Northwest Folklife Board & Staff

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Left to right, Top Row: Karen Shaw, Mike Richardson, Michelle Demers Shaevitz,  Don Morgan, Jabi Shriki
Bottom Row: Harvey Niebulski, Rafael Maslan, Selena Whitaker-Paquiet ,David Greenspan, Luther Black
Not shown: Ryan Davis, Karen White, Evan Woods,  Brian Robertson, Danielle Stephenson, Latha Sambamurti

 

Rafael Maslan, President
Licensed Massage Therapist

Luther Black, Past President
Marine Environmental Analyst

Evan Woods,Vice President
Labor Union Researcher/Organizer

Ryan Davis, Treasurer
Director of Business & Operations, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Musician/Songwriter

Michael Richardson, Secretary
Professor of Radiology, University of Washington

Michelle Demers Shaevitz, Arts Manager and Festival Organizer

David Greenspan, Attorney at Law (Private Practice)

Don Morgan, Retired Hospitality Manager

Harvey Niebulski, M.D., Diagnostic Radiologist, Washington Permanente Medical Group

Brian Robertson, Historical consultant

Latha Sambamurti, Washington State Arts Commissioner, Artistic Director of Cultural Festivals, Community Leader, Performing Artist & Educator

Karen Shaw, Psychologist, Cultural Organization Leader

Jabi E. Shriki, Associate Professor of Radiology, University of Washington; Musician/Community Organizer

Danielle Stephenson

Selena Whitaker-Paquiet, Actor, Musician, Songwriter, Producer, Comic; Intellectual Property Paralegal

Northwest Folklife is an independent nonprofit which produces the annual Northwest Folklife Festival and other year-round programming in order to strengthen communities through arts and culture.


STAFF

DIRECTORS

Kelli Faryar
Executive Artistic Director | kelli@nwfolklife.org
Kelli’s love for music was infused in her as a young child as she listened to her father and grandmother’s beloved jazz albums. From the age of 15, she has been playing guitar, singing, and drumming, weaving from genre to genre. Kelli was appointed as Northwest Folklife’s Executive Artistic Director in August 2017 after a ten-year tenure. Kelli expanded programming with the addition of the Indie Roots program, the annual Seattle Children’s Festival, Our Big Neighborhood year-round program, and the launch of the Youth Residency. Kelli oversees Northwest Folklife’s annual Cultural Focus program, which showcases diverse community groups from the Pacific Northwest and explores important cultural topics in depth. Past Cultural Focus programs she has produced explore Mexican American and Chicana/o Roots (2018), Festál Turns 20 (2017), The Power of the Human Voice through Song (2016), and traditional roots of Hip-Hop culture in the Northwest (2015). During her time at Northwest Folklife, Kelli has focused on cultivating close partnerships with over 100 cultural and artistic communities and bringing new and evolving communities to the organization. She is passionate about creating larger platforms for expression that can empower cultural communities to showcase and preserve their evolving traditions. “I live out my folklife through sharing the stories of my family’s immigration to South San Francisco with my sons, cooking my Pop’s famous Italian recipes, celebrating the Persian holidays with my husband and singing, singing, singing my most beloved songs all day long.”

 

Reese Tanimura 
Managing Director | reese@nwfolklife.org
Reese is a fourth generation Japanese American who was born on the island of O’ahu and raised between Hawaii and Illinois. Her passion for music was ignited the moment she began playing the ukulele and has grown steadily through numerous instruments and genres. Reese now serves as the Managing Director of Northwest Folklife, a sublime fusion of her personal endeavors with the organizational vision of ‘Strengthening communities through arts and culture.’ Since 2008, Reese has been the Music Director of Rain City Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece all female/non-binary Big Band ensemble. She is a founding member of the urban folkgrass group, Lavender Lucy, and plays guitar in the all-female Nirvana tribute band, Heart Shaped Boxes. Reese earned a BA in Music Education from the University of Illinois and a certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Washington. She currently serves as Chair of the Seattle Music Commission with a deep commitment to making our City of Music a thriving and sustainable ecosystem for artists and industry alike and holding racial equity as the standard for progress. “My folklife is rooted the spirit of Aloha and the vibrant culture of the indigenous Hawaiian peoples that has been graciously shared with me, the wisdom passed from my family and ancestors, and the strength of the female trailblazers in blues, jazz and rock ‘n roll that have shaped my values of community, compassion and creativity.”

