The Center for the Arts Staff

Julie Baker, Executive Director
Julie Baker, Executive Director Julie brings over 25 years of experience in arts marketing and management to her current position as Executive Director of The Center for the Arts. Earlier in her career she worked in New York City at several prominent art galleries and the international auction house Christie’s before becoming the President of her family’s art marketing agency. Clients of the agency included JVC Jazz Festival, Toyota Comedy Festival, Newport Folk Festival, Art Dealers Association of American, Guggenheim Museum and many more. After selling the business in 1998 and moving to Nevada City, she worked as an Executive Producer for Tristream, a web development firm. In 2001 she opened her own business Julie Baker Fine Art, located in Grass Valley and later Nevada City and New York City and for 2 years co-produced and founded an art fair in Miami. She joined the Center in June of 2009. She currently serves on the board of California Presenters, a statewide coalition committed to connecting, engaging and developing performing arts professionals from organizations of different sizes and structures; and advocating for important issues in the presenting field.

Nancy Solyan, Director of Production and Booking Associate
Nancy began her career in the music industry in 1986 at Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco as a Production Assistant while holding a full-time position as the Personnel Manager. She has been involved with many BGP productions for venues including Shoreline Amphitheatre, Oakland Stadium & Arena, The Orpheum, The Warfield and many others. After 10 years with Bill Graham Presents, Nancy began a 5 year touring stint on the Festival circuit as well as with the musician Beck. After moving to Grass Valley in 2005, she worked as the Business Manager for Sierra Cinema, Sutton and Del Oro theaters. She has been with the Center for the Arts since 2008.

David Spellman, Director of Facilities and Operations
A graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles in Technical Theater/Design, David began his artistic career as a theatrical scenic artist and lighting designer. His lighting and set design credits include 24 major theatrical productions and over 200 concerts in the Los Angeles area, as well as the design and installation of new lighting systems for two theaters. David spent 35 years as the stage manager at Caltech’s Beckman and Ramo Auditoriums, overseeing the technical production elements for more than 300 events per year at these venues.

Lindy-Profle-Pic_webLindy Schasiepen, Donor Relations Manager
Lindy arrived in Nevada County from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000 with her husband Greg and knowing only a few people in this community, decided to volunteer with several non profits and was asked to serve on their Boards . She joined the Friendship Club, Allegro Alliance and Friends of Hospice and it wasn’t long before they found about her 20+ years of event planning experience in the Bay Area!Growing up in England and Australia, Lindy moved to Washington DC – via Paris and Tel Aviv! Only when she arrived in America did she realize how much her adopted country loved all things English. Her days of living in London, haunting museums, galleries, restaurants and the boutiques of Chelsea, where her mother still lives, have served her well!Lindy is an amateur artist, food stylist, floral designer, vegan and animal lover!

Leah DeLira, Marketing Production Manager
Leah has worked for The Center for the Arts in several different roles. She joined the team in 2009 as the Office Manager. Since then she has completed her Bachelors in Graphic Design and her Masters in Internet Marketing.  She is now on the Center’s Marketing team as well as heading up the production team for The Center’s signature fundraiser, Dancing with our Stars.
In her “spare time” she is mom to three active boys and can often be found at Little League games and the Lego aisle of Target.

Marni Marshall, House & Gallery Manager
Marni is co-founder of The Movement Alliance Dance Theatre Company and has worked with Air Aligned since 2002.  Marni earned her bachelor\’s degree in Studio Art with a minor in dance from Sacramento State she earned in 2006.  In 2009 she earned her single subject teaching credential in Art and works as a teacher of visual arts at the Neighborhood Center for the Arts, Grizzly Hill and Washington Elementary Schools and as an Associate Director and dance teacher at The Movement Alliance School.

kimberly-pepeKimberly Pepe, Patrons Services & Box Office Manager
Pepper joined The Center for the Arts first as a volunteer in 2011.  She loved it and was so enthusiastic about volunteerism that she became The Center’s Volunteer Coordinator just a few shows later. She is the point of contact for our 800 Volunteers.  Pepper is also Our Patron’s Services Manager. She supervises the box office staff and ensures that our Patrons have an exceptional experience from the time they purchase a ticket until they leave our venue after a show.Pepper spent the 80’s working at Merrill Lynch, the 90’s a travel agent and  the last decade  in Human Services with homeless shelters, jails, institutions, and children’s services.Working with and getting to know our volunteers and Patrons is the highlight of Pepper’s work here at The Center.  She loves to encourage the spirit of ‘being of service’.  Community building is Pepper’s passion.You will find Pepper at most of our shows leading by example; greeting volunteers and our guests with a big a smile!

