Interim Executive Director
Amber Jo Manuelamanuel@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 21
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.
(530) 274-8384 ext 17
Pepper joined The Center for the Arts first as a volunteer in 2011. She was so enthusiastic about The Center that she became our Volunteer Coordinator just a few shows later. She then stepped into a new role for the Center as our Patron’s Services Manager. She supervised the box office staff and the volunteer coordinator. Her primary focus being to ensure that our Patrons have an exceptional experience from the time they purchase a ticket until they complete an after show survey. She is now excited to serve as our General Manager, overseeing our amazing staff and the day to day operations of CFTA, while still focusing an emphasis on top quality services in all areas of operations.
Pepper spent the 80’s working at Merrill Lynch,Pierce, Fenner and Smith, the 90’s as a travel agent and the last decade in Human Services with homeless shelters, jails, institutions, domestic violence shelters 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 the artists, staff, volunteers and our guests with a big a smile!
Director of Facilities and Operations
(530) 274-8384 ext 15
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.
(530) 274-8384 ext 11
Hannah has worked at The Center since January of 2016 and has worked in many departments, including house management, box office, and WorldFest. Some of her favorite things about working at The Center are 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 settle down in Grass Valley. She studied theater at Nevada Union, and received an Associate of Arts in Psychology from Salt Lake Community College.
Now, Hannah enjoys being an integral part of the Production Team for The Center for the Arts and WorldFest!
(530) 274-8384 ext 23
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.
(530) 274-8384 ext 25
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.
Accounting & HR Manager
(530) 274-8384 ext 20
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.
Production Assistant/Box Office/Patron Services
(530) 274-8384 ext 22
(530) 274-8384 ext 19
Brynn Farwell was born in Penn Valley, California in 1995. In 2013, she moved from rural California, to Seattle, Washington to attend Cornish College of the Arts where she received her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in 2017. She has exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions in Seattle, New York, and Nevada County. During her time in school, she studied abroad in Rome, Italy, in the Rome Studio Art Program through the University of Washington, Bothell. In 2015 she was selected as one in fourteen students across the continent to participate in the New York Studio Residency Program in Brooklyn, NY, for the spring semester of 2016. Brynn has worked for several non-profits including the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle, as a youth sailing instructor and A.I.R. (Artist in Residence) Gallery in Brooklyn, as a Benefit Coordinator. Since moving back to Nevada County, Brynn sings in a local funk band, Elevation, creates visual art in her studio, and works at the Center for the Arts in order to participate in and give back to the artistic community she has always loved.
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 www.kvmr.org. 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: www.linkedin.com/in/mikailgraham
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 Liveshots12.smugmug.com
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.
Syd began her official affiliation with The Center as a volunteer in early 2013 and was recruited to join the staff soon thereafter, as a house manager. Before official retirement in 2013, her professional career was spent as the chief geologist for California State Parks, where she worked for over 30 years, exploring the mountains, beaches, canyons, and rivers of the entire state park system, providing essential technical and policy input to park management. Recognized for her professional geological contributions in 2010, she was elected to Fellow status by the Geological Society of America.
An avid supporter of the arts, Syd is no stranger to The Center, participating in a variety of backstage roles for numerous dance productions over the last 15 years. She loves behind the scenes activities, and enjoys discovering new musical treats at Center shows and the last 3 WorldFest events.
Active in a number of environmental organizations, serving as Production Manager for Holt Ballet Conservatory, and serving as an Executive Committee member for the Friends of North Bloomfield & Malakoff Diggins, Syd keeps very busy in “retirement”.
(530) 274-8384 ext 24
Hello! My name is Charlie Cole. I moved to Nevada County, from the East Bay Area, in 2012, after visiting regularly for almost 30 years. I began volunteering with The Center for the Arts, and other venues and events in the area, shortly after I settled. I could not be happier! The music community here helps me personally thrive. I also enjoy the Yuba River for all it offers. I am also a huge animal lover, and run a pet/housesitting business in Nevada County. So, I like to keep in touch with community on a number of levels. I was hired here after 5 years of volunteering, and I was absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity! I am looking forward to working with staff, volunteers, patrons, and artists from everywhere! Hope to be seeing folks and getting to know about more about our community! Thank You Kindly!
