ACTIVATE Protege is a mentorship program that pairs up-and-coming arts leaders with industry professionals. Formally a program of Emerging Arts Leaders, Protege now has a new home at Arts for LA!

The idea for Protege emerged in 2007 during a convening for arts professionals—in association with Americans for the Arts—when the issue of mentorship was discussed and deemed essential for the advancement of future arts leaders in the greater Los Angeles arts community. 

Protege is a 7-month program (April – October) where selected mentors and mentees meet regularly to discuss mutually agreed upon topics with an emphasis on the mentee’s areas of interest and desired professional growth. Participants receive personalized and invaluable professional development opportunities aimed to enrich the careers of both mentee and mentor.

Additionally, the program includes monthly cohort sessions exclusive to the mentees. These meetings are a way for the mentee cohort to create a community of peers, discuss relevant topics in leadership and the arts, and gain exclusive opportunities to speak with and learn from various arts leaders.

Protege mentorship components are self-administered by its participants with guidance from program leads, while Mentee Cohort Sessions are led by members of the ACTIVATE Emerging Arts Leaders program. The process of building relationships and idea-sharing hopes to ignite new, innovative ways to approach leadership growth within the arts community.

Eligibility Requirements

Participants must:

  • Live, work or study in LA County.
  • Be 18 years or older to apply.
  • Attend monthly 1.5 hr Protege Mentee meetups. Monthly meetings will be held on the following Wednesdays from 6:30 – 8:00 pm virtually:
    • May 8
    • June 12
    • July 17
    • August 14
    • September 18
  • Be able to commit to monthly 1 hour meetings with their appointed mentor. This one hour commitment is self-administered based on individual schedules. Meetings can be held virtually or in-person.

Note: Current participants of ACTIVATE Delegates 2024 and ACTIVATE Emerging Arts Leaders 2024 are not eligible to apply. 

Our Mentors

In collaboration with the Emerging Arts Leaders, Protege Committee, Arts for LA internally selects mentors that will capture the wide-breath of the arts and culture sector. Our mission is to provide a mentor cohort of established leaders with a varying range of specialties so that we encourage a diverse pool of mentee applicants. 

Through intergenerational learning, we hope that our mentors find their experience in Protege as a type of leadership development for themselves alongside their mentee.

We are excited to announce our 2024 Mentor and Mentee Cohort! Scroll below to see our full lineup.

Meet Our

Alexandra Bloedorn

Alexandra Bloedorn (she/her) is a first-generation college graduate, artist, and mediator who is passionate about the transformative power of the arts in underserved communities and promoting equitable access to cultural resources. She completed an LLM in Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute and graduated from University College London in 2021. Alexandra has fostered a keen interest in the intersections of the arts, dispute resolution, and equitable justice through her work with various NGOs and aid groups. She has worked as a personal development coach with femme and queer refugees and migrants in Germany, as a volunteer legal advocate for at-risk youth in London, and as a research assistant for domestic and international NGOs. Alexandra currently works as a Program Coordinator at Califonia Lawyers for the Arts, where she enjoys facilitating community mediations and educating artists throughout LA County on alternative dispute resolution.

Alfred Timothy Adriano Camacho

Alfred Timothy Adriano Camacho, a Filipino-American artist from Hercules, California, is driven by a passion to leave a lasting mark on the art world as an AAPI artist. He delves into the intricacies of identity and relationships through portraiture, drawing from his rich heritage and personal experiences.

His artistic journey started with an AA in Studio Arts from Diablo Valley College and a BFA in Drawing and Painting at CSU Long Beach. He further refined his skills through the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship, gaining valuable experience as a gallery administration intern at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro and an art handler at Open Gallery in Long Beach. With a long-term vision of establishing a dedicated gallery space for the AAPI community, he is committed to promoting cultural representation and inclusivity in art.

Andrea Abler

Andrea Abler (she/her) is a multifaceted professional with over a decade of experience in public policy analysis and the arts. In her role as a policy analyst, she contributes to research through numerical modeling, statistical analysis, technical writing, and project management, with a focus on military personnel and logistics.

Andrea is also an active member in the Los Angeles arts community, initially as an acrobat and musician and now as a visual artist exploring themes of folklore and the supernatural.

Andrea is a member of the Arroyo Arts Collective, the Los Angeles Art Association (LAAA), the California Art League, and the American Folklore Society. She holds advanced degrees from Georgetown University and the University of California San Diego, and a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Daryl Bibicoff

Daryl Bibicoff is a multidisciplinary artist with an art studio in Los Angeles, California. Formerly, he was a competitive marathon runner and cyclist. Daryl’s artwork is a celebration of movement, captured through a diverse array of media compositions. His body of work includes acrylic paintings, digital art and animation, mixed media compositions, and sculptures. This series attracts viewers to take an intimate look at “In Motion” art. Validation of his visual expression of movement occurs through a close up invitation.

Daryl Bibicoff received his BA in Art (1985) and his MA in Art (2011) from California State University in Northridge. Recent exhibitions include Studio Channel Islands (2024), Art Share Los Angeles (2023), and Las Laguna Art Gallery (2023). His work has been published in Artist Portfolio Magazine, Diversions LA Magazine, and Art and Cake Magazine. Daryl has received recognition by Santa Clarita Arts for curating art exhibitions (2022).

Dominique Corona

Dominique Corona is an educator, director, actress, and plant enthusiast. She serves as co-founder and producer of Reagent Media Group, a multi-platform scientific edutainment company striving to amplify marginalized voices in STEM. She is also director of Harlem South: A View Through the Lens, a multimedia performance uplifting the stories of black folks in the Jim Crow South. An advocate of the power and magic of live art, she also serves as a company member at Little Fish Theatre.

Elijah Clarke

Elijah Clarke discovered his passion for art & politics early on, blending performance and activism. He has acted professionally with both SF and Berkeley Playhouse, choreographed and performed with the locally renowned Dance Production student group and danced internationally with Salvadoran dance groups for the 30th anniversary of CRIPDES.

Beyond the stage, Elijah’s civic engagement is notable. He served as an Election Observer during El Salvador’s 2018 legislative elections and authored legislative proposals for YMCA’s Youth & Government program, addressing crucial issues like sexual health education and private prisons.

After graduating from UCLA from the World Arts & Cultures department, he has continued to pursue both politics and art through arts education and his own arts practice. Currently, Elijah serves as a Lead Education Assistant at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Digital Media Intern for the Los Angeles based non-profit Community Power Collective and Studio Intern at Ruts Dance studio.

Gabe Medina

Born and based in South Central Los Angeles, Gabe Medina is a Mexican-American artist and community organizer. Informed by his own familial history much of his work addresses subjects of Mexican-American identity, cultural hybridity and historical traditions. Drawn to his family’s agricultural practices and domestic symbols such as wrought iron fences, Medina unearths his cultural identity through the lens of his South Central home. Working with ceramics and clay-based installation Medina re-defines historical perspectives of Mexican im/migration and encourages others to contemplate their experiences of navigating dual cultural identities in the United States. Medina has exhibited at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles (2024), Monte Vista Projects (2023), The Mistake Room (2023), South Gate Museum and Art Gallery (2023) and Portuguese Bend Projects (2023). Medina co-curated and organized Seen at Office Hours, an artist-led space in Carson, CA (2023) and is the former Ceramics Studio Assistant at CSUDH. Medina received his B.A. in Studio Art from California State University Dominguez Hills (2023).

Kine Fall

Kine Fall is a visionary artist born to West African immigrants in NYC and raised in LA. Her creative journey spans across writing, music, metaverse exploration, and visual storytelling. Through these mediums, Kine aims to catalyze consciousness evolution and highlight our deep connections to the unseen. She seeks to curate immersive experiences and craft narratives that breathe life into history and unspoken tales.
With a passion for history, Kine has a deep vision of instilling cultural pride and unity within the diaspora and beyond, fostering empathy and understanding. Her work transcends borders, aiming to create networks and provide resources that bridge geographical divides. Through participation in community events and global networking, Kine’s vision is to spark positive change and collaboration worldwide.

