Ruthie Dineen, Executive Director, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, pianist, composer, and most recently a new parent! Ruthie grew up in the Bay Area; her mother’s family is Salvadoran and her father’s Irish-American. Bilingual in Spanish and English, Ruthie is now learning Hebrew with her daughter, Amaya! Ruthie has a BA in music and history from UC Berkeley, her master’s degree in social work from Cal State East Bay, and her BFA in piano and jazz studies from the California Jazz Conservatory. Ruthie is also a founding member and co-leader of two original music ensembles, Negative Press Project and RDL+, with whom she performs, tours, arranges, and composes regularly. Dineen performs, arranges, and composes for a wide range of jazz, Latin, salsa, and classical musicians and groups in the Bay Area, including vocalist/percussionist Christelle Durandy, members of the Amaranth String Quartet, and Bululú. Ruthie has worked at the Center since 2009 and believes strongly in the Center’s mission, vision, and values, including the transformative power of the arts. Ruthie has been involved in several community-driven initiatives, including serving on the Executive, Sustainability, and Steering Committees of Healthy Richmond, as well as a member of the Invest in Youth Coalition in Richmond, and the planning group for the Blueprint to Prevent Interpersonal Violence in Contra Costa County.
Our amazing staff helps hundreds of students each year through the healing power of art.
Andrea Landín, Senior Director of Programs, holds a master’s degree in Policy and Organizational Leadership from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. She is the former Program Director of the New West Symphony Harmony Project, where she built, grew, and led the youth development arts program over the course of 4 years. Andrea’s research interests focus on effective and sustainable school partnerships, socially-conscious music curricula and pedagogy, access and equity in arts education, and arts-integrated curricula. In 2012, Andrea was one of just fifty international musicians selected as a Sistema Fellow at the New England Conservatory of Music, focusing her studies on the exploration of effective music teaching practices and socially-oriented curricula with residencies in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Alaska, and Venezuela.
Kwesi Anku, Director of Student Development and Training, received his Master of Social Work from California State University, East Bay in 2018. He trained in West African music, dancing, and drumming at the University of Legon, Ghana. After obtaining his BFA in Dance in 2004, he became a teaching assistant for the School of Performing Arts, working with local students and study abroad participants, namely from UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford, and San Francisco State University. He is also an accomplished performer, having performed with the Ghana Dance Ensemble and the Performing Arts Workshop, two of Ghana’s most prestigious dance ensembles. Since moving to the East Bay, he has worked for World Arts West and the SF Ethnic Dance Festival. This past year, Kwesi was promoted to become the Center’s Associate Director of Student Development and Training, in addition to maintaining classes as a West African drumming dance instructor. Kwesi is also a principal dancer in CK Ladzekpo’s West African Music and Dance Ensemble.
Dolores “Lolis” García, Associate Director of Student Development and Training, A native of the Bay Area, Lolis García received her BA in Psychology from the University of San Francisco. A talented musician and dancer, Lolis has mastered multiple string and percussion instruments associated with the son of Mexico. She has been with the Center for 21 years, studying and teaching Mexican music and dance, hip-hop, modern dance, and West African dance, both at the main site and after-school programs. In 2009, she participated in EBCPA’s joint production, Yanga, with the Oakland Museum of Art. The program was an exploration of the crossroads of Mexican and African traditional music. In 2004, she received an Alliance of California Traditional Arts grant for an intensive master-apprentice program where she studied with Artemio Posadas. She is currently part of Tarmiba, a musical project that focuses on Son Jarocho.
Bryan Alvarez, PhD, Director of School Partnerships, is an educator, entrepreneur, researcher, and professional musician. He graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music with dual degrees in Biology and Trombone Performance, and from UC Berkeley with a Ph.D. in Psychology where he studied the brain-based mechanisms of multi-sensory blending (synesthesia). While at Berkeley, Bryan co-founded three educational outreach programs for K-12 and college students and continued his educational efforts after completing his doctorate by founding and teaching two music programs in the Oakland Unified School District. He is a seasoned public speaker, having delivered 50+ talks for venues including the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, and TEDxBerkeley. Bryan is also a professional classical trombonist in the Bay Area and plays bandoneon with Seth Asarnow y su Sexteto Tipico.
