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Board of Directors

Meet Cultural Connections' dedicated, all-volunteer board below. The board is made up of professionals in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors, who represent a diversity of experiences and backgrounds within free-choice learning fields. Each board member serves a two-year term, taking part in collaborative program planning and ensuring that Cultural Connections meets its mission and goals.

Cultural Connections Board 2023-2024

John Alexander (he/him)

John Alexander has devoted himself to museum work for 25+ years. Between the Museum of Modern Art, Morgan Library & Museum in New York and more recently at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA), he has worked extensively on a variety of exhibitions as well as collection stewardship topics. He has lectured on museum subjects at universities in New York, Connecticut and Valladolid, Spain and participated in museum-related symposiums in Boston, Houston, Madrid and London. John holds a BA in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin and pursued graduate studies also in Art History at the City University of New York, Hunter College.

In multiple roles at MoMA, he worked on exhibitions focusing on such artists as Yayoi Kusama, Alvar Aalto, Willie Cole, Julia Margaret Cameron, Alfred Hitchcock and Alberto Giacometti.  Also, during this tenure, he participated in a professional work exchange involving spending three months working at the Centre Pompidou on the exhibition Dada:  Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris.  The show was a tripartite effort between the Pompidou, MoMA and the National Gallery, Washington DC. At the Morgan, John brought about many changes to the institution’s exhibitions and collections policies as part of the senior staff.  This included all aspects of installation, design, budget oversight and contract negotiations. These included such exhibitions on the artists Philip Guston, Monika Grzymala, Martin Puryear, and Betye Saar as well as the topics of Surrealism and Frankenstein.  John also oversaw multiple touring exhibitions with numerous international partners such as the Louvre, Uffizi, Jeu de Paume, Fundación Mapfre, Albertina and Gemeentemuseum as well as multiple domestic venues like the Getty Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Hammer Museum, Menil Collection and BAMPFA.

Since joining BAMPFA, John has worked to bring the underrecognized artists of all categories to the walls of the museum such as Kay Sekimachi, Candice Lin, Caroline Kent and retrospectives of Alison Knowles and Amalia Mesa-Bains. The Knowles exhibition has plans to travel to three European venues in Norway, France and Germany and is accompanied by a substantial publication that John contributed significant administrative oversight toward. The Mesa-Bains exhibition has plans to travel to California, Texas and possible venues in Mexico and will also have a momentous catalogue to commemorate the artist’s work to which John also provided meaningful assistance. Other responsibilities John was involved in the permanent collection of out-going loans to other institutions and, most primarily, a robust acquisition process. Four times annually, John plays a key role in the planning and implementation of gifts and purchases to the BAMPFA collection. This involves donor relations, the maintenance of acquisition funds and meeting coordination as well as the supervision of an ongoing document of potential new works for consideration.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2022

Mercy Bertero (she/her)

Berkeley-born and raised, Mercy is an MA/Ph.D. student at the University of Washington specializing in community-based qualitative research. An intercultural communication researcher, she is a research assistant at UW's Center for Communication, Difference, and Equity (CCDE). 

Previously, Mercy worked as a Visitor Insights Specialist at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA), where she focused on audience-based research projects and conducted various evaluations of museum programming, events, exhibitions, and content. She was also an active member of multiple task forces and learning teams working to develop equitable and accessible resources for museum staff and visitors.

Working in both a museum frontline position and behind the scenes, Mercy aimed to bridge community needs and organizational goals together. She is passionate about accessibility in all forms and co-directed OMCA's partnership with KultureCity, making the museum the first Sensory Inclusive™ venue in Oakland. 

Mercy's work in academia, museums, and nonprofit organizations has primarily involved finding creative ways to connect communities with cultural and learning institutions. She continues to pursue this work in her research and as a member of the Cultural Connections board.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2022

Hugo Corro (he/him)

Hugo Corro works as Education & Civic Engagement Manager at di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art.  Hugo’s role includes training and coordinating volunteers, collaborating with community partners, coordinating and leading school tours, and creating and implementing hands-on art-making for visitors of all ages.
Hugo received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly Pomona and a Master’s degree in Urban Design from UC Berkeley.  Before entering the museum education world, he worked for years in after-school enrichment as a Program Director at Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley providing opportunities for personal growth and development for elementary and middle school youth.

A personal glimpse: Hugo is a new dad and enjoys playing and being active with his one year old son Dario.  Hugo is an avid runner, enjoys trail-running and backpacking, and loves to watch movies in the theater and at home.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2019

Cara Dodge (she/her)

Cara Dodge has been a museum professional since 2007, and has enjoyed a number of different positions in science-focused institutions. She has written programming for The Tech Interactive, helped launch the Exponential Center at the Computer History Museum, worked on social media campaigns for the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and is now Engagement Lead and Exhibit Manager at NASA’s Ames Research Center. 

She also explored the potential within museums through her masters program, earning both an MA in Museum Studies and a Masters in Business Administration from John F Kennedy University. Her Master’s Thesis "Humor me a moment: The power of humor in science museums," explored how positive emotions, like humor, can be impactful for individuals, even those who are perhaps not interested in science. The results of this research encouraged her to continue to explore how to connect people with science, as there are still underutilized ways to do so, and trying new and innovative techniques can have powerful results.

