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





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





eliseCommunity Engagement & Marketing Associate / 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





justinExhibitions 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






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





leticiaSchool Programs Coordinator / Leticia Salinas
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7020
Email: leticia (at)
More about Leticia






robbieChief Preparator / Robbie Schoen

Email: robbie (at)

More about Robbie





jesseTeen Program Assistant  / Jesse Villegas

(831) 429-1964 ext. 7025
Email: jesse (at)






Visitor Services

kaelleKaelle Allen
Email: kaelle (at)






kaiKai Hanson
Email: kaih (at)







Jonatan Garibay
Email: jonatan (at)







Alexxa Kovacs
Email: alexxa (at)






carenMary Kopp
Email: maryk (at)






Board of Trustees

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

Executive Committee:

Vance Landis-Carey, President: CEO in healthcare, resident of Watsonville, CA
James Emerson, Vice 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


Lawrence Brenner: Lawyer, resident of Aptos, CA
Darrin Caddes: VP of Corporate Design at Plantronics, resident of Soquel, CA
Allyson Evans: Corporate event planner, resident of Soquel, CA
Pat Fitz: Owner of mushroom business, resident of Freedom, CA
Ted Holladay, Graphic designer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Gwen Kaplan: Owner of real estate business, resident of Aptos, 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
Donna Reyerson-Keith: Educator, resident of Aptos, CA
Ann Simonton: Activist and media educator, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Maryjane Slade: Owner of travel business, resident of Rio Del Mar, 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.

Third Friday Community Programs Interns:  Lisa Osorio, Kelsey Mathews, Heather Rose. 

3rd Friday 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.

First Friday Community Program Intern: Helen Aldana

First Friday interns assist the community programs staff in developing, designing and producing 1st Friday art activities at the MAH. They also assist in the development and brainstorming of upcoming community programs.

Pop Up Museum Intern: Lauren Benetua

The Pop Up Museum Interns assist with the development, facilitation, and documentation of Pop Up Museums- temporary, traveling community shows- throughout Santa Cruz County.

Photography and Video Interns: Justin William, Kala Narayan and Jessica Varela

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: Alexa Kovachevich and Haley Fricke

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

Youth Programs Interns: Lauren Benetua, Jana Kurita, Brandt Courtway, Webster Nguyen  and Sheila Suarez 

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.

School Programs Interns: Sarah Buckius, Mary Harpin, Maytal Gotesman, Kristen McCormick, Chenoa Musillo, Nolan Decuman, Eva Schewe and Lauren Benetua

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.

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.


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.

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.

Community Engagement & Marketing Associate / 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 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.

School Programs Coordinator / Leticia Salinas
Leticia received a B.A. in Art History and Spanish from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She also holds a M.A. in Art Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the MAH family, she worked with families and special needs audiences at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Meadows Museum of Art. Her favorite thing about Santa Cruz is being able to hear the sea lions from her balcony.

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.

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.

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.

Chief Preparator / Robbie Schoen
Robbie Schoen really enjoys his work. When he’s not at the MAH, he is at the Felix Kulpa Gallery on Elm Street (where he is also the Director).