The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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





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  / Jamie Keil
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7020
Email: jamie (at)
More about Jamie




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






Exhibition Catalyst / Wes Modes

Email: wes (at)

More about Wes



robbieChief Preparator / Robbie Schoen

Email: robbie (at)

More about Robbie





 Visitor Services



Mary Harpin
Gallery Host Coordinator
Email: maryh (at)







Michaela Clark-Nagaoka
Graphics Productions Assistant
Email: michaela (at)






Skarlett Arreola
Email: skarlett (at)






Claudia Oblea
Facility Rental Coordinator
Email: claudiao (at)






Andrea Alarcon
Email: andreaa (at)






Juan Carlos Reynoso
Email: carlos (at)






Kevin Hoshiko
Email: kevin (at)







Ingrid Pichel
Email: ingridp (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 Watsonville, CA
Bill Ladusaw, Vice-President: Retired UCSC Dean of Humanities, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Judy Jones, Secretary: Retired educator/school administrator, resident of Live Oak, CA
David Jacobs, Treasurer: Accountant/business owner, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Angela Chesnut, Chair of Development: Fundraiser, resident of Santa Cruz, CA


Carola Barton: philanthropy and financial services advisor, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Lawrence Brenner: Lawyer, resident of Aptos, CA
Darrin Caddes: VP of Corporate Design at Plantronics, resident of Soquel, CA
Raymon Cancino: CEO of Community Bridges, resident of Aptos, CA
Pedro Castillo: Professor Emeritus, UCSC, resident of Watsonville, CA
John Dowdell: President and CEO, Dowdell Financial Services, resident of Sacramento/Santa Cruz, CA
Howard Heevner: UCSC Asst. Vice-Chancellor, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Ted Holladay: Graphic designer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Laura LaPorte: Human rights attorney, resident of Scotts Valley, CA
Vance Landis-Carey: CEO in healthcare, resident of Watsonville, CA
George Newell: Retired County Administrative Officer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Peter Orr: CEO of agriculture business, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Ashley Spencer: Principal, Spencer Consulting, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Heather Stiles: Financial Services Advisor, resident of Aptos, CA
James Thompson: Lawyer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Linda Wilshusen: Retired Regional Transportation Commission Executive Director, resident of Live Oak, CA



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 and a Bachelors of Arts in Art History from UC Santa Cruz. She has over 15 years of experience preserving and cataloging cultural artifacts. She’s curated many exhibitions at the MAH and other venues. Marla loves working at a museum that puts community first. On most days you can find Marla working alongside volunteers in the archives. She enjoys when people visit with an experience or an artifact to share. Marla knows everyone has a story to tell—all you need is a safe space and compassion. A life-long resident of Santa Cruz, on her free time, Marla could easily spend the entire day at the beach. Easily.

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.

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 / Jamie Keil
Jamie Keil holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz. For the past two years she has been working for a non-profit after school company at a variety of local elementary schools, as well as spending time volunteering at the MAH. Her passion is creating interactive and educational projects for children and hopes to create a positive and innovative learning space where everyone can explore, play, create and have fun. Outside of work, Jamie loves going to the beach, hiking, painting and spending time with her adorable dog, Annie, who has been by her side for six years.

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 on 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.

Exhibition Catalyst / Wes Modes
Wes Modes is a Santa Cruz artist focused on social practice, sculpture, performance and new media work. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts from the Digital Art and New Media program at the University of California Santa Cruz. He has exhibited his art and performed regionally since 1996. He has worked with the MAH as an artist, artistic collaborator, organizer, and now Guest Curator and Exhibition Catalyst. He serves on the MAH’s Creative Community Commission. He has served on the non-profit boards of KUSP public radio, the Santa Cruz Hub For Sustainable Living, and the Revolutionary Garden Society. He has served as a grant reviewer for the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County. Wes worked in the tech industry for 25 years as a software engineer, systems administrator, and systems architect. His computer systems work includes Silicon Graphics, Adobe, and UCSC, serving as the primary systems architect of the Grateful Dead Archive Online. He is also a writer, performer, adventurer and community organizer. For more information, please visit

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.

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