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!

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

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.


Lucy Fei: Latin Dance - Salsa/Bachata

Creator of one of the longest running bachata team and bachata social in Seattle, Lucy has been a passionate dancer and organizer in the Latin Dance community. She also loves teaching children how to move their hips including her 3 year old daughter.


Mary Ohno

Mary Ohno: Japanese Community

Mary Mariko Ohno was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan and is fluent in both Japanese and English. She has studied classical Japanese dance for 60 years and earned the professional license and its title of "Hanayagi Fumiryu" in July 1966. She has also studied classical Japanese music, "Naga-uta style shamisen", for 45 years and earned the professional license and its title of "Kine-ie Yanacho" in March 1974.




Melody Xie, the founder and director of the Melody Institute, has been teaching Chinese Mandarin language and dance in Washington state for over two decades. She is promoting culture and arts in the area. Melody has taught thousands students in the US and choreographed over a hundred dances in both China and the US. Prior to the Institute, Melody co-founded the Chinese language program at Lakeside School where she taught Mandarin. She has also taught Chinese courses at the Colleges in the state. In 2006, the Ethnic Heritage Council awarded her the Gordon Ekvall Tracie Award for her significant contributions to the development and promotion of traditional arts in the PNW community. She also received awards from FCC (Families with Children from China, NW) and the other organizations for her contribution. With over 40 years of experience in Chinese dance, Melody began her career as a dancer in China. She has since been active as a choreographer and instructor. She choreographed all the dances that her students perform.