Fifteen volunteers appointed by the Mayor compose the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. Commissioners represent a diversity of backgrounds and are selected from individual arts and culture patrons, artists, educators, the business and professional community, those with professional qualifications and experience or knowledge of a particular arts and culture field, and the general public.
Larry Baza is a professional arts administrator with more than 32 years of experience in advocating for the arts at the local, state and national level. He has served on the boards of various nonprofit arts organizations and provided his expertise as a panelist for arts commissions and foundations. In his professional career, Baza has directed and managed San Diego arts organizations and businesses including Centro Cultural De La Raza, Sushi Performance and Visual Arts, Fingerhut Gallery and Community Arts of San Diego. His wealth of knowledge and experience includes affiliations, consultancies, site visits and panel participation with various arts organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, California Association of Local Arts Organizations, Chicano Federation of San Diego County, National Association of Latino Arts and Culture and the San Diego Community Foundation.
Rebecca Smith is Executive Director of The Offices of Strengths & Vocation at Point Loma Nazarene University. Previously, she was Senior Recruiter at Eastridge Workforce Solutions, Vice President at the San Diego Workforce Partnership, and Career Coach at QUALCOMM, also holding related positions over the past 20 years with the University of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce and High Tech High. Her experience includes hosting the Public Broadcasting Service series "Career Advantage." She earned a Master of Education in Counseling from University of San Diego and a BA in Sociology from University of California, San Diego. Smith serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of San Diego County.
Michael Brown is Associate Curator of European Art at the San Diego Museum of Art, having served previously form 2007-20013 in the New World curatorial department at the Denver Art Museum. He earned his Ph.D. in 2011 from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts with a dissertation on Spanish Colonial and Spanish portrait painting. Mr. Brown has taught as a visiting lecturer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and University of Denver. He has published widely, contributing essays on Colonial portraiture to catalogues for Brooklyn Museum, Denver Art Museum, and Fomento Cultural Banamex, Mexico City. In 2015, he curated Divine Desire: Printmaking, Mythology, and Birth of the Baroque at The San Diego Museum of Art and authored it companion publication.
Carlos Cristiani is a business consultant and mediator. He is the founder of Peninsula Business Consultants, a San Diego-based firm focusing on international trade between US/Latin America, and applied technology. He is also the founder of San Diego Mediator, a mediation practice focusing on business and community-based disputes. Cristiani served on the Board of The House of Mexico, a member organization of The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages in Balboa Park, for three years (2010-2012) as Secretary and as President. In this capacity he was able to establish collaborative partnerships and programs with organizations such as The Mingei Museum, Sherman Heights Community Center, The San Diego Museum of Art, The Timken Museum as well as other cultural organizations. Cristiani volunteers as a Mentor for Startups participating at EvoNexus, a tech incubator in Downtown San Diego; as a Mentor for the business accelerator Endeavor in Baja California; and as a bilingual mediator for the National Conflict Resolution Center. Born and raised in Mexico City Cristiani studied law at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), obtained a Philosophy diploma on Ethics and Democracy also at UNAM; as well as a diploma in Corporate and Real Estate Law in Baja. In San Diego he was an International Student at UCSD learning about American history, law and society and later trained at the National Conflict Resolution Center to become a Mediator.
Vernon Franck is a professional land surveyor and owner of Metropolitan Mapping, a land surveying and mapping practice devoted to forward-thinking building projects that enhance the core metropolitan communities of San Diego. Franck has served on the boards of Sushi Performance and Visual Art (President) and Space 4 Art (Treasurer). He is a member of the Commission's Public Art Committee (2009-present) and has served on public art selection panels for the Bayside Fire Station (City of San Diego) and the Wrap Project (Port of San Diego). He has also served on the North Park Planning Committee and was Chair of their Urban Design/Project Review Subcommittee. He has been on advisory panels for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's TNT event, the AIA's Orchids and Onions awards, the Barrio Logan/East Village Arts District and the Market Creek Arts District. Franck received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from San Diego State University and continued at SDSU as a graduate student in Urban Geography, City Planning and Environmental Design. He enjoys robust relationships with working artists of all persuasions and thoroughly enjoys the pursuit of arts and culture far and wide, high and low. He lives, works, walks, bikes, delivers kids, dines and shops in North Park.
