Artistic Director

Jordan Simmons, Artistic Director, a native of Richmond has served as Artistic Director for East Bay Center for the past 32 years and as a faculty member since 1978.  A graduate of Reed College in American Studies-Jazz, internationally recognized Mestre of Capoeira, licensed shakuhachi (Japanese flute) teacher, and theater director. Mr. Simmons’ portfolio includes more than 50 productions including a number of critically received documentary and dramatic works for theater and film, a majority of which focus on the lives and concerns of residents from Richmond’s Iron Triangle and surrounding neighborhoods. For the past 25 years, he has pioneered the development of a comparative study framework based on several distinctive performing arts training systems and a growing body of knowledge about human perceptual systems. Recognition for Mr. Simmons work has ranged from the Governor of California’s Award for “Outstanding Individual in the Arts”, to the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences “Outstanding Contribution to the Bay Area Arts”, an inaugural City of Richmond Human Rights Award,and the San Francisco Foundations’ Helen Crocker Russell Award made to an under-recognized, mature artist who has made a significant and ongoing contribution in the Bay Area…”
Email:    PH
: (510) 210-0722

Program Staff

Ruthie Dineen

Ruthie Dineen, MSW, Deputy Director of Programs, is a bilingual (Spanish/English) social  worker and musician who served as Outreach Development & Student Services Coordinator, as well as Winters Building Re-opening Project Director, prior to moving to her current position in October 2011. During the time that she managed the Center’s Growing Great Families project, she supervised staff, organized and gathered program materials, oversaw recruitment and trainings, researched and participated in sustainability efforts, and facilitated the implementation of each workshop series. Her experience as a social worker and E.S.L. teacher demonstrates her strong commitment for working with underserved communities. She also has extensive experience promoting the arts as a music teacher; working in public elementary schools and in youth centers. She has a master’s degree in social work from CSU East Bay, a BA from U.C. Berkeley, and BFA in Jazz Studies from Berkeley’s Jazzschool Institute. As a pianist, she performs regularly in several jazz and Latin groups in the Bay Area. Ms. Dineen currently serves on the Executive Committee of the Healthy Richmond Hub Steering Board.
Email:    PH
: (510) 323-2499

Kwesi Anku, Associate Director of Student Development and Training, received his training in West African music, dancing and drumming at the University of Legon, Ghana. After obtaining his BFA in Dance in 2004, he became a teaching assistant for the School of Performing Arts, working with local students and study abroad participants, namely from: UC Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and San Francisco State University. He is also an accomplished performer, having performed with the Ghana Dance Ensemble and the Performing Arts Workshop, two of Ghana’s most prestigious dance ensembles. Since moving to the East Bay, he worked for World Arts West and the SF Ethnic Dance Festival. This past year, Kwesi was promoted to become the Center’s Associate Director of Student Development and Training –in addition to maintaining classes as a West African drumming dance instructor. Kwesi is also a principal dancer in CK Ladzekpo’s West African Music and Dance Ensemble.
Email:    PH: (510) 323-4495

Michelle Flynn, School Partnerships Program Coordinator, is professional photographer and visual arts educator who has had shows at the Cincinnati Nature Center, The City of Walnut Creek Civic Center, and the Diego Rivera Gallery in San Francisco among others. Michelle has been the staff photographer at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts for over 8 years, and her work has been seen by thousands of people all over the world. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Arts Institute. 
mail:    PH: (510) 323-2493

Kwaku Manu, Program Associate: Student Development and Training, received his education and training in West African Music and Dance at the University of Ghana. After obtaining his BFA degree in Dance in 2004, he was employed by the University of Ghana as a Senior Production Assistant and worked in the capacity of Dance and Drumming Instructor from 2004-2010. He received the Curtain Call Costumes Rising Star award from the Dance Council of North Texas to attend American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina in 2010. His involvement in dance workshops, performance and festivals on local, regional and national levels has given him the unique opportunity to gain extensive practical experiences. He was selected on numerous occasions to travel abroad to perform and teach African Music and Dance. He is currently in charge of Students Development and Training teaching African Music and Dance to teenagers at the Center and is also involved in a variety of Out of School Time programs for children from kindergarten to 6th grade as well as an in-school professional development program at Title One Schools called Learning Without Borders.
Email:    PH: (510) 323-2491


