Who’s Who in IOV


Read the profile of our IOV officers below.

IOV Executive Staff

image003Ali Abdulla Khalifa

A Bahraini writer, poet, researcher and cultural enthusiast, Ali Abdulla Khalifa has been the Chair of the Bahrain office of the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV) since 1988. He is also the Director of Cultural Research at the Royal Court since 2001 and the Regional Executive Secretary of the IOV- Middle East and North Africa region from 2007 to 2012. In May 2012, he was elected IOV Vice-President for Publications.

Among his many published works are Gulf of Songs, Folklore Inspiration in Creative Works, and Folk Arts – Nations in Unison, in addition to a diverse array of poetry collections and operettas. His works have been translated to English and French, and have earned him wide repute.  He has won a number of international awards, including the Cultural Competence Medal from the late President Bourguiba, of Tunisia in 1973, the International Grand Prize for Arts in 2006 in Romania and the Competency First Class Medal of HM King of Bahrain. In addition to his official position as the Secretary-General of the Isa Award for Service to Humanity, Ali Abdulla serves on its board.


image017Hans Joachim Holz


Hans Holz has chaired IOV Austria since 1995 and was the IOV secretary-general from October 2005 until June 2011. Besides his IOV activities, he was vice-mayor of the town of Andorf, Austria, where he was born, from 2003 to 2009, president of the Upper Austrian Choir Association from1999 to 2015, vice-president of the Austrian Choir Association from 2000 to 2004, and before youth chairman of the same association from 1991 to 2001.

He taught English, music and sports at Andorf high school since 1971. Beside his work as teacher and his many freetime-activities in sports, culture and poiltics he studied at the University of Passau, Germany.1n 1989 Hans received a master’s degree in pedagogical studies there.

He was the founder of the Music High School in Andorf. From 1999 to 2010 Hans was the headmaster of Andorf Music-Highschool. Beside this main job he taught as professor at the Teacher’s College in Linz for many years.

In his freetime he was an activist in choir music and folk culture. He founded the 3 Andorf Choirs, a male-, a mixed- and a youth choir. Between 1982 and 2003 he went on many concert tours with them around the world to present choir music from old Austrian and European masters, international folksongs, Austrian folk music and folk dances. Through all these years he successfully performed with his Andorf Choirs in more than 60 of the biggest cities on all continents and hosted about 30 international choirs from all the world in Andorf.

Since 1993 Hans has been a member of IOV and already in 1995 he became chairman of IOV-Austria, the biggest national section of IOV, which he is still leading. At the GA in 2006 in Korea he was elected to be Secretary General of IOV, following Alexander Veigl, the founder of IOV. Until 2011 he voluntarily worked very hard as Sec Gen. to change the structure of IOV with decentralisation and close cooperation with IOV-officers in many countries and in the newly formed different regions of all continents.

Another main achievement of Hans was the foundation of IOV-Youth. Because of his experience as Youth Chairman of the Austrian Choir Association it was his precious idea in 2007 to start IOV-Youth work to secure the future of IOV for the next generations. Together with IOV-USA he organised the 1st IOV-World Youth-Congress in the USA in 2008 and fully supported the 2nd in 2010 in China as Secretary General.
After all his hard work for IOV, national and worldwide, for more than 20 years he was elected at the General Assembly of IOV in Italy in 2016 to be Vice-President of IOV now.

For all his life-achievements in culture and folk culture he was thankfully honored by his hometown Andorf, by the federal government of Upper Austria and most of all by the president of Austria with the title, “Professor” in 2014.


image004Emma Chen Hoefler

  • Vice-president of the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV); Chair of IOV China
  • Advisory expert to the Intergovernmental Committee on the Safeguarding of ICH, UNESCO
  • President of China-Germany Promotion Association of Cultural Development
  • Expert of Germany Committee, the International Committee on Monuments and Sites, UNESCO
  • Guest Professor, Doctoral Tutor of the Fine Art College, Shanghai University
  • President of the International Folk Art Research Institute, Guizhou University
  • Guest Professor of Southwest University for Nationalities


HenkHenk Huijser
Chair, IOV Netherlands


Henk Huijser was born and raised in the Netherlands.??

