Introducing Our New Director!

The Alabama Folk School's new Director, Lisa Marie Ryder, with her husband, James Ryder.

The Alabama Folk School's new Director, Lisa Marie Ryder, with her husband, James Ryder.

Camp McDowell's new certified Facility Dog, Dolly.

Camp McDowell's new certified Facility Dog, Dolly.


We are very pleased to introduce our new Director of the Alabama Folk School, Lisa Marie Ryder. Lisa Marie and her husband, James, come to Camp McDowell via Camp Latgawa where they served as the Co-Directors of the year-round Episcopal camp and retreat center located in Southern Oregon. 

Lisa Marie was formed and transformed as a camper and staff member at Waycross Episcopal Camp in Indiana. With an undergraduate degree in Art and graduate degree in Museum Education, Lisa Marie was a teaching artist and museum educator in some of the world's finest arts institutions, including The Phillips Collection (Washington, D.C.), The National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia), and Kroeller-Mueller Museum (Otterlo, The Netherlands). She also served as the manager for The National Children's Museum's outreach division where she coordinated the museum's annual participation in events like The White House Easter Egg Roll and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. 

James grew up camping at Camp Caroline on the North Carolina Coast. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Social Science Secondary Education and went on to teach high school social studies in Southern Appalachia. James later earned a Master of Professional Studies in Political Management and worked in Washington, D.C. both on Capitol Hill and in political non-profits. James is an alumnus of Appalachian State University's Outdoor Programs and has worked extensively in outdoor education coordinating high adventure programming for children and adults in both for- and non-profit camps. 

We are also pleased to introduce, Dolly, a Certified Facility Dog who will come to work at Camp McDowell with James and Lisa Marie. Dolly was bred and raised to be a working dog by Canine Angels Service Teams-a non-profit that trains service dogs for children with disabilities. Dolly participated in 18-months of residential training to prepare to work in a camp and retreat center environment. James, Lisa Marie, and Dolly graduated from the Canine Angels Service Teams program in June 2014. Dolly will join James and Lisa Marie at Camp McDowell to provide emotional and therapeutic benefits to guests and staff.