Commission for Arts and Culture
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.
Ann Bossler, Chair
Ann Evons Bossler is the Director of Program Development for Price Philanthropies, an organization championing underserved youth and revitalizing the City Heights community. She is a grants officer for education and arts & culture within San Diego, and oversees the implementation of multiple educational programs which benefit local Title I students. Bossler previously facilitated the leadership development of Fortune 500 corporate clients at The Center for Creative Leadership, and was the Executive Director of the Coronado Response Group, a community program that fostered cooperation between the city, school district and community. She received her business degree from Emory University, her counseling credential/degree from the University of San Diego and her Ed.M. in administration, planning and social policy from Harvard University. Bossler is a native San Diegan who has travelled the world and believes there is no better place than San Diego. As a Commissioner, she hopes to continue creating opportunities for youth, and their families, to achieve their hopes, dreams and goals.
Rebecca Smith, Vice Chair
Rebecca Smith was appointed to the City of San Diego Commission for Arts & Culture in 2012, also serving on the Board of Directors for United Way of San Diego from 2011-2020. Her experience includes career coaching at Qualcomm, communications for High Tech High, and executive leadership at San Diego Workforce Partnership. She is the lead consultant at Above & Beyond Productions, a company focused on organizational success through community relations and employee engagement, and presently leads a recruitment initiative for Manpower San Diego. Rebecca won the 2016 "Women Who Mean Business" award from the San Diego Business Journal. A LEAD San Diego graduate, she holds a Master of Education from University of San Diego, specializing in career management and human resources. Rebecca and her husband, Jimmy, live in Mission Hills, and their son, Ezra, who graduated from the Naval Academy last year.
Dajahn A. Blevins
Dajahn A. Blevins is a humble servant leader, a proud father, son, brother, educator and Behavior Modification Specialist using the arts, culture and creative nontraditional interventions to help bring about change. His battle cry is Kujichagulia meaning Self Determination and his tool is his creativity, love and passion that outweighs the doubt and self-hate encountered in his work to instigate change. His program is based on using art to be engineers for change. Mr. Blevins is a 1982 graduate of Texas College where he earned his B.S. in Social Sciences continuing his education at San Diego State University his focus in Sociology and Performing Arts. The more sociology taught him about the plight of his people the more his creativity was stirred to create tools to bring about change. In 1984, he created the B.L.A.C.K Club (believers in altruism culture & kinship) 1986 he established Urban Warriors Inc and declared war on negative vibration and low level energy, 1989 Dajahn earned the title of Mr. Black San Diego and began a journey of using his creativity to help to promote healthy active fit communities through edutainment and community mobilization. Urban Warriors became uniquely qualified through Dajahn leadership to provide the opportunity and environment for positive lifestyle change. His program A Challenge to Change AC2C provide prevention, intervention and ongoing support, as a Community Health Educator and San Diego City School Outreach Worker he incorporated education, health, social skills, culture and entertainment [Edu-tainment] programs like: Shule Ya Basura na Umoja (School of Foresight and Unity) Freedom Schools, Project ENABL (Education Now & Babies Later) Champions for Change healthy active fit project and the UPAKA Urban Performing and Kreative Arts center to name a few. In the evening, he is an Aubrey award-winning actor, singer dancer, director and playwright who has graced the stages of many theaters in San Diego, working with the likes of Loretta Devine and Lawrence Fishburne. Dajahn continues to use his talents as a producer, Artistic Director, performer, teacher and educator of health, wellness culture and fitness. He is the creator of the DABADOYA international youth entrepreneur mentoring project and the Kuumba Fest San Diego’s longest running arts and culture celebration of its kind.
Tracy Dezenzo holds a BA in Fine Art (Photography) from UC San Diego and a BS in Graphic Design & Marketing from the Art Institute. She has been a graphic designer for over two decades, worked as a graphic design instructor for almost ten years, and is an award-winning graphic designer. In addition, she is actively involved with her community and sits on the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB) as Secretary, Chair of the Transportation Committee, and Chair of the Public Outreach Committee and is also a Board Member and Chair of Community Enhancement on the Ocean Beach Town Council. While serving on the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture she intends to be an advocate for funding equity for emerging artists, for greater community outreach, and for meaningful public art.
