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!

Carl Copeland: Festival Sundiata "Black Arts Fest"

Festival Sundiata is 40 years young and we intend to celebrate this landmark year with the vibrancy and vigor of a Mardi Gras celebration. New sensibilities are defining the 21st century. Certainly, the most profound convergence between ethnicities, cultures, generations, technology, and media is occurring in the realm of music, art, fashion, and culture. People of all generations from all parts of the world are discovering and/or rediscovering music as a bridge that transcends time and national borders... Over the course of existence, rhythm and blues, jazz, and gospel, artists have seamlessly incorporated aspects of African, Caribbean, Brazilian, Latin, and European music. Festival Sundiata: The Black Arts Fest compresses centuries of cultural expression into a dazzling and universally resonant progression of rhythm, styles, interaction and free location-based entertainment. The Sundiata African American Cultural Association has a strategic plan to expand the festival over the next ten years and set a new paradigm in branded music, arts, and cultural events. Festival Sundiata: The Blacks Arts Fest is the only event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. I've Love to partner with NW Folklife the past several years!

Dean Paton: City of Seattle

Dean has been partner dancing for more than two decades -- not only as a someone who loves most styles of noncompetitive dance, but also as an instructor, dance manager, masquerade-ball impresario and as artistic director of the Valse Café Orchestra, an ensemble that serves up post-modern renditions of dance-hall classics for dancers and other romantics. He works at Seattle's Century Ballroom, Left Foot Boogie, Northwest Dance Network, and he teaches all-ages classes at the Senior Center of West Seattle. Dean dances as both a Lead and a Follow, and has been a Community Coordinator for 20 years? Or thereabouts.


Deepali Jamwal: Indian

Bollywood Dance studio owner, choreographer, instructor and a mom



DENNIS CALDIROLA: Native Italians and Italian-Americans

Dennis Caldirola has been the director of the Italian Festival at Seattle Center for the past 29 years although his "night job" is as Benefit Auctioneer raising money for nonprofits up and down the West Coast. Dennis was born in Miles City, Montana, a few short months after his parents immigrated from Italy, so he still retains Italian citizenship. He became a professional musician at the age of sixteen and continued to play in bands in both the US and Italy for nearly twenty years. He is a graduate of Seattle Prep and has a BFA from Seattle University. Some of the occupations he has had since college include radio announcer and deejay, disco deejay, songwriter, music publishing executive, Assistant Cruise Director for Princess Cruises, and Deputy Cruise Director for Sundance Cruises.


Dina Trageser: Balkan / Eastern Europe

Dina has been active in the Balkan music community in Seattle since 1999. She is the founder and director of Dunava, a women's vocal ensemble, and has performed with local Balkan dance bands Osem i Devet, the Macedonian All-Stars, and Orkestar RTW. Dina serves on the boards of the Radost Folk Ensemble and Balkan Festivals Northwest, which organizes the annual music camp Balkanalia in Portland. As an administrator of a popular mailing list and several community Facebook groups and Pages, she loves connecting people and groups with events related to East European music and culture.

Don Meyers

Don Meyers: Scandinavian Folk Dance and Music

Teaching, performing, and participating in Scandinavian folk music and dance for more than 50 years. Current member and past president of the Skandia Folkdance Society, which was part of the first Folklife Festival. Also, past member of Aman Folk Ensemble, Westwind Folk Ensemble, Los Rancheros (Mexican folklorico), UCLA Yugoslav Folkdancers, and Betyarok Hungarian Dancers


Edgardo Garcia-Galicia

Edgardo Garcia-Galicia: Mexican/Mexican American (Latino)

Edgardo moved to the United States at the age of 22 on a journey toward better opportunities in a new world, carrying his culture, heritage and memories with him. He has built a home in Seattle and built with community. Edgardo, who is a silk screen artist and sign maker, became a volunteer for the Dia de Muertos decoration committee in 2003. He became the committee chair in 2014. Edgardo supports local artists, and other local Organizations and Cultural Festivals such as Northwest Folklife. As representative of the Dia de Muertos Committee Seattle, and as an individual he is dedicated to getting resources out to the community at large.

Eduardo Mendonça: Brazilian

Eduardo Mendonça has played, composed, and directed various genres of Brazilian popular music in the US, Canada, Nepal and Brazil since. A native of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Eduardo has performed for notable personalities, including the 14th Dalai Lama, Pope John Paul II, and former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, and he was featured in the PBS American Masters documentary, Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time. 

Learn more on his website here.

Elias Bullock: The PNW Gospel Music Community

30+ years in Music Ministry.

An accomplished composer, director, teacher, and activist, who still considers himself a student of music. Since the age of 9 Elias’ resume has continued to grow and includes accomplishments in studio production, musical theater, artist development and service planning. He has done live and studio recordings with numerous local artists, live performances with a variety of national artist, mentored national contest winners, participated in a variety of community projects and has served as Music Director on countless works. He has faithfully served as a Music Director at the New Covenant Christian Center Church for over 15 years. In 2005, He Co-Founded the University Presbyterian Church Gospel Choir and currently serves as the Director.