Gina M. Jackson
Gina M. Jackson is an Adjunct Professor at San Diego Community College District and a Secondary Educator at San Diego Unified School District. She has a B.A. in Speech Communication/English and Theatre Performance minors from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; an M.A. in African-American Studies/Literature-Theatre from Clark Atlanta University; and an M.Ed. and Preliminary Administrative Services Credential from National University. Jackson has been an active member of San Diego’s arts and culture community, having served in numerous capacities. Such capacities include serving on the boards of La Jolla Playhouse Partners (Vice President); Young Audiences of San Diego; and Friends of Malcolm X Library (President). She is also a Charter Member of the Commission’s Arts Education Advisory Committee as well as a Script Evaluator for Playwrights Project. Gina currently is a Board Director for the City of San Diego Horton Plaza Theatres Foundation; San Diego Theatre Educators Alliance; and the County of San Diego Community Action Board. She is an award-winning National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, having researched and studied the Mississippi Delta and Duke Ellington. Jackson is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Cultural Noire Performing Arts Company.
Laurie Mitchell is a general pediatrician who has practiced in East County community clinics for the past ten years, most recently working at Southern Indian Health Council. Committed to the well being of children and the arts, she has served as a community volunteer for many local groups including the Wellness Council of the Mountain Empire School District, the San Diego Childhood Obesity Initiative, and the San Diego Chapter of Reach Out and Read. She and her husband, Brent Woods, have been active supporters of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), San Diego Museum of Art, the Old Globe Theatre, and Mingei International Museum. In addition, she currently serves on the Board of Directors of The New Children's Museum, acting as board chair from 2007-2009, and is a member of the Collections Committee of MCASD, as well as the Art Committee of the La Jolla Athenaeum. She has also served on the boards of the San Diego Museum of Man and City Ballet of San Diego, where she continues to serve on the Advisory Council. Dr. Mitchell received a BA degree in English literature from Wellesley College, and an MD from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. She completed her pediatrics residency training at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Janet Konstantin Poutré
Janet Konstantin Poutré is the publisher and editor of the Clairemont Community News and the blog Clairemont Central. Poutré is currently the volunteer President of the Clairemont Chamber of Commerce. Prior to moving to Clairemont, Poutré served on the United Way's Allocation Committee for two years in Las Vegas. She had three terms as a Board Member for the San Diego County Apartment Association in the 1990s while working on a start-up dot-com company in the rental housing industry. In 2001 Poutré was chosen as a counselor for Camp Start-Up at Vassar College, a program that teaches entrepreneurship skills to teens. In 2006 she was on the team that designed and launched the Clairemont Community News and in 2008 became its sole owner. In 2009 state Assemblymember Lori Saldaña named the Clairemont Community News the Small Business of the Year for the 76th District. Poutré was born in New York City and raised on trips to the great museums of the city, Broadway shows, and weekly piano lessons. She holds a BA in Art History from the State University of New York, College at Potsdam and lives in Clairemont with her husband.
Sharletta Richardson is a retired San Diego Unified School District music teacher with over 35 years of experience. She has performed and competed with her students in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City and Hawaii. In 2007, she was one of 57 teachers selected from the United States to study and work with students in Tokyo and Okinawa, Japan as a result of being awarded The Japan Fulbright Memorial Teachers Award. Richardson received a Master of Music in Music Education from the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Science in Public School Music from Virginia State University.
Doreen Schonbrun holds a BA in Art History/Criticism from the University of California, San Diego. She is an artist, collector and teacher of art and art history classes for at-risk children who reside at the San Diego Center for Children. Schonbrun has served as Chair of the San Diego Center for Children's annual fundraiser for six years and was a member of San Diego Museum of Art's Presidents Circle member for 14 years. She supports efforts to improve the role that science and technology can play in the restoration, preservation, discovery and understanding of art and has worked with the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art Architecture and Archaeology (CISA3) at UCSD to make its efforts better known. Schonbrun has supported a project to establish a relationship between San Diego and Florence, Italy, where UCSD graduate students learn about specialized technologies and apply them to works of art. Schonbrun also acts as co-director of a lecture series on "Science and the Arts" for the highly acclaimed "Group of 12 and Friends," a community-based group of like-minded individuals who meet monthly at the Sanford Burnham Research Institute. Schonbrun resides in La Jolla with her husband, Dr. Myron Schonbrun.
Jason Whooper exudes passion for helping others and affecting San Diego communities in positive ways. He opened his own law practice in 2011. He represents clients in employment, personal injury, and business litigation cases. Before becoming an attorney, Whooper received his Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law. He also received his MBA from San Diego State University. Before his graduate studies, he received a BA in English at San Diego State University. During his undergraduate attendance, he studied abroad at New College, Oxford University, in England, where he discovered his love for international travel and interest in multiculturalism. Whooper received his appointment to the Commission in 2014.