A personal glimpse: I am absolutely obsessed with podcasting. Exploring how great storytelling is done without physical objects is an inspiration to me on how we can do it in real life!

Joined Cultural Connections in 2019

 Lauren Finch (she/her)

Lauren Finch is a photographer and educator who loves any excuse to share art-making with children and their families. She currently works as the Youth Programs and Camps Coordinator for the City of Walnut Creek’s Arts & Recreation department. There she helps connect local artists with the community with quarterly classes, workshops and camps. Prior to the City of Walnut Creek, Lauren spent a collection of years in art museums like the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and San Jose Museum of Art and where she prioritized making connections between youth and art through hands-on activities and tours. She holds a Master of Arts in Photography and Urban Cultures from Goldsmiths University of London.

A personal glimpse: Lauren is a Bay Area native who loves any excuse to be outside in the fresh air. She frequently has a cup of coffee in her hands. When she is not exploring or hosting programs, she is probably dancing in her kitchen or practicing ASL. 

Joined Cultural Connections in 2023

Joanne Sidlovsky Grant (she/her)

Joanne is originally from Connecticut, but has lived in the Bay Area for 20 years. Her Instagram handle is: @joannesidgrant. Find her on LinkedIn as Joanne Sidlovsky Grant.

In May 2022, Joanne received a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University, where her coursework focused on collections management, curation, exhibition design, and archives. Prior to returning to school, she spent 15 years in archaeological consulting – she has always loved learning about and caring for objects! 

In the fall of 2021, Joanne was a Curatorial Intern at the Camron-Stanford House in Oakland, under the guidance of Executive Director Iliana Morton (who also introduced her to Cultural Connections!) From December 2021 - May 2023, Joanne was the Collections Manager and Studio Administrator for an art conservation studio. Currently, she is exploring new options in collections management/ curation/ registration, while continuing to manage the collections, library, and archives at the Oakland Aviation Museum, where she has been for the past two years. She is excited for another year as a Cultural Connections board member, and looks forward to creating programs and activities to celebrate the rich culture, history, and creativity of the Bay Area!

A personal glimpse: I have done archaeological field work in Cyprus, been stuck at a train station overnight in Cannes, and on one day in 2019, had breakfast in France, lunch in Monaco, and dinner in Italy (yes, it can be done!)

Joined Cultural Connections in 2022

Michèle Jubilee (she/her)

Michèle Jubilee is the Education Curator at New Museum Los Gatos (NUMU), located on the ancestral land of the Muwekma Ohlone, building community through youth and exhibition programming. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in both Art History and Visual Arts from the University of British Columbia (UBC), located in Vancouver, Canada, on the unceded territory of the Musqueam People. In Vancouver she worked at the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), the Contemporary Art Gallery (CAG), and Gallery 1515. Michèle is also a multidisciplinary artist and illustrator making art about the body and soul, our relationships to ourselves and each other, emotions, and our unique journeys of growth as human beings. “I see my work in museum programs and my own art practice as integrally connected, and all part of one path of learning. The arts are so special because we can share our individual and collective experiences, and the deepest parts of who we are.” 

A personal glimpse: Michèle loves a good cup of tea, a bowl of pho, talks with friends, and taking walks to appreciate flowers and trees. Born in Montreal, Canada, Michèle grew up in the heart of San Francisco, right next to the De Young Museum. She used to walk over to the museum regularly and spend hours just admiring all the art. Museums and art making have always been a huge part of her life.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2022

Lia Maksoud (she/her)

Lia has expanded her career in human resources for the past decade working in both the local government and non-profit sectors. Prior to her career in Human Resources, she worked in education and direct services assisting and supporting transitional age foster youth.

Lia Maksoud is the Human Resources Director with the Asian Art Museum. She oversees all aspects of Human Resources and Volunteers for the museum. She is excited to serve and support Cultural Connections with other highly dedicated individuals who bring their wide-ranging expertise.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2022

Ruby Ming, Secretary (she/her)

Ruby aims to provoke unconventional connections to art across cultures, time, and technology. She is the Associate Director of Outreach and Education at Montalvo Arts Center, where she collaborates to design and produce school, teacher, and public programs. Involved in visual arts education for over 20 years, she has presented engaging teacher professional development workshops about arts integration for national and local organizations. In partnership with UC Berkeley History-Social Science Project, she launched a week-long teacher institute in summer 2022 for the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles focused on integrating textile arts in the humanities. She received her B.A. in Fine Arts from Brown University and her M.A. in Museum Studies, with an emphasis in Programming, from San Francisco State University, where she is also an adjunct lecturer.