Website PhotoTracy Pepper

A graduate of the University of Phoenix in Business Management and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Fresno, Tracy has spent her career in community service.  After retiring as a Peace Officer with the California Department of Corrections, Tracy immersed herself in community activism, first as a community organizer with Service Employee’s International Union where she developed advocacy campaigns, recruited, trained, and rallied members to address common problems such as living wages, environmental justice, social justice, and community investment.  Tracy then served as a member on various community boards, including two terms as President of the League of Women Voters, Fresno, where she lead lobbying efforts at the local, state, and national levels.  About her move to Nevada County in early 2016, Tracy says, “Moving to Nevada County was one of the best decisions of my life”.   “I am so excited to meet and work with Center volunteers, staff, and patrons, and to have the opportunity to take in all of the diverse programming the Center is renowned for.”  In her spare time, Tracy enjoys dancing, traveling, playing tennis, hiking, hosting dinner parties, and hanging out with her husband, children, and grandchildren.

Leo Castrence, Marketing Manager

Leo joined the Center for the Arts team in March 2017. He moved from his home base of Hawaii to explore opportunities on the mainland in summer 2016 and has been going at it ever since. As a community organizer with a passion in bringing community together through music, art, and wellness, Leo was excited to help with the evolution of the Center for the Arts. He has spent the three prior years traveling the country assisting and organizing music and art gatherings, and helping Music Festivals along the way before settling in Nevada City to welcome his first child into the world. As Marketing Manager, he brings new ideas to the center and helps thread the cord between all the different departments to work as a team. Leo thrives on big projects and bringing people together to share their passions and gifts, life stories and lessons, daily practices and healing to ignite a community in connection and purpose. Leo is especially excited to be helping with California WorldFest this year to help bring people from across the Globe to Grass Valley.

sara-zahnSara Zahn, Program Associate / Discover Series Curator / Bar Manager

As co-founder of The Tin House Studio and Gallery and Cognizant Productions, founding director and former curator of the Nevada City Craft Fair and Bizarre, former director, presenter, promoter, graphic designer, and one-man band at Haven Underground in Nevada City, Sara Zahn brings over 15 years of arts experience. Prior to returning to Nevada County in 2009, Sara garnered an array of experience –from gallery and artists’ assistance, sous chef and restaurant management in NYC, to production management and creative direction in the couture fashion industry in Los Angeles, to documentary photographer in rural Peru. Just under a year on staff at The Center for the Arts, Sara is delighted to bring together her wealth of experience as The Center’s bar manager, program associate, graphic designer, and curator of our The Discover Series, bring up and coming and emerging artists to The Center for the Arts’ Main Stage and Off Center theater.

Sara returned to Nevada County in 2009. Inspired by the wealth of creativity and talent in the community, and what seemed like a lull in goings-ons, she soon became immersed in producing and documenting concerts at many of the venues in Nevada City and Grass Valley. What started out as a hobby quickly led to a full time passion. Bringing together music, art, crafts, dance, theater, and literature, she has been a constant force in enriching the cultural experience of our community.

Amber Jo Manuel, Director of Development

Amber Jo joined the staff at The Center for the Arts in Fall 2016. She is a native of Nevada County and retuning home after working in development at not-for-profit arts organizations for the past 17 years. She most recently held the position of Director of Development at the American Conservatory Theater where she successfully led a $33 million capital campaign for ACT’s second stage, The Strand Theater, which opened in the San Francisco mid-market district in May 2015. Prior to ACT, Amber was involved with capital campaign fundraising and development efforts at both Cal Academy of Sciences and Berkeley Repertory Theater.  Amber also worked as the Individual Giving Director at The Roundabout Theater in New York where she worked on the seat campaign for Studio 54 and the historic reopening of the Henry Miller’s Theatre, the first LEED-certified Broadway theatre, which later was renamed the Stephen Sondheim. Amber’s interest in the arts began on the stages of Nevada County where she was an active dancer, actress and director.  She received a B.A. in Drama from UC Irvine and later earned a M.F.A. in Directing Asian Theater from the University of Hawaii.

peter-bevitoriPeter Bevitori, Membership Associate
Peter Bevitori graduated from Nevada Union High School in 2002 completing courses in television production and film making. He was the co-recipient for the awards of best screenplay and best movie in the Nevada City Film Festival in 2006. Shortly after, he moved to Los Angeles and studied at various theater companies including the Groundlings Theatre, and Second City Hollywood. After writing for live sketch comedy shows and stand up comedians for a few years, he decided to move back home where he’s excited to be working with the amazing artistic community that is here in Nevada County! He is now a Membership Associate at the Center for the Arts, acting as the front of house for the office and maintaining new and renewing memberships.