After primary school and secondary school, he studied law at the Erasmus university in Rotterdam and followed many financial trainings.

??He started his career as an accountant and then he worked for  the Dutch government. First as a customs officer and then as a tax-officer. The last 10 years of his working-career he worked as a team leader for the Dutch FIOD (IRS).

He is a member of IOV Netherlands since 1993. He was an active dancer with the West Frisian Folklore in the Netherlands and he was involved in organizing the Folklore Festival in Schagen as a treasurer and impresario. Since 2006 he is the director of the World Dance Festival Schagen. In this position, he has contacts throughout the world.??

Henk has been the treasurer of IOV Netherlands since 2013 and since September 2015 he is also the treasurer of IOV World and he gives his full support to this wonderful global organization.


fab patenteFabrizio Cattaneo

Fabrizio Cattaneo began his musical studies at age of six, attending classes taught by many well-known teachers. In 1979, at age 12, he became a member of the folk group “Gioppini of Bergamo”, playing accordion.  He is currently the group’s president.

He is a highly qualified instructor of folk dances and is a master Accordionist. Fabrizio Cattaneo was elected the Acting Secretary General.

Fabrizio is Vice President in the Italian Folk Art Federation (FITP) .

Fabrizio Cattaneo is a member of  Jure Pleno in the  Ducato of Piazza Pontida and  member of the board of the Crown. He is an entrepreneur, craftsman, electronics- technician computer, and owner of a company that provides technical assistance in audio, video, and computers.


image005Kinga Czerwinska
Chair, Dispute Resolution Committee

Kinga Czerwinska is from Poland. In 1995 she graduated from the college of fine arts named after J.Falata in Bielso in Biala, Poland. Kinga studied ethnology at the Silesia University in Katowice, Poland. In 2000, she got her master’s degree in ethnology.

Since 2000, Kinga Czerwinska has taught at the Silesian University in Katowice, faculty of ethnology and educational sciences. Her research on folk art involves folk costumes, traditional sculpture, painting and handicraft in Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe. Recently, her interests are in the area of intangible cultural heritage as it relates to modern and globalized world.

Kinga has earned two doctorate degrees, the first in Social Sciences from the Silesia University, and the second in Ethnology from the University A. Mickiewicza in Pozna?, Poland.

Kinga has been a member of IOV Poland and Polish Ethnological Society since 2000. She currently chairs the Dispute Resolution Committee of IOV.


National Section Chairs

image013Geert Nijhof
Chair, IOV Netherlands

Geert became active in folk art as a volunteer for the International Folk Dance Festival “SIVO” in the Netherlands.  Geert went on to become chair of the SIVO festival, a position he held for 15 years.  As chair, he worked together with many folklore organizations the world over.  Since leaving that position in 2005, Geert has been a freelance impresario, arranging the participation of folk art ensembles at SIVO.

Geert’s personal goal is to help keep folk art alive in the Netherlands and throughout the world.  To succeed at this, Geert believes the cooperation of like-minded individuals is absolutely necessary.  He was an early member of the IOV network, joining IOV Netherlands when it was founded in 1993.

In March, 2012 Geert was elected President of the IOV Netherlands National Section.  Through this, he hopes to contribute to IOV’s worldwide work.


image014Donna BG Breckenridge
Chair, IOV USA

Donna Breckenridge has been the National Section Chair of IOV USA since February 2011. She is also General Director of the World Folkfest, a festival in Springville, Utah, which she has been associated with since 1990. Originally from Canada, she earned her PhD in sociology in 1989 from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Her undergraduate degree is in history.

