Amber Jo Manuel, Executive Director
Sierra Lefebre, Executive Assistant
Katie Austin, Box Office Manager & Membership Associate
Chris Paizis, Accounting & HR Manager
Katie Austin, Box Office Manager & Membership Associate
Brenda Jendrusch, Box Office Attendant
Skye Molaro, Box Office Attendant
Jessica Brugnon, Box Office Attendant
Mark Gingery, Facilities Manager
Jeff Price Murphy, Facilities Assistant
Juniper L. Dacre, Marketing Manager
Jenny Comperda, Marketing Assistant
Bob Free, House Photographer
Penny P. Collins, House Photographer
Michael Thompson, Front of House Manager
Robin Karlstedt, House Manager
Rachel Singleton, Bar & Hospitality Manager
Vanessa Bennett, Assistant Bar Manager
Raja Meadows, Bar Staff
Emily Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator
Teresa Lani, Hospitality Coordinator
Katie Johnson, Hospitality Coordinator
Conrad Sisk, Technical Director
Lori Tierney, Production Manager
Bret Scheinfeld, Stage Manager
Jaya Betts, Stage Manager
George Jayne, Lighting Technician
Brynn Farwell, Associate Director of Programming
Bruce Labadie, Booking Agent
Athena Aronow, Education & Outreach Coordinator
Hannah Mosby, Programs Assistant & Gallery Attendant
Amber Jo joined the staff at The Center for the Arts in Fall 2016. She is a native of Nevada County and returning 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.
Associate Director of Programming
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.
Accounting & HR Manager
Chris holds a BA in Economics and a minor in Music from Chapman University. His early career focused on customer experience analysis and consulting in the Bay Area. He then went on to earn a certification in Integral Coaching, which opened the door to a coaching and training role at LinkedIn. With his unique blend of business acumen and interpersonal skills, he hit his stride with small-to-mid sized business operations, where he gained skills in accounting, human resources, budgeting, and strategy. Chris moved to Grass Valley in 2020 where he lives with his wife who was born and raised here. He is thrilled to be working in the community and bringing his unique skill set to The Center for the Arts.
Conrad earned a BA in Ethnomusicology from the College of William & Mary in 2008, and spent the next six years as a performing and teaching musician. He took an interest in sound engineering; recording and mixing scores for his friends’ film and theater projects, and doing live sound production for his own bands and musical ensembles.
In 2014, Conrad moved to Penn Valley and began doing live sound as a full-time vocation, working as an audio tech and engineer for large-scale productions, including concerts, corporate events, music festivals, and trade shows.
In 2020, Conrad was hired as a sound engineer for the newly renovated Center for the Arts. Throughout the pandemic, he has provided stage sound for the performers and broadcast sound for the at-home audience for the Center’s livestream concert series. In 2021, Conrad was made the Technical Director of the Center. He is very happy to be working more closely with such fine and capable folks in this new capacity.
Juniper has been working for over 25 years in the digital arts, branding and graphic design field. With a love of connecting people through visual art, she has managed projects for businesses both tiny and large. Although graphic and brand design has been a main focus over the years, she has produced a diverse body of work including label & package design, web design, convention booth layout, clothing design, interior design, car wraps, custom illustration, painting, animation and album cover art. Originally from Canada, Juniper has made California her home since 2007, and has been happily nestled in the Sierra Nevada Foothills for the past 12 years.
Mark grew up in Rough and Ready, CA and graduated from Nevada Union before moving to San Diego in the 80’s. There, he became part of the theater community working predominantly for The Old Globe Theater as Electrician, Carpenter, Project Coordinator and Facilities Director. After several years away, Mark was happy to move back to Grass Valley with his wife and kids in late 2021 to join The Center as its new Facilities Director. “I feel like a part of the community, and I get to help bring the arts to people of all ages”.
Front of House Manager
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.
Our newest Board Member.
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 served as President of the Board of Directors for eight years and continues to Chair the Audience Development Committee.
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.
Jim Pyle is a retired USAF Command Pilot who flew a variety of aircraft and served at numerous bases in the United States and beyond. He graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree and, while in the Air Force, attended the University of Portland and earned a Masters in Business Administration. After retiring from the military he worked in marketing and business development for Bay Area technology companies including Apple, Silicon Graphics, Bay Networks (which became Northern Telecom), and Cycore-a Swedish multimedia company, and PGP Corporation.
