Who's who in IOV?
Read the profiles of our IOV core members below.
IOV Executive Committee
Ali Abdullah Khalifa - President
A Bahraini writer, poet, researcher and cultural enthusiast, Ali Abdullah 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. In November 2016, he was elected IOV President .
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.
Marcel J. Oelbrandt - Secretary General
Marcel Oelbrandt lives in Belgium and is busy with Folk Art almost fifty years. He joined folk dance group Drieske Nijpers in 1967 and was leader of the group (1974-1981) who performed in more than 30 countries around the world.
Marcel is President of the Flemish Community of Folk Art, a federation of folklore groups who is member of IOV since 1987. Many Belgian Folklore groups went abroad and had good experiences on IOV-festivals all over the World. In this field he is working together with Etienne Vankeirsbilck, co-founder of IOV.
The last 10 years of his active carrier, Marcel worked as staff assistant for The Flemish Institute of Folk Art (IVV). This institute is working on folklore dances, traditional music and costumes and the institute is accredited as NGO by Unesco. As staff assistant of IVV he joined a group of IOV members on the 2009 First Global Forum on Protection of Endangered Cultural Heritage in Jiuzhaigou, China, and he was present at the sessions of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Unesco in Nairobi, Kenia (2010), Bali, Indonesia (2011) and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2016).
In 2012 Marcel Oelbrandt was candidate for the office of Secretary General at the General Assemble of IOV in Prague. In September 2013 he became Regional Executive Secretary (RES) for Western Europe.
At the General Assembly in November 2016 in Bergamo (Italy), Marcel Oelbrandt was elected as Secretary-General of IOV.
Hans J. Holz - Vice-President
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.
Emma Chen Hoefler - Vice-President
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
Henk Huijser - Treasurer
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.
Fabrizio Cattaneo - Secretary
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.
Geert Nijhof - Festivals & Practices Commission Chair
Since 1985 Geert has been active in the International Folkloristic Dance festival SIVO in the Netherlands.
In the period between 1990 and 2005 he was the President of the SIVO festival and he has learned to collaborate with many folklore organizations in the whole world.
Since 2005 Geert was working as a freelance (voluntary worker) impresario for the SIVO-festival and in this task he tried to arrange a lot of Cultural exchanges between countries. He was active for many other festivals too.
It’s his goal to keep alive the traditional heritage of all nations and to improve the well understanding between nations by organizing festivals and other activities.
Therefore it’s necessary to work on a well-organized network of people with the same feelings and interest in cultural traditional exchanges.
From the beginning of the section IOV-Netherlands (1993) Geert is registered as an individual member of IOV.
In March of the year 2012 he has been elected as the President of IOV-section Netherlands and he is proud on the collaboration of the collected IOV-organizations in the Netherlands.
Geert tries to contribute the IOV-organization world-wide and he wants to be helpful in improving and keeping a healthy and active IOV-world.
In the new Festival and Practices commission of IOV-world he hopes to collaborate with a lot of new people who can contribute with him in order to improve our worldwide Festival coordination.