Staff & Board

Board of Directors

Jamie L. Halavais, Chair
Attorney, Lewis Roca Rothergerber Christie

Angela Rodela, Vice Chair
Brand Manager, Bar S Foods

Alvaro Sande, Treasurer
Development Principal, KATERRA

Gary Nolan, Secretary
Regulatory Compliance Advisor, APS

Linda Alexander
Community Volunteer

Carla Logan
Owner, Carly’s Bistro

Christine Macias
Account Executive, Clear Channel Outdoor

Heather Personne
Principal, Point B

Cynthia Standley
Professor, Basic Medical Sciences, University of Arizona

Michelle Taylor
Regional VP of Enterprise Sales with One Medical


Joseph Benesh
, Director
Lauren Henschen, Deputy Director
Jessica Valiente, Programs Manager
Lindsey Krause, Thunderbird Manager
Manuel S. Saldate, Patron Service Lead
Kait Ahlschwede, Advancement Manager
Will Snider, Campus Manager
Colin Conway, Camp Manager
Stephanie Aranda, Management Consultant – Marketing
Mirinda DiBiase, Creative Designer
Laurielle Schwab, Advancement Associate
Melissa Smallwood, Business Associate
Ted Ciccone, Community Arts Curator
Nuvia Enriquez, Community Coordinator
Silvia Avila, Patron Services Associate
Miros Domenzain, Patron Services Associate
Andres Valiente-Marin, Patron Services Associate
Ruben Aguilar, Patron Services Associate
Meenakshi Kapur, Patron Services Associate
Gabi Arias
, Patron Services Associate
Maria Cruz Cordoba, Thunderbird Camp Manager
Julio Sauceda, Operations Contractor
Ileyna Witenstein, Intern – Teen Artist Guild
Tania Desir, Marketing Intern

To contact a staff member you may send an email to: the first letter of their first name dot last name (at) (no spaces). The only exception to this is Kait Ahlschwede, who can be reached at kait.ahlschwede(at)

Joseph Benesh Phoenix Center for the Arts
Joseph Benesh

Joseph Benesh has served as Director of Phoenix Center for the Arts since 2011 and has been working in nonprofit management since 2001. He carries a Master’s Degree in Arts Management from New York University. Joseph’s current community activities include Valley Leadership, Phoenix Office of Arts & Culture (Commission Member), Artlink (Board Member) and Hance Park Conservancy (Board Member). In his free time, Joseph enjoys biking, jogging, surfing, and working on his ’79 VW bus. Joseph says, “I love the diversity of people in our world – diversity of cultures, ages, genders, scientists, artists, and everyone in between.” Joseph hopes to be able to listen to the needs of the community and help create an arts center that delivers solutions to those needs for the betterment of the world.

Joseph’s Superpower: Radical listening
Office Hours: 9am-5pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 302

Lauren Henschen

Deputy Director
Lauren Henschen

Lauren Henschen has served as Deputy Director for Phoenix Center for the Arts since 2016, and has been working in marketing, public relations, and web/graphic design since 2005. Lauren serves on the executive boards of the Hance Park Conservancy and the Evans Churchill Community Association, and has led the arts venture incubation marketing workshop for Arizona State University’s PAVE Professional Sustainability Program since 2014. Lauren is a proud Arizona State University graduate and big Sun Devil Football fan. Lauren is also a published songwriter (BMI, Fervor Records), with music featured in some of your favorite television programs. Lauren is an Arizona native, a Valley Leadership graduate, and a community advocate.

Lauren’s Superpower: Being in multiple places at once
Office Hours: 9am-5pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 304

Programs Manager
Jessica Valiente

Jessica Valiente is a powerful Latina! She was born in San Francisco and raised in “La Phoeniquera.” When she isn’t being awesome as Phoenix Center for the Arts’ Programs Manager, she is busy doing awesome things in her community. As a business owner, Jessica focuses on connecting talented Phoenicians to unexpected audiences, by creating memorable events and productions. She is also a core member of the Isac Amaya Foundation; an organization that raises scholarship funds for students who are undocumented. In her free time, Jessica enjoys meeting new people, engaging in various cultural events, and learning about new and upcoming trends. Her favorite quote (which her mother repeated many times throughout her childhood) is ” dime con quien te juntas, y te digo quien eres” (translation: “tell me who you surround yourself with and I’ll tell you who you are”). Jessica takes pride in making sure that she is always surrounded by powerful and determined individuals. Her inspirations come from those who keep fighting the fight to achieve their goals and their dreams.

