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A Museum of Us staff member speaks to two individuals on a California Tower Tour before an easel depicting images of Chicano Park.

About Our Team

The Museum of Us is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our team is made up of thinkers, builders, innovators, artists, activists, and more from a diversity of backgrounds. Our team also collaborates with community members, consultants, and other organizations who provide essential insight and partnership to the work we do.

For more information on diversity and hiring at the Museum of Us, please visit our Community Accountability page.

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Micah Parzen is a nonprofit leader, attorney, and anthropologist, who is always searching for ways of partnering with others to create transformative organizational change. He has served as CEO of the Museum of Us (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man) since 2010, where he and his team are focused on developing better and better practices in what an anti-racist and decolonial museum can look like, along with how those practices can create a positive ripple effect in the museum field and beyond. In the past three years alone, the work of the Museum of Us has been featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Museum magazine, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic, among other high-profile platforms. While practicing as an attorney, Micah was a Partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group and the Pro Bono Legal Services Coordinator at San Diego’s largest law firm. While practicing as a psychological and medical anthropologist, he conducted ethnographic fieldwork on the Navajo Nation studying a wilderness therapy program for Navajo adolescents. Micah currently serves as the President of the Board of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, a collaboration of 28 arts & culture institutions in Balboa Park, which sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation. In addition to also serving as a trustee at La Jolla Country Day School, his past board appointments including the Western Museums Association, San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program, Waldorf School of San Diego, and ElderHelp of San Diego. Micah holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Case Western Reserve University, a J.D. from UC Davis, and a B.A. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley.

Erin Spiewak - Executive Director

Erin Spiewak is the Executive Director of the Museum of Us. She joined the Museum team in January 2020 as the Chief Financial and Operations Officer. An established leader in San Diego’s nonprofit sector, Ms. Spiewak served as the Chief Executive Officer of Monarch School, a unique K-12 institution serving youth experiencing homelessness. While at Monarch School, Ms. Spiewak oversaw an instrumental capital campaign, renovating and opening the school’s new Nat & Flora Bosa campus; grew the student body from 150 to 300 students, while expanding the staff from 19 to 40 team members; developed a state-of-the-art high school college career lab; and launched an annual fundraiser, which has raised over $4M since 2015.

Previously, Ms. Spiewak worked with several foundations including the Gary and Mary West Foundation, WebMD Health Foundation, and the Rose Foundation. Ms. Spiewak received a BA in Sociology from San Diego State University and her MBA from Webster University. She currently serves as a member of Women Give, San Diego and San Diego Rotary. Ms. Spiewak is a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Sector Skills Academy and a graduate of the LEAD San Diego INFLUENCE leadership program.

Tye Barber - Executive Assistant and Office Manager

Beatriz Camero – Staff Accountant

Justin Young – Director of Finance

Justin Young (he/him) is a resourceful financial professional with additional experience in commercial real estate and as a high school educator. After receiving his MBA from the University of San Diego in 2022, he worked as a financial analyst at Presidio Property Trust, a publicly traded commercial real estate investment firm. During his time there, he worked extensively with the leadership team to efficiently analyze and report the financial health of the company during the company’s largest successful acquisition to date. Prior to his career in finance, Justin taught high school social studies for 5 years in schools serving low-income and historically under resourced communities. His education includes a Master’s of Business Administration and a B.A. in Economics and Interdisciplinary Humanities, both from the University of San Diego.

Kara Vetter - Sr. Director of Cultural Resources

In consultation with Indigenous stakeholders and collaboration with Museum leadership, Kara Vetter supports the development and implementation of decolonizing initiatives within the Cultural Resources department through culturally sensitive care practices and policies prioritizing Indigenous sovereignty and traditional knowledge. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Indianapolis, an M.A. in Museum Studies from Indiana University (IUPUI), and has worked in the museum profession for over 15 years. Drawing from a deep skill set in cultural resources management, registration, policy writing, exhibition planning, grant writing, DEAI work, and decolonizing initiatives she has had the opportunity to share the history and culture of our world with a wide audience while working with an expanding list of institutions, talented museum professionals, and Indigenous communities.Kara is active in the museum field as a Board of Directors member for the Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists (ARCS); specifically, as a Finance Committee member and Conference Committee Board Liaison. She is also as a contributing member of the Indigenous Collections Care Guide working group and ENRICH Cultural Institutions Network.

