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 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.”

Christina Halverson
Operations Coordinator | christinah@nwfolklife.org

Born and raised in Seattle, Christina has attended Northwest Folklife since she was a kid! Although these days she spends most of the year traveling and working music and film festivals around the country, she is always stoked for spring to come around so she can be a part of another Folklife season.  "I am excited to be part of an organization that creates a space for people to come together to celebrate the arts and culture in the PNW. In my free time, I'm usually exploring the great outdoors, turning wood on my lathe or thrifting for that perfect sweater."

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
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.”

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.

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.”

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.”

DEVELOPMENT

Allison Eltrich
Fundraising 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

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.”

THE INTERN TEAM

Anna Tran
Youth and Family Programming Intern | programmingintern@nwfolklife.org

Anna is a life-long learner and passionate advocate for high quality, relevant education. She believes that common humanity is the first step in celebrating our differences–differences that inform our cultures, values, minds, and all our ways of ‘being’ in the world. Folklife thrives in her life through imaginative crafting projects and the delectable foods she cooks and shares. She loves cultural exhibits of all forms, local music, dance, and live performances. Anna focuses on curriculum, instruction, and equity in her studies and is graduating from the University of Washington Bothell with a BA in Education come December ‘19. Her appreciation of learning through play gives reason to her involvement with Redmond Parks & Recreation and UW Bothell’s Recreation Center. Aside from work and school, you can find her making gyoza, playing ping pong, or bowling her heart out at a nearby alley.

Kavya Shanmuganathan
Performer Experience Intern | programming@nwfolklife.org

A third year student at Seattle University, Kavya is studying Marketing, Business Analytics, and Psychology. She is involved in her Seattle University community as a DJ for KXSU 102.1 FM and as a marketing officer for various clubs. However, when she is not in class or working, she is either curled up on her couch watching movies or at a random coffee shop overloading on caffeine. Her mother an artist and her father a music-lover, she grew up with a deep appreciation for the arts and its ability to bring communities together. She is grateful for organizations and events like Northwest Folklife that remind her of the complexity and beauty of culture and is honored to be a part of Northwest Folklife’s team.

Cara Nguyễn
Digital Media & Marketing Intern | social@nwfolklife.org

Born in the Bay Area and growing in Seattle, Cara has always been surrounded by and embedded in robust cultural and ethnic communities. As a third year student at Seattle University, she studies Economics, Sociology, and Philosophy, curates cultural events for the Vietnamese Student Association, and performs with Hidaka Taiko. As a second generation Vietnamese American, she lives out her folklife through finding ways to connect with her ancestry, whether that be through reading and writing poetry, cooking her favorite dishes with her mom, or taking film portraits of everyone she calls family.

Valerie Ragsdale
Volunteer Coordinator Intern | volunteerintern@nwfolklife.org

Recent graduate from Western Washington University with a BA in Studio Art, Valerie is passionate about the arts and event coordination, spending the last two years working for the Viking Union event staff at WWU. After spending the last few summers traveling Europe and SE Asia, Valerie is pursuing a career in visual arts with a strong interest in non-profits that support cultural development and it's local artists, musicians, and craftspeople alike. "I celebrate my folklife when making delicious meals with my family from recipes that I've learned during my travels! I love to absorb what I've learned while I'm away and incorporate it into my life here in Seattle."

Jessica Purganan
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Intern | springintern@nwfolklife.org

A native Seattleite, Jessica is finishing her senior year at Seattle University with a major in Humanities and Business Management. She is a Brother of Alpha Kappa Psi Business Professional Fraternity where she serves as both V.P. of Membership and Director of Events. Her appreciation of culture and the arts gives reason to her involvement with organizations such as Bumbershoot, Family 4th, and now Northwest Folklife. As a second-generation Filipino American, she enjoys celebrating her own Folklife through making traditional dishes at home and embracing the amazing food spots Seattle has to offer.

Isabella Sherry
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Intern | springintern@nwfolklife.org

Isabella Sherry joins the Northwest Folklife team in her sophomore year at The Center School located in the heart of Seattle. Having grown up the daughter of a theatre director, she has experienced a wide range of art and culture. She is a certified roller skating instructor and has taught people of all ages how to skate for the past five years. She celebrates her Folklife through the large Bavarian festivities her family has year-round. In her free tim,e you can find her at the theatre, your local public market, and along the many hiking trails of the Northwest.