Dion “Charli” Prete, MSW, Student Support Services Coordinator, received her Masters in Social Work from University of Southern California in 2022. Her training is emphasized in Children, Youth and Families. She has an extensive range of experience working with children of all abilities. Charli has three beautiful daughters, four grandkids and a few cats, and a dog. She loves to cook, bowl, and support her local professional sports teams in her spare time.
Annie Smith, School Partnerships Program Coordinator, is a Bay Area based operatic soprano and music teacher. She holds an MM in voice from San Francisco Conservatory and a BM in voice from Boston Conservatory (now The Boston Conservatory at Berklee). Her teaching style draws heavily from Orff-Schulwerk and Responsive Classroom, allowing her to utilize elemental music and culturally responsive practices in schools. She brings a passion for folk music and dance from around the world and has accompanied her students on piano and ukulele in their concerts. As a performer, she performs regularly with various chamber groups and opera companies around the Bay Area. She also regularly performs with Ensemble Mik Nawooj, a hip-hop orchestra, around the country.
Kwaku Manu, Program Coordinator, received his education and training in West African Music and Dance at the University of Ghana. After obtaining his BFA degree in Dance in 2004, he was employed by the University of Ghana as a Senior Production Assistant and worked in the capacity of Dance and Drumming Instructor from 2004-2010. He received the Curtain Call Costumes Rising Star award from the Dance Council of North Texas to attend the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina in 2010. His involvement in dance workshops, performance,s and festivals on local, regional and national levels has given him the unique opportunity to gain extensive practical experiences. He was selected on numerous occasions to travel abroad to perform and teach African Music and Dance. He is currently in charge of Students Development and Training teaching African Music and Dance to teenagers at the Center and is also involved in a variety of Out of School Time programs for children from kindergarten to 6th grade as well as an in-school professional development program at Title One Schools called Learning Without Borders.
Claudio Naranjos Vega, Mexican Music Specialist, has participated in “Los Vega” for 25 years to date. His main activities as a musician are mainly playing the requinto instrument or guitarra de son. As of 2020, he is the director of the group; throughout this time, Mr. Claudio has contributed as a composer and arranger on different songs from the group’s latest albums. Likewise, in the trajectory as a group, they have performed in a large number of cultural and artistic festivals in the country and abroad; in countries such as China, the United States and Canada. Has participated in different film recordings, one of them with the theme “La Bruja” for the movie “Frida”, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2002, we participated as guests in the show “De Sirenas y Peteneras e Infortunados Marinos”, which was nominated for the Lunas del Auditorio in 2015, in the same way in 2018 we put on a show bringing together more than 20 renowned artists in the son jarocho genre on the occasion of our 20 anniversary, which was nominated in 2019 by the Lunas del Auditorio. This same year we were invited to participate in the benefit concert for Tibet at Carnegie Hall in New York, under the direction of renowned composer Philip Glass. Our discography consists of five albums, the last two “Vientos del mar” and “En tonos muy diferentes” under the production of Leo Heiblum with the Audiflot label.
Selene Rico, Registrar, grew up in the community of Richmond, CA. She is a multi-talented dancer, singer, and Center alum who was part of the Center for eight years. While in high school she continued her passion for arts by being part of Alma Latina, a Latin American Cultural dance group that brings students from different ethnicities together. During high school and after graduating she was a part of Danza Tonantzin los Matachines for ten years, where she then learned to contribute to her community and inspire young kids to follow their dreams and passion for dance and music.