Jessica’s Superpower: She’s a Multipotentialite
Office Hours: 10am-6pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 303

Lindsey KrauseThunderbird Manager
Lindsey Krause

Lindsey Krause is a long-time volunteer and teaching artist at the Center. As the manager of Thunderbird Arts Center, she is inspired to offer unique and diverse programming for the community. Lindsey is personally and professionally passionate about art and believes it can be used to heal, empower, and enact social change and connection. Lindsey holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with a minor in Studio Art (Magna Cum Laude), and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Humanities. Lindsey is a practicing artist, proficient in oil painting, and enjoys depicting the human form. She has exhibited and received awards for her work in Pennsylvania, her home state. In her free time, Lindsey is in her studio enjoying all things ART!

Lindsey’s Superpower: Idea generator
Lindsey’s Office Hours:
11:00am-9:00pm Tuesday-Thursday
9:00am-2:00pm Friday
8:30am-1:30pm Saturday
Contact: 602-293-3267

Campus Manager 
Will Snider

Will has served as the Technical Coordinator for Phoenix Center for the Arts since 2017 and has been working professionally in various aspects of technical theater in Arizona since 2012. In his role as Technical Coordinator, he aims to aid and ease the process of creation to those who perform in our theater. In his spare time, he enjoys watching television, seeing movies, and playing video games with friends all across the world. Will hopes to one day start and run a successful podcast with his friend and colleague, Mirinda.

Will’s Superpower: My easy going attitude
Office Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 306

Management Consultant – Marketing 
Stephanie Aranda

Stephanie is a creative, driven, and enthusiastic communications and marketing professional with a focus on arts, culture, and community engagement. A graduate of York University in Toronto Canada, Stephanie has worked with some of the most influential non-profit arts organizations in the city of Toronto, including: North York Arts, ArtReach Toronto, VIBE Arts, and Dance Umbrella of Ontario. Over the course of her professional career, she has provided marketing guidance and support to many cultural projects and events, including; dance made in canada/fait au canada Festival, a biennial festival of contemporary dance, and Dusk Dances, an outdoor festival that brings high-quality urban, contemporary, and traditional dance to public parks.

Stephanie’s Superpower: Staying positive in every situation
Office Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 313

Creative Designer
Mirinda DiBiase

Mirinda is a graduate of Arizona State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Visual Communication. She has several years experience in the graphic design industry and has an extreme passion for all things creative. As a Creative Designer, Mirinda helps create and update the graphic design materials used for Phoenix Center for the Arts, Thunderbird Arts Center, and Central Arts Alliance. Originally from Tucson, she came to Phoenix to pursue her dreams of finding a way to contribute her knowledge and enthusiasm to the art community. When not at work, she can be found exploring new mediums and methods for creating all forms of art. Her favorite quote comes from Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” She is grateful that Phoenix Center for the Arts has given her the opportunity to do what she was born to do.

Mirinda’s Superpower: Making others smile
Office Hours:
10:00am-6:00pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday
10:00am-1:00pm Tuesday & Thursday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 311

Advancement Associate
Laurielle Schwab

Laurielle is a current Senior at Arizona State University studying Public Service and Non-Profit Management with a minor in Art History. She is a mural and watercolor artist with her work published nationally in books and magazines. Her hometown of Lake Arrowhead California is known for its bottled water. When Laurielle is not at work you can find her studying for exams, playing Mario Kart with her boyfriend and watching the newest season of “The Bachelor.”

Laurielle’s Superpower: Folding fitted sheets
Office Hours: 9am-4pm Tuesday-Thursday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 305

Business Associate
Melissa Smallwood

Melissa received her Undergraduate Degree in Business Management and her Masters Degree (MBA) specializing in accounting from Ottawa University. She also has a PhD in Criminal Justice in Statistics from Florida International.

Melissa has been an accountant for over 15 years in many different industries, specializing in bookkeeping, payroll, human resources, and small business startups/expansions. She has a passion for teaching business to anyone who will listen. Her goal is to help those who want to go into business for themselves by giving them the knowledge and the tools to be successful.

When not practicing in her accounting firm she also owns a clothing company and a travel agency (two of her passions). Melissa has visited 17 countries so far, and will be adding 5 new ones in 2019!

