leaving his homeland.

Dylan Wall

Dylan Wall began as a student volunteer in 2008 and has done contract work for the NFN since 2009. Dylan holds a BA in cultural anthropology and psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Serving as Program Coordinator and Acting Executive since 2019, Dylan’s work includes conducting field interviews and writing lesson plans for the various NFN projects. He also films and photographs various cultural events that take place in Nebraska that are incorporated into the cultural education kits. The opportunities he has had to research various cultures and form relationships with members of various groups in Nebraska has been highly rewarding. Dylan’s interests include belief systems, coffee, and bicycling.

Jared Heins

Jared holds a BA degree in accounting with a minor in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In 2016, he received a Master’s degree in professional accounting. Jared is a licensed CPA in the state of Nebraska and specializes in taxation of partnerships. He enjoys spending time with his family, golfing, and playing cards. Jared is interested in history and food of all cultures, his favorite dish being the kolache.

Dr. Todd Richardson

Todd is a Professor of English at the University of Nebraska – Omaha and holds the James R Schumacher Chair of Ethics. He teaches in the Goodrich Scholarship Program and his research focuses on the role and representation of authenticity in American folklore and folklore studies. A native Nebraskan, Todd returned to the state after earning his Ph.D. in English with a specialization in American Folklore at the University of Missouri – Columbia.

Sandra Reddish

Sandra currently resides in Gering. She has a master’s degree in Public History and has worked with historical societies and museum in collections, exhibits, administration, historic sites, and as an executive director.  She continues to work on independent history, cultural, and oral history projects.  She worked with NET Nebraska Stories as writer and narrator for the “Invisible People” episode highlighting the Japanese Nebraskans in the North Platte River area.


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