Youth In Arts San Rafael logo

917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
(415) 457-4878


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 Presidenthas 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.  Naomi is also board chair of O’Hanlon Center for the Arts. 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 Spruce Finance, a leading owner and operator of distributed generation solar and residential energy assets.  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, wife and two young children.  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 is an art history graduate of UC Berkeley. She has lived in Kent Woodlands with her husband Josh and their three children for more than ten years.  She served on the Kentfield School Foundation Board and has raised funds for nonprofits such as Marin Primary, the Marin Rowing Community, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, She is an active runner who has participated in triathlons and the Dipsea race.

Megan Bober, is the student representative to the board and is a member of `Til Dawn. Megan has been singing for as long as she can remember. She loves to sing and play instruments including piano, guitar, and ukulele. She has been working with her voice coach, Amber Morris, for 4 years. She enjoys performing at open mics around Marin. Megan is in Performance Workshop in the music program at Redwood High School. Outside of music, she loves playing soccer and basketball.

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, has lived in Larkspur with her husband Todd and their two sons for many years. She has a background in finance. She has served on multiple boards and currently also serves as secretary on the board of the Ralston White Retreat.

Catherine Laytonis a British-born, American-based marketing professional and advocator for the arts. Her passion for the arts started from childhood. Raised by classical musician parents, she experienced the performing arts from a young age. Her father’s interest in photography and video, in addition to her step-mother’s interest in fine art and theater also influenced Catherine’s creative passions. Her love of dance, in particular, led her to perform in New York and around the Bay Area for many years. She is a recent graduate of the Leadership Institute of San Rafael and helped coordinate the painting by local fine and youth artists of six utility boxes throughout downtown, as part of the class’s beautification project aimed at bringing art to unexpected places. Catherine currently works as Marketing Manager for Eckhoff and Company in San Rafael, where she oversees all digital media outlets, market research, event planning, advertising, sponsorships, press and brand management for the firm and its affiliated company, Eckhoff WealthManagement, LLC. She also volunteers her time on marketing projects for Alma del Tango Studio in San Anselmo. Catherine has one son in elementary and another in middle school.

Kylee Ortiz is a Senior Manager at Kaiser Permanante by day, and a renegade prose and multi-media visual artist by night. She received a BA in English from the University of California Berkeley. Kylee, has always been creative, and she had great support from her family when it came to pursuing her passion. Her motivation to pursue the arts ultimately led her to get a Masters in Transformative Arts from John F. Kennedy University where she realized how omnipresent creativity can, and should be in education. Kylee recognizes just how important arts education is to developing well-rounded, and confident leaders. She believes in the transformational power of art, and knows that when young people are provided a safe space for art making and guidance accessing their creative source, their potential is limitless. With that belief, five years ago, she and her husband conspired a semester long, after-school pilot program. They facilitated transformational research-based art making, non-judgmental dialogue, and exhibited their art in a local gallery. Proceeds benefited a local non-profit. Kylee lives in San Geronimo with her husband and three children.

Suzanne Reich Gibson, is a museum educator with a background in elementary education.  Since 2016, she has worked as a Museum Educator at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, touring K-12 students, students with special needs and adult groups, and writing exhibit-related curriculum.  Suzanne also volunteers as a School Guide at SFMOMA, touring 3-12 graders.  Until 2015, Suzanne taught at Old Mill School in Mill Valley as a reading specialist, working with K-3 students.  Suzanne became an educator after a dozen years in corporate finance with Citigroup in Warsaw and London, where she also served as a literacy volunteer.  Suzanne holds a BA in Anthropology from Harvard College and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the University of London. She lives with her two teens in Mill Valley.

Janine Simerly,  has been practicing law for 35 years, most recently as a shareholder in the employment law practice group at Cozen O’Connor. Focusing on jury trials, Ms. Simerly is well known for her courtroom skills and is a member of the prestigious American Board of Trial Advocates. She has tried over 35 jury trials to verdict with notable success, including a complete defense victory in two trials (sexual harassment and discrimination) in December 2010, and a July 2009 defense verdict in a racial harassment and retaliation case. Other recent trial victories include a June 2007 defense verdict in a multi-plaintiff racial discrimination/harassment case and a December 2006 defense verdict in a whistleblower/retaliation case. Her son Sean Simerly is a `Til Dawn alum who leads the band Happnstance.

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.

Join our Board

If you are interested in joining the Youth in Arts Board of Directors, please contact us here.


Board Presidents

2015-current       Naomi Tamura

2009-15       Peter Rodgers

2005-09       Mimi Murphy

2002-05       Nancy Rehkopf

1999-2002   Carol Slocum

1997-99        Ingrid Purcell

1996-97        Mimi Murphy

1994-95        Kimberly Violich & Mimi Murphy

1992-94        Sue Carlomagno

1991-92        Susan Crozier

1989-91        Neva Ellis

1988-89       Diane Anderson

1986-88       Lynn Callender

1985-86       Vera Olmsted

1984-85       Therese Redinger

1982-84       Sue Melodia

1980-82       Camille Noble

1979-80       Jean Knox

1977-79       Therese Redinger

1975-77       Nancy Bell

1970-75       Joanne Dunn