The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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Staff and Board Information

We love to hear from you. Feel free to call our main line, 831-429-1964, anytime to learn more about what’s going on at the museum. You can also send an email to to share your comments with all of us. Or, catch us online on Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr. Click here to jump down to info about our Board of Trustees.

Or you can reach us individually:


ninaExecutive Director / Nina Simon
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7018
Email: nina (at)
More about Nina





lisAdministrative Manager / Lis DuBois
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7023
Email: lis (at)
More about Lis






Director of Development & Communications / Marcus Frost
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7031
Email: marcus (at)
More about Marcus




Membership Director & Development Associate / Karen Bush

(831) 429-1964 ext. 7021
Email: karen (at)
More about Karen




dianaVisitor and Volunteer Services Manager, Facility Rentals / Diana Kapsner
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7010
Email: diana (at)
More about Diana





eliseMarketing & Engagement Coordinator / Elise Granata
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7028
Email: elise (at)
More about Elise





marlaCurator of Collections / Marla Novo
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7019
Email: marla (at)
More about Marla





justin2Exhibitions Manager / Justin Collins

(831) 429-1964 ext. 7029
Email: justin (at)
More about Justin







Curator of Exhibitions/ Justin Hoover
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7032
Email: jhoover (at)
More about Justin




staceyDirector of Community Engagement/ Stacey Marie Garcia
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7026
Email: stacey (at)
More about Stacey





emilyYouth Programs Manager  / Emily Hope Dobkin
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7025
Email: emily (at)
More about Emily






School Programs Coordinator  / Maya Muñoz-Tobón
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7020
Email: maya (at)
More about Maya




noraCommunity Programs Coordinator / Nora Grant
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7022
Email: norag (at)
More about Nora






Community Programs Coordinator / Sandino Gomez
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7033
Email: sandino (at)
More about Sandino




robbieChief Preparator / Robbie Schoen

Email: robbie (at)

More about Robbie





 Visitor Services



Mary Harpin

Email: maryh (at)







Michaela Clark-Nagaoka

Email: michaela (at)





Skarlett Arreola
Email: skarlett (at)





claudiaClaudia Oblea
Email: claudia (at)





ingridIngrid Pichel
Email: ingrid (at)




kevinKevin Hoshiko
Email: kevin (at)





carenMary Kopp
Email: maryk (at)

Board of Trustees

The MAH Board of Trustees provides leadership and oversight for all Museum activities.

Executive Committee:

James Emerson, President: Retired judge, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Judy Jones, Secretary: Retired educator/school administrator, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
David Jacobs, Treasurer: Accountant/business owner, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Angela Chesnut, Chair of Development: Fundraiser, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Vance Landis-Carey, Past President: CEO in healthcare, resident of Watsonville, CA


Lawrence Brenner: Lawyer, resident of Aptos, CA
Darrin Caddes: VP of Corporate Design at Plantronics, resident of Soquel, CA
Pedro Castillo: Professor Emeritus, UCSC, resident of Watsonville, CA
Pat Fitz: Owner of mushroom business, resident of Freedom, CA
Howard Heevner: UCSC Asst. Vice-Chancellor, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Ted Holladay, Graphic designer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Bill Ladusaw: UCSC Dean of Humanities, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Cynthia Mathews: City Council member, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
George Newell: Retired County Administrative Officer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Peter Orr: CEO of agriculture business, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Maryjane Slade: Owner of travel business, resident of Rio Del Mar, CA
Ashley Spencer: Principal, Spencer Consulting, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Heather Stiles: Financial Services Advisor, resident of Aptos, CA
David Terrazas: Lawyer and City Council member, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
James Thompson: Lawyer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Linda Wilshusen: Retired director of regional transit, resident of Santa Cruz, CA


We also have many fabulous interns at the MAH who contribute to our work. Check out a listing of our open internship positions here.

Community Programs Interns:  Taylor Hoover-Hart, Julia White, and Taylor Bott.

Community Program interns assist Community Programs Staff in developing, designing, collaborating and producing 3rd Friday programs at the MAH. They collaborate with local community members and design participatory art and history workshops. Additionally they assist with First Friday art activities, outreach programs at Beach Flats Community Center and other events.

Youth Programs Interns: Sophie Restall and Carmen Palacios-Chisholm

Youth Programs interns assist the Youth Programs Manager in planning, designing, collaborating and teaching creative and participatory programs engaging youth including our new “Kid Happy Hour” series, family festivals such as Summerpalooza, as well as working on school tour programming at the MAH.

Marketing Interns:

The event photography interns design and run our Photography Booth every 3rd Friday . The photography and video interns also photograph special events and community programs.

