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!

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. 


Michelle Demers Shaevitz: Canadian Roots Music, Québécois Music and Culture

Celebrating her Canadian roots, Michelle produces the Mission Folk Music Festival and currently serves on the Northwest Folklife board. She lives in West Seattle with her husband and child and produces house concerts when time permits.


Mish Mish: Middle Eastern Folkloric Show

Mish Mish, kneeling in the pink dress, with her daughter, grand daughter and members of Karavans Dance Troupe at the Folklife Festival in 2019.

Mista Chatman: Reggae

Mista Chatman is a Seattle based Reggae fusion artist known world over for blending his Raggamuffin lyrical flow over various forms of music such as Hip Hop, Dub, Jungle, House and Dancehall on recordings and live. He is also know for performing live in places like New York, Canada & London with his self produced ChatAttak Productions beats and soundsystem called "RiddimBox And A Mic".

Learn more on his website here.

Nick Droze: Emerald City Songwriting Circles

Nikkita Oliver: Ringside Slam Poetry/ Creative Justice Culmination

Patrick McMonagle: Folkdance

Founder of the International Folkdance part of Folklife 1971, currently leading the Zwiefacher Session. Have missed only two Folklifes during a career of professional consulting. During that time Patrick seems to have filled most volunteer positions in some way or another, but never on the Board. One day, 1977 he thinks, pre cell phone days, Patrick filled in for the whole radio crew, which did not show. Spent a day of the festival sprinting across the Seattle Center keeping the program more or less intact while a sudden rain storm moved all outdoor stages indoors. You'll see his face on this year's Zwiefacher.

Learn more on his website here.