Laia Pujol

Laia Pujol (she/ella) always had two parallel careers: a musician by training and a social justice activist by passion. After a decade of playing and teaching classical clarinet, she finally found the perfect blend as an arts administrator focusing on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, Laia made the move to the United States in 2021 to pursue a Master’s Degree in Community Music at the University of Southern California, thanks to a full-ride scholarship, with the goal of using music to drive positive change in communities. Now based in Los Angeles, Laia works as the Assistant Director of the Center for Innovation and Community Impact at the Colburn School. Here, she leads various community music projects, using her expertise to make sure everyone feels included and empowered through the arts.

Naomi Stewart

Naomi Stewart is an LA-based curator and poet. Holding a B.A. in Anthropology and Art History from Hawaii Pacific University and an MBA from Pepperdine University, she brings a multidisciplinary approach to her curatorial practice. Her curatorial work has focused on identity, collective healing, and somatic ecology, demonstrated through gallery exhibitions:’Emergent’ (SuperCollider, 2020), ‘ IDUN’ (Inbreak, 2021), and ‘Borderline’ (Angel’s Gate Cultural Center, 2021), ‘a time to tear, a time to mend’ (Wonzimer, 2022), ‘No Song Unsung’ (Brea Gallery, 2023). Her current research interests explore themes of Black erasure, presence, creativity, and resilience. She has contributed to publications such as the Borderline Exhibition Catalog (2021) and the Inbreak Residency Journal (2021). She has also presented at CultureHub Re–Fest (2022) and featured in press outlets such as CARLA and Voyage LA. Her poetry is featured on her blog, The Wanderess, and her Instagram account, @naomithewanderess.

Nina Lopez

Nina Lopez (she/her/ella) is a values-driven nonprofit professional with a passion for the intersection of arts, culture, and social justice. Interested in learning how culture unites, heals, and transforms communities, Nina pursued Bachelor’s degrees in Latin American and Latino Studies and History of Art and Visual Culture at UC Santa Cruz. She proceeded to work in the social justice sector where she recognized the many opportunities to utilize arts and culture alongside policy change to bring us closer to a more just, caring, and equitable world for all. Nina currently works at Women’s Foundation California supporting their youth leadership development and grantmaking initiatives, including their Culture Change Fund – a fund developed to support artists, cultural strategists, and community organizations in using cultural strategy to advance gender, racial, and economic justice. Nina resides in Los Angeles, CA and enjoys hiking and spending time at home with her cat, Jiji.

Samantha Nieves

Samantha Nieves (she/they) is a Mexican Salvadoran social practice artist based in unincorporated East Los Angeles. Influenced by her socioeconomic background, she has maintained a passion for community engagement by artistic means in spaces like the East Los Angeles County Library, Self-Help Graphics & Art, the Vincent Price Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, among many others. She is a first-generation college student in the Museum Studies Certificate Program, cultivating her leadership off and on campus, most recently re-energizing M.E.Ch.A at East Los Angeles College. She is a writer and poet, whose subjects often reflect a social awareness in themes such as identity, gender, class, and access. She aspires to maintain a growing skillset that is best cultivated to approach, analyze, and support public institutional spaces to become sustainable for underserved community members. Her hobbies include making art in nature, exploring public history, and playing the trombone.

Saul Soto

Saul Soto (he/they) is a Geography student at ELAC exploring the intersections of art and community. Born and raised in East Los Angeles, his family has been grounding through his educational journey and his exploration of arts and culture. Currently, he is drawn to exploring mapping and archival work as a means of self and community preservation. You can catch him at the front desk of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes during the week welcoming in school groups, families, and locals. Recently, Saul has been enjoying digitizing his family photos and VHS tapes and evening strolls around his neighborhood.

Wil Amar Robles Roberts

Wil Amar Robles Roberts is an Afro-Speculative researcher and storyteller currently serving as a Membership and Donor Acquisition Officer for BroadStage. Before working in the performing arts, he studied at the University of California Riverside, where he had the opportunity to construct Analysis of The Black Panther:(Re)Imagining Black Identities and Futures, an undergraduate course wherein fellow students had the chance to explore the socio- political implications of Afrofuturism and Speculative Fiction. After graduating with a B.A. in Creative Writing, he later debuted his first graphic novel at “Candy Man and the Whole Damn Swarm,” a virtual exhibition hosted by UCR Arts and the Centre for the History of the Gothic. Informed by the wisdom of Mexican and Black American ancestors, Wil aims to cultivate a more liberating present for all by merging the past’s decolonial lessons with the future’s artistic practices.

Zuriel Garcia

Zuriel Garcia assists the President and CEO of California Humanities with the coordination of Board of Directors affairs and executive administration. Previously, he served as the Marketing and Communications Assistant at Californians for the Arts, and as an Archival Intern at Claremont Graduate University. He has an MA in Arts Management and an MA in Archival Studies from Claremont Graduate University, and a BA in Art History from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Zuriel enjoys reading, watching horror films, weight training, and visiting museums.

Álvaro D. Márquez

Program Officer, Arts –  California Community Foundation

Specialty: Art and Nonprofit Administration, Arts Education, Philanthropy

Álvaro D. Márquez (they/them/theirs) is an artist, educator, and arts advocate originally from the working-class immigrant community of East Salinas, CA. Having spent the last 16 years in LA County, they have worked at several small to large arts organizations, including Self Help Graphics and Art, LACMA, and the J. Paul Getty Museum. They are currently employed as a Program Officer for Arts at the California Community Foundation, where they oversee grantmaking in the nonprofit arts sector, as well as running the Getty-funded Fellowship for Visual Artists. Aside from their work in philanthropy, Alvaro is also a part-time Adjunct Professor in Printmaking, at the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California. Their artwork can be found in the permanent collections at LACMA, The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

Emily Wanserski

Independent Consultant,  Co-Founder of JUMPSTART/LA

Specialty: Dance, performing arts, fundraising, live performance, venue management, non-profit consulting, public/private partnerships, arts education

Emily Wanserski has worked with cultural nonprofits, for-profit entertainment entities, higher education institutions, and multiple public agencies. With 10+ years of experience in LA’s creative economy, she collaborates with entrepreneurs and artists to bring light to immediate action items that get them closer to their vision. Selected clients, projects, and employers include: the Annenberg Foundation, Arts Bridging the Gap, Barak Ballet, Banjee Ball/Purple Crush, BODYTRAFFIC, Boeing, Chicago Bulls, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, City of West Hollywood, Ground Grooves TV, Invertigo Dance Theatre, LA Contemporary Dance Company, LA Follies, MashUp Contemporary Dance Company, Marissa Labog, Melanie George, MUDA, Nike, Royal Shakespeare Company, Suarez Dance Theater, Sundance Film Festival, Teresa Toogie Barcelo, University of Southern California, and WHYTEBERG. In 2022, Emily founded JUMPSTART/LA with Laura Berg, Madison Hicks, and Gracie Whyte. An intensive program crafted for early career dancers and choreographers, JSLA aims to empower artists with a deeper understanding of LA’s dance ecosystem and essential entrepreneurial skills. Emily holds dual degrees, BA in Political Science & BFA in Dance, from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Fiona Ball

Deputy Director, LACE

Specialty: Arts administration, curation, development

Fiona is an arts administrator, curator, and writer. Her work is guided by a passion for supporting artists and artwork production through the lifecycle of a project—from ideation, to development, strategic planning, budgeting, and project management. At LACE, she is the Deputy Director, stewarding the organization’s programming and operations calendar, development strategies, and relocation into the renovated galleries. In 2023, she served as LACE’s Interim Curator, overseeing new commissions from artists Jackie Amézquita and Micaela Tobin, as well as LACE’s exhibitions and public programs. She was previously the Manager of Curatorial Projects & Public Experience at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), Managing Editor at Art Practical, Assistant Director at LACE, and has held additional roles at arts organizations and institutions including &art&, the Hollywood Arts Council, the Skirball Cultural Center, Creative Migration, RITE Editions, and California College for the Arts. She has curated group and solo exhibitions and public programs for YBCA; the Wattis Institute of Contemporary Art; the Curatorial Research Bureau; Hubbell Street Galleries, Dogpatch Studios, and Isabel Percy West Gallery at California College of the Arts; Public Pool Gallery; LA Weekly’s Artopia; and more. Fiona is also a dedicated advocate for arts and artist funding, and equitable pay for artists and arts workers. She was selected as an Arts for LA ACTIVATE Fellow in Cultural Policy for 2016-17 and has served as an arts delegate for Los Angeles Arts Day. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Education Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and an MA in Curatorial Practice from California College of the Arts. Outside of LACE, you can find her at a pottery wheel or hiking with her dog Carrot.