Following the rapid deflation of the dotcom bubble he started PROAVIS Architectural Photography and about that same time moved to Nevada City. Jim joined The Center board in the fall of 2008 and served until 2015. He returned to the Board of Directors for his current term in 2017.
John Lamb is a San Francisco native who moved to Grass Valley three years ago and currently operates Lamb’s Victorian Inn with his wife Janet. His background encompasses 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.”
John currently holds the position of Board Secretary.
Lisa Swarthout was elected to her first term on the Grass Valley City Council in November of 2004. She was re-elected in November of 2008, November 2012 and November 2016. Lisa served two years as Mayor in her second term, and was appointed to her second term as Mayor in December of 2018. Previous to her elected position she spent nine years on the Grass Valley Planning Commission. Some of Lisa’s duties on the City Council have included: General plan steering committee, Economic Resource Council City representative, Member of LAFCO (10 years) Liaison to the City Park and Rec Commission, liaison with the Grass Valley Downtown Association and a member of the City’s budget committee.
Lisa is also the Past Chairman of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, and past Chairman of the Nevada County Economic Resource Council. She has served on the boards of many non-profit organizations in our community including: the Grass Valley/Nevada County Chamber of Commerce, The Friendship Club, Silver Springs Foundation and Soroptimist International of Grass Valley.
Lisa received her BA in Communications from CSU Chico, with a minor in Political Science. She recently retired after running a successful retail store in Downtown Grass Valley for 30 years. Lisa resides in Grass Valley with her husband Chris Therrien and their beloved cats and dog.
Ms. Swarthout is currently serving as the Board’s Vice President.
Our newest Board Member.
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 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.
Our newest board member.
Raul Audelo is a digital media producer, educator, and strategist with over 15 years of experience leading teams of people. Most recently he was the Senior Manager for Web at Earthjustice, the nation’s premier environmental organization, where he led digital innovation and transformation projects including a full-scope website redesign and the establishment of a social intranet supporting internal communications and culture change.
Beyond the technical and strategic aspects of web transformation, Raul has a passion for authentic initiatives to enable communication and support diversity in the workplace. At Earthjustice, he was a part of the inaugural thought leader group for increasing workplace
equity and collaborated with senior leaders to develop a vision and implement a plan for a more diverse and inclusive workplace. Collaborating with staff from across the organization, Raul provided insight and direction that led to the organization’s hire of a VP of Diversity and Inclusion, and the organization’s first employee resource group (ERG) for people of color.
Raul is passionate about his responsibility to support his community and spends time outside his day job giving back to people and places in need of inspiration and support from mentoring atrisk high school students to transforming neighborhoods through works of art. Raul has also been a practicing painter and muralist for many years, both large and small projects, shared around the world from Mexico to San Francisco to Tokyo.
Raul lives with his wife and two young boys in the Western Sierra Nevada. He enjoys hiking, meditation, yoga, and exploring the majestic rivers and lakes in the area.
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 laymen. 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 served as Vice President of the Board of Directors for eight years and continues to serve on the Board Advisory Committee.
Tyson Tucker serves as a Managing Director in Coldwell Banker Grass Roots Realty’s Commercial Division (CBGRR). Mr. Tucker is consistently one of the top-producing commercial agents in the region. Mr. Tucker has 13 years of experience in all facets of commercial real estate on both the principal and brokerage sides of the business. He has been integrally involved in excess of $1B of commercial real estate transactions since 2006.
Most recently, Mr. Tucker served as the Director of Acquisitions at Berkeley Partners (www.berkeleypartners.com), a premier real estate fund manager for institutional investors which owns and operates over 5M SF of multi-tenant industrial real estate located across the country and has over $500M in assets under management. While at Berkeley, Tyson was directly responsible for managing a transactions team of 15 people, including analysts/associates, lease administration, transactions management, and in-house counsel. During his 18-month tenure, Tucker was directly responsible for over $150M in real estate acquisitions across the country. Tucker also led the firm’s disposition efforts where he directly marketed and sold properties in 8 different states totaling $130M.
Tyson started his tenure as Board President in 2022.
Walt was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska during the fifties through the 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, a 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.