Participatory Exhibit Design Interns:

With the curatorial staff, exhibitions interns assist in developing, prototyping, and researching, and installing interactive and participatory elements for exhibitions.

Collections Intern: Greg Gardner and Renata McRee

Creating finding aids and scanning photographs from the MAH’s archives. Greg has worked on the entire Paul Johnston Collection. The images in this collection capture almost one hundred years of life in the Soquel, Capitola, and Aptos areas. Renata is working on the stereographs–researching, archiving, and preserving.

Collections Interns: Joan Martin, Kiera Stasny, Cameron Swanagon
Diligently transcribing diaries from the 19th Century. The diaries were donated to the MAH by Otto and Joyce Lund. The Jensen/Lund family has lived in the same house since it was built in 1880.

School Programs Interns: NA

School Programs Interns share art and history with local elementary aged school children in both a classroom setting and informal learning environment. They assist with curriculum development, lesson planning, public speaking and delivering lesson plans at the MAH.

Staff Bios

Executive Director / Nina Simon
Nina Simon is an internationally-recognized expert on active community participation in cultural institutions and has been named a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her innovative approach to design. Nina received the American Alliance for Museums’ Nancy Hanks Memorial Award in 2012 and was named one of the 50 most “powerful and influential people in nonprofit arts” by the Western States Arts Federation in 2012 and 2013. Nina is the author of The Participatory Museum (2010) and the popular Museum 2.0 blog. Nina holds a B.S. from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in electrical engineering and mathematics. She loves waking up in the redwoods every day.

Administrative Manager / Lis DuBois
Lis DuBois is a huge fan of community-based arts organizations. Lis received a Masters degree in Arts Administration from Boston University and a B.A. in Art History from Scripps College. She came to the MAH following several years at the New England Foundation for the Arts and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. Lis loves living in Santa Cruz, and is happiest when open-water swimming in the Monterey Bay.

Director of Development & Communications / Marcus Frost
Marcus Frost joins the MAH with extensive experience building excitement and enthusiasm for donor-founded projects and fundraising for social justice and other community development initiatives. Marcus began his career as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and has continued working for national and international nonprofits including the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Prior to joining the MAH, Marcus was the Associate Director of Development for Social Sciences at UC Santa Cruz where he helped secure a $5 million gift to the Center of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Marcus holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Montana. He enjoys playing pick-up basketball, exploring all the great trails in Santa Cruz, hitting up the Saturday Farmer’s markets and attending live music, having seen everyone from Ray Charles to Animal Collective.

Membership Director & Development Associate / Karen Bush
Karen Bush is originally from Humboldt County and earned her B.A. in American Studies from Stanford University. She has over 13 years of non-profit and arts organization experience including work in Carmel galleries, Americorps programs, and ten years at the MAH. Karen’s favorite thing about Santa Cruz is running on our majestic trails from the redwoods to the sea.

Visitor and Volunteer Services Manager, Facility Rentals / Diana Kapsner
Diana Kapsner lives life somewhere in the intersection of art and science fiction. She graduated with a BA in History of Art & Visual Culture from UCSC and went on to work as a Research Assistant at Museum and Curatorial Studies (MACS) there. She has also been a Gallery Assistant at JB Hall Gallery and a Sales Assistant and Facility Rental Coordinator at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. A longtime Santa Cruz resident, she thinks Santa Cruz is like the TARDIS: it looks small, but is bigger on the inside.

Marketing & Engagement Coordinator / Elise Granata
Elise Granata is on a mission to bridge the gap between alternative and institutional arts. Whether booking 500-person Zombie Proms in New York or developing fundraising strategies for university dance conservatories, her passion is rooted deeply in community engagement between arts institutions and marginalized communities. She runs a blog about grassroots arts called Grasstronaut. She graduated with a BA in Arts Management and Art History from SUNY Purchase and comes to the MAH after work in music, theatre, dance, and visual arts on the east coast. Her favorite place in Santa Cruz is Saturn Diner, and her favorite thing about Santa Cruz is that it’s small enough to constantly feel like a sitcom.

Curator of Collections / Marla Novo
Marla Novo earned a Master of Arts in Art History from San Jose State University. She has over 15 years of expertise in registration and collections cataloging for both art and history artifacts. She has curated many exhibitions at the MAH and elsewhere. A life-long resident of Santa Cruz, Marla still thinks it’s the best place on earth.

Exhibitions Manager / Justin Collins
Justin Collins, received a Masters degree in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University and a B.S. in Anthropology from UC Davis. He joined the MAH following several years at the Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Exploratorium. Justin spends his time in Santa Cruz exploring the tide pools or hunting mushrooms in the redwoods.