Betsy Swann Brown
Betsy Swann Brown
is a medical device executive with a degree in Engineering Physics and a 28-year career to date. She has held a variety of technical and senior management roles in manufacturing, research & development, marketing, business strategy, and intellectual property. To conclude a rewarding 17-year stint at medical device innovator Conceptus Inc., she worked with the senior leadership team to negotiate the recent sale of the company to Bayer Healthcare for $1.1 billion. As a result of her work at Conceptus, she is an inventor on at least 17 issued US patents and numerous corresponding OUS patents.
She has been a resident of Grass Valley for 10 years and supports numerous local nonprofits, enthusiastically patronizes local businesses, and enjoys attending many of the wonderful events in our area. She has served as President of the GVCS Foundation through the 2013 school year and developed four major highly successful annual fundraisers.
Betsy is Board President, Chair of the Executive Committee and Advisory Council.
With twenty-five years of experience working in Enterprise Applications. He’s a technologist who knows business and is able to engage with both technologists and layman. He’s worked with PeopleSoft as a startup, Vecta PLC in the UK and is currently Senior Software Advisor, Chief Evangelist and a member of the Board of Directors with Lotus Technology. He holds a degree in computer science from California Polytechnic State University and studied management at Harvard Business School.
Rick Bergquist is Vice President of the Board and serves on the Board Development Committee.
Janice Dunn grew up in Beaverton, Oregon and attended the University of Oregon, graduating with a BA in English. After moving to Colorado, she attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and completed a Secondary Teaching Certificate before returning to Oregon to embark on a career in finance. Janice’s long term commitment to helping her community is supported by her involvement in boards of directors with such organizations as the Financial Planning Association, WOW Hall, Audience Development Committee for The Shedd Institute and United Way. She now resides in Grass Valley and is a partner with Lee Dunn Group, RW Baird Financial Advisors. When she’s not traveling, she enjoys good food, art & music, wine, and the great outdoors.
Kelly Lapham is a 5th generation native of Nevada County and the owner of Cornerstone Accounting & Bookkeeping. Kelly has been bookkeeping in Nevada County for over 25 years. She has an Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and is currently studying for her CPA Exam. Her experience has taken her into most industries including: Medical, Legal, Manufacturing, Construction, Accounting, Retail, Tire & Auto Service, Engineering, Non-Profit, Distribution, Property Associations, Real Estate, and more. When she was an employee she often found her skills were needed by more than one business owner and found herself working nights and weekends to service her clients. Cornerstone Accounting & Bookkeeping was developed and has grown to be able to offer good quality bookkeeping services to those that need it.
Kelly is married to Bill and together they have Billy. They own SoundCheck Music Center. Kelly also has a son, Michael, and a daughter, Kayla, who are grown and living in Nevada County and a new granddaughter, Cali. Family is important to Kelly and is what all her spare time is spent on.
Kelly is the Board Treasurer and Chair of the finance committee.
Barbara DeHart has been a member of our community for many years. She found this community the perfect place to raise her two children and spend most of her professional career. As part of the management team at Nevada City software company, Telestream, Barb has been working with and for the company since its founding. Her career has always been in customer-facing organizations like sales and marketing where she has spent the last decade running Telestream desktop software business where she serves as VP Desktop Applications Business. She’s inspired by creativity and innovation and has found her success in bringing those things into organizations throughout her career.
Nancy Dewey has over thirty years Human Resources management experience, twenty-six years with Apple, Inc. In her professional career she has led international organizations responsible for all aspects of human resource management including organization design, recruitment, compensation, benefits, training, career development, employee relations, diversity, policy development, conflict resolution, communication, legal compliance, union relationships, mergers, acquisitions and downsizing. Nancy has managed multi-million dollar budgets, vendor and partner relationships and developed international teams of over thirty professionals.
Nancy was President and a Trustee of the Chicago Park School District Board of Directors from 2004 – 2011 and was a Member of the Board of Directors of the NOVA Private Industry Council, in the Santa Clara Valley from 1997 – 1999. Nancy has a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare from California State University, Chico and has taken continuing education programs from Columbia and Stanford Universities.
Nancy, her husband Barney and younger daughter moved to Grass Valley in 2001. Their older daughter moved to Grass Valley after graduating UC Davis Veterinary College and currently has a successful mobile large animal veterinary practice. In 2011 they became Encore Club members at the Center.