 

FESTIVAL PRODUCTION & OPERATIONS

Michael Chandler
Festival & Production Director | mike@nwfolklife.org
Chandler has referred to himself as a professional enabler for the past 17 years. What started as throwing house parties and college concerts in Tacoma, then blossomed into a career in entertainment. Over the years, Chandler has managed mall openings, large-scale corporate parties, and large rock ‘n roll shows, but always finds his way back to Folklife. As the Festival Director, he enjoys solving the puzzles of our programming, from working with the Seattle Center on an endlessly-changing campus, to helping specific communities realize their vision for what they would like to achieve at our festival. “When I’m not working at Folklife, I try to visit my homeland of Oahu as often as possible, and catch and release all the fish I can find along the way.”

 

Annie O’Dowd
Operations Manager, Production Manager & Technical Director | anne@nwfolklife.org
Annie has been planning festivals and events in Seattle and internationally for over ten years in a variety of capacities. She has been the Production and Operations Manager and Technical Director at Northwest Folklife since 2012.

 

Katie McColgan
Sponsor/Merchant Coordinator | katie@nwfolklife.org
Katie joined the Northwest Folklife team in 2014 after relocating to Seattle to pursue a career working with arts nonprofits. As Folklife’s Sponsor and Merchant Coordinator, Katie enjoys building partnerships with local, regional and national companies and artisans to highlight and celebrate the cultural traditions showcased at Northwest Folklife events. In addition to working with Northwest Folklife, Katie works as the project manager for several local festivals, as well as traveling around the country to assist with larger productions. “In my spare time, I enjoy exploring the Pacific Northwest and putting new twists on baking recipes passed down from my mother and grandmother.”

 

DEVELOPMENT

Christina Kourteva, CFRE
Development Director | christinak@nwfolklife.org
Christina has a lifelong passion for the use of arts as a tool of empowerment and social change. For the past 10 years, she has used her experience in fundraising and communications to aid leading arts and culture organizations including Frye Art Museum, Spectrum Dance Theater, KCTS 9 (PBS), Symphony Space, and P.O.V. Christina is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. “Northwest Folklife combines my passion for music, performing arts, and social justice. I love the opportunity to raise funds for an iconic American institution that creates a safe place for diverse community groups to celebrate their art, music, and heritage all-year-round. When I am not fundraising, you can find me watching documentary films, playing piano, and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest in an old VW bus.”

 

Natalie Meek
Development Coordinator | natalie@nwfolklife.org
Natalie is a passionate art and music lover who has worked for Seattle-based organizations such as KEXP 90.3 and Seattle Theatre Group. In addition to music and the arts, Natalie has a strong curiosity for language and cultural studies. She received a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and in Instrumental Music from the University of Washington. Blending her two passions, Natalie now coordinates Northwest Folklife’s year-round development and fundraising efforts. “I could not think of a more relevant way to apply two of my deepest interests; arts and culture. Northwest Folklife provides a canvas for all to celebrate, showcase, and share our region’s diverse cultural traditions and I find this not only inspiring but profoundly important in an increasingly globalized world. I continue to live out my folklife through playing violin and piano, learning new instruments, and practicing the French language.”

 

PROGRAMMING

Anna Buxton
Programs Coordinator | anna@nwfolklife.org

With a strong background in developing programs and connecting audiences to the arts, Anna has worked with organizations and schools such as the Seattle Art Museum, Missoula Art Museum, Southern New Hampshire University, and the University of Montana where she received a Masters in Art History. From multidisciplinary dance parties to artist lectures and panels, she loves developing engaging ways for audiences to connect with art. She brings this passion to Folklife as the Program Coordinator, where she helps to develop community showcases and Visual Arts exhibitions at the Northwest Folklife Festival, as well as youth and family programming through the Our Big Neighborhood program. “I’m honored to be part of a team which empowers artists of all ages, and celebrates the arts, culture, and evolving traditions of the region. It’s truly a community-driven organization and I’m constantly in awe at the breadth of work that is produced each year. When I’m not at Folklife, you can usually find me wandering the galleries of local art museums, running through the streets of Seattle with my dog Tasha, or scaring myself silly in the midst of a horror movie marathon.”