Heber Rodriguez

Director of Exhibitions, Armory Center

Specialty: Project Management / Visual Arts Curator

Heber Rodriguez is a Los Angeles-based curator, arts administrator, and creative who builds community through cultural events, exhibitions, and performances. His areas of focus are Art and Technology, Internet culture, and experimental sound practices. He has an MA in Art and Curatorial Practices in the Public Sphere from the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design and currently serves as the Exhibition Manager and Assistant Curator at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA.

Jackie Amezquita


Specialty: Installation and public art

Jackie Amézquita was born in Quetzaltengo, Guatemala, and migrated to the US in 2003. Her multidisciplinary practice converges a diasporic family history, with personal experiences as a formerly undocumented immigrant in the US and unweaving collectively shared social memory. Sourcing natural materials from significant historical migration sites and drawing from indigenous mythologies, Amézquita holds space for communal grieving and human connection; giving birth to new modes of resistance and challenging systematic oppression, marginalization, and exploitation. She is the recipient of the Mohn Public Recognition Award (2023), Mohn Land Award (2023), Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts Los Angeles Art Fund (2022), and National Performance Network Fund (2022). Amézquita has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, ARTnews, The Art Newspaper, LA. Weekly, hyperallergic, Walker Art Center magazine, and many other publications.

Javier Solórzano

Art Director

Specialty: Graphic design work, comic books creation, digital media, project management, creative and art direction

Javier Solorzano is a latinx artist, writer and creative director. He has been a featured speaker at various colleges and universities across the country and a regularly exhibits at art and comic conventions. Javi is also an Art Director at a leading pet food company where he concepts, overseas and manages packaging design and national ad campaigns. He is currently working on the 3rd installment of “Super Lucha Cats” and eating tacos with his partner and pet cats.

Jeanne Hoel

Associate Director of Education, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

Specialty: Teacher development, community access and outreach

Jeanne Hoel is a passionate arts educator, committed to community access and classroom teacher development. Jeanne has led school and teacher programs at MOCA since 2003, partnering with hundreds of 3rd-12th grade teachers to connect Los Angeles students to the transformative power of art. As an craftsperson, educator, and nonprofit administrator, Jeanne works to create collaborative environments that center learners, reflection, and shared leadership. Jeanne studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art (BFA) and Bank Street College (MS Ed).

Jessica Ceballos y Campbell

Director, Alternative Field

Specialty: Literary Arts (poetry, specifically: publishing and program curating). And the intersection of that and community building and advocating.

Born and raised in Northeast L.A., Jessica Ceballos y Campbell (she/they) is a writer, editor, publisher, and community advocate with over 20 years of experience working at the crossroads of the arts and social justice. Her written work has been published in three chapbooks and several anthologies and journals. She’s received awards and fellowships from the California Arts Council, Cal Humanities, The Poetry Foundation, the L.A. Dept. of Transportation, the L.A. Dept. of Cultural Affairs, Fractured Atlas, Arts for LA ACTIVATE Cultural Policy Leadership program, and the WESTAF Emerging Leaders of Color program where she currently sits on the Advisory Committee. Her interest in organizing and advocacy has been the driving force behind her time as a member of her local Neighborhood Council, the L.A. Tenants Union, and as board member of two non-profits. Her work has been recognized by the State of Alaska, the city of Los Angeles, the California State Assembly, and the LA County Board of Supervisors. She’s founding director of poetry library, resource center, and press, Alternative Field.

Leni Boorstin

LA Phil Senior Advisor, External Engagement – Retired

Specialty: Government and community affairs

Leni Boorstin’s first job after college was with the Exploratorium in San Francisco. She developed the science museum’s sound and music section. Moving to L.A., Ms. Boorstin worked at KPFK co-hosting Imaginary Landscape with composer Carl Stone. She received an MBA from UCLA. Leni’s more than 40-year career then began with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. During her tenure, she was responsible for community programs and government relations initiatives. Her guidance assured community engagement with the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall and the arrival of Gustavo Dudamel to L.A. She identified and developed partnerships that resulted in the LA Phil’s expansive Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) program. Ms. Boorstin served four Mayors as a City of L.A.’s Human Relation Commissioner. She is a founding member and Chair Emeritus of Arts for LA and served on LA County’s Cultural Equity and Inclusion Committee. The LA Phil established the Leni Boorstin YOLA Administrative Fellowships in recognition of her tenure. Leni is a trained volunteer peer counselor for Empower Work whose mission is to create healthy, equitable workplaces where employees are valued, supported, and empowered.  

Mariam Tabatabaee

Associate Educator, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Specialty: Museum education, adult learning, programming, accessibility

Mariam Tabatabaee (she/they) is the Associate Educator at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, where she collaborates with museum and community colleagues to develop innovative programs that engage a range of adults with visual storytelling. An advocate for accessibility and disability rights, Mariam has developed tours for visitors who are blind or have partial vision at museums such as the Guggenheim, Craft Contemporary, and The Natural History Museum of Utah. She holds a deep interest in adult learning in informal spaces, ways of creating knowledge outside of traditional academic settings, and experience sharing through mentorship and peer to peer learning. In 2020, as the Manager of Mentee Engagement, she revamped and co-led Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles’s Protégé mentorship program by developing mentee cohort sessions for skill acquisition and community building. She currently serves on the Content Advisory Committee for the AAM Annual Meeting, reviewing proposals and developing a more equitable selection process. Mariam holds a BS in Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution from UCLA and has published research in PLOS One and Marine Ecology Progress Series. You can often find her in the pottery studio, reading, playing video games, or doting on her cats, Jolene (JoJo) and Bernadette (Bernie).

Melba Martinez

Freelance Artist, Teaching Artist with Justice for My Sister

Specialty: Social Media, Marketing, Cultural Organizing, Social Practice 

Melba is an artist and cultural organizer from Pacoima, CA. Their passion for art, activism, and the fight for the liberation of all oppressed people guide her life and work. Melba has worked as an arts administrator with a variety of for and non-profit organizations across Los Angeles. Their art praxis focuses on the body as a site for joy, pleasure and liberation. Melba’s art practice involves performance, modeling, video art, film, installation, fiber arts, makeup and styling. They weave their varied knowledge together to create space for historically excluded voices in the arts and the world at large.

Michael Alexander

Campus Arts & Culture Liaison, Caltech

Specialty: Community Serving Performing Arts Presentation

Michael Alexander has spent over 50 years working as a performer, arts administrator, public policy official and arts activist serving artists and communities in California (all but three years in Los Angeles). Currently Caltech’s Campus Arts and Culture Liaison, he also spent 27 years leading Downtown Los Angeles’ iconic Grand Performances which, during his tenure, was nationally recognized for having America’s most diverse audience. He was associated with LA’s Aman Folk Ensemble in the 60s and 70s including 12 years as Manager and its first Executive Director. He was appointed by three State Assembly Speakers to the California Arts Council and played leadership roles in establishing Arts for LA, California Arts Advocates, and other regional arts service organizations. He was awarded the Sidney Yates Award by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals for his leadership work in arts advocacy. His favorite mantra is, “Access to the arts is a right and not a privilege.”