Dolores "Lolis" García, Program Associate: Student Development and Training, A native of the Bay Area, Lolis García received her BA in Psychology from the University of San Francisco.  A talented musician and dancer, Lolis has mastered multiple string and percussion instruments associated with the son of Mexico. She has been with the Center for 21 years, studying and teaching Mexican music and dance, hip-hop, modern dance and West African dance, both at the main site and after-school programs. In 2009, she participated in EBCPA’s joint production, Yanga, with the Oakland Museum of Art. The program was an exploration of the crossroads of Mexican and African traditional music. In 2004, she received an Alliance of California Traditional Arts grant for an intensive master-apprentice program where she studied with Artemio Posadas. She is currently part of Tarmiba, a musical project that focuses on Son Jarocho.
Email:    PH
: (510) 323-2019

Daniel Weiermann, Operations Manager/Production Administrator, has designed lights for dance, theatre and opera for over 20 years. He holds an MFA in Lighting Design from Northern Illinois University and, after graduation, spent the next 15 years doing lighting design and consultant work in and around Chicago.  Currently, he is the Operations and Production Manager for East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, in Richmond, California. In the San Francisco Bay Area, he has designed for LINES Ballet Training Program Performance Company, Ragged Wing Ensemble, ZiRu Productions, Alayo Dance and Oakland Ballet. Dan was a designer on the staff of Oakland Ballet when they were awarded an “Izzie” (Isadora Duncan Dance Awards) for Five Decades of Dance, at the Paramount Theatre, Oakland.  His work at Oakland Ballet included original dances from Robert Moses, Amy Siewert and Graham Lustig. Theatre installation projects include CounterPulse in San Francisco, Berkeley Unified School District and Flight Deck Theatre in Oakland. Outside the Bay Area, his designs have been seen in New York, Chicago and as far away as China.
Email:    PH: (510) 323-4494


Lyle Link, Program Associate: School Partnerships, is a recent arrival to the Bay Area.  Lyle spent years pursuing his dual passions in education and music in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, honing his skills on the stage as well as the in the classroom. A versatile saxophonist, he performs in many musical styles- from jazz, blues and R&B to Latin, world beat and original improvisational music. Lyle has shared his musical gifts in festivals and concerts in Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Europe, South America and throughout North America. Lyle was a member of the Smithsonian Masterworks Jazz Orchestra, and has performed with the Richmond Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He currently works with many Bay Area jazz artists, as well as leading his own projects. Currently, Lyle provides curriculum and logistical support at Wilson Elementary, and at Stege Elementary, where he also teaches. Lyle is excited about sharing his knowledge and diverse experiences with the East Bay Center Community!
email:  ph: (510) 323-2492

Julia Chanin - Program Associate: School Partnerships and Student Development and Training, has been a part of the East Bay Center community since 2013, when she started co-teaching with Diploma Program alumnae.  She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University in Music and Latin American Studies. Throughout college she toured with a Neo-Soul group as the saxophonist, practiced West African Drumming and Dance, and directed an elementary school music program. She lived in Brazil, where she cultivated a deep love for Capoeira and Chorró Music. She most recently lived in Hawaii, where she worked with at-risk teens at Pacific Quest, a wilderness residential treatment program. She is trained in Orff-Schulwerk method music teaching: she teaches music through movement, games, songs, and improvisation.  Julia is passionate about working with kids and teens through the lens of social-emotional learning, music, and nature.

Leticia Mejia, Head Registrar, emigrated from Mexico in 1967 and grew up in the Iron Triangle here in Richmond.  In the early 70’s Leticia attended dance classes here at the Center.  In 1973 she joined Ballet Aztlan Folklorico, directed by Javier Salazar.  Shortly after she joining Ballet Folklorico de Richmond, directed by well-known Richmond native Cecilia Vargas.  As a member of both dance companies, she performed around the Bay Area.  From 1978-2009 she worked at the WCCUSD.  In 1994 Leticia started working at the Center coordinating the after school programs throughout the WCCUSD.  Today, she continues to work at East Bay Center as the Head Registrar and is the face of our organization.
Email:    PH: (510) 323-2495