Curator of Exhibitions / Justin Hoover
Justin Charles Hoover (胡智騰) is a Bay Area based time-based artist and a curator. As an artist, his work deals with language, cultural relocation and translocation through performance, video, and installation. He has performed, curated, and exhibited at numerous venues around the world including the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Apex Art, New York; the 2011 Art Life Festival in Guangzhou, China; Werkstattkino, München, Germany; the Time-Based Art Festival at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, OR; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; the Berkeley Art Museum, and many other venues. He is currently Curator of Exhibitions at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History and holds bachelor degrees in Peace Studies and French Literature and master degrees in New Genres Fine Arts and Public Administration of International Management.

Director of Community Engagement/ Stacey Marie Garcia
Stacey Marie Garcia holds a Masters in International Museum Studies from the University of Göteborg (Göteborg, Sweden) and a BFA in Photography and Art History from the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL). She has worked internationally in variety of art centers, galleries and museums including the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, the Florida Museum of Natural History, WARPhaus Gallery, The Norton Museum of Art, The Armory Art Center, Bukowskis, Göteborg City Museum and Göteborg Natural History Museum. Her passion for community engagement through the arts led her to teaching, exhibit design, photography, community organizing, public art and curating. She is currently a member of the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission. Stacey is a collaborator and artist at heart, seeking and creating magic in Santa Cruz.

Youth Programs Manager / Emily Hope Dobkin
Emily Hope Dobkin holds a Master’s in Arts Management from the University of Oregon with a focus in Community Arts, as well as a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing from Goucher College. She has studied various art forms across the globe, including Dance As Cultural Metaphor at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Brown Paper Studio, an arts methodology that uses the basics of theatre to collaboratively create in Cape Town, South Africa. These and other arts experiences have inspired her to facilitate a range of engaging arts educational opportunities in cultural organizations in Baltimore to Eugene to now here in Santa Cruz, where she greets each day to find anything from starfish to sea lions at her feet and frequents toasted marshmallow fluff atop her ice cream from Penny Ice Creamery.

School Programs Coordinator / Maya Muñoz-Tobón
Maya Muñoz-Tobón obtained a Master’s degree in Arts Management from the University of Oregon with a focus on Community Arts. She has worked and volunteered in a long list of non-profit organizations, ranging from immigration advocacy to youth media production, in both the United States and Colombia. Her interest on community engagement and empowerment has taken her to teach health equity, storytelling, video production and arts to youth at formal and informal settings in rural and urban areas. Maya wants to engage the community in creative and inclusive learning experiences and hopes to do so here at the MAH.

Community Programs Coordinator / Nora Grant
Nora Grant holds a BA in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked in various art and educational settings, including tutoring inmates at San Quentin (Marin, CA), assisting contemporary artists at New York fine art paper mill Pace Prints, (Brooklyn, NY), teaching a Forms of Storytelling class for UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), and managing Pop Up Museums for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH). She currently works as the Community Programs Coordinator for MAH, where she collaborates with diverse members of the community to build social capital through participatory, interdisciplinary programs. Nora Grant is also a practicing visual artist and writer whose work explores x, y, and beyond z. You can view her website at Born in Santa Cruz, Nora loves how often she discovers new layers to the town’s landscape and personality.

Community Programs Coordinator / Sandino Gomez
Sandino Gomez is an increasingly rare indigenous Banana Slug. He grew up in Santa Cruz and after graduating from Harbor High he attended UCSC where he got his BA degree in Community Studies. Since graduating he has worked locally in the education and nonprofit community at organizations such as the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Project Bike Trip, Mariposa’s Art and Community TV. He has also been involved in and volunteered extensively with the Watsonville Brown Berets, Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.3 FM, the Bike Shack, the Cuba Caravan and all sorts of other fun community based projects. Sandino is OBSESSED with building community, causing laughter, and breaking out of dominant and antiquated paradigms of how we should live and relate to each other.

Chief Preparator / Robbie Schoen
His name is not Felix Kulpa, but you can see how some might make that mistake. That’s because Robbie Schoen is the first, last and only guy to talk to if you want to know anything about downtown Santa Cruz’s delightfully weird but seriously progressive Felix Kulpa Gallery. A conceptual artist in his own right, Robbie is most known for making guitars out of everything from satellite dishes to toilet seats. But as the director of the Kulpa, he’s been even more influential giving ambitious local artists a forum for their work, featuring more than 120 group and individual shows over the last eight years. When not at his gallery, he can often be found at the Museum of Art & History where he employs his experience at exhibiting artwork to helping design the MAH’s galleries. But it is at the Kulpa where Robbie designs an interior space that is most like his own artistic interests, with something intriguing on every wall and in every corner. Robbie was a recipient of the 2014 Gail Rich Award.