Carmen Mosley – NAGPRA Repatriation Manager

Lylliam Posadas – Colonial Pathways Repatriation Manager

Jesi Lujan Bennett, Ph.D. - Director of Decolonizing Initiatives

Dr. Jesi Lujan Bennett is of Chamoru descent with familial ties to Dededo and Barrigada, Guåhan (Guam). She is the Director of Decolonizing Initiatives at the Museum of Us and joined the team in January 2024. She is also a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow for Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland in Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund for her project, “Chamoru Diasporic Routes: Sharing Our Elders' Stories from Sanlagu (Overseas).”

Bennett studied at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and earned a Ph.D. in American Studies and Museum Studies. Her areas of interest include Chamoru visual culture with a particular focus in the relationship between colonialism, militarization, migration, and self-representation within the Mariana Islands and the Chamoru diaspora. Bennett’s research examines the outmigration of Chamorus and the way in which these diasporic communities articulate their indigeneity in new geographic and cultural contexts in light of significant political and social change in Micronesia.

James Haddan - Sr. Director of Development & External Communications

James Haddan has been a resident of San Diego since 1998, and has worked in the museum field for almost two decades. As the Senior Director of Development and External Communications at the Museum of Us (formerly the San Diego Museum of Man), he is responsible for building a community of support for the institution. Recently, he and Museum CEO, Micah Parzen, led the effort to publicly launch the Museum’s new name, which embraces a more equitable and accessible identity dedicated to anti-racism and decolonizing work. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, he is passionate and dedicated to building more socially just communities.

Mr. Haddan holds both a Bachelor of Environmental Design and Master of Arts in Anthropology from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas. His graduate work was associated with the Institute of Nautical Archaeology and included underwater archaeology field work at the 17th century port city of Port Royal, Jamaica.

Alexis Cormier - Development Coordinator

Cassie Kaawaloa - Community Affairs Manager

Diana Fuentes - Education Coordinator

Morgan Owen - Associate Director of Public Engagement

Morgan Owen (she/her) directly develops and oversees implementation of the Museum's programmatic curricula. She has been with the Museum since 2022 and brings 10 years of teaching experience from Kindergarten to higher education. Morgan is passionate about making educational experiences accessible, approachable, and joyful by sparking curiosity, highlighting connections, and honoring the inherent knowledge and invaluable lived experiences of all people. She aims to foster connections and community between visitors and the Museum through educational experiences, public programs, and special events.

Morgan studied Secondary Education with endorsements in Social Sciences and Spanish at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and earned her Master's in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Her educational, professional, and personal experiences have provided a deep understanding of our social systems and education as a liberatory praxis.

Keala Rusher – Education Coordinator

Kate Clyde - Sr. Director of Exhibits & Operations

Kate Clyde (she/they/him) is an arts and culture advocate who has been working within the museum industry for 15 years. Kate's work over their career has included creating immersive and interactive museums that engage visitors and facilitate learning experiences outside of a traditional classroom environment. As Senior Director of Exhibits and Operations at the Museum of Us, Kate works to develop the visitor journey from admissions to exhibits. Kate has produced most of the exhibits currently on display at the Museum of Us and directs IMLS funded projects for new community informed exhibits that align with the Museum’s decolonizing efforts.

Kate graduated from The Evergreen State College with an emphasis in Sculpture and Interdisciplinary Learning, where they also taught as an instructor. Furthering their non-profit education, they completed the Arts and Culture Leadership Graduate Certificate program at the University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences. Kate also serves on the Board of Directors for the tech non-profit Balboa Park Online Collaborative known as BPOC.