E. Fritz Friedman
Fritz Friedman is President of The Fritz Friedman Co., a Los Angeles and San Diego-based production and marketing company. Formerly Senior Vice President of Worldwide Publicity and Corporate Communications at Sony Pictures, Friedman is currently a producer on several film and television projects including “Korematsu vs. The United States” and “The World of Fear.” He sits on several Boards including the Board of Trustees for Boston College High School, California Humanities and Loyola Productions, the global Jesuit production company .He was also an adjunct professor at The Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism that the University of Southern California. Friedman received his BA from Vassar College and his MA from The Annenberg School of The University of Pennsylvania.
Tyler Hewes is a Financial Advisor with Christopher Weil & Company, Inc. with a specific focus on Retirement Planning. Tyler has been associated with Christopher Weil & Company, Inc. since he was 22 when he opened his first IRA. Having worked in the nonprofit world of classical music for over a decade, Tyler moved to Christopher Weil & Company, Inc. in 2013. He is translating his skills as a development and executive officer to advising retirement plan participants of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and in his work as a California Life Agent. Tyler is a Registered Investment Advisor Representative and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional (“CFP®”) and received an Executive Financial Planner Advanced Certificate from San Diego State University’s College of Business Administration. Tyler earned his B.A. in Theatre (with a focus on directing for the stage) from Eastern Connecticut State University in 2002. After graduating Tyler moved to San Diego to pursue a life in the performing arts, embracing Horace Greeley’s proclamation to “Go West, young man, go West!” From 2003 to 2008 Tyler served as Production Manager for Mainly Mozart. From late 2007 to late 2010 Tyler was Executive Director of the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, later returning to Mainly Mozart in January 2011 as Associate Director. Tyler is a graduate of the Fieldstone Foundation’s Executive Learning Group, the San Diego Leadership Alliance, and the Fund Raising School at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University (Certificate in Fund Raising Management), and the Equinox Center’s BoardNEXT program. In 2008 Tyler was named to The Powers To Be: 40 Under 40 by San Diego Magazine and San Diego News Network’s 35 Under 35 Community Leaders, and served three years on the steering committee of the Rising Arts Leaders of San Diego. In 2017 Tyler was appointed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer to serve on the City of San Diego's Commission for Arts and Culture. Tyler is active in the arts as a supporter, as well as occasional actor, director, and playwright. Tyler and his wife Abby have two children, Henry and Margaret, and are dedicated to exposing their kids to the wonders of San Diego’s cultural and artistic offerings.
Ms. Nwanna is currently a professor of law at Abraham Lincoln University Law School. Before joining faculty at Abraham Lincoln, she held faculty teaching positions at Southwestern Law School, Western State College of Law, as well as taught at San Diego Law School at Alliant International University, California Western School of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and University of San Diego School of Law. Her teaching has specialized in a range of courses including criminal law, business associations, legal writing, bar exam preparation, civil ligation skills and academic success support. Prior to embarking upon on her academia path, Ms. Nwanna practiced employment law and professional liability defense after working as a Deputy District Attorney in San Diego. Before her work as a prosecutor, she was an associate at national law firm focusing her practice on federal class action securities fraud litigation. Prior to becoming an associate, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable John H. Houston, United States District Court, Southern District of California. Ms. Nwanna received her B.A.degree from Emory University and her Juris Doctor degree from California Western, with a concentration in Criminal Prosecution and Defense Practice. After her first year of law school, she served as a summer law clerk to the late Honorable Napoleon A. Jones, Jr., United States District Court, Southern District of California. After her second year, she served as a summer law clerk for the Department of the Navy, Office of General Counsel at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. She is admitted to the California Bar, the United States Supreme Court, as well as all United States District Courts in California. She is an active member of her local community, currently serving on the boards of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties and Pro Kids First Tee of San Diego, as well as previously served on the boards of the California Ballet and Culture Shock San Diego. In her free time, Ms. Nwanna enjoys traveling, golfing, teaching art to elementary school children and volunteering at Rady Children’s hospital.
Lee Ann Kim
Lee Ann Kim is a media producer, storyteller, and a former broadcast journalist. She is the founding executive director of Pacific Arts Movement, a nonprofit media arts organization best known for its annual San Diego Asian Film Festival, which has grown to one of the largest festivals of its kind in North America. During Lee Ann’s 16-year tenure as Executive Director, she helped raise more than $10 million to grow the organization and produced more than 100 youth documentaries.
