Bay Area native Azha Simmons (she/her) is the Donor & Community Engagement Manager at Sunday Friend Foundation. Azha has worked at various museums throughout the Bay Area. She received her dual M.A. & M.B.A degree in Museum Studies & Business Administration from John F. Kennedy in 2018. Azha was recently published in Theory & Practice's Volume 2, 2019. Museum Futures: Diversity, Inclusivity, and Social Justice edition with an article called Power & Protest: Using Community Exhibition Practices for Engaging San Jose’s African American Community. LinkedIn: Here
Naomi Neal Secretary
Originally from Southern California, Naomi Neal (she/her) moved to the Bay area in 2015 to attend San Francisco State University. In 2018, Naomi completed the 4-year Undergraduate Degree Program in 3 years and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Africa Studies with an Emphasis in Social Sciences. During 2018, Naomi was an Education intern at the Museum of African Diaspora, and joined the team as a full-time Visitor Experience Associate from 2019 - 2020. In the Fall of 2019, Naomi began attending Johns Hopkins University Advanced Academic Programs, studying Cultural Heritage Management. Naomi aims for her experiences within the museum field to be centered on representation, advocating for equitable opportunity, and to take part in creating spaces for communities of color to come together. LinkedIn:Here
Leslie Cheng Chair of Communications Committee
Leslie Cheng (she/her) has been immersed in the museum field since 2015. Currently, she is the Membership Associate at the Oakland Museum of California and has previously worked in visitor experience at the Oakland Museum of California and the San Jose Museum of Art. She received her BA in Art History and Visual Culture from San Jose State University in 2014. Leslie is excited to explore how cultural institutions can meaningfully serve to invest in and support the communities around them. She lives in Oakland and believes that the happiest place on earth is Point Isabel in Richmond. LinkedIn: Here
Dani Hielscher (she/her) Communications Committee Member
Dani Hielscher (she/her) has a degree in History of Art and Visual Culture from California College of the Arts, and is the Marketing Coordinator at Filoli Historic House and Garden. Through her work in Communications, Dani strives for all people to see themselves as a part of museums and cultural centers. She sees the role of communications as a crucial first touch point to convey empathy, gracious kindness, and welcoming towards each organization's full community. Beyond her desk, Dani loves spending time in the many nature preserves around the Peninsula, drawing and writing in her journal, and waking up early...for the coffee.
Nia McAllister Chair of Programming Committee
Born and raised in the Bay Area, Nia McAllister (she/her) is the Public Programs Manager at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. Nia received her B.A. in Environmental Analysis: Race, Class, Gender, and the Environment from Pomona College. Since joining MoAD in December 2017, she has dedicated herself to facilitating impactful change at the intersection of art, activism, and public engagement. In her current role as the Public Programs Manager, Nia creates participatory spaces for creative expression and literary dialogue. She leads the museum’s literary events under the MoAD Lit program and is the host and founder of the Open Mic series at MoAD. Since launching the series in April 2018, Nia has been integral in growing a vibrant poetry community at the Museum. At MoAD and beyond, Nia creates platforms for amplifying the work of Black artists on a global scale. Nia’s writing and poetry have been featured on Poets of Color Podcast and published in Radicle magazine, Meridians journal, and Painting the Streets: Oakland Uprising in the Time of Rebellion (Nomadic Press, 2022).
Jessica Punzalan (she/her) is passionate about changing the traditional landscape and infrastructure of museums to better serve the community and public interest. As the Community Engagement Manager at the Children’s Creativity Museum in San Francisco, she leads public programming, volunteer and intern management, and outreach initiatives. Jessica holds a BA in Art History from San Francisco State University and is the Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 Exhibitions Fellow at Root Division, a visual-arts non-profit.
Austen Wianecki-Wang Vice President
Austen Wianecki-Wang (she/her) is the Membership Coordinator at the Oakland Museum of California. She has worked in development, human resources, accounting, and collections management in her time in the museum field and considers herself to be a generalist. She earned her MBA and MA in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University and her BA from Stanford University in Archaeology. Austen loves dogs, house plants, and smashing the patriarchy.
Demetri Broxton Diversity Equity Inclusion and Access Officer
Demetri Broxton (he/him) is the Senior Director of Education at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco, CA. An Oakland native, Broxton has over 18 years of experience working in the field of education and the arts. At MoAD, he leads the education programs that enhance the visitor experience at the Museum. His department’s mission is to connect youth, educators, and the public to the historical, cultural, and intellectual contributions of the worldwide African Diaspora. Outside of his role at MoAD, Demetri is a practicing artist and his artwork is represented by Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco. He also serves as an advisory member for the Global Museum at San Francisco State University. Broxton holds an M.A. in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University and a BFA from UC Berkeley in Art Practice. LinkedIn: Here MoAD Website: Here
Ana Navarro Chair of Membership Committee
Ana Isabel Navarro (she/her/ella) is the Development Assistant and Visitor Services Representative at the California Historical Society. She was born and raised in the Coachella Valley and came to San Francisco in 2015. From San Francisco State University, she has graduated with a B. A in History and is pursuing her M.A in Museum Studies. When she is not working or studying, she is in the museum. She has a list of all the museums she has visited.
Nicole Winthrop Membership Committee Member
Over ten years of teaching and entrepreneurship experience provided Nicole Winthrop (she/her) with key strategies centered in accountability and equitable practices that led her to grow and oversee a museum membership program as Membership Manager for the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. In addition to overseeing campaign appeals, database integrity, and member and audience engagement, Nicole worked to support the Museum’s development team with grant writing, fundraising, and corporate engagement. Further, Nicole managed and oversaw the Museum’s volunteer program, where she trained interns and volunteers on how to build and execute a successful fundraising campaign through member engagement. In 2019, Nicole had the opportunity to attend the Alliance of American Museums (AAM) 2019 museum leadership conference, Reimagining the Museum, in Oaxaca, Mexico. This year, Nicole received certification through the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in Advanced Grant Writing and Statistics for Managerial Use and has joined the National Art Education Association (NAEA). In addition to her museum and nonprofit development work, Nicole is an artist and teaching artist who uses assemblage as an art and environmental practice. LinkedIn: Here
Erin Schilling Programming Committee Member
Erin Schilling (she/her) is a queer femme arts worker who has worked in installation, production, and museum collections care in the Bay Area for the past five years, both during and following the completion of her M.A. in Museum Studies from San Francisco State University. She is currently an Associate Preparator at the Oakland Museum of California and has also worked at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Museum of the African Diaspora, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Outside of work, Erin spends time volunteering in her community, hiking, exploring the Bay Trail by bike, taking dance classes, and mastering the pandemic-era group chat.