Northwest Folkife

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!

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.

Elinor Mackenzie Vandegrift: Scottish Country Dance

Elinor Mackenzie Vandegrift has been involved with Scottish Country Dance events at the NWFolklife Festival since 1977. She is a member of the Seattle Branch of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society which is headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland. Over the years she has danced on demonstration teams, organized performances and conducted workshops. She has helped coordinate SCD events involving other Scottish performance groups. Fun, fitness and friendship is the mantra of the dancers.

Francisca Garcia: South Seattle

I am a cultural consultant with Machtia Organization . I have done work with Centro de la Raza, SeaMar Museum , Rainer Art Center in Columbia City . I have worked with Joyas Mestizas and Bailadores de Bronce Mexican Dance Groups.

Harvey Niebulski

Harvey Niebulski: Jewish Music / Klezmer Music / Yiddish Song

Harvey is a longtime NW Folklife Board member, co-curator of the Jewish Show and klezmer musician who also sings & teaches Yiddish songs.

He plays with his local bands Orkestyr Farfeleh, Duo Rymanow, and The Klez Katz.

Yiddish is Harvey's first language - it's extraordinarily colorful and remains his favorite.

He grew up among Eastern European immigrants in the Bronx and enjoys speaking and studying anything associated with Yiddish language & Jewish culture and its rich traditional musical, artistic and literary heritage.


Infinity: Sistas Rock the Arts

Ioana Pop: Romanian

Ioana grew up in a small village in Romania, where folk dancing is still accompanying every celebration even today. She found in Seattle another village, slightly bigger and more diverse, but just as eager to share the joy of a "horă", a popular circle dance. Together with Andrea Isac she founded in 2013 Datina Folk Ensemble, who's been performing Romanian folk dances up and down the West Coast ever since.

Learn more on her website here.

Izumi Fairbanks

Izumi Fairbanks: Turkish

Izumi Fairbanks grew up in Turkey and Japan, and began studying traditional folk music after moving to the US. She has traveled to Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece and New York to study percussion and string instruments (tupan/davul, doli, kemence, gudulka, panduri, baglama) as well as singing and folk dancing.