 

Vanessa Bankson
Performer Relations Coordinator | vanessa@nwfolklife.org
Vanessa’s passion for live music encouraged her to start volunteering at organizations such as Seattle Living Room Shows/Seattle Secret Shows, Bumbershoot and Northwest Folklife while finishing up her Bachelor’s degree in Communications at the University of Washington. While Vanessa was finishing her last year of college, she started an internship at Northwest Folklife as the programming intern, which turned into the beginning of her year-round position as the Performer Relations Coordinator. “What makes Northwest Folklife incredibly awesome is how every year is packed with great new artists, cool crafts, and tasty food. I love working and living in a place where there is consistently something unique and exciting to discover! In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, hiking and spending time with my family.”

 

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

April Jingco
Communications Coordinator | april@nwfolklife.org
With her deep passion for arts and culture, April has been involved with organizations such as Seattle Theatre Group, Sub Pop and the Museum of Pop Culture. During her studies at Seattle University, she led the content development of KXSU 102.1 FM while assisting in marketing for local artists including Hollis Wong Wear, The Flavr Blue, Sassyblack and Iska Dhaaf. With a Bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communications, April now coordinates Northwest Folklife’s year-round marketing and communications. “My love for Northwest Folklife stems from its work in providing opportunities for our greater community to celebrate this diverse world we live in. When I am not working, I continue to live out my ‘folklife’ through cooking traditional Filipino food, attending youth arts events and lovingly speaking in my native tongue.”

 

VOLUNTEERS & ADMINISTRATION

Xaviera Vandermay
Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator | volunteers@nwfolklife.org
With her passion and experience in the art of dance, Xaviera has joined the Folklife team as the Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator. She has previously served as the Project Manager for Velocity Dance Center’s Capital Facilities Improvements as well as the Velocity’s Office + Operations Manager. When she is not working,  Xaviera runs 3rd Shift Dance and 3rd Shift Dance Youth Ensemble, while also producing the dance event, “’Battle for the Dance Belt.” “Northwest Folklife’s focus on celebrating the many different cultural groups that are the fabric of the Pacific Northwest is such important and joyous work. I can’t imagine a better place to expand my worldview and to better inform myself as an artist and as a person.”

 

FINANCE

Judy Terreberry
Finance Director | judy@nwfolklife.org
I think the world is a better place because of organizations like Folklife! I spend my spare time playing violin with Philharmonia Northwest, working with Chamber Music Madness, and quilting.

 

Beth Schlansky
Accounting Assistant | beth@nwfolklife.org
Beth had been involved with Northwest Folklife almost since its beginning. She started performing at the Festival in 1976, then started volunteering soon after. After being invited to join the staff in 1992 in Festival Services,  Beth worked the Festival weekend until Festival Services was retired in 2016. After retiring from a corporate job in 2001, she wandered into the Folklife office and offered to volunteer on a year-round basis. That led to several jobs at Folklife in various departments over the years; the first as an Assistant Volunteer Coordinator in 2002, and the latest as an Accounting Assistant in the Accounting department where she has served over the last three years. “As a long-time folk dancer, my passion for folk dance and music, as well as classical music, keeps me living the folklife on a daily basis.”

 

Marla Roberts
Accounting Assistant | marla@nwfolklife.org
Marla is a part of the finance and accounting team as the A/P and Payroll go-to girl. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest Marla has spent her life pursuing her passion for dance. “I love how Northwest Folklife brings our community together. “When I’m not working here, I live out my folklife by attending dance performances, taking the occasional ballet class, going salsa dancing, traveling, and baking cookies.”


CONSULTANTS

Phil O’Sullivan
Sponsorships | phil@nwfolklife.org

 

Devon Leger | Hearth Music / Hearth PR
PR and Media Relations |devon@hearthmusic.com