The mother of 3 children, she traveled to China in 2009 to speak at a conference on the preservation of intangible cultural heritage.   In 2012, she attended the general assembly in Prague, Czech Republic.  She currently lives in Springville, Utah, USA, and is active in local and international affairs.


image016Enver Keskin
Chair, IOV Turkey

Enver Keskin has been the President of IOV Turkey since 1980. He is the Dean of Students at Okan University in Istanbul, and is the president of the folk dance group “Gehem.”  He has participated in many international scientific conferences, where he has presented scientific papers. He is also the author of scientific books about folk dance culture and folk art.


image018Alexander Morozov
Chair, IOV Belorussia

Prof. Alexander Vladimirovich Morozov joined IOV in 2001.  In 2009, he became chair of IOV Belarus.  Professionally, he has been the head of the department of folklore and slavic studies at the Institute of Arts, Ethnography and Folklore of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus since 2003.  He is also head of the department of ?ross-?ultural Communications of the Belorussian State University of Culture and Arts, a position he has held since February 2012.

Prof. Morozov graduated from the Minsk Institute of Culture and the Minsk State Linguistic University and received his PhD in 1992.   He participated in the 2012 IOV General Assembly in Prague and the Fifth IOV World Congress in Ulan-Ude, Russia in September, 2012.

Alexander Morozov is the author of 110 published works, including 4 monographs in the fields of verbal folklore, the traditional values of Slavic nations, accumulation, systematization and dissemination of Slavic cultural heritage, and the digitation of folk recordings.  At the Fourteenth International Congress of Slavics in Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia, held in August, 2008, Dr. Morozov was elected the Vice-Chairman of the Folklore Commission.


image019Mkrtich Hovhannisyan
Chair, IOV Armenia

Mkrtich Hovhannisyan was born in Gyumri, Armenia. In 2006 he graduated from the State Institute of Theatre and Movie, Department of Stage Directing. Afterwards, he did post-graduate studies at the Department of Theatre Study, where he is a candidate for a PhD.

Since 2006, Mkrtich has been teaching history of Russian, Armenian and foreign dramatic art and art criticism at the Institute of Theatre in Gyumri. At the same time, he is head of the Department of Arts History and Science at the same Institute.

Since 1998, he has been a dancer in an Armenian folk dance group. Mkrtich has produced several dramas at the Drama Theatre of Gyumri. He has also written several movie scene scripts.

Mkrtich has participated in many festivals and cultural events all around the world. He describes himself  as “a person of the arts,” and says he is devoted to the arts.

Mkrtich is currently the head of the Armenian National Section of the International Organization of Folk Art (IOV).


image021Andris Adhitra
Chair, IOV Youth Indonesia

Andris Adhitra was born in Bandar Lampung, a small village in the south of Sumatra Island, Indonesia. He spent his childhood and early youth in his hometown. Andris moved to Jakarta for university, and graduated from University of Indonesia majoring law. Andris began to learn traditional art when he was at the University, and has continued studying and researching work about Indonesia traditional dance, especially Balinese dancing.

He joined IOV in March 2010. Since then, Andris had actively joined many IOV events. He joined the IOV Youth Conference in Nanjing, China, in 2010 and in Sweden in 2012.

Andris is a founder of the IOV Indonesia Youth Section and, under his leadership, the IOV Indonesia Youth Section has been actively and continuously engaging youth to join many folklore events around the world. With his help many youth groups had been performing in many IOV folklore festivals around the world such as in Brazil, USA, India, Thailand, Portugal, Spain, France, Denmark, Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, Japan, Philippines and many more. The IOV Indonesia Youth Section annually produces the Indonesia Student Folklore Festival, which cordially invites many youth folklore troupes from around the nation to perform for public every mid-year.


image022Tahir Amiraslanov
Chair, IOV Azerbaijan

Tahir Amiraslanov is chair of the IOV national section for Azerbaijan. He was born in Azerbaijan and received his education from 1979 to 1984 at the Leningrad Institute of Soviet Trade, in organization and technology of public catering. Between 1984 and 1989, he worked for the Ganja Public Trust as engineer-technologist and self-catering facilities chief.

Dr. Amiraslanov has taught at the Institute of Technology. Between 1989 and 1991, he worked at the department of science and technology of the Ministry of Commerce in the center of the catering department of applied sciences. Since 1991 he has been the director of the Azerbaijan National Culinary Center. At the same time, he is a special correspondent for Pitanie i Obshestvo magazine, published in Russia, and he is a teacher at the Azerbaijan State Economic University.