Luis Ayala – Visitor Experience and Special Events Associate

Melinda Barnadas – Exhibit Developer

Josslyn Herrera - Visitor Experience Associate

Shawn Hayes – Visitor Experience Associate

Shelby Miller – Operations Coordinator

Evie Page – Visitor Experience Associate

Damian Sales – Visitor Experience Associate

Jorge Sarabia – Operations Manager

Board of Trustees

Please note that Museum of Us Trustees may be elected for two consecutive three-year terms.

Officers

Ileana Ovalle is serving in her second term on the board, starting in September 2019, and is the institution’s first BIPOC Woman chair. A leader with over 23 of public, private, and nonprofit sector experience, in June 2023, she accepted the role of Strategy & Governance Advisor at Qualcomm Institute – UC San Diego Division of Calit2 of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology. She formerly led global product marketing and government partnerships for the life-saving COVID-19 Exposure Notifications app at Google/Alphabet. Ovalle began her career in the stacks of the public library where she curated book displays, memorized the Dewey decimal system by subject (just ask her!) and read all the books.

Ovalle is an avid volunteer in education, diversity and the environment and served as Chair and capital campaign member of Ocean Discovery Institute, Board of Governors of The San Diego Foundation, a Community Advisor to the Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, University of San Diego’s Nonprofit Institute Advisory Board and a Hispanas Organized for Political Equality leader. Ovalle was an appointed official on both the City of San Diego’s International Affairs Board and San Diego Public Library Commission. She was twice named Woman of the Year for California’s 80th Assembly District (2016 & 2017) and in 2021, received the Ring of Honor Award for MANA’s National Latina Leadership Organization.

Born in San Diego, Ovalle spent her childhood in Balboa Park, learning to swim, performing tap, and as a Little League pitcher and short-stop, but her favorite activity was visiting the Museum of Us (formerly Man).

Mariano Diaz is in his second term on the Museum’s board, having joined in April 2018. He is an accomplished executive with 35 years of experience in the community development field at the international, national, state, and local levels representing private foundations, corporations, nonprofit agencies, and community foundations. He is Lead Partner at R&M Consulting Group and served as Senior Vice President, Community Partnerships Department at The San Diego Foundation from July 2001 until December 2007. Mariano holds a Masters of Education, Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Combined Social Sciences from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Megan Thomas is in her first term on the Museum’s board, joining in August 2021. Born and raised in San Diego, and drawing on experience living and learning around the world, Megan strives daily to build a collaborative, impactful, equitable social change ecosystem through her work as Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial County’s President & CEO. She provides strategic leadership to the staff and board, 150 funder members, and community partners.

Megan has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic fields, including as executive director at San Diego Coastkeeper where she built partnerships among the nonprofit, business, and public sectors to protect clean water. She studied business (and theatre) under the Jesuit tradition at Georgetown University and honed her nonprofit management bona fides at Yale School of Management. She advances community-led grantmaking on the California Dignity for Families Fund providing over $10 million through Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) and previously provided volunteer leadership at Hope Horse Ranch, United Way of San Diego County; The San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement; and the Port of San Diego Environmental Advisory Committee.

Eva Trujillo is in her first term on the Museum’s board, joining in August 2021. She is a Siny ‘Iipay (northern woman) from the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians reservation. Eva’s devotion to the sustainability of Indigenous traditional knowledge, language and culture has always been a driving force. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, with a concentration in Archaeology and a minor in Biology and Kumeyaay Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Beginning in July, she will become the NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection Repatriation Act) Coordinator at UCSD. She has been employed at UCSD Medical Center for over 20 years as a Hospital Unit Coordinator. Eva was also employed at the Museum of Us as a Cultural Resources Manager, NAGPRA, where she partnered with various Kumeyaay Nation consortia and other Indigenous communities across the United States. Eva currently sits on the Board of Trustees for Kumeyaay Community College, and the Mesa Grande Education Committee. Eva also sits on the Board of Directors the Mesa Grande Business Development Corporation and the Advisory Board of the Balboa Park Cultural District.