Natalie Godinez

Community Engagement & Youth Programs Manager, Self Help Graphics & Art

Specialty: Community engagement, youth programs, youth mentorship, artivism

Natalie M Godinez (she/her/ella) is a Los Angeles-based artist, educator, and community advocate raised in Tijuana, México. She is the Community Engagement & Youth Programs Manager at Self Help Graphics and Art, working on advocacy, youth programming, and cultural organizing. Godinez also collaborates with AMBOS Project (Art Made Between Opposite Sides), a platform for bi-national artists to speak on border issues, where she has performed in artist interventions, led education projects, and coordinated humanitarian aid efforts. In her personal art practice, she explores memories, identity, and relationships to places and language through textiles, printmaking, and collaboration. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Design from San Diego State University.  

Natalie Suarez

Senior Creative Director, LA Phil

Specialty: Design and Marketing

Natalie Suarez is a Los Angeles-based creative director with a passion for creating visual narratives and storytelling that connect people and brands. With 20+ years in the music industry, her work has been dedicated to making those connections happen. In her current role as Senior Creative Director with the LA Phil, she oversees the creative development of the visual language of the organization’s major campaigns and initiatives at Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and The Ford. She leads both in-house and agency teams in the development of impactful creative content strategies designed to engage consumers across multiple brands and platforms. In addition to her creative work, Natalie is part of the LA Phil’s EDI Staff Council and co-leads the BIPOC Affinity group. She is also a Native Angeleno and the person to ask if you need a list of where to eat ranked by budget, vibes, and parking situation.

Winifred Neisser

Executive Director, Angel City Chorale

Specialty: Television Development (34 years) / Non-profit performing arts

Winifred Neisser has 34 years as television development executive at NBC and Sony Pictures Television (last position was Senior Vice President, Movies and MIniseries). Winifred was responsible over the years for developing Children and Family Programs, primetime Variety, Movies and Miniseries. Currently Executive Director of Angel City Chorale – largest Community Choir in Los Angeles (semi-finalists in America’s got Talent); former Arts for LA Board (2016-2023 including; Board Chair 2018-2020) and Otis College Board (present).

Ajianna Covington

I’m a new program director for Global Girl Media, and I am passionate about empowering girls through media and storytelling. I’m particularly interested in mentorship and how it can help girls develop their skills and confidence as they navigate the media industry. I would like to grow my expertise in several areas, including leadership development, program management, and media production. I believe that these skills will be critical in helping me support the girls in our program and achieve our organization’s goals. Through my experience with the ACTIVATE mentee program, I hope to gain new insights into effective mentorship strategies and best practices for supporting young women in media. I also look forward to learning from the experiences and perspectives of other arts leaders, which will help me develop a more nuanced understanding of the industry and the challenges it faces. Ultimately, I believe that my experience with the ACTIVATE mentee program will help me become a more effective leader and advocate for girls in media. By building strong relationships with our mentees and providing them with the support they need to succeed, I hope to create a more equitable and inclusive media landscape for all young women.

Angelene Storey

Angelene Storey (she/her) is currently the Prop Coordinator at Center Theatre Group. In 2021, she graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a BA in Theatre Design and Production. She is also a freelance scenic painter and has worked in theaters all around the Los Angeles area, including Boston Court, A Noise Within, and East West Players. Prior to working in technical theatre, Angelene studied classical voice and music theory for many years. She has always had a passion for various aspects of art and theatre. In her spare time she loves to travel and work on her small business.

Bryan Arellano

Bryan Arellano is a Mexican-American illustrator and storyteller born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles and is based in Cudahy CA. He graduated from California State University, Fullerton in May 2021 with a BFA in Visual Art/Illustration and a minor in Marketing. Bryan is passionate about storytelling and believes stories help create a better world through the sharing of thoughts, emotions, experiences, and observations which allows us to understand others. He is currently working on his digital drawing skills through Photoshop and Illustrator but also enjoys traditional mediums such as ink, colored pencil, and oil paint. He enjoys taking note of small details of his everyday life and imagining them into something new by incorporating them into his work. During his spare time, he enjoys exercising, reading, learning new things, and spending quality time with friends, family, and of course his dog Bruno.

Chanel Wayne

Chanel Wayne is a literacy advocate, digital media strategist, and creative facilitator focused on delivering community impact through education. To date, she has developed several writing and early literacy programs aimed at helping young people successfully navigate the world around them. Through her experience, she has learned that the only way to do business is honestly, in negotiation there is always an option for win-win, and when creating anything that matters we are better together. Put simply; authenticity, balance and collaboration are key pillars in her approach to life.

Chantal Odalys Santoyo

Chantal Odalys Santoyo is a first-generation college graduate, arts advocate, community organizer, and artist who is passionate about using the arts as an educational tool to uplift youth voice. She joined the Create CA team with a desire to make a change in her community because she believes the arts foster fierce leaders who are creative, collaborative, emotionally intelligent, and resilient. As a community organizer she finds innovative ways of creating safe spaces to convene youth, artists, art administrators, art advocates and activists as a way to foster community healing and building through the arts. She is a founding member of The Messy Theater Co., a theatrical production company that embraces the chaos and craziness that is artistic exploration, in the hope of creating a better tomorrow. In 2022 she was the Production Manager for The GRID – a program where students experienced a day of live-streamed student performances, engaged in a series of creativity-exploring workshops, and heard from industry professionals about their journeys! Chantal is a proud advocate for high quality arts education and strongly believes that the arts have the power to heal.

Cinthia Duran Larrea

Cinthia Duran Larrea is a movement researcher with a decolonial vision, a Latin Social dancer, and an improviser following the legacy of the East Side Institute for Social Therapeutics and Performance Activism. She is currently pursuing a PhD in the Critical Dance Studies Program at the University of California Riverside, focusing her research in Latin Social Dances as resource-building and resource- sharing collective spaces that can be used to advance local social justice agendas. Cinthia currently works at UCR as a Teaching Assistant, Gluck Program of the Arts Fellow and Assistant Coordinator of the yearly gathering Indigenous Choreographers Riverside. In line with her vision as a scholar, her pedagogy activates dance, improvisation and performance as tools to offer individuals the possibility to perform who they want to become and improvise their way into the futures they envision for themselves and their communities.

Danielle Gorodenzik

Danielle Gorodenzik is an independent curator born and raised in Los Angeles. She is the co-founder and director of the annual In Print Art Book Fair, Jerusalem. Danielle has curated group and solo exhibitions focused on feminism, photography, and artist books. From 2018-2022, she served as the Director of Collections at the Africa First Collection by Serge Tiroche, where she spearheaded the Africa First Residency, curated exhibitions, and led acquisitions and sales. In 2020 she was selected as the Artis Video Archive Fellow at the Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv-Yafo. Between 2017-2019 she was the Juror and Curator for the Video Focus at the Fresh Paint Art Fair, Tel Aviv. From 2016-2018, she served as Program Coordinator at Artis. Danielle received her MA in Curatorial Studies from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and holds a BFA in Communication Design from Parsons The New School of Design.

Francisco Barcena

Francisco Barcena makes music and art that explores themes of political defiance, empowerment, resilience, and overcoming adversity. He was raised in south east LA and has a degree in math from UCSB. He has released over 40 music projects where he has collaborated with local and international artists. He currently works full time as a software engineer in the machine learning space. In his free time he is exploring ways to leverage his technical background in order to create art at scale and inspire people. He wants to inspire people to think differently, strategically, outside traditional expectations, and outside the sometimes misconceived frameworks that others unintentionally impose upon us.

Jen Krebs

Jen Krebs is a curious and adventurous soul who spent a decade in government and food policy before the pandemic spurred her to pursue a more artistic career in Los Angeles. Jen currently works at an advertising agency where she relishes being surrounded by inspiring people and ideas. In her free time, she explores all kinds of creative endeavors (currently, ceramics) and immerses herself in nature. With a drive to create and a zest for life, Jen hopes to inspire others to boldly pursue their own creative passions and harness the power of art to transform the world for the better.

