Day-to-day operations, research, and special projects are led and carried out by the Center’s Director, and are informed by a special Advisory Board.
Langston Collin Wilkins, PhD took over the role of the Director of the Center for Washington Cultural Traditions, a program of Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission, in January 2019. In this role, he oversees the center’s Cultural Traditions Survey and Heritage Arts Apprenticeship Program as well documentation and archiving activities. Langston and the Center serve as resources for folk and traditional arts research, documentation, and programming across Washington state.
Langston moved to Washington state from Tennessee where he most recently worked as the Traditional Arts Specialist for the Tennessee Arts Commission. In this role, he managed folk and traditional arts-related grants, assisted with the Tennessee Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, led the commission’s Latino and new immigrant initiative, and documented folklife from around the state. Prior to joining the Tennessee Arts Commission, Langston served as a Program Officer for Humanities Tennessee where he directed writing workshops for high schoolers and assisted with the Southern Festival of Books among other activities.
Langston’s initial foray into public folklife was through a joint fellowship between the Folklife and Traditional Arts Program of the Houston Arts Alliance and the Houston Museum of African-American Culture where he conducted field research and produced public programs that centered on the clothing arts and musical arts of African diasporic communities residing in Houston, Texas. These communities included African American, Ethiopian, Cameroonian, Nigerian, and Garifuna, a Central American Afro-Latino ethnic group.
In 2013, Langston collaborated with the Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Museum of African American Culture and the Houston City Council to produce the Houston SLAB Parade and Family Festival, an event that highlighted a hip hop-related car culture that originated in Houston, Texas. The event featured a parade that included 50 art cars as well as 20 custom bikes that there built by area youth. The inaugural event brought over 4,000 people, from all walks of life, into urban Houston in celebration of a distinctly urban art form.
Langston received his PhD in Folklore & Ethnomusicology from Indiana University in 2016. As a researcher and writer, his interests have included urban folklife, African American folklife and hip hop culture. These interests informed his doctoral dissertation titled “Screwston, Texas: The Impact of Space, Place, and Cultural Identity on Music Making in Houston, Texas’ Hip Hop Music Scene,” which is an ethnographic examination of Houston, Texas’ hip hop music scene, focusing on the creation of community identity within it. He is currently revising his dissertation for publication with an academic press.
Langston is a native of Houston, Texas. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington and enjoys reading, listening to hip hop and taking long walks.
Contact Langston at (206) 682-1770 x107 or by email.
Julieta Altamirano-Crosby Founder and President of WA-GRO (Washington-Guerrero) Foundation
Julieta received a Ph.D. in Social Communication and a Master of Communication Science degree from the University of Havana in Cuba, as well as a Museology & Exhibits Certificate from the University Complutence of Madrid (Spain) before emigrating to the U.S. from Mexico. Here she began the WA-GRO (Washington-Guerrero) Foundation, an organization that assists Latino/a/x and indigenous Mexican students and families bridging barriers to academic success in Washington State as they navigate life in their new home. She has since earned a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Seattle Pacific University, and joined the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs in June 2018. Julieta believes that individuals’ identity and growth are closely tied to their understanding and appreciation of culture and language; consequently, she has run several arts and culture programs for students of all backgrounds that increase cultural awareness of and among Mexican/Latino/a/x immigrants. She also is the host of the radio program “Conexion Contigo” at KSVR 91.7FM Skagit Valley Community Radio and is a member of the American Anthropological Association.
Ryan Booth Ph.D. Candidate, Washington State University; Trustee, Humanities Washington
As a Ph.D. candidate and enrolled member of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, Ryan’s areas of historical interest are the American West and Native Americans. His dissertation topic explores the U.S. Army Indian Scouts from 1866 to 1942. Ryan has also served as a Paraeducator for Wenatchee Public Schools, a History instructor for Wenatchee Valley College and Heritage University, a Special Events & Outreach Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Virginia, and a Park Ranger in the North Cascades National Park. He holds a B.A. in History and Philosophy from Loyola University, Chicago, and an M.A. in History from Central Washington University, and brings a regional indigenous perspective on Washington’s unique cultural and natural history, and its impact on the present.