George A. Ramirez originally joined the board in 2013, and served two terms, including serving as President. After taking a year-long break, he rejoined in May 2020. He is the President of George A. Ramirez Leadership Consulting & Business Strategies. With over thirty years of financial services experience, Mr. Ramirez retired as Managing Director and Chief Inclusion & Diversity Executive with Union Bank/MUFG. In that role, as well as others throughout his career, his mission has been to develop change-management strategies, build plans for critical business initiatives, and successfully execute those strategies and plans. Throughout his career in banking, Mr. Ramirez has been responsible for driving revenue, profitability, sales, community partnerships, and the development of over 1,400 retail-banking employees, particularly while serving as Market President managing the Greater Los Angeles retail banking markets for over nine years.

Trustees

Theresa Jean Ambo is in her first term on the board, joining in August 2021. She is an Assistant Professor in the Education Studies program at the University of California, San Diego and is of the Gabrieliño-Tongva descent. She holds a PhD in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Theresa’s research focuses on educational equity for American Indian students and communities in postsecondary institutions, including student retention, experience, outcomes, and campus‐community partnerships.

Yuriko Anton is in her first term on the board, joining in August 2022. She has extensive non-profit experience serving on 7 boards (La Jolla Country Day School, American Repertory Theater, Japan Society of Boston, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Maria Mitchell Association and Beacon Hill Nursery School) for over 25 years and has a background in international banking at Baring Securities and S.G. Warburg & Co. (in Japan) and a small business startup in London, in antique English furniture and decorative arts. She was born and raised in Tokyo and Honolulu and is bicultural, biracial and bilingual (Japanese) and lived around the globe. Yuriko’s board skills include both short and long-term strategic planning, fund-raising/donor cultivation in campaigns and annual giving, event planning and more recently work in the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice space in independent schools. She holds a BA in Economics and International Studies from UCLA, a Decorative Arts Certificate from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, England and Poetry Studies at the Harvard Extension School in Cambridge, MA.

Shannon Bartlett is on her first term on the board, joining in August 2022. As chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at the National Geographic Society, Shannon oversees the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts and helps cultivate an environment where people of every race, identity, experience, and ability have a role in its mission-driven work. Her primary areas of interest center on the unconscious ways diversity and culture impact our everyday decision-making and interactions, as well as how to effectively balance the goal of inclusion with the development of an intellectually diverse community. Bartlett received her J.D. from the DePaul University School of Law, her M.A. degree in jurisprudence and social policy from the University of California at Berkeley, and her B.A degree in psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.

Marnie Cheney is in her third term on MoU’s board (term beginning in August 2019), having first joined in August 2012. She is a La Jolla native who has served on the boards of the Museum of Us, High Tech High (Foundation Board), the Windansea Surf Club, and the Kenneth & Harle Montgomery Foundation, which was founded by her grandparents. Ms. Cheney has been a member of the Friends of the La Jolla library and served on the PTA board for her sons’ elementary school. Her grandmother, Harle Montgomery, was a noted La Jolla philanthropist who has inspired Ms. Cheney’s desire to participate in community affairs.

Kurt Chilcott is the Co-Founder of Momentus Capital, a one of a kind innovative collaborative among a range of non-profits - including Capital Impact Partners and CDC Small Business Finance and their affiliates - providing capital and comprehensive community and economic development nationwide. He is presently serving in his first term, joining in September 2019. Kurt is a servant leader and passionate advocate for economic justice leading innovative initiatives to address inequities in our communities for over 40 years. He has led a wide range of organizations and associations including the International Economic Development Council, the California Endowment, Casa Familiar, National Association of Development Companies and many more. Kurt has received most of the accolades that older people tend to receive. Kurt holds a degree in social anthropology from Harvard and his father was a professor of cultural anthropology. At heart he is a wanderer, a poet, a lover of the land and of its inhabitants.