Julie Navarro

Julie Navarro (she/they) is a creative artist, active volunteer, and community organizer for the People of South Gate, a collective focused on mutual aid plus social-political empowerment of the Southeast Los Angeles county area. Since graduating from Humboldt State University with a bachelors degree in Critical Race-Gender-Sexuality studies, Julie has organized free-food distributions alongside providing paintings, murals, photography, videography, as well as digital-graphic designs for various causes. She is also a worker-owner and founder of the live musical performance production company: Chilldust TV, that employs these services to local musicians. Julie looks to apply her experience as an artist to her education in critical theory so as to make an impact in learning to better educate others, especially youth in social-program deprived disenfranchised working class BIPOC areas.

Keana Jackson Alfred

I am the 1st Assistant Treasurer at Center Theatre Group and have worked on and off the stage for over ten years. As an arts administration professional for Los Angeles’s most prominent theatre company, I aim to work behind the scenes on behalf of artists and creatives everywhere, providing resources, support, and structure for their projects and practices. I fell in love with theatre as a child actress, and my passion for storytelling developed into a career as a fashion and costume designer. I enjoy combining my zeal for the arts, deep affection for people, and expertise in communication to serve and support the theatre community locally and globally. I want to deepen my leadership, organization, teamwork skills, and networking. These skills will allow me to be the most productive and effective leader possible and manage a thriving arts organization. I am a Los Angeles native who enjoys writing everything from poetry to stage plays; I live in the Crenshaw/West Adams area of Los Angeles.

Reda Yahoum

Reda Yahoum is a passionate arts professional dedicated to promoting cultural understanding and community engagement through storytelling. Having transitioned from a career in performing arts, Reda now collaborates with LACMA’s Docent Council and School Tours program to create engaging educational experiences for visitors. With a strong interest in project management, Reda is keen to lead an oral history project that bridges political divides. As an immigrant and Muslim-American, Reda brings a unique perspective to his work and is committed to producing public programming for the South/West Asian and North African diaspora. His training in anthropology at UCLA has enabled him to explore the fascinating stories of his fellow human beings. When not working, Reda enjoys film, storytelling, and travel, and values quality time with his close friends despite being naturally reclusive.

Ree Magaña

Ree Magaña is a second-generation Mexican-American artist, curator, and marketing professional born and raised in Los Angeles County. After graduating from California School of the Arts-SGV, they studied marketing at Portland State University’s Honors College before transferring to Mt. San Antonio College to study Film, TV, and Electronic Media. Ree has a passion for making arts and education accessible to marginalized groups; founding CSArts’ Cultural Alliance group, creating a Thrift/Donate Center to aid unhoused individuals, promoting attainable career resources for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ students at PSU’s Career Center, aiding professors with online teaching accessibility at Lumen Learning, working with community outreach at Center Theatre Group, and currently supporting artists as an Art Share L.A. team member. Their recent curatorial projects include LA Underground Fashion Walk (Society of Art Los Angeles), Our Art LA exhibition (Art Share L.A. x Angel City Brewery Curator Program), STN Art Gallery (Long Beach Convention Center) and Pasadena Unified School District Youth in Foster art activation project (PUSD).

Sara Castro

Sara Castro (she/her/ella) calls the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles home. As a culture worker and aspiring public educator, Sara is passionate about using history and arts education to build and invest in cultures that can withstand injustices. She is interested in the power of archives and public history to shape stories of self and community and is grounded by her Mexican-American culture and family storytelling traditions. While receiving a B.A. in History at Grinnell College, Sara was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and focused her research on the role of interpersonal relationships in social and political movements through activists’ origin stories. Sara currently works as a Visitor Services Associate at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes where she enjoys connecting with guests about their stories of Los Angeles.


SHI enjoys a challenge – which is why, for nearly a decade, she has been developing photorealistic paintings on wood. Inspired by years of international jet setting, SHI finds experimenting with traditional painting processes + focusing on minute abstract details a journey as interesting as the final piece. Most recently her process has evolved to include a film grain effect from resin + energetically charged materials giving each piece a unique appearance + palpable aura.

Bronson Foster

Director of Strategy & Communications, Long Beach Opera

Specialty: Creative Ecosystems / Performing Arts Leadership

Bronson Foster is a strategist and leader who believes that our shared creative and cultural expressions demonstrate the best of what we can achieve. His work focuses on increasing capacity, innovating systems, building space, utilizing data and research, empowering people, and fostering future-oriented thinking for arts and cultural organizations. Bronson is on the team at Long Beach Opera where he is Director of Strategy & Communications. Previously, Bronson has worked with the Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture, Boulanger Initiative, and Live Music Project. He has also served organizations such as Arts for LA, the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and Emerging Arts Leaders Los Angeles. Bronson completed his graduate studies at the University of Southern California (USC) earning a Master of Science degree. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). Bronson currently finds home in the vibrant Los Angeles region.

Dakota McMahand-Owens

Founder + Executive Director, Budding Artists

Specialty: Arts Education & Nonprofit Management

McMahand-Owens is a classically trained pianist who has spent her life merging arts education and activism to create social change on a grassroots level. Having been personally impacted by the transformative power of the arts, she knows it cultivates creative expression, supports relationship building, and nurtures social-emotional healing. Dakota is a first-generation college graduate with more than 10 years of experience working in the community arts space at institutions such as Inner-City Arts and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Dakota earned her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Public Administration from California Baptist University, and Master of Arts in Education Administration from the University of South Dakota. She also holds a Community Teaching Artist certificate from California State University, Los Angeles and is a trained facilitator for Social Emotional Arts on a Shoestring from UCLArts and Healing. As a lifelong learner, she is currently enrolled in a Specialized Study Program in Social and Emotional Learning at the University of California Riverside. In addition to her volunteer artivism efforts as the founder and executive director of Budding Artists, she works in the field of Undergraduate Medical Education.

Daniel Lobliner-Cortez

Board of Directors – Loyola Law School Orchestra

Specialty: Music – Education, Composition, Performance

Daniel Lobliner-Cortez has been playing music for 25 years. He received his Bachelor’s of Music in Education, Teaching Credential, and Master’s Degree in Afro-Latin Music at California State University, Los Angeles. After years in music academia, he joined and became a prominent song-writing member of a touring Latin Ska band. Mr. Cortez spent years touring the US, Europe, South America and China. During this time he gained experience in stagecraft, promotion, sound engineering, and stage performance. Mr. Cortez has also served as middle school band director and elementary level music instructor. Mr. Cortez received the titles of Teacher of the Year and STEAM Teacher of the Year.

David Valdez

Executive Engagement Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – NBCUniversal

Specialty: Media & Entertainment | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

David Valdez is the Executive Engagement Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Manager supporting NBCUniversal’s Chief Diversity Officer, Craig Robinson, and all of the company’s DEI efforts across the enterprise. David has spent 11 years at NBCU, previously with the world-famous Studio Tour on the Universal lot before joining Corporate Diversity in Dec of 2020. David was born and raised in Los Angeles and is passionate about supporting community based organizations that provide direct services to families and individuals facing critical challenges to success. He serves on the Board of Directors with Jovenes, Inc. a non-profit that serves youth ages 18-25 that are experiencing homelessness. David is a graduate of Yale University and has a Masters in Fine Arts from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, CA.

Heidi Zeller

Senior Manager, Cultural Planning, LA Metro

Specialty: Cultural Programming & Communications

Heidi Zeller is a cultural planner and arts organizer with a focus on the role of the arts and artists in enriching public spaces. She is Senior Manager, Cultural Programming for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority where she produces Metro Art Presents, an inventive series of arts and cultural programs in the historic heart of Los Angeles, Union Station. She also oversees communications for the Arts + Community Enrichment division, including traditional and social media, digital marketing and public information. Heidi holds a dual master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning and Public Art Studies from USC. She serves on the boards of CicLAvia, an open streets program and Freewaves, a public art organization.

