NORTHWEST FOLKLIFE 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

Annie O’Dowd
Director of Production & Operations | anne@nwfolklife.org

Annie has been planning festivals and events in Seattle and internationally for over fifteen years in a variety of capacities.

Michael Chandler
Festival Manager | 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.”

Monica Griffin
Festival Operations Coordinator | production@nwfolklife.org

Monica comes to Folklife from a six-year background in Seattle’s events world and owning and operating her own event. She credits connections made at the City of Seattle’s City of Music Career Day in 2014 as the start of her career. Drawing from volunteer and work experiences, in 2017 Monica and a classmate created BAMF!, Bellingham Arts & Music Festival, an overnight performance and arts festival, for their senior project at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Arts in Bellingham, WA. Monica lives out her 'folklife' by engaging in flow and circus arts, attending and creating live music experiences, and talking the ear off of anyone who mentions 20th-century sociopolitical resistance movements in the arts. She studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in 2015 where she absorbed their rich culture of musical and artistic resistance like a sponge!

SPONSORSHIP & MERCHANTS

Gaylynn Kiser
Corporate & Media Relations Coordinator | gaylynn@nwfolklife.org

Gaylynn’s love for the arts was fueled by growing up in a musical family and exploring cultural diversity in her world travels. She has an extensive background in sponsorship, promotions, and business development and has held leadership positions at One Reel, SXSW Music, Film & Interactive Festivals, RCA Records, and Pecan Street Music & Arts Festival. In the role of Northwest Folklife’s Corporate & Media Relations Coordinator, Gaylynn combines her appreciation for the arts with many years of experience in generating incremental corporate revenue, partner amplification, and relationship-building. “With my strong passion for multidisciplinary arts and culture, I’m absolutely thrilled to be on the NW Folklife team and have the opportunity to apply my learned and natural aptitudes in support of showcasing our community’s diverse cultural traditions. When I’m not in the office, or at a music showcase, or an art event, I live out my folklife by cooking food from the various countries I have lived in. Or, you can find me chilling out with Kooda, my chi-weenie.”

Katie McColgan
Merchant & Sponsorship 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 Merchant & Sponsor 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.”

PROGRAMMING

Anna Buxton
Programs Lead | 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.

Julie Chang Schulman
Programs Coordinator | julie@nwfolklife.org

Julie Chang Schulman (Julie-C) has been rapping, rabble-rousing, and organizing in Seattle for over 15 years. After dropping her first EP with Immaculate Flave at the age of 16, she connected with the rich legacy and community of Seattle Hip Hop, joining forces with the venerable Alpha-P crew and later B-Girl Media, 206 Zulu, Hidmo/Cypher Café, and BOC Music. She is a liaison for Seattle Artist Coalition for Equitable Development’s autonomous assembly, and continues to create, perform, and organize whenever the moment calls. When not at Northwest Folklife, Julie can be found wandering the trenches of Seattle’s grassroots underground, recklessly cultivating the intersections of art, culture, and community empowerment. With her own lineage in Northwest Folklife from her childhood days, she is honored to join the Folklife team in these historically definitive times. “Now more than ever, the transformative powers of heritage, art, culture, and creativity are being conjured to ensure a more humane, equitable world,” says Julie, “Such is the long-standing legacy of NW Folklife, and I’m excited to help bring this visionary mission into the future for this city, region, and beyond.”

Sarah Kinney
Performer Relations Coordinator | sarah@nwfolklife.org

After spending all her money and time feeding her music obsession in her late teens and early 20s, it seemed like a natural progression for Sarah to pursue a career in the arts. Since then, she was worked across all aspects of the music industry, from management to PR to ticketing, and with a variety of national and local festivals, including Warped Tour, Volunteer Park Pride Festival, Project Pabst, and Snow Day in Denny Park. It was while working toward her MA in Cultural and Creative Industries from Kings College London that she first became passionate about finding creative ways to link culture and commerce. She began working with Northwest Folklife in 2017 while at Hearth PR, where NWFL was one of her clients. “I attended my first Folklife shortly after moving to Seattle, and quickly fell in love with the mission and culture of the organization. Our region has so many diverse cultural traditions, and at Folklife we can celebrate them all. I live my ‘folklife’ by experiencing new food and cultures through travel, and learning as much as I can about the history and traditions of the Northwest – the region my family has lived in since immigrating to the US a few generations ago.”

Kate McElroy
Youth & Family Programming Intern | programmingintern@nwfolklife.org

Kate is a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University's Folk Studies program, where her love and appreciation for folklife took shape. While there, she was able to dig deep into many aspects of local culture, from bluegrass music and pottery to independent professional wrestling and cookbooks. At Northwest Folklife, Kate is excited to engage young people and families through Our Big Neighborhood, specifically by assisting with the programming for events like Movin' Around the World and the Discovery Zone at the Northwest Folklife Festival. She believes that everyone has folklore, and that initiatives like these do great work in connecting people more strongly to their own identities and to each other. "I live out my folklife by cooking family recipes for shepherd's pie, shoo-fly pie, and sweet cream biscuits, listening to some of my favorite Celtic artists, and (slowly) learning Scottish Gaelic."

