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STAFF

Our amazing staff helps hundreds of students each year through the healing power of art.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Ruthie Dineen

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.

PROGRAM STAFF

Landin Andrea

Andrea Landín, Senior Director of Programs, is a cellist and educator originally from Southern California. She holds a master’s degree in Policy and Organizational Leadership from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s in Cello Performance and Anthropology from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music. She is the former Program Director of the New West Symphony Harmony Project, a youth development arts program that  she built, grew, and led from 2013-2018. In 2012, Andrea was one of fifty international musicians selected as a Sistema Fellow at the New England Conservatory of Music, focusing her studies on the exploration of effective arts teaching practices with residencies in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Alaska, and Venezuela. She has played throughout the U.S. and Latin America and continues to perform in the Bay Area.

Kwesi Anku

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

Dolores “Lolis” GarcíaAssociate 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

Bryan AlvarezPhD, 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.

Kwaku Manu

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 been a part of the group “Los Vega” for 25 years to date. His main activities as a musician are playing the requinto instrument or guitarra de son.  As of 2020, he is the director of “Los Vega”; throughout this time, Mr. Claudio has contributed as a composer and arranger on different songs from the group’s latest albums.  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. Claudio has participated in several film recordings, one of them the theme “La Bruja” for the movie “Frida”, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2002. Claudio was a guest in the show “De Sirenas y Peteneras e Infortunados Marinos“, which was nominated for the Lunas del Auditorio in 2015. In 2018 Los Vega put on a show bringing together more than 20 renowned artists in the son jarocho genre on the occasion of their 20 anniversary, which was also nominated by the Lunas del Auditorio. This same year they were invited to participate in the benefit concert for Tibet at Carnegie Hall in New York, under the direction of renowned composer Philip Glass. Their 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.

Lataycha Washington, School and Neighborhood Partnerships – Program Coordinator, is an Oakland native whose passion for dance blossomed at the age of 4. She first learned Hip hop, West African, and Praise dance which rooted her cultural connection to the arts. Her lineage is from the south, mother from Arkansas and father from Louisiana; New Orleans to be exact. With Creole heritage and soul running through her blood she later explored the Jazz dance genre deepening her love for cultural dance movement. She later learned classical and technical styles of dance including ballet, modern, contemporary, lyrical, swing, and Latin social dancing. Lataycha is a multi genre professional dancer who has performed with numerous music artists including Living legend Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Snoop Dogg, Bruno Mars, and Coldplay. While pursuing an industry career in Los Angeles, she worked as a certified dance therapist for seniors at an Adult day healthcare center. She also danced in a global makeup campaign commercial for Wet n’ wild, in addition to music videos and live performances. After returning to the Bay Area, she shifted her focus to pouring her knowledge and experience into the next generation of youth. In 2023, she also began cultivating dance activism with Greenpeace; creative resistance movement through peaceful protest. She is newly certified in Agroecology by the USDA, and hopes to inspire artists through creative movement and farm to table living.

Megan Kellogg, Music Coordinator, is a Richmond native who began her music education playing violin, alto saxophone, and  bassoon in Berkeley Public schools, and her vocal training as a member of the San Francisco Girls chorus. While in the chorus, she had the opportunity to perform regularly with the San  Francisco Opera and Symphony. Her performance in the Opera’s world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, ignited her passion for opera and solidified her belief in the  transformative power of music and the performing arts. She was awarded scholarships from  the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the American Concert Association, and world renowned mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade to complete her undergraduate degree in vocal  performance at SFCM. She was accepted into the graduate voice program at the Manhattan  School of Music and studied for a year in New York City with Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano, Mignon Dunn. She has most recently performed as a mezzo chorister in the music of  Revelations with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at Cal Performances. She performed for  three seasons as a member of the Washington National Opera Chorus at the Kennedy Center in  Washington DC, performing works of Puccini, Donizetti, Bizet, and American composers Philip  Glass and Jake Heggie. She is thrilled to return to the San Francisco Opera this season as a  member of the extra chorus.

Selene R.

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

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.

FINANCE STAFF

Jean Chang

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

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.

DEVELOPMENT STAFF

Giuliana Blasi, Institutional Giving Manager, has 15+ years of experience working with transformative organizations at the intersections of creativity, youth development, and community building. She has played a key role in institutional fundraising, grants management, and program leadership in organizations throughout the Bay Area– including at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco where she contributed her talents as a grant writer and Ecology Center in Berkeley, where she worked to cultivate funding for and build programming that uplifts the next generation of environmental advocates. Giuliana has served as a program lead for Loco Bloco in San Francisco’s Mission District and as a teaching artist at Destiny Arts Center in Oakland, facilitating arts curriculum and programs that honored the wisdom and creations of children, youth, families, and artists. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Education, a minor in Dance, at the University of California, Berkeley, and is an alumnus of Rockwood Leadership Institute, the CORO Youth Development Fellowship, and Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Institute. Giuliana is a mama, dancer, facilitator, writer, and forever City kid, bringing these multiple perspectives to her work.

Casey Lee Thorne, Individual Giving Manager, is an interdisciplinary dance artist, educator and scholar who is committed to performing arts education as a vital practice of community and cultural exchange. Born in rural North Carolina, she later received professional dance training from American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School in New Jersey under the direction of Graham Lustig (now the Artistic Director of Oakland Ballet), and graduated from the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA Program at Dominican University of CA as part of their inaugural class. Casey holds an MFA in Dance Studies from Mills College, is a Fulbright Israel Fellow, and has created original works for her company Inside Out Contemporary Ballet since 2012. She is thrilled to expand her passion for performing arts education as a development professional, previously serving as the Development Director for Stapleton School of the Performing Arts and Community Engagement Manager for Marin Ballet. Casey is honored to support the mission and vision of the Center as Individual Giving Manager.

HUMAN RESOURCES STAFF

Deborah Preston

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.