The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

Today is Sunday, April 23: Open 11am – 5pm
Directions & Admission
The MAH is open during Abbott Square construction. Enter only on Front St.

Staff and Board Information

We love to hear from you. Feel free to write to us here or call our main line, 831-429-1964, anytime to learn more about what’s going on at the museum. Or, catch us online on Facebook, or Instagram. Click here to jump down to info about our Board of Trustees.

Or you can reach us individually:
All photos by Mickey  Ta

Executive Director / Nina Simon
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7018
Email: nina (at)
More about Nina





Fuel Team

Empowering partners, donors, and everyday heroes to plug in to our creative community through fundraising, engagement and social media.

Director of Development & Partnerships / Jonathan Hicken

(831) 429-1964 ext. 7031
Email: jonathan (at)
More about Jonathan





Guest Services Coordinator / Leonardo Cruz
E-mail: lenny (at)





Guest Services Coordinator / Sandino Gomez
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7033
Email: sandino (at)
More about Sandino





Community Catalyst / Elise Granata
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7028
Email: elise (at)
More about Elise





Communications Catalyst / Nick Ibarra
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7034
E-mail: nick(at)
More about Nick






Guest Services Spark / Skarlett Arreola
E-mail: skarlett (at)







Engage Team

Activating the MAH with community events, dynamic exhibitions, and powerful youth programs.


Director of Community Engagement/ Stacey Marie Garcia
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7026
Email: stacey (at)
More about Stacey




Community Programs Coordinator / Helen Aldana
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7032
Email: helen (at)
More about Helen





Dialogue Catalyst / Lauren Benetua
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7037
Email: laurenb (at)






Public Playmaking Catalyst  / Emily Hope Dobkin
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7025
Email: emily (at)
More about Emily




Exhibition Coordinator / Nora Grant

(831) 429-1964 ext. 7022
Email: norag (at)
More about Nora




Youth Programs Catalyst  / Jamie Keil
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7020
Email: jamie (at)
More about Jamie





Collections Catalyst / Marla Novo
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7019
Email: marla (at)
More about Marla




Empower Team

Making the MAH run like a well-oiled machine via facility management, exhibition design, and data.

Director of Operations / Lis DuBois
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7023
Email: lis (at)
More about Lis






Design Spark / Michaela Clark-Nagaoka
Email: michaela (at)




Design Catalyst / Justin Collins
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7029
Email: justin (at)
More about Justin





Event Operations Catalyst / Diana Kapsner
(831) 429-1964 ext. 7027
Email: diana (at)
More about Diana





Event Spark / Claudia Oblea
Email: claudiao (at)








Exhibitions Spark/ Robbie Schoen
Email: robbie (at)
More about Robbie




Board of Trustees

The MAH Board of Trustees provides leadership and oversight for all Museum activities.

Executive Committee:

James Emerson, President: Retired judge, resident of Watsonville, CA
Bill Ladusaw, Vice-President: Retired UCSC Dean of Humanities, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Judy Jones, Secretary: Retired educator/school administrator, resident of Live Oak, CA
David Jacobs, Treasurer: Accountant/business owner, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Carola Barton, Chair of Development: philanthropy and financial services advisor, resident of Santa Cruz, CA



Lawrence Brenner: Lawyer, resident of Aptos, CA
Darrin Caddes: VP of Corporate Design at Plantronics, resident of Soquel, CA
Raymon Cancino: CEO of Community Bridges, resident of Aptos, CA
Pedro Castillo: Professor Emeritus, UCSC, resident of Watsonville, CA
Angela Chesnut: Fundraiser, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Ken Doctor: Media Consultant, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
John Dowdell: President and CEO, Dowdell Financial Services, resident of Sacramento/Santa Cruz, CA
Antonia Franco: Executive Director, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
John Graulty: Cabrillo College Dean of Visual and Performing Arts, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Laura LaPorte: Human rights attorney, resident of Scotts Valley, CA
Vance Landis-Carey: CEO in healthcare, resident of Watsonville, CA
George Newell: Retired County Administrative Officer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Peter Orr: CEO of agriculture business, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Ashley Spencer: Principal, Spencer Consulting, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Heather Stiles: Financial Services Advisor, resident of Aptos, CA
James Thompson: Lawyer, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Michael Watkins: Santa Cruz County Superintendet of Schools, resident of Santa Cruz, CA
Linda Wilshusen: Retired Regional Transportation Commission Executive Director, resident of Live Oak, CA