From 2000 to 2004 he was the Vice-Chairman of the Traditional Food Commission, and since 2004, has been its Chairman. Tahir Amiraslanov is the Vice-President of the Russian Association of Culinary World as well as a member of the board of judges. He is an honorary member of the Association of Culinary Academy of France, Malta, Romania, Jerusalem, UAE and other countries.

He is also the president of Azerbaijan National Culinary Association and a candidate of historical sciences. He is married and has two children, and 1 grandchild.


Etienne Vankeirsbilck
Hon. Vice Pres. Co-Founder of IOV
Chair IOV Belgium


Etienne is a co-founder of IOV, which was founded in his hometown Oostrozebeke, Belgium in October 1979. He is retired from his profession and dance ensemble and now devotes his time to IOV. Through his efforts, many folk dancers and musicians too have had the opportunity to participate in international dance festivals and cultural events. These relations made it possible that a shelter for poor people in Caçapava do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil has been nominated “Pavilhao Etienne Vankeirsbilck” in 2004. Until today this home is sponsored by Etienne, every year.

Etienne continues to promote international friendship and respect. He has been honoured for his work all over the world. Many individuals and festival organizations has benefited from his work and the knowledge he gained from close cooperation with the late IOV Secretary General, Alexander Veigl, his best friend.

In 2006, in honour of his contributions to IOV and folk art, Etienne was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution Award by the Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Arts Festival. In 2008 he was named the Honorary Mayer of the City of Bountiful , Utah , USA. In 2014 the Silver Magnolia Award of the City Government of Shanghai, the highest distinction for expats, was conferred to Etienne in appreciation of his valuable support to Shanghai’s development outstanding contributions and friendly cooperation.

He recently co-authored two books “Streekdrachten in Onze Gewesten” and “Van Hoed tot Ondergoed” about Folk Costumes of Flanders, Belgium.


Laila Saleh Al Bassam  
Chair, IOV Saudi Arabia

Dr. AlBasam is a professor of history of clothing and textile at the department of fashion design, college of art and design at Princess Noura Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from which she gained all her degrees in the field of clothing and textiles. She earned her MA in 1983; her thesis was entitled “Traditional Costumes for Women in Najd Region. Her PhD dissertation in 1988 was on the “Methods and Ornaments of Traditional Costumes in Najd Region,” which helped her spread her knowledge and become very creative in her work. Not only is her work acknowledged locally but also internationally, as she has participated in many symposiums and conferences and given many lectures and exhibits on Saudi traditional costumes.

Dr. Al Basam is very active in her field and contributes to documenting traditional costumes. She has published 9 books and several research papers and catalogues. She is also a member and board member of several societies. Her accomplishments are indeed very much recognized. Her greatest award on her contributions was the Prince Salman Prize of Excellence for research and studies on the history of the Arabian peninsula in 2012. Laila Saleh AlBassam also works at the National Museum Advisory Board in Riyadh and she is the chair of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society.


image024Hanady Essa Al.Jowder
Chair, IOV Bahrain


Hanady Essa Al.Jowder was born in Muharraq, Bahrain and is a poet. She has a law degree from the United Arab Emirates University and a Master’s in Law degree from the University of Bahrain as well as diplomas in neuro-linguistic programming and political development.

Dr. Al.Jowder is a lawyer and legal councilor for the Ministry of Housing, Municipalities and Environment, head of the Legal Affairs department in the Middle Area Municipality, a member of the Arbitration Commercial Centre, and chair of IOV Bahrain. As a poet, she is a member and vice-president of the Council of the Folk’s Poetry Society and supervised the committees and activities of the female poet members of that Society from 2004 to 2006. She also heads the media committee and the publications committee of the Society. She has written articles for newspapers and for publication and other media.