Javier Solórzano

Creator of “Super Lucha Cats” and Art Director at a pet food company

Specialty: Comic books, storytelling and graphic design

Javier Solórzano is a comic book writer and artist. He is the creator of “Super Lucha Cats”, a comic book about a family of lucha libre cats defending their neighborhood in Bell Gardens. Hailed as “a big win” by Eric Mutter of Lucha Central, “Super Lucha Cats” currently has 2 issues, with Javier working on the upcomig 3rd. Javier is also a Graphic Designer and works as an Art Director during the day.

Kevin Johnson-Sather

Audience Services Manager at East West Players

Speciality: Arts Administration/Theatre Arts

Kevin Johnson-Sather is an arts administration professional and theater artist. Currently, Kevin serves as the Audience Services Manager at East West Players leading equitable ticketing initiatives and stewarding the operational growth of this historic organization. Kevin holds a dual MBA/MFA in Theatre Management from California State University Long Beach and has worked in management positions at Center Theatre Group, the Echo Theatre Company, and Timber Lake Playhouse.

Lysa Flores

Director, Talent Acquisition – Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Speciality: Producing / Singer-Songwriter / Performer

Lysa was born and raised in the city of East Los Angeles. A first generation Xicana, Lysa is an accomplished Actress, Activist, Producer and Print Maker and created her own record label “Bring Your Love” in 1997. Named by Newsweek as, “One of the 20 Young Latinos to Watch In The New Millennium,” Lysa has toured the US, Mexico, Egypt and Europe extensively and has produced 4 previously released solo albums which will be followed by her long awaited project titled Immigrant Daughter. 15 years in the making it features audio interviews of her family’s immigration story with first person accounts interwoven with musical guest artists such as Bill Frissell, Flaco Jimenez, David Hidalgo, John Doe and many more. She was the Musical Producer and actress for the critically acclaimed film, “Star Maps” for which she was nominated for best debut performance by the Independent Spirit Awards. Most recently Lysa has co-produced a trio of albums for punk icon Alice Bag the debut release for comedy activist troupe Chicano Secret Service, and the debut release for the psychobilly punk band The Deranged.

Melba Martinez

Producer- BRIC Foundation, Teaching Artist- Justice for My Sister, Social Media Video Producer- Feminist Center for Creative Work

Speciality: Community/cultural organizing, social media/communications

Melba (she/they) is an artist and cultural organizer from Pacoima, CA. Their passion for art and the fight for the liberation of all oppressed people guide her life and work. After attending UCSB, Melba was a community organizer in the San Fernando Valley working with immigrant women to create thriving communities. After that, Melba merged her love of art with her passion for social justice and began working with non and for profit arts organizations working to create a more just world. Melba has worked with, South Bay Center for Counseling, CultureGapLA, Maximum Fun, A Tribe Called Queer and currently works with BRIC Foundation, Justice for My Sister and Feminist Center for Creative Work. Melba’s personal art practice involves a variety of mediums including performance, modeling, video art, installation, fiber arts, makeup and styling. Melba weaves her varied knowledge and experience together to create space for historically excluded voices in the arts and the world at large.

Nadia Chrisanto

Assistant Operations and Digital Assets Manager

Specialty: Museum & Nonprofit Operations, Curatorial, Project & Exhibition Management/Planning, Nonprofit Administration, Leadership, DEAI

Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nadia Savira Chrisanto moved to the United States with her family to seek stability and safety. She navigated the nook and cranny of life as an undocumented immigrant and later on as a DACAmented. Her experiences shaped her passions and advocacy for diversity, accessibility, equity, and inclusivity, with a deep focus on the immigrant community. Although she has zero artistic skills, Nadia is committed to supporting works of underrepresented artists and using art & history to promote equity and cultural history. She is a passionate arts administrator and highly self-motivated with a demonstrated history of working in mission-specific museums and nonprofit organizations serving individuals in the arts, history, and culture. Nadia has extensive experience in project management, programming, curatorial research, exhibitions planning, grantmaking, and arts administration. She was the 2016 Getty Marrow Undergraduate Intern at the California African American Museum (CAAM), where she developed her passion for the arts and nonprofit administration. After the internship, she continued working at CAAM as a Curatorial & Program Assistant, then as Program Assistant for the Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), and as an Administrative Assistant for the LA County Museum of Art’s (LACMA) Education & Public Programs Department. In spring 2021, she rejoined CCI as their Assistant Operations & Digital Assets Manager. After struggling for a few long years, Nadia received her A.A. in History, Humanities, and Social & Behavioral Sciences from Pasadena City College and her B.A. in History from California State Polytechnic University Pomona. In her free time, Nadia is a cat mom to her two spoiled kitties, and enjoys playing video games and experimenting with new recipes.

Oscar Magallanes


Specialty: Public Art

Oscar Magallanes is a Chicano artist based in Los Angeles. Growing up in a Mexican-American barrio in LA, his artwork draws heavily from his upbringing and explores iconography from different eras. Expelled from high school at the age of fifteen, Magallanes was later admitted into the Ryman Arts program, which encouraged him to pursue a career in the arts. He went on to earn a BA in Art from UCLA in 2016 and an MFA in Visual Art from UC San Diego in 2021. His work can be found in the permanent collections of several museums including The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago and The Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, California. In 2016, he founded the art collective 3B, which has produced public art projects for various institutions. Magallanes has also served on the boards of several arts organizations and taught at UC San Diego.

Rebecca Horta

Director of Youth & Family Programs, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Specialty: Museum Education, art, youth & family programs

A Los Angeles native, Rebecca is a bilingual arts administrator born to immigrant parents from Jalisco, Mexico with twelve years of experience in museum education and community outreach. Rebecca currently serves as Director of Youth & Family Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Previously, Rebecca was an Arts Manager for the Airport Art Program for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Public Art Division. In addition Rebecca has worked at the City of Ontario: Ontario Museum of History & Art, the Museum of Latin American Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and Villa. She completed her BA in Art History from Occidental College and an MA in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University.

Robin Gilliam

Director, Kearns & West

Specialty: Community outreach & engagement, CBO collaborations

Robin Gilliam is a lifelong resident of South LA, a dedicated advocate, and an interdisciplinary practitioner. As a consultant, Robin currently works as a Director at Kearns & West where she practices process design and facilitation for community engagement and stakeholder collaborations in the environmental sector. Her areas of focus include community-based participation, equity, access, and environmental justice. Robin earned her BA in Fine Art from the University of Southern California and her Master of City Planning with an emphasis in Environmental Policy & Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, Robin has attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design where she studied landscape architecture and Otis College of Art and Design for Public Practice studies. Her diverse and creative background combined with her personal values have powered her passion for innovating impactful environmental and social justice work through meaningful collaboration and strategic partnerships.

Ximena M Martin

Director of Public Programs and Culinary Arts, LA Plaza De Cultura Y Artes

Specialty: Cultural Anthropology

With over 30 years of museum education and public programs experience, I have worked at the Bowers Museum of Non Western Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and presently at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes. I curate a robust public programs calendar of community events to engage guests in opportunities of learning and self-discovery through art, history, and food. Events include, cinema, music, and culinary programs, but not limited to performances, concerts lectures, public forums, workshops, think tanks, screenings, special events, etc.

Zach Davidson

Assistant Director of Development, A Noise Within

Specialty: Development & Fundraising

Zachary Reeve Davidson is an arts administrator, director/choreographer, producer, and general theatre miscreant. Zach is the Assistant Director of Development for A Noise Within Theatre, where he has written 100+ awarded grants (representing more than $2.6 million in funding). He also serves as the Artistic Director of Coin & Ghost, with whom he has remixed Shakespeare, Greek tragedy, Italian romance, Mexican folklore, German legend, French opera, and American mythology. As an arts administrator and creative consultant, Zach has worked with a dozen arts organizations throughout Los Angeles and around the country, including Conga Kids, Not Man Apart, Heidi Duckler Dance, BLKLST, Overtone Industries, Invertigo Dance Theatre, and more. Recently, Davidson was named to The Nonprofit Partnership’s 2023 “Emerging Leaders” cohort, co-authored the LA Anti-Racist Theatre Standards, and served as a grants panelist for both the LA County Arts Commission and the California Arts Council.