Lee Ann also worked for nearly 12 years as a news anchor/reporter for KGTV-10, the ABC affiliate in San Diego where she earned numerous awards for her news coverage including a regional Emmy for investigative reporting and California’s highest honor for educational reporting, the John Swett Award, for her coverage of bilingual education.
Lee Ann has also served on the grants review committees for the National Endowment for the Arts as well as the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. During the pandemic, she helped design and implement the San Diego Artist Relief Fund, raising and distributing $125,000 in emergency COVID relief grants to regional artists.
Dr. Alberto López Pulido is the founding chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies and has been on the faculty at the University of San Diego since 2003. He grew up in the South Bay and lived a life between borders and Fronteras that highly influenced his fronterizo ways of understanding the world. He received degrees in Sociology and Chicano Studies from the University of California, San Diego, and represents one of fifty-seven students who would graduate from the Mexican American Graduate Studies Program at the University of Notre. Dr. Pulido aligned himself with several community organizations and none more important than the Chicano Park Steering Committee who serve as the stewards of Chicano Park in San Diego, California. He learned a great deal about community organizing through collective struggle and self-determination which inspired him to direct and co-produce an award-winning documentary on the history and value of lowriding as a cultural expression in the borderlands of San Diego and Tijuana. Dr. Pulido continues his scholarly commitment to relevant education rooted in a community epistemology that guides his work as Director of the Turning Wheel Mobile Classroom Project which provides a mobile space for supporting the urgent needs and challenges of our local communities. The Turning Wheel Project represents a partnership between the University of San Diego and the ChicanoPark Museum and Cultural Center. Pulido serves as Vice-Chair of the museum’s board of directors.
Becky Phillpott comes to the Commission with more than 30 years of experience in education policy analysis, public education advocacy, and program development. Highlights of her career with the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) include designing and directing youth intervention programs, including Check & Connect Pathways Opportunity Youth -an Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions initiative, Check & Connect High School Persistence Research Implementation Study, and other local attendance and school engagement programs.
Becky served as the Policy Analyst to the Board of Education, and Legislative Programs Analyst, for the SDUSD. She was the Field Director for U.S. Senator Alan Cranston, and a Field Representative for Assembly Member (currently U.S. Representative) Jim Costa. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, from San Diego State University, and a Certificate in Community Research and Program Evaluation from the University of California San Diego, Extension. She serves on the boards of Harmonium, Youth Will_, San Diego Community College District Trustees Advisory Council and the San Diego State University Alumni Association- BARC.
Growing up across the street from Balboa Park fostered Becky’s love for arts and culture from an early age. She believes a strong, vibrant arts community is an essential part of the social fabric. Exposure, and participation in an equitable, diverse, trans-border culture well represented in the arts, strengthens the health and well-being of children, individuals, and families.
Kamaal’s passions are arts & culture, community development, finance, improving our local food system and raising the quality of life throughout the San Diego/Tijuana region.
Committed to our social change ecosystem, he currently works with Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties as Vice-President of Networks and Initiatives. Prior to founding San Diego-based social enterprise and consulting firm, Art Power Equity, he developed a unique skill set and network through professional experiences including: Director of Advocacy (Southern California) with the California Charter School Association, Adjunct Faculty (Political Science) in the San Diego Community College District, Government Relations Specialist with the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and years as a staffer in the California State Assembly, including roles as Field Director, Special Assistant to the Speaker and District Director.
A graduate of the University of Oregon, with a B.A. in History and an M.A. in International Studies, he’s served on the boards/advisory groups of numerous community organizations including: years on the board of directors with Project New Village 501(c3) and Somali Youth United 501(c3) and is a former chair of the NAACP San Diego’s Political Action Committee. He currently lives in Lemon Grove, CA, with his partner and two teenage daughters.
Alessandra Moctezuma is Gallery Director and Professor of Fine Art at San Diego Mesa College, where she leads the Museum Studies program and teaches courses on Chicano Art. She earned Bachelor of Art and Master of Fine Arts (Painting/Printmaking) degrees from UCLA. She is also ABD for a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literature at the State University in New York, Stony Brook.
Ms. Moctezuma has extensive experience as a curator, instructor, as an artist and as public art administrator. Besides working as gallery director at San Diego Mesa College, Ms. Moctezuma has curated exhibitions for other art spaces including the Oceanside Museum of Art (Twenty Women: NOW, 2021, Borderless Dreams, 2005 and Through a Lens Sharply, 2006) and unDocumenta (2017) as part of the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time LA/LA and more recently she co-curated a retrospective of Chicana artist Judith F. Baca, Memorias de Nuestra Tierra, for the Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach (July 2021 – March 2022).
