James Counts Early was born in Ocala, Florida in 1947. Early served at the Smithsonian as a folklore consultant and acting administrator the African Diaspora Folklife Festival Program before assuming the position of Assistant Secretary for Public Service at the Institution. It was in this executive position that Early supported the creation of the Jerusalem Project under the Smithsonian aegis. Early has also served as associate professor at Antioch College, Washington, D.C. and researcher at Howard University’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Early became the producer, writer and host of Ten Minutes Left, a weekly radio show on WHUR-FM. He hosted this program for five years while working at the National Endowment for the Humanities as a humanist administrator. Early is currently the director of cultural heritage policy at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.