Mark Dillon is a former trustee and board chair who cycled off the board and returned to service in March 2024. Since retiring from Verizon in 2009, Mark Dillon has been active in San Diego’s civic life. As board chair for the San Diego Museum of Us, Dillon led the Trustee Working Group de-colonizing the cultural resources in the museums’ possession. As board chair of the San Diego Human Relations Commission, Dillon advised the mayor and City Council on policies to assure that all city residents have equal access to economic, political and educational opportunities. During his two years as board chair of the San Diego Anti-Defamation League, Dillon worked to confront racism, anti-semitism and bullying — and the roll-out of the “No Place for Hate” school site educational program in the San Diego Unified School District and many other school districts in San Diego County. As a lead partner with San Diego’s Social Venture Partners, Dillon directed a three-year capacity building program for Words Alive, a youth literacy program, to better manage its human resources, acquire new computers for financial and operational tasks, develop its board and focus strategic planning. Dillon currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of inewsource. Previously, he was a documentary film producer-director in San Francisco for the local ABC News affiliate

Zaneta Encarnacion is serving in her first term on the board, joining in March 2023. An executive leader with more than 17 years of experience in government and nonprofit leadership, Zaneta has demonstrated success in inspiring people and personalities toward meaningful outcomes. She is currently the Chief of Staff at the Southwestern Community College District She is driven by a passion and belief in the importance of working with communities to identify best strategies and solutions for addressing issues and advancing causes. Her leadership is guided by values rooted in humility, conviction, and the belief that creating spaces of belonging can move mountains; and the understanding that dismantling systems of oppression is work that requires courage, persistence, rest, and intentional efforts to anchor work in the value of our collective humanity.

Zaneta is a doctoral candidate at USC, and holds a M.S. in Public Administration from National University, as well as a B.S. in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Elif Gokcigdem is serving in her first term on the board, joining in August 2022. She is the founding president of ONE - Organization of Networks for Empathy, and the editor of Fostering Empathy Through Museums (2016), and Designing for Empathy (2019), which are reference books in empathy-building through museums, a new field of inquiry she pioneered in 2014. Elif Gokcigdem developed Designing for Empathy® as an intellectual framework, and an international platform for multidisciplinary, multisector, and multicultural collaborations to deepen our understanding of empathy, and to develop strategies, scholarship, and empathy-building experiences that consider the wellbeing of the whole —all of humanity and our planet. In 2018, Elif curated and co-chaired the world’s first summit on Fostering Universal Ethics and Compassion through Museums with HH The 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, India. Elif grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, studying history of art, Islamic art and mysticism, and later, museum studies in the U.S. Elif’s 30 years of professional experience includes academia, museums, and a major corporation where she established and led multimillion-dollar strategic international partnerships in arts, culture, museums, and biodiversity conservation around the world.

Sarah Goltz, MPH, MIA, CPCC, a San Diego native, founded Leadership in 2007. She is serving in her first term on the board, joining in September 2019. Sarah has leaders at the frontline of global health and social justice for more than 25 years. Working as a leadership coach, team facilitator and strategic consultant, Sarah helps teams work together in radically inclusive, creative and collaborative ways. Sarah has worked and lived in West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. A Fulbright Scholar, Sarah has a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Princeton University and Master’s degrees in International Affairs and Public Health from Columbia University. Sarah loves to surf and adventure around California in her VW camper.

Scott Grimes is serving in his first term on the board, joining in March 2023. Scott is the Vice President and Managing Director of Endangered Habitats Conservancy, a nonprofit California land trust focused on the conservation of wildlife habitat. The mission of Endangered Habitats Conservancy is to acquire, manage, monitor and maintain land in California for habitat protection and restoration, agricultural preservation, and other conservation purposes. In his capacity as Vice President, Scott manages the organization’s business, administrative, fiscal compliance, and legal activities. He also helps to advance large-scale habitat conservation and habitat restoration initiatives. Endangered Habitats Conservancy owns and manages more than 8,000 acres of conserved open space in the San Diego region. Over the past decade the Conservancy has secured over $80 million for land acquisitions to preserve San Diego’s remaining wildlands.

Scott Grimes serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of Ocean Discovery Institute, and is also a Board member of Dreams for Change (dreamsforchange.org) and a past Board member of the Conservation Biology Institute. Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts in East Asian Studies from UCLA and a Masters degree in public policy from the University of California San Diego. He is an enthusiastic supporter of connecting people to the outdoors, traveling without always having a map, and the San Francisco 49ers.

