Meet Our Staff

Amber Jo Manuel

Executive Director

Amber Jo Manuel

amanuel@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 206

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.

Dave Spellman

David Spellman

Director of Facilities and Operations

David Spellman

dspellman@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 207

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.

Brynn Farwell

Programs Manager

Brynn Farwell

bfarwell@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 208

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.

eileen-mello

Eileen Mello

Development Manager

Eileen Mello

emello@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 510-393-8941

Eileen joined The Center as the Development Manager in fall 2017. She is a consultant with 15 years of fundraising experience in the educational sector with an emphasis on donor relations and stewardship. Eileen’s particular talent is creating and implementing processes and procedures for smaller organizations that allow for more successful fundraising endeavors. 

She relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to Grass Valley in 2015 after several years of extensive international travel to Asia, Europe and Africa. Eileen is an ardent supporter of the arts and is especially fond of ballet, opera and musical theater. When she’s not rockin’ out to Mozart or Metallica you can find her tending to her flower garden or rescuing injured wildlife.

Shane McKillop

Production Manager

Shane McKillop

smckillop@thecenterforthearts.org

Born and raised in the central coast of California in Los Olivos, Shane McKillop has spent the greater portion of his life writing, recording and performing music. Shane is among the founding members Gardens & Villa and AmoAmo, internationally touring groups that have performed across the globe including festivals like Coachella, Outside Lands, Austin City Limits, Sasquatch and Red Rocks. After performing at the Center for the Arts and Worldfest in 2018 with AmoAmo, Shane fell in love with the community of Grass Valley and decided to leave the city lights of Los Angeles for a life in the pines. Shane is an avid supporter of The Center for the Arts and is excited to share over 15 years of experience in the music industry on the artist side, now translated to becoming the Center’s new Production Manager. Shane recognizes the importance of this Center for the community and is eager to continue working for its continued success.

Melissa Clark

Marketing Coordinator

Melissa Clark

mclark@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 205

Melissa joined the center with over 20 years of marketing experience.  She recently moved to Nevada County from San Francisco where she was an active member of songwriter scene since.  As the host and curator of Songwriter Saturdays at the Exit Theatre, she booked and shared the stage with over 150 bay area songwriters and bands between 2011 and 2015. Melissa sings and plays guitar in indie rock band on dolphin, which launched in 2016.

Debi Curtis

Accounting & HR Manager

Debi Curtis

dcurtis@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 203

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.

Kimberly Bass

Production Assistant

Kimberly Bass

kbass@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 201

Kimberly Bass is a versatile and accomplished vocalist from Nevada County who has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan. She is a multi-talented singer-songwriter, earning First Place honors in the 2006 USA Songwriting Competition for her song “Callin’ All Angels.”

Receiving accolades in composition and vocal performance from Humboldt State University, her time has been spent singing and tour managing with Grammy-winning vocalist Diane Schuur and Grammy-nominated vocalist Maria Muldaur.

One facet of Kimberly’s talent concerns her ability to forge meaningful and musically successful alliances with other artists. Her extensive music industry background offers a unique perspective on the logistical needs of each artist, ensuring that their Center for The Arts and WorldFest performances are memorably enjoyable.

Peter Bevitori

Membership Associate

Peter Bevitori

pbevitori@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 204

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.

John Taber

WorldFest Director, Technical Manager & Staff Photographer

John Taber

jtaber@thecenterforthearts.org

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

Susan Deconti

Volunteer Coordinator

Mary Hunter

Executive and Membership Assistant

Mary Hunter

mhunter@thecenterforthearts.org

Mary is proud to call Grass Valley home for over 20 years.  Native to Marin County, she has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from CSU Chico.  She has solid history providing administrative and customer service support for non-profits, primarily in the education at various schools in the County.  She thrives in growth environments and is thrilled to bring that support the Center as they launch a new venue.  Her organizational skills and attention to detail are a great asset to the team!  Her interests include running, clogging, cooking, spending time with her family (and cats).  