mikail-grahamMikail Graham, House Sound Manager
A composer, performer, producer, and promoter of music in Nevada City, California, with family roots dating back to 1849. He is the executive producer of The Other Side, an eclectic radio program heard on Tuesday nights from 8pm-10pm on KVMR FM and streaming live on He is also host and producer of KVMR’s monthly “The Good News” radio show, devoted entirely to nothing but, yes you guessed it, Good News!
A professional musician for most of his life, Mikail has toured extensively over the years throughout Europe, Japan, and the USA, as well as being a producer and mixing engineer for numerous independent regional artists. He produces and hosts the annual Weekend Of Giving benefit for Hospitality House Shelter, and performs live whenever his dance card allows.Since the early 1980s he has worked as both a beta tester and consultant/tech evangelist for many companies such as Atari Computers, BIAS, C-LAB, digidesign, emagic, Ensoniq, Eventide, Hyrbid Arts, Lexicon, Line 6, Steinberg Media Technologies, Zoom, and others.From 2002 thru 2007 he co-managed Coopers, a nightclub in downtown Nevada City, booking literally hundreds of acts 5-6 nights a week and featuring music genres of all kinds.

In 2008, The Center For The Arts hired Mikail as their Chief Audio Technician. Since that time, in cooperation with local live sound contractors Kevin Windrem and Rich Mead, he has updated the Center’s audio/visual system to world-class status, helping to create what is now considered one of the best venues to perform at in Northern CA.

For more information check out Mikail on Linkedin:

john-taberJohn Taber, Technical Manager & Staff Photographer
John comes with a 25+ year background in the music business and a life long passion for photography. Beginning in 1975 working for Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco and continuing there for 15 years in a variety of positions encompassing most of what it takes to produce a high quality event.  From ’83 to ’89 John worked extensively with the Grateful Dead, responsible for keeping separate the folks who knew the band from the ones the band actually knew. After relocating to the Grass Valley area John has been a Volunteer Broadcaster at KVMR Community Radio for the past 8 years, hosting two shows currently. “Saturday Morning Live!” airs every other Saturday from 4 am to 7am. “Sleep if you must, Otherwise listen.” Also a monthly rotation on the station’s long running show “Dead Air” featuring Grateful Dead & related music. John also works with KVMR as Executive Producer of their long running KVMR Celtic Festival & Marketplace currently approaching it’s 18th festival in the fall of 2014.

John’s photo gallery can be seen at

rachelRachel Conrad, Box Office/Patron Services

Rachel Conrad is our box office attendant. She greets our patrons with a smiling face and a helpful spirit. Rachel earned her B.A. in Music at CSU, Chico, where she played percussion in various ensembles. She moved to Nevada County two years ago with her husband, a Grass Valley native. Working at The Center has allowed her the unique opportunity to experience quality, live music on a weekly basis.


Debi Curtis, Bookeeper and HR Manager

Debi joined the Center in March 2016 after packing up her life and moving to Grass Valley from the Sacramento area.

She has over 25 years of Accounting and HR experience,  including 12 years with various non-profits (WEAVE and Folsom Cordova Community Partnership). Debi enjoys working for non-profit organizations which allow her to use her business skills while still making a difference in her community. This is her first experience with performing and visual arts; so far she is loving attending the shows and expanding her music knowledge.

In her spare time she loves gardening (learning how to grow tomatoes in the foothills proved to be a challenge), knitting and crocheting, baking, being Nana to her seven grandchildren (three of whom live in Grass Valley) and exploring her new home town.

Hannah Chamberlain, Box Office Associate & House Manager

Hannah has worked at The Center since January of 2016 and has enjoyed house managing as well as working in the box office because of all the new music she gets to experience and the people she gets to meet!

A Nevada County native, Hannah has lived all over the country and come back to raise her children in Grass Valley. She studied theater at Nevada Union, and received an Associate of Arts in Psychology from Salt Lake Community College.
Hannah has a passion for singing whenever, and wherever possible, so don’t be surprised if you walk up to the box office window and catch her singing away!

Chris Streng, Facilities Assistant

Chris Streng has spent most of his waking life playing guitar and making music with friends. A lifelong musician, he’s played in dozens of bands ranging from Brit-pop revivalists the Stratford 4 to reggae ne’er-do-wells the Federations. He has toured nationally and internationally with glam-rockers Mount Whateverest and occasionally sits in on drums or bass with LSD & The Search For God, Susperia and others. An avid illustrator, voracious reader, cat person and troll doll collector, Chris’ myriad interests keep him young at heart.