Sarah Gordon has been an educator for 36 years and is an advocate for life long learning. She has worked at many of the local schools as a Math/Science Specialist and as a classroom teacher. Currently she supports homeschooling families at Twin Ridges Home Study and teaches K-8 Hands on Science and Math classes. In addition to her teaching Sarah has been a member of the Charter Governance Council at Nevada City School of the Arts and Bitney College Prep High School and was a co-developer of the Annual Giving Campaign at both schools. She served as president of the Educational Foundation at NCSA for 5 years, She was a founding member of the Imaginarium and has served on the Education Committee at SYRCL. She is the “Head Fairy Godmother” of the Nevada County Cinderella Project which provides prom attire for local high school students-“Building self esteem while making prom dreams come true”. She was a Celebrity Dancer in the 2014 Dancing with Our Stars which was her own dream come true!
Sarah has lived in Nevada County with her family for 21 years enjoying all the benefits this community has to offer.
Huck’s practice focuses on real estate, wills & trusts, estate planning, personal injury, copyright, trademark, trade secret, privacy and publicity rights, advertising, marketing, unfair competition, and entertainment law issues and disputes. He also has experience in financial services and appellate litigation.
Huck has represented real estate brokerages, buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants, apparel manufacturers, movie studios, production companies, record companies and prominent entertainers, and handled trademark and copyright enforcement proceedings for a wide variety of clients. His practice includes advising companies on how to protect and promote their intellectual property. Huck also aids clients in developing litigation prevention strategies and related counseling, including drafting internal policies and guidelines to help clients achieve business objectives while minimizing risk.
Prior to beginning his career as a lawyer, Huck was a judicial clerk and extern for Justice Lawrence D. Rubin at the Second District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles, California where he was exposed to a wide array of civil and criminal matters.
John Lamb is San Francisco native who moved to Grass Valley three years ago and currently operates Lamb’s Victorian Inn with his wife Janet. His backgroundencompasses a broad spectrum of experiences including work as a Human Resources professional at AvantGo, Responsys and Oracle in the Bay Area. His years of experience in the health insurance industry and as a residential General Contractor round out a career profile that will bring a unique perspective to CFTA.
“Jeff Bridges told us that Grass Valley was in ‘the sweet spot’ of the foothills and I couldn’t agree more. The Center for the Arts is a beacon of light and serves the community at its core. I am excited to become part of this dynamic and successful organization.”
Jon Lee is a partner with Lee Dunn Group at RW Baird; a wealth management capital markets, asset management and private equity firm, since 2009. He has been in the financial services industry for over 24 years, beginning his career in the industry in 1987, with Shearson Lehman Brothers. His areas of expertise include comprehensive financial planning for individuals, businesses and trusts, including retirement, estate planning and money management. Jon obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 1983. He is a member of the Gold Country Estate Planning Council and former chairman of Yuba River School’s Education Foundation. In his free time he enjoys skiing, bicycling, soccer and gardening.
Keith Porter is a retired executive with management experience in telecommunications, business development, operations, human resources and organization development. He received an electrical engineering degree from University of the Pacific, held various positions in the US and abroad for AT&T and other telecom companies, and co-founded and operated WorkVantage, Inc., a workplace training and consulting business. He is a 2007 graduate of the Nevada County Community Leadership Institute, is past-President of the board of InConcert Sierra, chair of the Facilities Committee of The Center for the Arts, a Red Cross disaster-response volunteer, sings bass in the Sierra Master Chorale and is active with several additional civic committees and task forces.
Roger Stover has a real passion for The Center for the Arts. Shortly after moving to Nevada County full-time in 2012, he began his association with The Center as a volunteer and frequent patron. Recognizing The Center’s importance to the community, he and his wife increased their support by becoming Encore Members.
Roger brings a broad range of experience and skills in various aspects of marketing, sales, business development, communications, and leadership. He began his career in Technology and later moved to Professional Services at Ernst & Young LLP, where he was the Business Development Leader of the west region audit practice. Upon retirement, Roger and his wife moved from the Bay Area to what was formerly their vacation home in Lake Wildwood. Soon after arriving in Nevada County, Roger entered into community service through various committees and then was elected to the Board of Directors of Lake Wildwood Association. While still active in LWA he is delighted to expand his service to the broader Nevada County community by joining the Board of Directors for The Center for the Arts.
Barbara Thomas worked in the non-profit sector for Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, located at Stanford University, as director of development and then moved into high-tech as the public relations manager for Trimble Navigation. From 1994-2001, she was the public relations and human resources director for a public relations agency in San Francisco, facilitating that firm’s work in introducing Internet companies to the public. Since moving to Nevada County six years ago, Barbara has served on several boards, including InConcert Sierra and The Friendship Club. She was recently re-elected to the Board of Directors of the Friendship Club after a five year hiatus.
Barbara Thomas serves as Past President and Chair of Board Development.