Staff Bios

Executive Director / Nina Simon
Nina Simon is an internationally-recognized expert on active community participation in cultural institutions and has been named a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her innovative approach to design. Nina received the American Alliance for Museums’ Nancy Hanks Memorial Award in 2012 and was named one of the 50 most “powerful and influential people in nonprofit arts” by the Western States Arts Federation in 2012 and 2013. Nina is the author of The Participatory Museum (2010) and the popular Museum 2.0 blog. Nina holds a B.S. from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in electrical engineering and mathematics. She loves waking up in the redwoods every day.

Director of Operations / Lis DuBois
Lis DuBois is a huge fan of community-based arts organizations. Lis received a Masters degree in Arts Administration from Boston University and a B.A. in Art History from Scripps College. She came to the MAH following several years at the New England Foundation for the Arts and the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art. Lis loves living in Santa Cruz, and is happiest when open-water swimming in the Monterey Bay.

Events Operations Catalyst / Diana Kapsner
Diana Kapsner lives life somewhere in the intersection of art and science fiction. She graduated with a BA in History of Art & Visual Culture from UCSC and went on to work as a Research Assistant at Museum and Curatorial Studies (MACS) there. She has also been a Gallery Assistant at JB Hall Gallery and a Sales Assistant and Facility Rental Coordinator at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center. A longtime Santa Cruz resident, she thinks Santa Cruz is like the TARDIS: it looks small, but is bigger on the inside.

Community Catalyst / Elise Granata
Elise Granata thrives off the sweet sweet nectar of people-power. She is the Community Manager at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and founder of the participatory, time­based social experience POWER HOUR. She graduated with a BA in Arts Management from SUNY Purchase College and comes to the MAH after work in music, theatre, dance, and booking Zombie Proms and Roller Discos on the east coast. Her favorite place in Santa Cruz is Saturn Diner, and her favorite thing about Santa Cruz is that it’s small enough to constantly feel like a sitcom.

 Collections Catalyst / Marla Novo
Marla Novo earned a Master of Arts in Art History from San Jose State University and a Bachelors of Arts in Art History from UC Santa Cruz. She has over 15 years of experience preserving and cataloging cultural artifacts. She’s curated many exhibitions at the MAH and other venues. Marla loves working at a museum that puts community first. On most days you can find Marla working alongside volunteers in the archives. She enjoys when people visit with an experience or an artifact to share. Marla knows everyone has a story to tell—all you need is a safe space and compassion. A life-long resident of Santa Cruz, on her free time, Marla could easily spend the entire day at the beach. Easily.

Design Catalyst / Justin Collins
Justin Collins, received a Masters degree in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University and a B.S. in Anthropology from UC Davis. He joined the MAH following several years at the Lake County Forest Preserve District and the Exploratorium. Justin spends his time in Santa Cruz exploring the tide pools or hunting mushrooms in the redwoods.

Director of Community Engagement/ Stacey Marie Garcia
Stacey Marie Garcia holds a Masters in International Museum Studies from the University of Göteborg (Göteborg, Sweden) and a BFA in Photography and Art History from the University of Florida (Gainesville, FL). She has worked internationally in variety of art centers, galleries and museums including the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, the Florida Museum of Natural History, WARPhaus Gallery, The Norton Museum of Art, The Armory Art Center, Bukowskis, Göteborg City Museum and Göteborg Natural History Museum. Her passion for community engagement through the arts led her to teaching, exhibit design, photography, community organizing, public art and curating. She is currently a member of the City of Santa Cruz Arts Commission. Stacey is a collaborator and artist at heart, seeking and creating magic in Santa Cruz.

Public Playmaking Catalyst/ Emily Hope Dobkin
Emily Hope Dobkin holds a Master’s in Arts Management from the University of Oregon with a focus in Community Arts, as well as a Bachelors degree in Creative Writing from Goucher College. She has studied various art forms across the globe, including Dance As Cultural Metaphor at the Federal University in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Brown Paper Studio, an arts methodology that uses the basics of theatre to collaboratively create in Cape Town, South Africa. These and other arts experiences have inspired her to facilitate a range of engaging arts educational opportunities in cultural organizations in Baltimore to Eugene to now here in Santa Cruz, where she greets each day to find anything from starfish to sea lions at her feet and frequents toasted marshmallow fluff atop her ice cream from Penny Ice Creamery.