Besides teaching and curating, Ms. Moctezuma is actively involved in the San Diego arts community. She serves on the board of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, the Women’s Museum of California, Medium Photography and Friends of the Villa Montezuma, a historical house museum. She is on the advisory committees for the Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego, the Latin American Arts Council (SDMA), the Oceanside Museum of Art and the Centro Cultural de la Raza. In past years she has served in the San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst committee and the City of San Diego Public Arts Committee.
Abe Tomás Hughes has had a lifelong commitment to arts and culture in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Diego. He is interested in promoting and supporting contemporary art and culture which features multi-cultural and global themes. He believes art and culture can transform societies by opening perspectives which stimulate dialogue, understanding and mutual respect. Additionally, the arts are transformative to a community, bringing joy and pleasure while also stimulating economic growth and education.
Abe is a technology executive currently responsible for the strategic growth and expansion of Trimble’s Latin American agriculture business. Trimble is a $3 billion high tech pioneer in global positioning, modeling, connectivity, mapping and data analytics which is transforming the way we work in agriculture, mining, geospatial, transportation and logistics. Abe was the General Manager of the Agriculture Division for Trimble prior to relocating to San Diego to build a home and permanent residence in the area.
Previously, Abe was Vice President for New Holland Agriculture and Construction, a world leader in the manufacture and sale of tractors, combines and hay equipment. Founded in 1895, New Holland is a division of CNH Industrial/Fiat Group, where Abe was responsible for leading the successful turnaround of this historic brand in North America. Under Abe’s leadership, revenues doubled from $1 billion to $2 billion and the group returned to profitability, becoming the company’s most profitable division worldwide. Abe joined CNH as Vice President of Business Development in 2008, to build growth and expansion opportunities and a business development capability. In this role, CNH successfully completed a joint venture in remanufacturing, numerous new global product development partnerships in Korea, Japan and the U.S. to fill long outstanding product gaps.
Abe has over 20 years of corporate and entrepreneurial experience in a wide array of industries in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Abe began his career in investment banking, focused on mergers & acquisitions and leveraged buy-outs on the West Coast.
Abe is active in the community and serves on the Board of the Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego and has served as a Board Trustee and on the Executive Committee of the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago (MCA), Board Member of Advocate Health Care, a $4 billion health care leader based in Chicago, Chairman of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE) and the Board of the Biennale de Mercosul. Additionally, Abe was the co-founder of the Harvard Business School Latino Alumni Association and has served on the Alumni Advisory Board at Harvard and Cornell. Over the years, he has also served on various company and advisory board roles in Latin America and the United States.
Abe received his MBA from the Harvard Business School and his BA from Cornell University. He is married to Diana Girardi Karnas of Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Keith Opstad is an award-winning artist, art educator and two-time teacher of the year. He graduated from Poway High School, earned his bachelor’s degree and single subject teaching credential in Art Education at California State University, Long Beach and master’s degree from George Washington University in Educational Technology Leadership. Keith is a lifelong supporter of the visual and performing arts and has 27 years of teaching experience in the Poway Unified School District where he is currently teaching Drawing & Painting and Advanced Placement Studio Art at Westview High School while serving as the department chairperson.
He is a second-generation educator in the Poway Unified School District where his family has a combined 67 years of teaching and administration experience. Keith’s passion for the arts and arts education is inspirational, contagious and reaches far beyond the classroom. He has taught over 7,000 students that consistently produce some of the highest quality artwork throughout San Diego County and beyond. They have been displayed at the San Diego Museum of Art, United States Department of Education, Groff Exhibit, City Hall, Blick Art Store and San Diego County Fair. He believes that the arts are as profoundly important as the core academic subjects and each and every student benefits from the critical thinking, non-cognitive skills, team building, and problem-solving activities experienced through arts education.
Keith is a working artist that has been painting murals in San Diego for over 30 years. He has trained former students to work with clients, complete commissions, sell original artwork and paint a straight line on stucco. When not teaching, painting or sculpting, he enjoys supporting local, working artists and attending arts and cultural activities. Keith Opstad lives in Scripps Ranch with his wife Erica and son Blake.