Maurice Nunn, Program Assistant: Student Development & Training, is a multi-talented actor who started as a student at East Bay Center back when he was in high school. After 12 years of rigorous training in the arts, he became a theater faculty member, as well as Iron Voices Project Lead. Maurice is also the instructor for Children’s Theater and the Director for ITT’s 2015 Young Artists Repertory Series performance. He is currently in pursuit of an MFA (Master of Fine Arts) and hopes to one day join the "big leagues."  
Email:    PH
: (510) 221-6352

Lawrence Martinez, Media Coordinator, is a filmmaker who focuses on analog film, live performances, meditative cinema, and time-lapse photography. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2011 with a concentration in cinematography. Since graduating, Lawrence has worked professionally as a freelance videographer and has contributed to a wide range of music videos, social justice projects, and nature programs. He is passionate about the earth and loves documenting remote and wild places. 

Finance Staff

Beth Brenner-Josef, Financial Controller, is a finance and operations professional with over 20 years of experience in accounting, human resources and operations management in various nonprofit organizations and local government agencies in New York, Boston and the Bay area.   She received her B.A. in Political Science from The State University of New York at Binghamton, a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from The American University in Washington, D.C. and an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston.  She is excited to bring her finance experience, creativity and integrity to the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.  Prior to coming to EBCPA, Beth was the Director of Finance & Operations for the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership in San Rafael, the Business Manager at The Consultative Group on Biological Diversity in the Presidio of San Francisco and Finance & Operations Manager at North Oakland Community Charter School in Oakland, CA.   Beth lives in Marin with her husband Andrew and her puppies Ollie and Tucker.
Email:   PH: (510)323-2023

Nai Saechao, Bookkeeper, has been happily working at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts (EBCPA) as a full charge bookkeeper since April 2000, a total of 17 years. She is delighted to be part of EBCPA knowing that is devoted to providing youth with a safe environment to not only explore different performing arts, but also further enhance their artistic talents. She graduated from Heald College in San Francisco, CA in January 1999. Before she started her career at EBCPA, she worked as a junior analyst at Kraft Food Inc. from January 1999 to July 1999, where she assisted the Post Audit team on their research and analysis deduction. In July 1999 to April 2000, she worked at Enrico’s Café in San Francisco, CA as an accountant. 
Email:    PH: (510) 323-2490

Development Staff

Charlene Smith, Senior Development Officer, received her BA from McGill University (Montreal) and completed the MBA Arts Administration program at Golden Gate University (San Francisco).  Ms. Smith began her professional development career in San Francisco in 1985.  Since that time she has worked with a variety of Bay Area non-profit organizations, including: San Francisco Ballet, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Stern Grove Festival, and Oakland Asian Cultural Center.  She has also taught workshops on various aspects of grant writing and fundraising in the Bay Area and throughout the state with the League of Women Voters of California (LWVC).  Ms. Smith remains active in the LWV San Francisco, having served as President from 1989-91 and as Development Chair on the Board of Directors of LWVC from 1993-1998. She also served on the Board of the YWCA San Francisco/Marin from 2002-2009, serving terms as Treasurer and Special Events Chair. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Richmond Main Street Initiative and is Board Secretary and Chair of the Economic Development Committee.  Ms. Smith has worked with East Bay Center since 1989.
Email:    PH: (510) 323-2489 


Sara Rader, Director of Individual Giving, received her BA from University of California, Berkeley in 2006, where she majored in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Globalization and Human Rights. Her research culminated with her honors thesis titled, “Not for Sale: Ending the Commodification of Women and Children in the Age of Globalization.”  Sara began her career in the non-profit sector as Development Associate with the East Bay Community Foundation. She continued her professional development at The Salvation Army in her roles as Major Gifts Officer and Director of Donor Relations for the East Bay area. In July 2017, she joined the Center as Director of Individual Giving.  Email:    PH: (510) 210-0727

TT Robson, Development and Communications Associate, Graduated with honors from UCSC in 2002 with a degree in Community Studies with an emphasis on the arts.  Soon after, TT literally joined the circus and has been teaching and performing as a professional aerialist for the last 13 years.  During this time she maintained her passion for arts in education as the founder and director of The Gravity Arts in Santa Cruz, CA 2007-2011. After moving to the East Bay in 2011, TT focused her love for art at Kinetic Arts Center as the Associate Artistic Director for their professional productions.  In November of 2016 she was fortunate enough to come on board with the Development Department at the Center.
Email:    PH: (510) 221-6355