Ian Burbage, Media Coordinator, was born relatively nearby in Monterey, California, and spent his youth crisscrossing the United States before graduating high school from a public boarding school in Natchitoches, Louisiana. By the time he earned his B.A. in Film from Vassar College, he had attended 12 schools in 10 states. After working a variety of production roles in the independent film scene in New York City, he moved to Los Angeles and started Sunflower Media. For the past 14 years, he has provided a range of video services for a diverse clientele of businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals. Having relocated to the Bay Area in 2016, Ian is excited to bring his experience and expertise to the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.
Pablo Puente, Program Assistant, is a performer, teaching-artist, creator, and alum of the Young Artist Diploma Program. He recently received his Bachelor of Arts in music and dance from Wesleyan University. While there, Pablo created and directed fight choreography for student run plays, regularly performed with Prometheus: Fire Arts and Performance, and helped teach the Circophony Teen Circus at Oddfellows Playhouse. Working with collaborators at Red Feather Studios, Pablo wrote, performed, recorded, and produced numerous original music compositions for personal and professional projects. Since graduation, he has continued learning how to play various new instruments, is always working on a new song, and is slowly perfecting his recipe for vegetarian fried rice.
Jean Chang, Controller, began her career as a staff accountant for Royal Greenland after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008. In 2009, she joined CP Shades as an accounting manager and later served as the corporate controller before joining the Center. Jean is delighted to be part of an arts organization where she can draw upon her experience as a musician and an educator in support of the Center’s financial and operational integrity. Jean has dual master’s degrees in viola performance and composition from Ohio University and a doctoral degree in music from the University of Arizona. She also worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Arizona and as a pianist teaching first graders in the Tucson Unified School District as part of the Opening Minds Through the Arts music literacy program and continues to teach private piano and violin lessons to young students.
Nai Saechao, Bookkeeper, has been happily working at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts (EBCPA) as a full charge bookkeeper since April 2000, a total of 20 years. She is delighted to be part of EBCPA knowing that is devoted to providing youth with a safe environment to not only explore different performing arts but also further enhance their artistic talents. She graduated from Heald College in San Francisco, CA in January 1999. Before she started her career at EBCPA, she worked as a junior analyst at Kraft Food Inc. from January 1999 to July 1999, where she assisted the Post Audit team on their research and analysis deduction. From July 1999 to April 2000, she worked at Enrico’s Café in San Francisco, CA as an accountant.
Sara Rader, Director of Advancement, received her BA from University of California, Berkeley in 2006, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Globalization and Human Rights. Her research culminated with her honors thesis titled, “Not for Sale: Ending the Commodification of Women and Children in the Age of Globalization.” She is currently pursuing her MA in Leadership at St. Mary’s College of California. Sara began her career in the non-profit sector as Development Associate with the East Bay Community Foundation. She continued her professional development at The Salvation Army in her roles as Major Gifts Officer and Director of Donor Relations for the East Bay area. Sara joined the Center staff in July 2017.
Talia Rossi, Development Operations and Communications Coordinator, grew up in Berkeley and received her B.A. in English from the University of Puget Sound in 2018. She has previously interned in the development office of the East Bay Jewish Community Center. During college, she developed her professional communications skills as the Marketing Coordinator at Donor Swell, a digital marketing firm that works exclusively with nonprofits. She is excited to return to East Bay Center where she took dance classes and clarinet lessons as a child.
HUMAN RESOURCES STAFF
Deborah Preston, Director of Human Resources, joins the Center as our first-ever Human Resources Manager. Deborah comes to us with senior experience as Director of Administrative Services at UC Berkeley’s International House and previously held the role of Human Resources/Labor Relations Manager. She also served as Assistant Director of Human Resources for Contra Costa County and Acting Human Resources Manager at the Port of Oakland where she worked for 22 years and held progressively responsible positions. Deborah has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from St. Mary’s College and is actively pursuing her Senior Certified Professional certification through the Society of HR Professionals (SHRM) and is also involved with California’s Public Employee Labor Relations Association (CALPELRA). Having grown up in Richmond, Deborah has deep connections to our community and brings both wisdom and warmth to her new post. She has expressed her excitement about her new role at the Center as she has a passion for helping the Richmond community.