A personal glimpse: Ruby enjoys traveling and experiencing daily life and food in other parts of the world. She also enjoys crafting with friends, movies, theater, and trying different foods.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2021

Deborah Munk (she/her)

Deborah is the Manager of the Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence (AIR) Program where she has worked with hundreds of artists and community members on projects ranging from performance to new media both at Recology and at various off-site venues and spaces. She has implemented AIR Programs at Recology facilities across the western region including in Portland and Astoria, OR and Seattle, WA, and continues to be involved with their growth. Deborah also manages the Environmental Learning Center and Educational Tour Program providing tours to over 4,000 children and adults annually who learn about the importance of resource conservation. Prior to joining the Recology AIR team, Deborah was the assistant editor of Art/Women/California 1950-2000: Parallels and Intersections, published by UC Press. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and holds an MA in Education focusing on art and media.

A personal glimpse: Growing up in Hawaii instilled a deep appreciation and love for the environment, which continues to influence all factors of her life. She has lived in San Francisco for many years with her husband and two dogs and enjoys pilates, independent films, spending time in nature, and traveling

Joined Cultural Connections in 2023

Ashleigh Richelle (she/her)

Ashleigh Richelle is a compassionate communications professional storytelling for connection, equity, & progress. As a Bay-Area born, raised, and based Latinx leader and professional, she currently works at the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) as the Associate Director of Communications. Her career spans over 10 years — from PR, media relations, digital storytelling, graphic design, website and project management, to social media, campaign strategy, and cross-functional collaborative leadership. She’s worked at startups, non-profits, and tech companies like Daughters of Rosie, CBS Interactive and LinkedIn.

Ashleigh attended the University of Chicago, where she graduated with a B.A. in Cinema & Media Studies and a minor in Human Rights, focusing on documentary film production.

A personal glimpse: Outside of work, Ashleigh enjoys coffee, crosswords, arts & crafts, stand-up comedy, cooking, birding, yoga and salsa dancing. She is also an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow, an Hermana of Latinas Promoviendo Comunidad/Lambda Pi Chi Sorority, Inc. and an alumna of SMASH, the signature STEM education program of the Kapor Center, where she honed her passion for storytelling.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2021

Gretta Stimson, President (she/her)

Gretta is Acquisitions Registrar at the Computer History Museum based in Mountain View. She tracks all new artifacts and archival donations from initial contact with the donor through archival packing once the material is acquired. Gretta developed her skills working for the Hayward Area Historical Society in Hayward, California, and the Maryhill Museum in Washington State. 

Gretta achieved her BA from the University of Hawai’i, where she studied Anthropology and English Literature with a minor in Theater. She went on to receive her MA from the University of Leicester, Museum Studies Department. In her spare time, Gretta is involved with the Bay Area theater community, regularly

A personal glimpse: Gretta is an avid reader of both plays, literature, and non-fiction. In her spare time she enjoys participating in community theater.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2020

Samantha Stevick (she/her)

Samantha is the Director of Strategic Sales at the Chabot Space & Science Center where, for the last 8 years, she and her team collaboratively built exciting new educational programs and customized events for Oakland and beyond. Former work included positions with The San Francisco Opera in corporate and legacy giving, grant-writing at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, and education at the Mattress Factory Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. She holds Masters degrees in Arts Administration & Public Policy and Art History & Curation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her passion is for cultural centers that feature vernacular representation and museum collections orbiting popular culture, unique-object interests, and self-taught works.

A personal glimpse: Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Samantha has been in the Bay Area for just over a decade and is still exploring all the hiking trails and beautiful scenery it has to offer with her one-eyed dog, Odie. She loves small roadside attraction museums and travels often to visit fascinating sites such as “The Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk” and “The World Famous Crochet Museum.”

Joined Cultural Connections in 2023

Crystal Lee Stone (she/her)

Crystal Lee Stone is the Volunteer Program Manager at the Gardens of Golden Gate Park. Her passion for nature, the arts, and people is reflected in her work both at the Gardens and as an artist. As part of the Programs and Partnerships team at the Gardens, she draws upon over a decade of experience in museums and public spaces such as the Exploratorium, Maud Morgan Arts Center, White House Historical Association, Nantucket Historical Association, and the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries to lead a vast community of committed and passionate volunteers. Trained to teach yoga, Crystal also periodically teaches yoga classes at the Gardens.

Crystal studied Visual Art and Psychology at Bowdoin College and Museum Studies at Harvard University. 

A personal glimpse: When Crystal isn’t at the Gardens, you can find her at San Francisco’s Noonan Building creating immersive art experiences, riding her bicycle through San Francisco, or backpacking in the Sierras. In addition, she currently serves on the Editorial Advisory Committee of the American Alliance of Museums.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2023

Christina Young (she/they)

Christina Young is a painter and an arts and cultural worker with a particular interest in creating spaces that empower individuals and drive connection. Currently the Associate Director of Visitor Experience at Oakland Museum of California, Christina has a rich background in Bay Area arts and cultural institutions, with multifaceted experience ranging from programming and development, to education and visitor experience. From her work at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Oakland Asian Cultural Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, and OMCA, she has developed a deep understanding of how all aspects of the institution impact community experience- and that strategizing around this interdependence is the only way to fully realize institutional social impact and fiscal objectives. Finally, she is passionate about frontline staff advocacy and people centered work, recognizing that empowered and engaged museum staff empower our communities/audiences best.

Joined Cultural Connections in 2022

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