Meet Our Staff

Amber Jo Manuel

Executive Director

Amber Jo Manuel

amanuel@thecenterforthearts.org

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.

Kimberly (Pepper) Pepe

Pepper

General Manager

Pepper

kpepe@thecenterforthearts.org

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!

Dave Spellman

David Spellman

Director of Facilities and Operations

David Spellman

dspellman@thecenterforthearts.org

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.

Hannah Chamberlain

Production Manager

Hannah Chamberlain

hchamberlain@thecenterforthearts.org

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!

Kristin Johansen

Marketing Manager

Kristin Johansen

kjohansen@thecenterforthearts.org

Kristin Johansen
Marketing Strategist

Kristin began her professional journey at St. John’s University in New York City, graduating in the top 50 of her class at the School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.

She started out at Rolling Stone Magazine as an intern in the advertising sales department, and quickly moved on to her first role after college as a marketing analyst working for clients like Pfizer, Proctor & Gamble, and Verizon. She stayed in NYC to join global Public Relations firm FleishmanHillard, where she led marketing research and analytics projects for L’Oreal USA.

Wanting to move from research & analysis to content creation, she took on an exciting role as a strategist specializing in social media for San Francisco creative shop Camp + King, helping the agency snag Small Agency of the Year 2016 for her work on RE/MAX Real Estate social media and Energizer rebranding projects.

Throughout this time, Kristin had been getting involved on the ground floor of the electronic music scene, becoming a show promoter and eventually event producer and marketer – using the analytics, PR, creative, and marketing skills gained from various roles and applying it all to event marketing and entertainment.

After living in the city her whole life, she decided to try something new and move out to Nevada County to reconnect with the natural rhythms of the Earth and settle down to raise her family. She worked as a freelance marketing strategist and onsite producer for many different music festivals before she landed at The Center, including Envision Festival, Serenity Gathering, Symbiosis, Lucidity Festival, Gem & Jam, Celtic Festival, and volunteered at many more.

Joining The Center as marketing manager allowed her to combine all her previous marketing experience and passion for music & event production in support of such an important organization in our community – a true living dream.

Eileen Mello

Development Manager

Eileen Mello

emello@thecenterforthearts.org
Eileen joined The Center as the Development Manager in fall 2017. Eileen is a consultant with 15 years of fundraising experience in the educational sector with an emphasis on donor relations and stewardship. Her 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.

Peter Bevitori

Membership Associate

Peter Bevitori

pbevitori@thecenterforthearts.org

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.

Debi Curtis

Accounting & HR Manager

Debi Curtis

dcurtis@thecenterforthearts.org

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.

Rachel Conrad

Production Assistant/Rentals Manager

Rachel Conrad

rconrad@thecenterforthearts.org
Rachel Conrad is Rentals Manager and production assistant.  Rachel earned her B.A. in Music at CSU, Chico, with an emphasis on percussion performance.  She moved to Nevada County in 2013 with her husband, a Grass Valley native.  She enjoys working at The Center, which has allowed her the unique opportunity to experience quality, live music on a weekly basis.

Brynn Farwell

Programs Assistant

Brynn Farwell

bfarwell@thecenterforthearts.org

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.

Suzanne Calkins

Graphic Design & Marketing

Mikail Graham

Tech & Production

Mikail Graham

mgraham@thecenterforthearts.org

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

John Taber

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

Chris Streng

Facilities Assistant

Chris Streng

cstreng@thecenterforthearts.org

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.

Mike Wise

Maintenance Engineer

Mike Wise

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

Secretary

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

Treasurer

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

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.

Keith Porter

Keith Porter

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

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.

Barbara Thomas

Barbara Thomas

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.