Youth Programs Catalyst / Jamie Keil
Jamie Keil holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Her passion is creating interactive and educational projects for children and hopes to create a positive and innovative learning space where everyone can explore, play, create and have fun. Before this position, she worked for a non-profit after school company at a variety of local Santa Cruz elementary schools. Outside of work, Jamie loves going to the beach, being outdoors, painting and spending time with her adorable dog, Annie, who has been by her side for seven years.

Exhibition Coordinator / Nora Grant
Nora Grant holds a BA in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked in various art and educational settings, including tutoring inmates at San Quentin (Marin, CA), assisting contemporary artists at New York fine art paper mill Pace Prints, (Brooklyn, NY), teaching a Forms of Storytelling class for UC Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), designing The Pop Up Museum, and co-creating public programs for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) with diverse community members. Nora currently works as the Exhibitions Coordinator for MAH, where she curates interdisciplinary exhibits to ignite curiosity, empathy, and wonder. Nora Grant is also a practicing visual and fiber-based artist whose work explores x, y, and on beyond z. You can view her website at Born in Santa Cruz, Nora loves how often she discovers new layers to the town’s landscape and personality.

Guest Services Coordinator / Sandino Gomez
Sandino Gomez is an increasingly rare indigenous Banana Slug. He grew up in Santa Cruz and after graduating from Harbor High he attended UCSC where he got his BA degree in Community Studies. Since graduating he has worked locally in the education and nonprofit community at organizations such as the Resource Center for Nonviolence, Project Bike Trip, Kids On Broadway, Mariposa’s Art and Community TV. He has also been involved in and volunteered extensively with the Watsonville Brown Berets, Free Radio Santa Cruz 101.3 FM, the Bike Shack, the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, the Cuba Caravan and all sorts of other fun community based projects. Sandino is OBSESSED with building community, causing laughter, and breaking out of dominant and antiquated paradigms of how we should live and relate to each other.

Community Programs Coordinator / Helen Aldana
Helen Aldana is a hybrid between a balaenoptera musculus and sequoia sempervirens who enjoys creating safe and inspiring spaces. Helen received a BA in Art and Philosophy at the University of California Santa Cruz and is grateful to have worked with amazing folks including Rape Prevention Education, Lionel Cantú Queer Center, Walnut Avenue Women’s Center, and the ONE Archives Foundation. Born and raised in LA, Helen often daydreams of the amazing La Favorita Panaderia in Boyle Heights y sus conchitas deliciosas.

Director of Development & Partnerships / Jonathan Hicken
Jonathan Hicken brings a unique approach to development at the MAH, stemming from his background in Silicon Valley tech and academia prior to that. Before coming to the MAH, Jonathan was a business leader at a successful Silicon Valley startup, UserTesting, where he served on the executive team and led two large departments. Prior to that, at the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies in San Diego, CA, he researched and co-authored four publications on undocumented migration along the U.S.-Mexico border. Outside of the MAH, you’ll find Jonathan at trivia nights, out surfing, and trying the tastiest new craft beers.


Communications Associate / Nick Ibarra
Nick Ibarra believes in the power of stories to transform both individuals and communities—to help us understand more about who we are, and who we want to become. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from San Jose State University and came to the MAH after stints at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Bay Area Newsgroup and the Sierra Club.

 Exhibition Spark / Robbie Schoen
His name is not Felix Kulpa, but you can see how some might make that mistake. That’s because Robbie Schoen is the first, last and only guy to talk to if you want to know anything about downtown Santa Cruz’s delightfully weird but seriously progressive Felix Kulpa Gallery. A conceptual artist in his own right, Robbie is most known for making guitars out of everything from satellite dishes to toilet seats. But as the director of the Kulpa, he’s been even more influential giving ambitious local artists a forum for their work, featuring more than 120 group and individual shows over the last eight years. When not at his gallery, he can often be found at the Museum of Art & History where he employs his experience at exhibiting artwork to helping design the MAH’s galleries. But it is at the Kulpa where Robbie designs an interior space that is most like his own artistic interests, with something intriguing on every wall and in every corner. Robbie was a recipient of the 2014 Gail Rich Award.