She has conducted and attended many forums, training sessions, poetry events and activities within the Kingdom of Bahrain and elsewhere.


image025Aija Jansone, Dr. hist.
Chair, IOV Latvia

Aija Jansone is a senior researcher at the department of ethnology, the Institute of Latvian History, University of Latvia.  She received her PhD in History from the University of Latvia in 1995. Aija has also been an elementary school teacher,  a designer at the Latvia Academy of Sciences, and an assistant at the University of Latvia in the Institute of Latvian History.

Values and Identities: Cultural Heritage as a Resource for Construction of Identities, was a joint project by the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with the Ethnographic Museum of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia, which Aija Jansone completed in cooperation with Prof. Mila Santova. She also worked with Santova on another joint project, Bulgaria and Latvia: Problems of Immaterial Cultural Heritage. Another joint project studied everyday culture in Bulgaria and Latvia, which Dr. Jansone co-authored with E. Anastasova.

Dr. Jansone’s interests include the history of traditional clothing and textiles. She is listed in the UNESCO database of experts of intangible cultural heritage in the area of traditional folk culture and costumes. She is a member of several government organizations and chairs the IOV Latvia National Section. She has published books and articles on 19th century shirts, towels, home textiles, gloves and stockings, national costumes, knitted articles, and embroidery.


efimovMr. Alexandr Efimov
Chair of Russian National Section

Was born October, 07, 1969. Graduated and post graduated the Simferopol State University on a specialty of History of Culture. Subject of researches is: studying of traditional culture and folklore of the Turkic speaking peoples of the Russian Federation.

Between 1999 and 2008 worked as an editor-in-chief of a publishing house and a press-secretary of a special cultural fund of the Government of Moscow.

Between 2008 and 2012 was the editor of publishing house « Sacred Mountain. In 2013 worked as the Deputy Director of the Moscow State Institute of Art Criticism. Since July, 2013 till now is General Director of the State Republican Centre of Russian Folklore.

In 2014 awarded with Gratitude of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. For the personal contribution to preservation of the Russian Intangible Cultural Heritage.

He has about 40 scientific publications in the Russian and international editions.


Former President

unnamedCarmen D. Padilla
Former President

Carmen D. Padilla was Chair and Executive Director of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) of the Philippines, the counterpart of the Ministry of Culture. In this position she advocated for the empowerment of the artists and cultural workers in the country, a move that opened the bureaucracy to practice more transparency and participative decision-making by involving the artists and cultural workers themselves in the management of the resources of government. This was an innovative approach to governance in the government system.

While Chair of NCCA she attended for the first time the IOV conference in Greece where she met Alexander Veigl, the founder of IOV. This led to an IOV Conference on Myths and Legends hosted by the Philippines which was held in Manila.

In 2003, Carmen was elected, in absentia, as World President of IOV in the General Assembly in Deva, Romania. Alexander informed her of her election after the meeting. In her style of participative governance she proposed the creation of the Presidential Council to lead the IOV with representations from different continents.

Read more.


Former Vice President

image002Mila Santova
Former Chair of Research Commission

Mila Santova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degree in art history at the National Academy of Fine and Applied Arts in Sofia. In 1984 she completed her PhD studies in cultural anthropology at the Institute of Folklore, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Mila Santova has participated in more than 250 national and international conferences, congresses, symposia and seminars. She is the author of 6 books, and more than 200 publications in scientific journals, publications, newspapers, magazines and Internet sites.

She has led more than 20 international collaborative scientific projects, together with colleagues from France, Belgium, Italy, Romania, and Moldova, as well as other countries. She presented two projects, Nestanarstvo in 2009, and Bistritsa Grannies in 2005, for inscription in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO. She was the leader of the project for preparing the Bulgarian national inventory of intangible cultural heritage and the National System of Living Human Treasures in Bulgaria.

Dr. Santova is the chair of the National Folklore Council at the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Bulgaria. She has been a guest lecturer at the National Academy of Arts, the University of Sofia, Plovdiv University, and in many countries around the world. Mila Santova is the chair of the Bulgarian National Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM).


Former Secretary Generals

Alexander Veigl (Austrian) – founder of IOV

Hans Holtz (Austrian)

George Frandsen (USA)

Marcel Oelbrandt +

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