Alexandria Bingham

Born and raised in Metro Detroit, MI, I have always been involved in arts and culture in all its forms.  I have a B.A. in Art History and am studying to obtain a dual masters in Art Business/MBA. My background is primarily within the visual arts at contemporary art museums. Art and activism are my passion; as such I feel it crucial to be an active proponent in starting necessary conversations, challenging societal norms, and pushing the boundaries of what’s considered art and who it’s for. I chose to pursue a master’s degree because I was interested in challenging myself, expanding my reach and knowledge, and gaining more opportunities and resources to propel my career forward.  I am an innovative creative professional and leader with a drive to create equity, start necessary conversations, create and sustain creative communities, and enrich and educate through art.

Ayu Tanaka

Ayu Tanaka is a communications and marketing professional that has worked at various nonprofit arts organizations across her career including Center Theatre Group, The Broad Stage, and The Levitt Foundation.  She graduated from the George Washington University in Washington, DC in 2018 with a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and American Studies. She cares deeply about social change and performing meaningful work in her community. In 2020, Ayu founded Happy Hour Fund (@happyhourfund), a grassroots mutual aid organization that provides $200 financial assistance grants at the end of the month to excluded workers—workers who did not have access to unemployment/stimulus checks, healthcare, and other social services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its inception, HHF has raised over $50,000 and has collaborated with numerous community organizations across Los Angeles and Washington, DC. She is very excited to be a member of the 2022 Arts for LA Mentee Cohort!

Isabel Ngo

Isabel Ngo is an arts administrator and editor with experience in publishing, visual and performing arts, and justice organizing. Isabel was born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley and currently works at Antaeus Theatre Company in fundraising and development. She graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2018, where she studied theatre arts, English, and studio arts. Isabel is excited to be part of this year’s Protege cohort, and hopes to learn more about career pathways in arts and literary organizations, build community with fellow mentees, and continue developing her own artistic practice.

Jean Young

Jean Young (they/she) is a second generation Taiwanese American artist and storyteller who is inspired by the relationships around them. Their foundations are in visual arts and use illustrations, printmaking, photography, zines, ceramics, and more as materials to build narratives. Based in Los Angeles, they are currently the Marketing Coordinator at the Chinese American Museum, the Social Media Manager for Tuesday Night Project, and a Digital Publication Intern for the Smithsonian “Folklife” digital magazine. Through these roles, they focus on how digital media usage facilitates community building, informing the ways they create content and branding for the organizations they are a part of. As an arts advocate, they continue to utilize digital strategies to create connections and access to resources within a community for more equity within the arts.

Jorge Vargas

I’m Jorge Vargas (pronounced Hor-Hey), and I am an artist and licensed clinical social worker. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, and my parents migrated from Michoacán, México in the 70’s. I identify as Chicano/Latinx, Queer, Cis-Male, First Generation college student, and as being from a low-income background. As an artist I create relief prints, digital graphics, and write poetry. My artistic work focuses on themes of healing, spirituality, and identity; all topics that overlap with my work as a therapist. Currently, I work in private practice as a clinician, while also creating a career as an artist; neither is a “side-hustle”, both are core pieces of my professional and personal identity.

Kathya Lopez

My name is Kathya Lopez, I was born and raised in Los Angeles, with an interest in museum education and arts administration. I have a B.A. in Art History and Spanish/Latin American Studies from Gettysburg College and a M.A. in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University. My hobbies include watching films, concert-going, and playing video games with friends. As an emerging museum professional, I want to continue learning about museums and cultural organizations alike and their untapped potential as we continue into the 21st century. While I was born and raised in Los Angeles, it does not mean I know everything that there is to be offered, especially in the arts sector. My intention with this mentorship program is to not only learn from my mentor but also from the mentees in the program through listening and reflecting about their experiences within this field.

Kevine Ecliserio-Velez

Kevine Ecliserio-Velez is an independent artist, travel writer, and mental health advocate in East Los Angeles, California, born and raised as a Mexican-American. As a first-generation woman, she is passionate about developing community initiatives, enriching students in the K-12 sector, and assisting students pursuing higher education. After earning her Bachelor of Arts in Asian American Studies from California State University, Northridge, in 2018, she was also awarded a Community Builder Award within her academic department. Kevine has been working as a Community Engagement Coordinator at the Chinese American Museum for the past few years, building and sustaining community partnerships across the United States and Canada. She has also developed a workshop series for an Upward Bound TRiO program that focused on the college-going culture and developed English writing workshops. In addition, she facilitated a lecture at the WESTOP Student Leadership Conference, which focused on informing participants about the importance of soft skills and applying them in their day-to-day life to develop networking skills as they progress through their personal journeys. In her free time, Kevine loves to spend time with her family, loves to try new food, and enjoys playing tennis. She one day hopes to create an impact in the community and inspire others to achieve their goals.

Kiani Wish

My name is Kiani Wish, I’m a pinoy/caucasian, queer-identifying artist. Born and raised in LA. I attended LACHSA to study visual fine arts, then Long Beach City College, and finally transferred into UCLA’s Design Media Arts BA program. Seeking to round my skillset into an emerging virtual landscape, gain a deeper understanding of art’s intersection in the “net” and exploring multiple notions of “user experience”- while discussing my conceptual intrigues that umbrella motifs of “SPACE” (proximity/amateur interior design/negative space in a room) and “COMFORT”(where cultural heritage intersects bildungsroman/mental tensions/illusions of safety) and more. Since graduating in 2021, I’ve interned for ESMoA under the Getty Marrow Undergraduate Internship program and now work part-time with the non-profit-art-space curating their internet presence. I’m interested in this opportunity because I feel I need guidance in focusing my practice to a focused place that can harmonize the “stories” I want to tell with my technical interests in spatial artworks (new & mixed media installations in real-life and digital-space), video art, illustration (my original love), AND experiential design. I would like a mentorship to help realize my authentic voice, because I know it is within reach. I would be incredibly grateful to work with an industry professional who has likely been in my dilemma and has developed tools that make them into the arts leader they are today.

Lilia Jiménez

Lilia Jiménez (she/her/ella) is a Los Angeles-based queer, first-generation Chicana arts administrator and a passionate advocate of education equity and racial justice in the arts. After graduating from Occidental College with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Latinx/Latin American Studies in 2018, she supported the Autry Museum as the Education Intern through the Getty Multicultural Undergraduate Internship program before spending a year in Mexico as a Fulbright Fellow. Upon returning to Los Angeles, she has worked in various capacities at arts institutions and non-profits spearheading community engagement efforts and supporting grant initiatives. As a 2022 Protege mentee, she is excited to grow her expertise in social

entrepreneurship and equity work in the arts while bridging her experiences in program management with her passion for large-scale institutional impact that centers BIPOC communities.

Sofia Lugo

Hi! Name’s Sofia Lugo (She/They) I am an East Los Angeles Native and part of the BIPOC community. I am a person who loves storytelling and am a strong believer that art heals ! I love to create performance art, devised theatre, herbal teas, candles, soaps, and plant based foods to name a few. I would love to empower, educate, and disrupt structural barriers that obstruct the influence and growth of BIPOC individuals. I would love to have guidance/ a mentor that can help me find opportunities/ sharpen my skillset for the long run – I graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts – Have leadership skills, Stage Management Skills, Breathwork/Vocal Skills (Facilitation), and Guidance skills. I would like to grow more in leadership skills not limited to Community Engagement and organizing, Communications and Marketing, Directing, and Curating. I do consider myself as a Multidisciplinary- Theatre has taught me to work with what you have and remain resilient and keep moving forward. When the pandemic hit – it has been difficult finding my place in the arts- no longer eligible for internships due to my age and how long I’ve been out of school. Though I continued to move and build- I am teaching myself Adobe Creative as of right now- and work as a server. This experience can help me expand opportunities in other fields of entertainment and also a mentor to help guide me along the way.

