Steering Committee members get to decide the direction that RALSD takes in its efforts to provide new and valuable programming and resources to its members. Becoming a member of the RALSD Steering Committee is a two-year commitment and you will be expected to lead a subcommittee and attend monthly Steering Committee meetings. You are granted a yearly professional development stipend as well as numerous opportunities to attend conferences and networking events, both in San Diego and across the U.S. The work is not always easy but the opportunity to meet and be met by some of the biggest players in the San Diego Arts Community as well as the leadership opportunities pay dividends.
2020 Chair, Executive Committee
Professional Musician, Teaching Artist
Shayla James balances her time as an educator, performer, and researcher in the non-profit sector. She is a multi-instrumentalist who believes in being an advocate for arts education and programming for all ages. She is currently the owner of Sempre Music Studio, an energetic and creativity focused studio that offers high quality music education to students of all backgrounds and ages. Her work is rooted in community engagement, empowerment and collaboration across disciplines. She has worked at Villa Musica and Blindspot Collective, taught for Arts for Learning SD, and has volunteered in the Learning and Community Engagement Department at the San Diego Symphony. Also, she volunteers as a Membership Committee Board Member for YNPN San Diego. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Coe College. She attended UC-San Diego for a Master of Arts degree in Music with an emphasis in Integrative Studies (Ethnomusicology and Critical Studies). She enjoys hiking, putting together puzzles and performing with her rock/pop band.
2020 Treasurer/Secretary, Executive Committee
Director of Operations, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
Kristen Mihalko has worked in the nonprofit sector focusing on programming and community building since 2010. As an advocate for career development and personal growth, she volunteers her time as the Chair for YNPN San Diego and Treasurer/Secretary for Rising Arts Leaders San Diego. Kristen is the Director of Operations for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership where she oversees a number of programs including: Balboa Park Explorer, Parkwide team member engagement (One Park – One Team), and the Parkwide IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) Initiative in addition to managing the internal operations of the Partnership. She holds a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications from National University and a certificate in Arts and Culture Leadership from University of San Diego.
2020 Vice Chair Executive Committee
Katie Lorge is a Program and Marketing Manager at transcenDANCE Youth Arts Project. She is a native San Diegan and lifelong dancer. Katie graduated summa cum laude from UCSD in 2009 with a BA in Dance. After college, Katie fulfilled a longtime dream when she moved to New York to pursue a career in dance. During her two years in NYC, Katie studied and performed with a number of choreographers, and was an administrative intern with Faye Driscoll Dance Group.
After returning to San Diego in 2012, Katie helped produce the California Arts Council’s first CREATE CA Conference and continued to work with local choreographers as both a performer and curator, showing dance works at Space 4 Art, youTurn, and the Without Walls Festival. Katie likes to think of herself as a storyteller and sees language, images, movement, and media as opportunities to connect and engage with other people. She has previously worked in Development and Marketing with Mainly Mozart, the San Diego Armed Services YMCA, A Reason To Survive (ARTS), and BOOST Collaborative.
2020 Artist Advocacy Co-Chair
Fine Artist, Museum Worker
Wendy Gracia is an oil painter based in San Diego. She received her BFA in 2018 from Laguna College of Art + Design, having majored in Drawing + Painting. She has spent the last two years working in the arts in San Diego, first as a Gallery Attendant at Wonderspaces, and later with Visitor Experience in Balboa Park. Currently, Wendy is showing some of her paintings in Barrio Logan, and has plans to show more of her work in galleries throughout Southern California. This will be her first year serving on the committee for the Rising Arts Leaders.
2020 Artist Advocacy Co-Chair
Art Coordinator, La Maestra
Yvette Roman is a bi-national artist, curator and arts educator. She holds a B.A., from UCSD in Visual Arts and Cultural Anthropology. Yvette is passionate about making art accessible through community-organized collaboration. Her artwork is an exploration of simplicity and chaos. Disciplines include photography, painting, and collage. Her artwork weaves memories of loss, self-discovery, and personal insecurities. Her artwork has been exhibited in the US, Mexico and Egypt.
Most recently Yvette was selected by the Mint House Project to create a public mural on the topic of immigration, titled “Haciendo Linea”. Her series, “Fragments”, was displayed through Hanalei Artwork in San Diego, and at Alternate Roots in North Carolina.
Yvette is the Art Coordinator at La Maestra- Generations Center for Youth Advancement. She is an Artist Advocate for RALSD- Rising Arts Leaders in San Diego, a Curator at Amigos del Rep, and a member of the Core Team for the SDAC- San Diego Arts Community. From 2018-2019 she was the Vice President of Art Unites.
2020 Membership Chair
With a lifelong passion for the arts, Leah Firebaugh has dedicated her personal and professional time to working with leading arts organizations. An East-Coast native, Leah is excited to call San Diego home and is thrilled to be a part of this vibrant community. In her current role, Leah is the Content Marketing Specialist for San Diego Theatres, the nonprofit organization that manages the San Diego Civic Theatre and historic Balboa Theatre. Leah is a member of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network San Diego, San Diego Leadership Alliance, and serves on the Steering Committee of Rising Arts Leaders San Diego. In her free time, Leah can be found playing the piano and ukulele, practicing Spanish, visiting a museum, cooking, and hiking San Diego’s beautiful scenery.
2020 Programming Co-Chair
Dancer, San Diego Ballet
In her eighth season with the San Diego Ballet, she has been featured in leading and soloist roles in the company’s diverse array of repertoire. Her performances have earned her press features in the San Diego Union Tribune, Jazz Blues News and the San Diego Reader as well as television features on KUSI and PBS. Prior to joining the San Diego Ballet, Camille danced in professional productions with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre as a member of the company’s prestigious Graduate Program and with California Ballet as an Apprentice. Camille teaches extensively throughout San Diego and has served as a Ballet Exam Juror at the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts. In addition to performing and teaching, Camille enjoys working in arts administration, serving as San Diego Ballet’s Educational Outreach Coordinator and Summer Intensive Administrative Director. Camille is excited to be in her first year as RALSD Programming Committee Co-Chair.
2020 Programming Co-Chair
Elizabeth Tobias, MA, is an Expressive Arts Therapist, Artist, Educator and Community Organizer. Elizabeth draws upon multiple art disciplines to create socially engaged immersive installations. As a facilitator and educator, she works with schools, museums and non-profits to create customized expressive arts programs, performances, workshops and events.
Elizabeth currently serves on the steering committee of Rising Arts Leaders, San Diego as well as The Arts+Culture San Diego Community Advisory Council. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has exhibited her films and work at museums and galleries throughout the world including Harvard University, Utah MOCA and Ping-Pong at Art Basel. She received her MA in Psychology from USM and her Professional Diploma from The Expressive Arts Institute.
In 2019, Tobias received awards for her short documentary, “Survivor! 98 Second Stories, an advocacy project bringing awareness to the sexual assault epidemic. In 2014, she was awarded a Learning Innovation Fellowship from The National Science Foundation as part of a collaborative project to combine art and science to combat climate change. In 2012, she earned a Durfee ARC Grant for The Cupcake Project, a traveling exhibit about the hunger epidemic in America.
She has worked with organizations including Vista Hill Parent Care, The San Diego Unified School District Department of Student Advocacy, La Jolla Elementary School, La Jolla High School, The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, The Expressive Arts Foundation and Arts for Learning.