Amber Jo Manuelamanuel@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.
Director of Facilities and Operations
(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.
Accounting & HR Manager
(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.
(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.
(530) 274-8384 ext 205
Eli grew up splitting time between Northern California and Central Oregon. Several generations of Eli’s family have lived in Nevada and Placer County so this is a homecoming of sorts.
Eli earned an undergraduate degree in business from University of Denver in Denver, CO before moving back to Northern California to begin a career in marketing and development. Soon after Eli pursued a masters degree in marketing from University of San Francisco. After spending over 10 years managing fundraising and marketing teams for public and private non-profit organizations, Eli recently accepted the Marketing Manager position with The Center for the Arts.
(530) 274-8384 ext 201
Kimberly Bass is a versatile and accomplished vocalist from Nevada County, California who has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan. She is a multitalented 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, including renowned trumpeter, Dizzy Gillespie. 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.
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.
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.
WorldFest Director, Stage Manager, 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
Education & Outreach Coordinator
Athena is a Nevada County native, whose love of arts and art culture began at an early age. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A in Cultural Anthropology, and a minor in Photography and Social Documentation. She worked for many years in education in the Anthropology Dept. as an academic advisor for undergraduate students, and then as a Graduate Advisor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her passion for Photography led her into a successful career as a wedding photographer and a mentor to aspiring photographers. She has worked with students at all college levels, and continues to offer mentorship in Nevada County. As a natural progression of her immersion in the artistic world, she has now stepped into a role at the Center for the Arts as the Education & Outreach Coordinator.
Betsy Swann Brown
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 side 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 firms disposition efforts where he directly marketed and sold properties in 8 different states totaling $130M.
Our newest board member.