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.
“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 Olivas – Mexican 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!
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 www.JamtownLive.com
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.
Juan Pablo Paredes: City of Seattle
For the celebration of the art and culture, as well as preservation of the heritage of the Philippines, Juan Pablo (JP) Paredes has been very involved with the planning and coordinating the annual Pagdiriwang Philippine Festival, one of the 24 ethnic festivals of the Festal Program of Seattle Center, and with his more than 20 years of participation in producing Pagdiriwang, he has improved the event's quality of programming by adding more events. With more than 29 years of service at the University of Washington, JP has served as the Executive Assistant to the late Dr. Stephen M Schwartz of the Department of Pathology, and currently as an Assistant to Dr. Davis G. Patterson of Family Medicine. JP is the President of the Filipino Cultural Heritage Society of Washington, the organization that produces the annual Pagidiriwang Philippine Festival, as well as the President of the Greater Washington Alpha Phi Omega.
Learn more on his website here.
Kathy Bruni: International Folk Dance
Kathy is the community coordinator for the international folk dance at Northwest Folklife Festival and a supporting member of the Festival.
She has participated in many forms of folk and social dance, as well as square dance, belly dance, ballroom, vintage dance, Charleston, tap, and flamenco.
In addition to dancing socially, she has performed with the Savoy Swing Club dance troupe, the Seaside Pavilion Historic dance troupe, and Enzian Schuhplattler Bavarian dancers.
Kathy edits the newsletters of Skandia, Northwest Folk Dancers, Inc., the National Folk Organization, and the Seattle Folklore Society, and manages publicity and costuming for Enzian Schuhplattler.
Learn more on her website here.
Katrina Ji: India
Katrina Ji, Artistic Director of Culture Shakti Dance Company & Rajasthani Caravan
She has appeared on several TV programs in India & the USA in addition to podcasts and magazines. She has performed with some of the worlds most famous dancers!
Katrina Ji tours internationally with Rajasthani Caravan and teaches dance online.
She specializes in Bollywood Fusion, Rajasthani Folk Dance & Bhangra.
Call 206-322-9500 or email to contact her for performances, workshops or group lessons.
Latha Sambamurti: Indian, Asian, Asia-Pacific
Latha Sambamurti is the producer and Artistic, Outreach and Development Director of several large-scale arts and culture festivals in the State of Washington. She is a Board Member of Northwest Folklife, a Director of Northwest Share, a Redmond Arts and Culture Commissioner, an educator, trained musician, and band leader. She won the Kirkland Performance Center’s You Rock award for community service. She has been a Washington State Arts Commissioner. She serves as a board director for several state and regional cultural organizations. She holds a master’s degree in English Literature.
Learn more on her website here.
Levi Fuller: Jack Straw Cultural Center
Levi has been the Administrative Coordinator at Jack Straw Cultural Center since 2008, overseeing many aspects of their day-to-day operations, including managing their artist residency programs and coordinating showcases and programs with Folklife. He also acts as a teaching artist, writing songs inspired by elementary students’ poetry. Levi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art, he writes and performs original music, and is the founder and editor of the music compilation series Ball of Wax Audio Quarterly.
Lila Kitaeff Lakehart (they/them pronouns)
Lila Kitaeff Lakehart (they/them pronouns): KUOW's RadioActive Youth Media
Born and raised in Seattle, Lila Lakehart has been a youth media educator since 2003. Formerly a lead staff member at Reel Grrls, they are now Program Manager for KUOW's RadioActive Youth Media. They have led youth media programs for organizations including Adobe Youth Voices, Native Lens, Reel Queer Youth, and a program for young women in Nairobi. Lila is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, a founding member of the Seattle Independent Media Center’s video collective, and an advisory board member for the Rainier Valley’s KVRU. Lila is also co-host of a funk show that has aired on KBCS since 2004.