Darrell Jackson, JD, PhD,is serving in his first term on the board, joining in March 2023. He has been a Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming College of Law since 2012. Prior to UW Law, Darrell was a scholar-in-residence and fellow at the University of Colorado Law School, and served as Assitant Dean and Director of Diversity Services at the George Mason University School of Law. He practiced law as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia and as an Assistant County Attorney in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Darrell earned his PhD in Educational Foundations, Policy, and Practice from the University of Colorado (Boulder) School of Education and law degree from George Mason University School of Law. His research interests surround supporting historically marginalized communities and exists at the intersection of three disciplines: law; education; and race, cultural, or ethnic studies. Darrell also sits as a member of the Colorado Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Nora Taylor Jaffe is in her second term on MoU’s board, having joined in April 2018, and sits on the Executive Committee. Nora has had a longstanding interest in the Museum since first becoming a member, with her husband Alan, in the 1990’s. She is an active volunteer in the San Diego community, including being a committee member and ex-board member of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest and the National Conflict Resolution Center, where she currently serves on the advisory board. Nora is a graduate of the University of Chicago, with an AB in Humanities, and is dedicated to working with organizations that serve the public good and work towards social justice.

Myra Masiel-Zamora is serving in her first term on the board, joining in March 2023. Myra is a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. She has worked for Pechanga Cultural Resource Center since 2005, where she works as a Curator and Archeologist. She currently sits on the NAGPRA Advisory Boards at both Cal Poly Pomona and the University of California, Riverside. Myra is a published author and teacher of Traditional Youth Knowledge at the Pechanga Indian Reservation.

In 2005 she received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2013 she received a Master of Arts in Anthropology from San Diego State University. In 2014, she was awarded Outstanding Achievement from the Pechanga Tribal Council.

Vinay Kumar Mysore is serving their first term on the board, joining in March 2024. Vinay is a Senior Design Researcher and Project Lead at Openbox, a Brooklyn-based research and design studio that works at the intersection of people, cities, and the planet. An award-winning Indo-Canadian designer, they prioritize centering inclusivity in their designs as they collaborate primarily with civic and cultural spaces, including public parks, museums, libraries, schools, and hospitals. In Openbox’s past project collaboration with the Balboa Park Cultural District, Vinay was a part of the team who initiated community research that included site surveys, visitation analysis, in-depth interviews with residents both locally and across the border as a people-first approach to create a more inclusive experience for Balboa Park visitors.

Vinay earned their Bachelors in Philosophy and Psychology from McGill University and holds a Master's degree from the Parsons School of Design. They have received multiple awards and have been recognized for their work throughout various social justice, applied ethnography, and healthcare industries and in 2023, was named an Obama Foundation USA Leaders Fellow.

Jason Magabo Perez recently joined the board in March 2024 and is in his first term on the board. Dr. Perez serves as Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at California State University San Marcos and is an accomplished author of an impressive body of works spanning three poetry collections and various multimedia works that explore his Filipino identity, colonialism, memory, and America’s racial traumas. Perez previously taught writing, performance, and ethnic studies at several university campuses throughout San Diego for nearly a decade, and was formerly an assistant professor of creative writing at California State University, San Bernardino. He holds an MFA in Writing and Consciousness from New College of California and a dual PhD in Ethnic Studies and Communication from the University of California, San Diego.

