917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
Youth in Arts is supported by community members who make art programs work for youth. Without them we would not be able to offer such a multitude of programs and services. Strong community support is vital to having a sustainable organization. Our Board of Directors form a critical support component for our staff.
Naomi Tamura, Board President, has been involved in a variety of creative and community endeavors, from volunteer efforts to practicing a variety of visual arts mediums around the Bay Area. After graduating from Scripps College with a Studio Arts Degree, Naomi worked professionally as a graphic designer /art director in both print and online advertising. After a brief stint as a freelancer, Naomi joined Netcentives, Inc., an online incentives marketing company, as their in-house Senior Art Director. At Netcentives, she built and managed a team of designers that developed the visuals for their product and all out-bound marketing communications for their flagship product, as well as various in-house special projects. After the death of her eldest son, Walker, in 2011, Naomi chose to concentrate on family life and more philanthropic projects. In conjunction with Youth in Arts, she developed the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund to honor the spirit of her son, who loved to create art together in their small studio space at home.
Tim Distler, Treasurer has spent his career working in the renewable energy project finance and development industry. Along this path, he’s lived and worked in Boulder, CO, Chicago, IL and now San Francisco where he currently works for PG&E Corporation. At PG&E, Tim manages the company’s unregulated investments in rooftop, small-scale solar with two leading solar installers. Tim has a strong passion for renewable and environmentally sustainable energy sources as well as business and investment strategy. He thoroughly enjoys solving new and interesting problems and learning from this process along the way. In his free time, Tim enjoys trail running, skiing in Tahoe or Colorado, camping, cycling, and traveling to Sonoma or the Russian River to relax with friends and family. Tim is orginally from the Chicago area yet spent most of his childhood in Iowa where he attended the University of Iowa during undergraduate school. He since went on to earn an MBA from Lindenwood University in St. Louis, MO.
Angela Rafner, Secretary
bio coming soon
Deb Bennett has been a graphic artist and taught elementary art for 30+ years. She started the art program at Marin Primary School, went on to teach art at Neil Cummins in Corte Madera, Sun Valley in San Rafael and is currently at Glenwood in San Rafael.She is a fused glass artist and loves to travel. Other volunteer interests include the Loch Lomond Yacht Club and St. Luke Presbyterian church. She lives with her inventor husband, Bruce, in San Rafael. They have sons, a dog, cat and koi.
Melissa Jones Briggs is a university lecturer, performer and consultant specializing in performance as a tool for social change. Melissa leads client transformation as an executive coach and has designed and deployed bespoke learning experiences and full scale programs in the corporate, academic and nonprofit sectors. She has taught at London Business School in the UK, Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Aalto University in Finland, and the United States Naval Academy. An honors graduate of Wake Forest University, Melissa also studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and the Actor’s Center Conservatory in New York.
Devin Dixon, bio coming soon
Susan Feder, Chair Governance is a lawyer previously serving as Staff Attorney for Bank of America in San Francisco, prior to that she was an Associate with Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker in Los Angeles. As an active community member, Sue has served on committees at Marin Academy High School, Brandeis Hillel Day School and the Eyewitness to History Tribute. Sue lives in San Rafael with her husband and has three children, two of them are ‘Til Dawn Alumni.
Kele Gasparini, has been a music teacher in Marin county for almost 30 years. She started the Marin Primary and Middle School music program and now teaches privately and in a few schools in Novato. Kele has also been involved in some of Marin’s community theatre groups for a number of years performing with the Mountain Play, Marilyn Izdebski productions, Independent Actors of Marin and Novato Theatre Company. In addition to working on the board of YIA, Kele has been involved in numerous fundraising events for schools as well as Breast Cancer awareness. Kele has four children all involved in the arts and resides in Novato with her husband George. Three of Kele’s children are alum of `Til Dawn.
Bruce Hopper, a retired mechanical engineer, has had a career spanning 37 years in various world-wide engineering assignments with large international oil companies. Bruce participated in San Rafael’s Economic Visioning process and has been involved in local neighborhood safety and fire prevention efforts. Bruce has been an active supporter of the Italian Street Painting Festival since 1994. He has a long-time interest in supporting visual and performing arts including music and film. Bruce graduated from universities in Texas and California and is a long time resident of the Gerstle Park neighborhood in San Rafael. Bruce and his wife Linda have two grown children.
Rich Storek, architect and teacher, studied at the University of Oregon, then practiced residential/commercial architecture, project development and product design in San Francisco and Oakland, and taught design at San Francisco State. With the U.S. Foreign Service Rich directed Peace Corps programs in architecture and town planning in Africa and Iran. After five years living in North Africa with his family of five children Rich returned to his design practice in San Francisco, specializing in commercial historic buildings. Rich initiated an Architect-in-Schools teaching program for Bay Area schools, assembled a championship sandcastle-building team, and continues a lifelong engagement with architecture and visual arts, now building Youth in Arts’s Architecture Studio program, promoting and teaching design thinking in Marin elementary schools. Rich also serves on the Historic Preservation Board of the City of Larkspur.
Linda Sudduth spent most of her career in apparel merchandising. After graduating from the University of Florida, she returned to her hometown, Miami, and started a career in retail with Jordan Marsh, Florida where she ultimately served as a Buyer. Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, she continued her retail career as a Buyer for Macy’s California. She shifted focus from retail to wholesale merchandising when she left Macy’s to join Levi Strauss & Company. In her 16 years with LS&CO., Linda worked as a Merchandise Manager, primarily in the Levi’s® Shirts Division. During her tenure with LS&CO., she travelled the world, visiting over 35 countries on 6 continents. After leaving LS&CO., Linda enjoyed being an at-home mom and an active school volunteer, including serving on the Board at The Mountain School and on the PTA Boards at Neil Cummins Elementary and Hall Middle School. She also enjoyed producing and co-directing various after-school musical theatre productions at Neil Cummins and Hall. Recently, Linda served as Controller for Cal-Bay Systems, Inc. in San Rafael. Linda and her husband Buck Smith live in Larkspur. Their son Austin Smith, graduated from the USC Popular Music Program, was a member of ‘Til Dawn from 2008 to 2012.
Maura Tokarski, is an arts educator with a background in teaching and industrial design. She is currently the Marin lead for Local Arts Network of the California Alliance for Arts Education. Working with the Getty Museum and Los Angeles Unified School District, Maura developed lesson plans integrating academics with art. By digitizing the entire permanent collection, the Getty made it possible for all students to experience the artwork, and Maura designed programs that incorporated art into math and science classes.
Sheila Tuffanelli, is a fine artist who specializes in tar paper sculptures. She was an art major at Stanford University and continued her education at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and the College of Marin. In her sculpture she portrays the strength and dignity of women, the loving, nurturing yet fiercely protective nature of women. These attributes have been passed down to her daughters and 11 grandchildren. She has long championed and spearheaded “Rising Stars” the annual Marin County high school art show.
Nico Low, student representative, is a Junior at Marin School of the Arts where he is a part of their award winning Jazz Choir. He has had a passion for music and has studied piano with Melissa Domingos for 7 years and studied voice with Arden Sugarman for 5. He has studied many genres including Classical, Contemporary, and Jazz in hopes to be as well rounded as possible. ’Til Dawn is his opportunity to learn even more about the art of music and he enjoys and appreciates every second of it. He is excited to lend a student perspective to the board of directors.
Board Update (Password Protected)
If you are interested in joining the Youth in Arts Board of Directors, please contact us here.