Susan Harrington

Box Office Associate & Resident Wordsmith

Susan Harrington

sharrington@thecenterforthearts.org

Susan comes from a music and entertainment business background, having worked in promotion for various record companies in Los Angeles. In the late 1990s, she relocated to Northern California where she worked for a Petaluma production company as Marketing Manager for Riverwalk Jazz, a popular public radio show distributed by Public Radio International. For a couple of years, in between other jobs, she sold organic baby salad mixes for an entrepreneurial company that grew and packaged the mixes before they became standard fare.

After finally earning a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Writing, Susan found a niche as an editor in the K-12 education market, working for companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. In her free time, she escapes into the world of literature and dabbles in writing children’s stories. Although she has not yet found her “adult voice,” she enjoys writing and editing articles for The Center for the Arts.

Michael Thompson

Front of House Manager

Michael Thompson

I have been a paperboy, retail sales clerk, bartender, restaurant owner, and concert security with Bill Graham Presents.  I was born in Barstow, Ca. and lived there for all of 2 weeks. Most of my life was spent in the SF Bay Area. 

     With deep roots in the Grass Valley area (my father was born in Nevada City and paternal grandparents were from North San Juan and Camptonville)  I always knew I would live here someday. I am very excited and happy to be a part of The Center for the Arts.

Box Office

Box Office

boxoffice@thecenterforthearts.org
(530) 274-8384 ext 209

Board Of Directors

Betsy Swann Brown

President

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.

Rick Bergquist

Vice President

Rick Bergquist

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

Janice Dunn

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

Kelly Lapham

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.

Walt Bringman

Walt Bringman

Walt was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska during the fifties through early sixties and had a rather unusual childhood. He would regularly watch the AAA baseball team, the Fairbanks Gold Panners, play from midnight to 4 a.m. during the continuous daylight of summer. This was juxtaposed with the winter’s twenty-four hours of darkness. These long and frigid winter nights (record
cold of -72 in 1962) would sometimes be ablaze with the northern lights.

In the mid-sixties, Walt’s family relocated to the Bay Area, which created culture shock caused by the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, the Beach Boys and The Summer of Love in Haight Ashbury. This disorientation was resolved by a tour of duty with the USAF as an avionics electronics technician assigned primarily to
military cargo jets. Upon returning to civilian life, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from San Francisco State University. The combination of technical and behavioral training shaped and influenced his work experiences for his entire career. He retired from healthcare facilities management, having
performed in a wide variety of roles dealing with hospital capital projects, especially construction, maintenance and planning.

Walt is very pleased for the opportunity to be on The Center’s board as it is his small way to give back to the community he calls home. The Center has a wonderful vision, clear mission and the staff to transform the current operation into a world class performing and visual arts organization. He is proud to be with them during this exciting time.

Nancy Dewey

Nancy Dewey

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.

Huck Ingram

Huck Ingram

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

John Lamb

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

Jon Lee

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.

Jim Pyle

Jim Pyle

Aaron Rutledge

Secretary

Aaron Rutledge

Aaron has lived in Grass Valley since moving from his hometown in Florida, to California in early 2001. He is raising his four children here, has been involved with and owned several local technology companies during that time. His experience working with other local organizations has allowed him to commit time and energy into keeping our community a great place to live – from human rights to youth education, and now, the arts.

“I love the Center for the Arts and all that they do and mean to the residents of our community. I look forward to being a part of these next chapters in the Center’s growth.”

Roger Stover

Roger Stover

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.

Martin Polt

Treasurer

Martin Polt

Martin has lived in Nevada County for the past 15 years, and in California for 33 years. He grew up in Denver, Co. where he began his love of the outdoors including skiing, hiking and biking and generally trying to keep in shape (which has become harder over the years!). Martin earned his BA in Finance from the University of Denver, and MA in Applied Economics from San Francisco State University. He started his career as a financial analyst in banking, followed by positions as Chief Financial Officer in homeless and mental health non-profits, and he has held his current position as Chief Fiscal Officer for the County of Nevada for the past 6 years. Martin balances life with the love of his wife Linda, time with family and friends, and an active participation in local arts and culture including music, dancing, karaoke and a healthy dose of spirit and the written word. He currently holds the position of Board Treasurer.