Office Hours: Varied

Community Arts Curator  
Ted Ciccone

Originally from the East Coast, Ted earned a bachelor of science degree in industrial design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His background includes diverse roles in the arts. As part of the executive team at Scottsdale Arts he oversaw the marketing for the Center for Performing Arts, SMoCA and Public Art. Ted also served The Art Institute of Phoenix as director of communications, where he helped young artists and designers explore career options in the arts. While at The Art Institute, he lead the outreach efforts and formed many partnerships with nonprofits and community leaders. Currently, as the community arts curator, he manages a variety of art shows including the Student Art Series and the Thunderbird Art Works. In his free time, Ted enjoys creating new forms in clay as a ceramics student at the Center.

Ted’s Superpower: Super vision for the small details
Office Hours: Vary
Contact: 602.529.1809

Colin conwayCamp Manager
Colin Conway

Born and raised in Phoenix, Colin has spent many summers serving as both Lead Volunteer and Assistant Camp Manager for Phoenix Center for the Arts Youth Camps. Colin is excited to continue work with the children at Phoenix Center for the Arts in 2018. Colin recently graduated from Arizona State University with a major in art education. As a painter and mulit-instrumentalist, Colin has an extensive background in the arts spending much of his free time working on various performance and visual art projects.

Colin’s Superpower: Connecting
Office Hours: Monday 10:00am-1:00pm and Wednesday 10:00am-1:00pm
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 307

Marketing Intern
Tania Desir

Tania is an energetic, imaginative, and hyper focused  individualWith strong interest in arts and cultureshe has worked as a TV host and reporter at TV Azteca Sonora and also as a journalist and editor at the newspaper El Sol de Hermosillo. She holds a Bachelorof Science degree in Communicationswith a minor in Media Production from the University of Sonora in MexicoIn her free time Tania enjoys learning new things and catching up on her favorite Korean dramas. 

Superpower: Turning my dreams into reality 
Office hours: 10am-3pm Tuesdays & Thursday

Patron Services Associate
Andres Valiente-Marin

Born in San Francisco, Andres grew up in the West Valley. Andres currently attends Arizona State University and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Urban Development, with a minor in Urban Geography. Andres has taken a number of art classes, including ceramics, drawing, painting, theatre, and comic book penciling. You can find him both at our Downtown Phoenix and at our North Phoenix location, Thunderbird Arts Center.

Andres’ Superpower: Adaptability
Office Hours: Varied

Patron Services Associate
Ruben Aguilar

Born and raised in Phoenix, Ruben is excited to work alongside the amazing staff, teachers, and students (or pretty much anyone that walks into the Center). As a self-professed extrovert, he enjoys communicating with and helping people. In his spare time, he volunteers for Aliento, which is a young adult led organization that focuses on community healing through the arts. Some of his interests include: learning, sports, music, and photography…in reality, the list is almost endless!

Ruben’s Superpower: Friendliness
Office Hours: 5:00-9:00pm Monday, Wednesday, & Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 312

Patron Services Associate
Silvia Avila

Silvia was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. She lived in San Diego for 7 years and moved to Phoenix 3 years ago. She is super excited to be working with such amazing people, and to get to know the teachers, students, and everybody that walks into the Center. Silvia has over 10 years of experience in customer service. In her free time, Silvia volunteers for the Isac Amaya Foundation, an organization that focuses on raising money for scholarships for students who are undocumented, as well as provides workshops to students and parents on how to effectively apply for scholarships and fund their educations. Silvia enjoys learning, reading, hiking, swimming, and dancing…pretty much anything fun!

Silvia’s Superpower: Spreading love
Office Hours: 5:00-9:00pm Tuesday & Thursday, 12:30-4:30pm Saturday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 312

Thunderbird Camp Manager
Maria Cruz-Cordoba

Maria Cruz-Cordoba is the Camp Manager at Thunderbird Arts Center. She is a firm believer in creative arts as a form of learning and says that being Camp Manager brings together two loves: her love of children and her love of art. As an almost “empty nester,” Maria enjoys being around kids because they have a lot of creative energy and are unlimited envisioning themselves as young artists. As an adjunct Theology Instructor at Benedictine University at Mesa, she incorporates art in her teaching there, and affirms to her Ben U. students that art is an expression of God, who created everything and gives us the “eyes” to recognize beauty. Maria has two young-adult sons and one “almost” grown daughter of her own and loves to be creative whenever she has the opportunity.

Maria’s Superpower: Coming soon…
Office Hours: Varied
Contact: 602-293-3267