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Daniel E. Sheehy has been named acting director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, effective Monday, Feb. 11. Since joining the Smithsonian in 2000, Sheehy has served as director of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian; curator of the Smithsonian Folkways Collection; and director of Smithsonian Global Sound, an educational Web site that offers traditional music from around the world. Sheehy also serves as co-curator of the project Nuestra Música: Music in Latino Culture, a seven-year effort to document, preserve and disseminate a wide range of Latino musical expression via the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Tradiciones/Traditions recording series and the virtual exhibition "Música del Pueblo."
Prior to joining the Smithsonian, Sheehy held several positions at the National Endowment for the Arts, including director of Folk and Traditional Arts (1992-2000) and staff ethnomusicologist and assistant director (1978-1992). At the National Endowment for the Arts, he supervised programs that provided $4 million annually to support projects across the United States and its territories. In addition, Sheehy directed the annual National Heritage Fellowships program, the federal government’s highest award in the folk and traditional arts. In 1997, the American Folklore Society honored him with the Benjamin A. Botkin prize, which recognizes major impact on the field of public folklore and on public understanding of folklore.
Sheehy has been an active professional musician for more than 40 years, founding Mariachi Los Amigos in 1978, Washington’s longest existing mariachi ensemble.
Sheehy has written books and articles about Mexican and Latin American music and approaches to the public programming of traditional music. His book "Mariachi Music in America: Expressing Music, Expressing Culture" was published by Oxford University Press in 2006. In addition, he co-edited the 1,100-page "South America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean" volume of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music" (1998).
Sheehy currently serves on several boards, including the American Folklore Society, the Association for Cultural Equity in New York City and the Community Advisory Council of the Washington, D.C., National Public Radio affiliate, WAMU.
Sheehy will serve as acting director of the Smithsonian Latino Center while a search for a permanent director is being conducted. Pilar O’Leary resigned as director, effective Friday, Feb. 8.