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, Managing Director, 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

Andrea Landín, Director of School and Neighborhood Partnerships, holds a master’s degree in Policy and Organizational Leadership from the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. She is the former Program Director of the New West Symphony Harmony Project, where she built, grew, and led the youth development arts program over the course of 4 years. Andrea’s research interests focus on effective and sustainable school partnerships, socially-conscious music curricula and pedagogy, access and equity in arts education, and arts-integrated curricula. In 2012, Andrea was one of just fifty international musicians selected as a Sistema Fellow at the New England Conservatory of Music, focusing her studies on the exploration of effective music teaching practices and socially-oriented curricula with residencies in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Alaska, and Venezuela.
Email:    PH: (510) 323-2494

Kwesi Anku, Director of Student Development and Training, received his Master of Social Work from California State University, East Bay in 2018. He trained 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 has 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


Dolores "Lolis" García, Associate Director of 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

Corinna Espino, MSW, Director of Student Support Services, is a California native who graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 with her masters degree in Social Work. Her training emphasized community-centered and non-traditional practices. Her formative years are packed with a range of experiences, beginning with service trips to the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and India in 2007. From that point, Corinna has been a dedicated ally for youth from all walks of life. This journey has included work with adjudicated youth and youth struggling with mental illness in group homes, high-risk youth in Los Angeles Unified School District, and Roseland Unified School District, as well as legal aid and advocacy for homeless families in Los Angeles. Most recently, Corinna embarked on a trip around the world, visiting Italy, Greece, India, Vietnam and Thailand to do consulting and research projects for various non-profit organizations. Corinna was a competitive cheerleader for 10 years, loves performing, and is an avid sports fan. In her spare time, Corinna enjoys practicing yoga, painting and cooking international cuisines.
Email:    PH: (510)374-9449


Bryan Alvarez, PhD, Instructional Music Specialist, is an educator, entrepreneur, researcher, and professional musician. He graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music with dual degrees in Biology and Trombone Performance, and from UC Berkeley with a PhD in Psychology where he studied the brain-based mechanisms of multi-sensory blending (synesthesia). While at Berkeley, Bryan co-founded three educational outreach programs for K-12 and college students, and continued his educational efforts after completing his doctorate by founding and teaching two music programs in the Oakland Unified School District. He is a seasoned public speaker, having delivered 50+ talks for venues including the Exploratorium, California Academy of Sciences, and TEDxBerkeley. Bryan is also a professional classical trombonist in the Bay Area and plays bandoneon with Seth Asarnow y su Sexteto Tipico.

Email:    PH: (510) 323-2492

Patricia Drozda, School Partnerships Program Associate, has been a theater artist for over 20 years and a teaching artist for over 10. She has worked with arts organizations, notably The San Francisco Opera, in facilitating the creation of original student operas, spoken word, and plays in public schools and after school programs throughout the bay. Nurturing student creations from idea to performance and building relationships with students and their teachers has been her biggest joy. After earning her B.A. in Theater and Studio Art at Indiana University, she went on to receive her M.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Florida Atlantic University. She has taught, acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and created performance art in theaters across the country including in NYC and Cincinnati: Dixon Place, The Performing Garage, Peculiar Works Project, WOW, La Mama, and Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati. Patricia believes that all people have a uniquely creative voice that deserves to be heard and that theater and music provide a perfect platform for deep personal expression while facilitating self-growth. And most importantly, she believes that theater and music are fun!


Kwaku Manu, Program Associate, 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

Ezra Bristow, Program Associate, is an illustrator, choreographer, and spoken word performer. Ezra has been an ambitious and multitalented independent artist since he was a teenager. In 2014, he received his BA in Studio Arts with a concentration in Drawing for Illustration at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Ezra also led Elemental Movement Dance Crew as co-captain and choreographer while adding West African Folk, Capoeira, Salsa, Modern, Contemporary, Dancehall and Indian Kathak to his growing Hip-Hop/House repertoire. He then studied Creative Writing, Visual Arts and Communication Studies at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago where he honed wide-ranging talents in Carnival Arts and Hip-Hop/STEAM education. Ezra has been a lead dancer and volunteer Media Manager for SambaFunk! He currently teaches Hip-Hop and Afro-Brazilian dance in the Bay Area, works as an independent graphic designer, muralist and illustrator, and as a Production Assistant at the East Bay Center for Performing Arts.

Daniel Weiermann, Operations Manager/Program 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

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

Ian Burbage, Media Coordinator, was born relatively nearby in Monterey, California, and spent his youth criss-crossing the United States before graduating high school from a public boarding school in Natchitoches, Louisiana. By the time he earned his B.A. in Film from Vassar College, he had attended 12 schools in 10 states. After working a variety of production roles in the independent film scene in New York City, he moved to Los Angeles and started Sunflower Media. For the past 14 years, he has provided a range of video services for a diverse clientele of businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals. Having relocated to the Bay Area in 2016, Ian is excited to bring his experience and expertise to the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts.


Finance Staff

Jean Chang, Controller, began her career as a staff accountant for Royal Greenland after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008.  In 2009, she joined CP Shades as an accounting manager and later served as the corporate controller before joining the Center.  Jean is delighted to be part of an arts organization where she can draw upon her experience as a musician and an educator in support of the Center's financial and operational integrity. Jean has dual master’s degrees in viola performance and composition from Ohio University and a doctoral degree in music from the University of Arizona.  She also worked as a teaching assistant at the University of Arizona and as a pianist teaching first graders in the Tucson Unified School District as part of the Opening Minds Through the Arts music literacy program and continues to teach private piano and violin lessons to young students.

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 20 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 Corporate Engagement & 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

Mac Layne, Development Manager, graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2011 with degrees in both Language Studies and Latin American/Latino Studies. Despite devoting much time and energy preparing for a career in the legal field, Mac decided to switch paths in order to take full advantage of his language and writing skills. He has worked as a freelance Spanish-to-English translator, copy editor, and proofreader, and was most recently the Development Officer at Project Commotion, a non-profit in San Francisco’s Mission District. Mac is an avid practitioner of capoeira, a music-lover, Dubs fan, and now an employee of the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, where he has worked since 2018. Email:  PH: (510) 323-4817

Talia Rossi, Development, Communications, and Administration Associate, grew up in Berkeley and received her B.A. in English from University of Puget Sound in 2018. She has previously interned in the development office of the East Bay Jewish Community Center. During college she developed her professional communications skills as the Marketing Coordinator at Donor Swell, a digital marketing firm that works exclusively with nonprofits. She is excited to return to East Bay Center where she took dance classes and clarinet lessons as a child. 

Email:  PH: (510) 221-6355