Northwest Folklife

Meet Our Community Coordinators

Central to the values of Northwest Folklife is for communities to have voice and agency in the representation of their cultural expressions. More than 150+ Community Coordinators, including prominent artists, educators, culture bearers, and leaders throughout the region work closely with Northwest Folklife throughout the year to collaborate and co-create programs including the Northwest Folklife Festival as well as the annual Cultural Focus and Our Big Neighborhood youth and family program. These relationships are an integral part of our mission and vision. “As the lifeblood of all Northwest Folklife programs, our relationships with Community Coordinators, are the heart and soul of the organization,” says Northwest Folklife Executive Artistic Director, Kelli Faryar.

Adrian Olivas | By Christopher Nelson

“Being a Community Coordinator for Northwest Folklife means a lot to me because it gives me an opportunity to make a connection between regional Mexican folk groups and Folklife. It gives every artist involved the opportunity to meet each other and share a stage but most importantly, we get to build new relationships. I have been performing with Folklife with Bailadores de Bronce for about twenty-two years and, as a performer, it is something we always look forward to. Now, I have been able to share experiences and introduce new organizations to the Folklife family.”- from Community Coordinator, Adrian OlivasMexican Folklórico Community, Executive Director of Bailadores de Bronce, Alum Cultural Focus Member of Echoes of Aztlan and Beyond.

Northwest Folklife is curated in collaboration with Community Coordinators. Thank you to these amazing leaders!

206 Zulu: Hip Hop and Youth Arts

206 Zulu is a Seattle-based community organization, established in 2004, that uses Hip Hop culture and the arts as platforms for community service, education and empowerment.

Over the years, 206 Zulu’s diverse membership expanded throughout the Pacific Northwest and a wide array of programs flourished to include free and all-ages events, concerts, festivals, parades, dance competitions, workshops, classes, conferences, multimedia programs, and more.

206 Zulu’s efforts in Hip Hop organizing and community service has been spotlighted in Seattle Times, Real Change News, City Arts Magazine and recognized with awards by the City of Seattle, the State of Washington, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to name a few. 206 Zulu’s model of organizing helped inspire similar organizations around the United States and the world.


Adrian Olivas: Mexican, Mexican American

Adrian Olivas has been a dancer at Bailadores De Bronce since the summer of 1996. Since then he has performed with the group all over the Northwest. He has also been part of performances at folklorico and mariachi conferences such as the Mariachi Northwest Festival, the Tucson International Mariachi Festival and Danzantes Unidos and other important festivals such as Folklife. Mr. Olivas became the Director of Bailadores de Bronce on April of 2012 at their 40th anniversary at Meany Hall at the University of Washington. With support of the Board of Directors and the Dancers he has worked to educate the local community about Mexican dance and customs .


Alisa Lahti

Alisa Lahti: Polish

I was born and raised in Seattle, Washington in a large Polish-American family and community where I was exposed to and immersed in various traditions. I have a great appreciation for keeping cultural traditions alive while also reinterpreting them with contemporary influences. Personally, this can be seen in my artwork using hand cut paper, in my workshops teaching folk arts to others, and as the Director of Polish Festival Seattle since 2015. I love Folklife have been going for as long as I can remember!


Andreea Isac

Andreea Isac: Romanians in Seattle

Andreea grew up in a Romanian town, within a family passionate about folklore and since a small child she learnt to love and live through all the dimensions of this heritage: authentic clothing, ancient peasant style decorating arts and crafts, thousands years old stories and myths, lively folk music and dance.

In 2005, Andreea packed all these treasures in her heart to bring with her to Seattle, where she discovered countless new cultures, all offering immense beauty and richness.

After a few years of exploring and learning other dance traditions (like Irish, Balkan, Middle Eastern and Asian), in 2013 Andreea founded together with Ioana Pop the “Datina Folk Ensemble”, a Seattle-based non-profit that presents on stage a unique blend of Romanian folklore arts: music, dance, theater, customs and rituals.


Ann Suter

Ann Suter: Fiber artists

Past board member, advisory member and continuing member of the finance committee. Helped initiate the Fiber Arts Booth with consummate fiber artist Jill Green. We invite artists from a variety of craft/arts. Fiber art is a style of fine art which uses textiles such as fabric, yarn, and natural and synthetic fibers. It focuses on the materials and on the manual labor involved as part of its significance. They demonstrate their art making and share their experieces with tools and processes for arts such as weaving, embroidery, crochet, lace making and tatting, knitting, quilt making, macrame and many other forms of using fibers to make art.

Bernice Maslan: The Jewish community

Bernice has lived in Seattle since 1972 and has attended Folklife every year since 1973. When her kids were little, they were groupies for the Mazeltones. Once Bernice started playing the clarinet in 2001, she became interested in playing klezmer music also. She has often attended klezmer camps such as KlezCalifornia and KlezKanada. In non-Covid times, she runs a community klezmer jam and band called Klez Chaos and play in the Ballard Sedentary Sousa Band, the SANCApators, the Washington State Letter Carriers Band. Bernice loves Folklife and served on its board for about ten years. She is also an avid dancer, including contra, folk and swing.

Learn more on her website here.

bob barnes

Bob Barnes: Labor & The Progressive Community

I've been part of putting on the Labor Showcase at NWFL for more years than I can remember. This past pandemic year i have devoted my energy to helping produce BLM events, and working with the Seattle Labor Chorus. The Chorus has continued to function in spite of COVID, conducting weekly virtual rehearsals, releasing several recordings and serving the community as best we can, We have made our recordings available to unions and other community organizations to help keep the cultural component of the movement alive.

Brenda Goldstein-Young: KNKX Public Radio

KNKX is an ambassador for jazz and blues, and a vital source of quality, non-commercial news, including NPR and regional coverage. The KNKX programming staff are storytellers who reach deeply into the community to reflect the voices of our people, our region and beyond. KNKX is funded by a loyal community of listeners who value the station’s independence.

Brenda is the Director of Community Outreach and Events for KNKX Public Radio, overseeing all of the station's events (virtual and in-person), sponsorships and community partnerships, and KNKX's music education program, School of Jazz. She also coordinates KNKX's studio sessions with national and local jazz and blues musicians.


Bruce P Baker: Participatory Folk Singing

Been involved with Seattle Song Circle since 1981, Director of RainyCamp folk singing weekend for 20+ years, Director Seattle Folklore Society 30 years. Singer, musician, songwriter. My passion is to get people singing together