Brittany Gash

Director of Marketing & Communications, The Broad Stage

Specialty: Marketing

Brittany A. Gash is the Director of Marketing & Communications for The Broad Stage. A storyteller – she considers it her job to shape authentic and engaging narratives that bring positive change to communities. 

With a career that spans just over 15 years, she has worked with a variety of nonprofit arts organizations from theatre and music, to dance, visual art, and film. Some of her most notable clients include Invertigo Dance Theatre, American Youth Symphony, Emerging Arts Leaders/LA, LA County Department of Arts and Culture, Ford Theatres, Brazilian Nites Productions, Chamber Music in Historic Sites, Hollywood Fringe Festival, Towne Street Theatre, and many more. 

Brittany has an MBA and specializes in Marketing Strategy, Brand Management, Digital Marketing, Public Relations, Donor Engagement, and Community Partnership.  She believes strongly in ethical marketing and practices conscious marketing and marketing intuitively.

Bronson Foster

Head of Experience & Partnerships, Long Beach Opera

Specialty: General Arts Nonprofit Leadership, Communications & Experience Design

Bronson Foster is a strategist and leader who believes that our shared creative and cultural expressions demonstrate the best of what we can achieve. His work focuses on increasing capacity, innovating systems, creating space, utilizing data and research, empowering people, and future thinking for arts and cultural organizations. In 2021, he joined the team at Long Beach Opera where he is Head of Experience & Partnerships. Previously, Bronson has worked with the Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture, Boulanger Initiative, and Live Music Project. He served on the leadership council for Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles and as a member of various organizations’ committees such as the Association of Arts Administration Educators. Bronson completed his graduate studies at the University of Southern California (USC) where he earned a Master of Science degree as well as having earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV).

Charlie Jensen

Program Director, Writers’ Program; UCLA Extension

Specialty: Career development/coaching, arts education, arts management

Charlie Jensen is the program director of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious continuing education creative writing programs. He is the author of three collections of poetry, and he was honored by the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs as a Cultural Trailblazer.

Dilcia Barrera

Programmer, Sundance Film Institute

Specialty: Film Curation, Film Artist Development

Dilcia Barrera is a Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival where she focuses on feature length fiction films and series. Her curation experience spans over a decade and includes tenure as Programming Director for LALIFF, Senior Programmer at AFI FEST, and has collaborated with programming teams at OUTFEST and the New York Film Festival. She was LACMA’s Film Curator overseeing public programming, and screenings in conjunction with the museum’s exhibitions including Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters. Most recently, she served as a development consultant for network projects and produced an upcoming shorts compilation series for Showtime. She was featured in “IndieWire’s 20 Latin Americans Making a Difference for American Independent Film Today” in 2016 and ScreenDaily’s “Future Leaders 2019: programmers and curators to watch” list.

Fabian Fuertes

Senior Manager, YOLA | Los Angeles Philharmonic Association

Specialty: Arts Administration

Fabian Fuertes (he/him), holds the position of Senior Manager, YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a board member with Arts for LA, and is a Delegate for Assembly District 53 with the CA Democratic Party. His passion for equitable education, the arts, and social justice inspires his work in creating a profound societal renewal in our generation and the next. As a native Angeleno and first-generation Latinx, he is proud to be a part of an organization that engages more than 1,300 young people from historically marginalized communities across LA County through free music experiences and creative youth development to inspire belonging and membership, autonomy, civic and social abilities, and stronger lifelong learners. Fabian is excited to continuously explore personal blind spots, enable transformation, and continue his pursuit in creating a world in which access to equitable education, for all, inspires any person to fulfill their greatest potential.

Helen Alonzo Hurtado

Social Enterprise Manager, Las Fotos Project

Specialty: Art education and social entrepreneurship

Helen Alonzo Hurtado (she/her/ella) is Las Fotos Project’s Social Enterprise Manager. At Las Fotos Project, Helen is able to combine her personal passion for youth development with her professional passion of building financially sustainable nonprofit organizations through social entrepreneurship. Helen is responsible for the creative direction of the social enterprise managing all aspects of its activities including its CEO program which connects students to paid job opportunities preparing them for careers in the creative industry as well as managing The Foto Studio, an incubator providing students a space to further develop their skills as creative professionals while doubling as an accelerator offering an affordable option for local artists seeking a creative workspace. Prior to joining Las Fotos Project, Helen was an Associate Educator at the Skirball Cultural Center overseeing 5th to 12th grade programs. Helen graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master’s degree in Public Administration and she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Jay Carlon

Independent Choreographer and Director

Speciality: Dance 

Jay Carlon is a queer Filipinx American contemporary dance artist and community organizer based between LA and NYC.  He is committed to connecting his art practice to sustainability and his personal and collective journey of decolonization. He is Co-Manager and Educator of homeLA’s Place-Making Program. Carlon was named Dance Magazine’s 25 to Watch and his work has been featured throughout the United States, Mexico, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Jay is a performer and directing associate with Australian spectacle theater company Sway, where he has performed at the 2014 Olympics, the 2016 World EXPO, and the 2018 Super Bowl. Carlon has also performed with the Metropolitan Opera, Bill T. Jones, jumatatu m. poe, The Industry Opera, Oguri, Solange Knowles, Rodrigo y Gabriela; and choreographed works for Kanye West and Mndsgn.

Kelly Williams

Manager of School Communities, Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Speciality: Museums and Arts Education

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Kelly currently serves as the Manager of School Communities at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. In this role, she is responsible for working in collaboration with students, teachers, and communities to envision dynamic opportunities for learning and engagement. Kelly’s previous work includes leading school partnerships at the Getty Museum, managing family and youth initiatives in the Discovery Center at the Natural History Museum of LA County, starring in distance learning programming with the Cleveland Museum of Art, and leading tours in English and Italian as a Peggy Guggenheim intern. Kelly holds a MS in Education from Bank Street College and a BA in Studio Art from Connecticut College. In her free time, she loves spending time with her two kids, drinking coffee, and perfecting her margarita recipe.

Leticia Rhi Buckley

Incoming CEO of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes

Speciality: Civic and community engagement, DEIA

A native of East Los Angeles, Leticia Rhi Buckley is deeply committed to making the arts accessible and has led major countywide initiatives to effectively shape more inclusive and equitable policies throughout the Los Angeles region. While at the LA County Department of Arts and Culture, Leticia led the County’s Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative (CEII), working closely with stakeholders to develop and implement actionable strategies to support the arts in historically under-resourced communities. In her most recent role as Senior Civic Strategist at The Music Center, Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County, Leticia was responsible for the overall direction and strategic implementation of civic and community relationships. She is an LA County Arts Commissioner, Board Chair of the Arts for Healing and Justice Network, and adjunct professor at Claremont Graduate University’s Center for Business and Management of the Arts. Leticia has been selected as Chief Executive Officer of LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown Los Angeles, and will assume the position on April 4th.

Umi Hsu

Director of Content Strategy, ONE Archives Foundation

Specialty: Cultural sector digital strategy, digital humanities, arts and humanities content strategy, cultural mapping, arts data

Umi Hsu (pronouns: they/them) is a public humanist and digital strategist with research and organizing agendas for equity in arts, technology, and civic life. They are currently the Director of Content Strategy at ONE Archives Foundation. Previously, Hsu led digital and data initiatives at the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. They have taught at ArtCenter College of Design and USC Marshall School of Business and published extensively on digital media, data, sound, and Internet culture. Hsu has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Council for Learned Society, Shuttleworth Foundation, and LA Metro. As a sound ethnographer and artist, Hsu has works presented by the Rubin Museum, Japanese American National Museum, ONE Archives, Tuesday Night Cafe, and CTM Festival in Berlin. They also play in LA-based ghost pop band Bitter Party.