Mark "Bacchus" Grenfell
Performer Experience Intern | programming@nwfolklife.org

Mark's first involvement in Seattle’s hip-hop and art scene was with the collective, Alchemy Union, and the “Turntable Sundae” events at The Upstairs in Belltown. Their artwork has displayed at Blue Cone Studios, Cafe Red, and The Central Saloon. At Cafe Red, they hosted monthly events, ‘Phonetic Aesthetic’ - combining beat-makers and live painters, to inspire attendees to create paintings of their own. At Folklife, Mark communicates with artists, compiling necessary performance requirements to make artists' schedules as efficient as possible. “I live out my folklife by bridging the gap between potential artists and established artists - I believe that every human has the capacity for artistic expression, but may lack that initial spark of finding their inner muse that informs their self-expression - I am driven daily to awaken this eye of introspection in others.”

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS

April Jingco
Marketing & Communications Lead | 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.”

Swaleha Masude
Design & Marketing Intern | social@nwfolklife.org

Swaleha is a student at the University of Washington, with a passion for design and the power of storytelling using visual media. In the past, she has worked with marketing companies aiming to promote social media influencers and small businesses belonging to minority backgrounds. She has also worked with non-profit organizations like ICNA Relief working to create visuals that showcase the work they do to help those in need within the greater Seattle area. She came to Northwest Folklife to focus on amplifying marginalized voices and bringing valuable cultural history and stories to light in order to impact people's lives for the better. "I live out my 'folklife' every day by wearing jewelry that has been passed down to me from my mother, and by listening to music and creating art that is deeply rooted in Pakistani traditions and cultural history."

DEVELOPMENT

Allison Eltrich
Development Manager | fundraising@nwfolklife.org

Allison fell in love with music when her grandmother, a classically trained singer, began bringing her to the symphony and opera as a child. She sang in the Seattle Girl’s Choir, placed in regional music competitions, pursued a vocal performance degree at Pacific Lutheran University, performed in a variety of jazz ensembles, and has been singing in rock bands since 1997. Allison has worked in philanthropy for 15 years, serving on the board of Artist Trust, leading a cohort of community foundations at Philanthropy Northwest, and working in grantmaking and donor relations at Seattle Foundation. As a passionate advocate for musicians, she co-founded Practice Space Seattle, an online resource that connects local musicians to the resources they need. “I believe that the people that make up Seattle’s unique, celebrated, and diverse music community can thrive with the right tools, opportunities, and ability to share resources broadly. My largest driving goal is to introduce Seattle arts supporters to the needs of the musicians that will continue this city’s legacy of incredible music. In my spare time, I love to see as much live music as I can, perform with my band, help my friends and family with home organizing projects, and find any excuse to use a power tool.”

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.”

VOLUNTEERS & ADMINISTRATION

Adel Clifton
Volunteer and Administrative Coordinator | volunteers@nwfolklife.org

Adel grew up rooted in Seattle’s festival scene, watching Northwest Folklife grow and change over her lifetime. She is so excited to be a part of the amazing team that makes this festival possible. As the Volunteer and Operations Coordinator, Adel engages and energizes all of the diverse communities that make up Northwest Folklife. Previously Adel has worked with other events at Seattle Center, as well as in Seattle’s public housing sector. Adel continues to live out her 'folklife' by reading and writing poetry, listening to local music, and spending time with family to enrich those generational ties.

CULTURAL & CREATIVE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

Khalia Carter
Cultural & Creative Workforce Development Manager | khalia@nwfolklife.org

As the Cultural & Creative Workforce Development Manager, Khalia connects youth and young adults to cultural and creative internships within the community. These internships develop enriching and equitable careers paths. Khalia is really passionate about this work, as she is able to contribute a creative spin to workforce development and change the perceived narrative of creative careers. Previously, Khalia worked at Seattle Jobs Initiative, Pacific Associates, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In all previous roles she worked in a workforce development capacity, and connected individuals to resources. Khalia is passionate about building community and embracing culture. Khalia coaches high school volleyball, volunteers with her sorority, and enjoys learning about different cultures. Khalia continues to live out her folklife by traveling, drawing, performing poetry, and writing music. She believes that traveling and her art help her connect to different communities.

FINANCE

Tony Icasiano
Accounting & Finance Manager | tony@nwfolklife.org

Tony and his wife May are huge jazz fans, highly influenced by their son Chris, who is a professional jazz drummer. They are big supporters of the local jazz scene; Earshot Jazz, The Ballard Jazz Festival. They have closea ssociations with founding members, such as Chris, of Table & Chairs Music. Table & Chairs run the weekly Racer Sessions in Ravenna and are prolific producers of music events for local talents. “We have seen many local talents move to the big cities, such as NY, and we strive to create venues for artists here: jazz, otherwise, and both. This incentivizes them to continue creating new and amazing music in our community. I am very excited to work for NWFL as I have always enjoyed being around creative and talented people! My opportunity is to contribute my talents in the realm of finance.” Tony Icasiano’s career in finance and accounting has been many years in banking and partly in tech. His last two big jobs were as CFO for local banks, including a new one that he helped start from scratch. Tony is an avid cycler and skier. He and his wife have 2 sons, Chris and Francis, who is also in the non-profit business. They enjoy lots of time spent with their two grandsons.

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.”

Augusta Sedoff
Accounting Assistant | augusta@nwfolklife.org

Augusta is a former IT professional who found her way to Northwest Folklife in September of 2017 as the interim Receptionist and Development Coordinator. Since then, she has helped with the conversion to a new database software for the Development team, and created a myriad of reports. Currently, she works alongside the Development and Accounting teams to provide support on data projects. “I live my folklife by making things by hand – afghans, hats, and scarves for the homeless, little boxes of woven beads, and silver jewelry. At times I can be found wandering in art museums and galleries or watching a dance performance or live theater.”