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!

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.

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.

Jaydeen Keliihoomalu Robinson: Native Hawaiian

Hālau Mission: To preserve and perpetuate the art of Hula through the teachings and styling of Maʻiki Aiu Lake.


Jerin Falkner

Jerin Falkner: Singer/Songwriters

For 19 years, I’ve been part of the Seattle/Tacoma music scene. I started performing original songs at open mics when I was in college and could often be found busking at Pike’s Place Market on the weekends. Thanks to the incredible community I discovered through music, I went on to write, record, and release four albums. I toured the United States, starred in a commercial, and had a song placed in a short film. My life has been a wonderful adventure so far, and I have loved being the Singer/Songwriter Community Coordinator for the last ten years.


John Hayden: Seattle World Percussion Society and friends

As a long-time volunteer for the non-profit Seattle World Rhythm Society, John programs the NW Folklife Rhythm Tent and the First Thursday Drum in Lake City (virtual since Covid.) John is a Village Music Circles certified trainer of facilitated drum circles, teaches a weekly hand drum class (virtual since Covid) and plays original songs for family music classes for ages 2-5. His company Jamtown imports rhythm instruments working directly with low income artisans on 3 continents. Learn more at

Learn more on his website here.

Joyce Paul Siamak: Socially Conscious Artists Foundation

SCARF was found by Dr. Joyce K Paul to imbue social change through the performing arts. Last year our focus was mental health and this year it is assimilation. Our mission is to create and foster art that brings awareness around social issues to galvanize change.

Learn more on their website here.