Formerly a featured artist at the New Americans Museum and scholar-in-residence at the San Diego Public Library, Dr. Perez’s work has had many connections to notable performance venues, including the National Asian American Theatre Festival, the International Conference of the Philippines, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the San Francisco Public Library, and the La Jolla Playhouse. In 2023, he received the prestigious Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship and is currently serving as the 2023-2024 Poet Laureate of San Diego

Ricky Shabazz is in his second term on MoU’s board, joining in February 2019. Dr. Shabazz is President of San Diego City College, which is the fifth oldest community college in California serving a diverse group of over 17,000 students from around the world. City College has a focus on social justice and academic excellence. Dr. Shabazz is an enthusiastic, student-centered leader with over 20 years of executive experience advancing academic achievement and improving student success for marginalized students. Dr. Shabazz earned an Ed.D. in educational leadership, as well as a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, San Bernardino. His research expertise is in increasing college access for underrepresented students. He is an Aspen and Wheelhouse fellow and serves on several community boards in the greater San Diego area. He is an adjunct professor in the educational departments at USD and San Diego State. Dr. Shabazz is a dedicated father and husband, he enjoys bass fishing, and traveling the world in his spare time.

Sandra Timmons is serving in her first term on the board, joining in March 2023. Ms. Timmons has worked as a producer/writer and video consultant for both corporate and educational clients. As a member of the KPBS-TV staff, she produced public affairs programs and was a location director for the Nightly Business Report.

As owner of Video Applications for Education and Training, Ms. Timmons produced video conferences, documentaries and instructional videos, and developed interactive educational computer games and Internet products. With the California State University office of the Chancellor, she created dissemination programs for the National Science Foundation aimed at increasing participation of minorities and women in math and science; and increasing graduation rates of minority and economically challenged students. Timmons also produced video conference programs for continuing education credit for the American Chemical Society, IEEE and the California Bar Association.

Ms. Timmons drew on her production background as Stage Manager of nonprofit organizations for youth and adult actors (Coast Kids Theatre/Star Theatre, Oceanside, Ca.) As a community volunteer, Timmons has worked with the San Diego Children’s Choir, the Girl Scouts, the PTA, and public school districts. She chaired a capital campaign that raised over $700,000 for a public high school.

Vladimir Victorio is in his first term on the board, having recently joined in March 2024. Victorio is currently the Senior Vice President and San Diego Market Leader in Private Wealth Management for U.S. Bank. Prior to his position at U.S. Bank, he also served similarly at Wells Fargo, Mission Valley Bank and the Valley Economic Development Center.

Victorio is involved with the LFAC SoCal Youth – Santa Clarita Valley and serves as their Director of Sponsorship and Fundraising to support the non-profit public educational soccer club for youth, boys and girls. He received his Bachelors in Finance from California State University, Northridge and also holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business.

Ellen Waddell is in her third term on the board. She joined in February 2016, and is the first Woman Chair of the Museum of Us. An archaeologist by trade and passion she began her work with the Museum as a volunteer in the cultural resources department, a practice that she continues. She has a particular interest in issues related to social justice and food security with a focus on supporting the strong resilient systems and policies needed to ensure sustainable, transformative change.

Ellen is also the CEO of the Avila Fund, where she works closely with organizations that focus on local and global food systems, including the Advisory Board of Hunger Free San Diego and as a founding member of San Diego Food Funders. She also serves as Chair of the San Diego Hunger Coalition a nonprofit organization that educates policymakers and the public about social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to hunger.

Ms. Waddell is a board member of the Moxie Foundation, a San Diego foundation that fosters innovation and entrepreneurship in education. Moxie supports commercial and social incubators at SDSU in San Diego and CCNY in New York.

Waddell earned her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Maryland and a Master’s degree in cultural resource management from the University of Arkansas. Ms. Waddell is a partner in a commercial real estate management company, and formerly worked as an archaeologist founding CRC, Inc. a cultural resource management consulting business.

Ex-Officio Member: Dr. Micah Parzen

Want to join our team? View available job opportunities here.

To contact the Museum of Us, please visit our Contact page for more information.

The Museum of Us recognizes that it sits on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Kumeyaay Nation. The Museum extends its respect and gratitude to the Kumeyaay peoples who have lived here for millennia.

The Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

1350 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101

Affiliations & Memberships:San Diego Museum Council logoCharity Navigator Four Star Charity logoBalboa Park Cultural Partnership Collaborative for Arts, Science and Culture logoAmerican Alliance of Museums logoSmithsonian Affiliate logoInternational Coalition of Sites of Conscience logo
Financial support provided by:San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture logo
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