Makaela Kroin Folk & Traditional Arts Program Coordinator, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission
Makaela moved to Washington from Oregon in 2018 to begin work as Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission’s Folk & Traditional Arts Program Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies from Smith College, a Master’s Degree in Information and Communication Science from Ball State University, and a Master’s Degree in Public Folklore from the University of Oregon. She began working in the field of public folklore as the program manager at the Oregon Folklife Network. At Washington State Parks, Makaela oversees a statewide Folk and Traditional Arts program and related community partnership development efforts.
Linley Logan Director of the Northwest Heritage Program at the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center at the Evergreen State College; ArtsWA Commissioner
Linley, Onondowaga (Seneca), is a multi-disciplinary contemporary artist/designer and art consultant. He has attended four International Indigenous Arts Exchanges, curates contemporary Native American art exhibits, and serves on local, state, and national arts boards. Linley’s employment experience includes the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American, and the Office of Folklife Programs and Cultural Studies for the Festival of American Folklife. He has taught printmaking at Hawaiian Ohana for Education in the Arts, Hawaii. Linley has served on grant review panels for the Longhouse Education and Cultural Center, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, First Peoples Fund, Ford Foundation – Leveraging Investments in Creativity, NEA – Folk and Traditional Arts, All Roads Film program for the National Geographic Society, National Initiative to Preserve American Dance, Artists Trust -Artist Innovator Awards,and the Washington State Arts Commission grants. In the early 1990s Linley founded and directed a Cultural Retention Program in his home Tonawanda Seneca community. He currently serves as a Washington State Arts Commissioner.
Mark Miyake Assistant Professor of Music and Society at Western Washington University’s Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies
Mark has been teaching and advising students at Fairhaven College and leading their program in Audio Technology, Music, and Society since 2015, in which time he has also served as President of the Northwest Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology and on national award and funding panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. Prior to joining Western Washington University’s faculty, Mark served as Assistant Professor of The Arts and Social Sciences at Empire State College of the State University of New York and as the college-wide faculty convener for their Arts programs. During his time on the East Coast, Mark also served as the Chair of the Folk Arts Panel of the New York State Council for the Arts and as the President of the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association. He holds a MA and Ph.D. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. Mark’s family immigrated to the U.S. when he was two years old; this has greatly influenced his approach to understanding the arts in their cultural contexts.
Latha Sambamurti Festival Director
Latha is the Artistic Director of several large festivals of arts and culture in the Seattle area, including Ananda Mela and Festival of Color in Redmond, and Diwali: Lights of India in Seattle. She also holds board positions with Northwest Folklife, Kirkland Performance Center, and Seattle Latino Film Festival. She served on the Redmond Arts and Culture Commission from 2003 through 2010 in various roles including Chair of the Commission. From 2005 through 2011, Latha was on the Arts Advisory Board of 4Culture, and she also served as a Washington State Arts Commissioner (2012-2018). Latha is a trained musician in the Carnatic (southern Indian) tradition, and a teacher, lecturer, and singer with a number of solo and ensemble performances in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and India. She is also the founder and leader of the band Chai Tea Latte. In addition, Latha has written, directed, and choreographed numerous productions for children based on the heritage and culture of India. She is also modeling for various international arts and cultural organizations and designers. Latha has a master’s degree in English literature.
Willie Smyth Independent Folklorist
Willie is currently an independent folklorist working in Washington. For over two decades he led Washington’s state folk arts program as Folk Arts Coordinator the Washington State Arts Commission/WSAC. Prior to that he managed folk and traditional arts programs for the State Arts Council of Oklahoma for over four years. He holds a M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara; and an M.A. in Folklore and Anthropology, and Ph.D. in Folklore and Theatre Arts, from the University of California, Los Angeles.
(Image: Skagit Valley tulip fields. Photo by Selbe Lynn via Flickr)