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.
Janet Konstantin Poutré, Chair
Janet Konstantin Poutré is the founder, owner and editor of Clairemont Community News, named Small Business of the Year for the 76th District by state Assemblymember Lori Saldaña in 2009. She formerly served as president of the Clairemont Chamber of Commerce and as a long-time board member of the San Diego County Apartment Association. Poutré worked as a District Manager for Grantree Furniture and head of operations for K-Co Construction, employing robust skills in sales and marketing. Her talent for entrepreneurship and innovation led to a key role in the water conservation industry through the design and sale of an improved water meter for apartment and condominium communities. Her leadership in the creation and launch of AptBiz.com, a website for the owners and managers of apartment communities nationwide, resulted in programming that attracted significant investors and was featured in a forum by CONNECT, then a program of UC San Diego Extension. In 2001, Poutré was chosen as a counselor for a Vassar College program to teach entrepreneurship skills to teens. Poutré was born in New York City and raised on trips to museums, Broadway shows, and weekly piano lessons. She holds a B.A. in Art History from the State University of New York, College at Potsdam and, when not traveling to see her favorite band, Los Lobos, Poutré lives in Clairemont with her husband and their dogs.
Vernon Franck, Vice Chair
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 B.A. in Geography from San Diego State University (SDSU) 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.
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.
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.
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.
Tracy Dezenzo's creative and inquisitive spirit has been a defining characteristic. As a teen and young adult, her free spirit led her to skip the traditional education route and pursue a more worldly and experiential one. Returning to traditional education in her 30’s, she received a BA in fine art (photography) from UC San Diego and a B.S. in Graphic Design & Marketing from the Art Institute. As an award-winning graphic designer, she is grateful to have engaged with wonderful clients and employers, talented coworkers and inquisitive learners. Yet, some of the experiences Tracy has found most gratifying include preparing multiple design interns for work in creative fields, being a mentor/big sister to young women, in-house counselor to teenage substance abusers, singer/songwriter/guitar player for three pop/rock bands, and over ten years practicing karate. In addition, Tracy is Secretary of the Ocean Beach Planning Board (OBPB), Chair of the OBPB Transportation subcommittee, and Chair of a newly formed OBPB Public Outreach subcommittee, which she advocated for as a critical method to keep the Ocean Beach community engagedServing on the Commission for Arts and Culture, Tracy intends to be a strong advocate for experiential and immersive design and cultural activities. Her interests lie in site-specific and culturally relevant works that combine non-traditional modern technologies with traditional practices. She hopes that by combining the future with the past we can inspire younger generations who are attuned to a more modern wavelength, and bring projects to San Diego that will influence next-generation visionaries in all industries to think beyond “standard issue.”
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.
Gina M. Jackson
Gina M. Jackson, M.A., M.Ed. is an Adjunct Professor and Secondary Educator in San Diego, CA. 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 (Master’s Thesis: African-American Theatre: An Aesthetic Analysis of Four Contemporary Theatre Companies); 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); Friends of Malcolm X Library (President); and San Diego Theatre Educators Alliance. She is also a Charter Member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, D.C. , and her theatre company was an official museum partner with the museum’s “Lift Every Voice” global Grand Opening celebration movement. Jackson was recently appointed to the Board of Advisors of the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF). She also serves as a Board Director for the City of San Diego Horton Plaza Theatres Foundation, the County of San Diego Community Action Board, and a Coordinator for the San Diego Women’s Foundation. Jackson is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. She is an award-winning National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, having researched and studied the Mississippi Delta and Duke Ellington. She is the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of Cultural Noire Performing Arts Company, and since 2015, the theatre has been a presenting partner of Project1VOICE of New York City. Jackson completed the Museum Studies Professional Studies Program at Northwestern University in December 2019. She has also completed Global Humanities programs at the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of California Berkeley.
Ben Meza is an architect and principal with Architects Mosher Drew. He leads the Healthcare, Federal and zoological design studios and his clients include Sharp Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Children's Hospital, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, and San Diego Zoo Global. Architects Mosher Drew was founded in 1948 and have designed many iconic buildings in San Diego. Meza's projects of note include the Rady's Children's Hospital North Coastal Center Castle of Care and the Asian Tiger Exhibit at Safari Park. As a lifelong resident of San Ysidro in the South Bay, he is passionate about helping his community by lending a voice to the underserved through his volunteer work. He currently serves as a board member of the San Ysirdo Community Planning Group, is a president of the Friends of San Ysidro Library, is a founding board member of the San Ysidro Foundation, and is a board member of St. Paul's Senior Homes and Services. As a painter and sculptor, Meza's portraiture work has won awards from the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center and the San Diego Portrait Society.
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.
Keith Opstad is an award-winning artist, art educator and two-time teacher of the year. He graduated from Poway High School, earned his B.A. and single subject teaching credential in Art Education at California State University, Long Beach and M.A. from George Washington University in Educational Technology Leadership. Keith is a lifelong supporter of the visual and performing arts and has 24 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. His passion for the arts and arts education is inspirational, contagious and reaches far beyond the classroom. Keith has taught over 6,000 students that consistently produce some of the highest quality artwork throughout San Diego County and beyond that have been displayed at the San Diego Museum of Art, United States Department of Education, Groff Exhibit and San Diego County Fair. He believes that the arts are as profoundly important as the core academic areas and each and every student benefits from the critical thinking, non-cognitive skills, team building, and problem-solving activities experienced through arts education. Opstad lives in Scripps Ranch with his wife Erica and son Blake. They enjoy spending time with family and friends, supporting the arts, water related activities, cooking and Comic Con is their Super Bowl!
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 M.Ed in Counseling from University of San Diego and a B.A. in Sociology from University of California, San Diego. Smith serves on the Board of Directors of the United Way of San Diego County.
Doreen Schonbrun holds a B.A. 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.