Caroline Rubens, Archive Director

Rubens joined the Appalshop staff in 2007. In addition to fundraising, she manages Appalshop’s archival holdings, facilitates access to the collections, and executes public programming. Rubens holds an MA in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and advocates in various forums for the preservation of independent and community media. She believes that enriching the archival records of historically underrepresented groups encourages new scholarship and understanding, and helps communities and individuals to re-envision the future. While a native of northern New Jersey, Rubens is happy to call eastern Kentucky home. She is, however, still a Mets fan.

Elizabeth Barret, Senior Advisor

Barret is a native of Hazard, KY and a graduate of the University of Kentucky.  Her documentary work has screened at festivals and venues worldwide, including her self-reflexive exploration of issues of media representation, the award winning Stranger With a Camera (2000). Most recently Barret served as Co-Director and Co-Producer on the documentary Portraits and Dreams. Barret’s work is shaped by the history, culture, and social issues of Appalachia.  She is part of the founding generation of Appalshop filmmakers, and as Archive Director she has secured grants for a range of projects that safeguard and improve access to Appalshop’s Archive as well as for initiatives that engage the public in discussion and reflection on shared history. 

Leo Shannon, Collections Manager

Leo Shannon started with the archive in 2020 and works primarily with the archival collections themselves – discovering, cataloging, & facilitating access. Originally from Seattle, Washington, he works in different mediums, including digital video and traditional music, having learned to play as a boy from older musicians around him and from friends his own age who share his interest in American fiddle music. Before moving to Whitesburg, Kentucky, he spent four years in Swannanoa, North Carolina, studying regional history and sound technologies, and exploring the world of archives. 

Past staff acknowledgements

Shawn Lind, Archive Technician: Shawn Lind made major contributions towards improving access to the Archive’s catalog by inventorying the vast film and video collections, managing and performing the digital transfer of obsolete media, and helping to physically stabilize and perform upkeep on the collections.

Dwight Swanson and Chad Hunter, Archivists: The Archive’s first two professional staff archivists, Swanson and Hunter took essential steps in stabilizing the collections by managing construction of a climate-controlled vault and establishing an item-level inventory system. They also established a film preservation program for the organization’s earliest documentaries and musical recordings, and created re-release projects to connect Appalshop works to new audiences.