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
Chief Operating Officer, Sencorp USA

Gary Nolan, Secretary
Regulatory Compliance Officer, APS

Linda Alexander
Community Volunteer

Carla Logan
Owner, Carly’s Bistro

Christine Macias
Account Executive, Clear Channel Outdoor

Heather Personne
Principal, Point B

Michelle Taylor
Regional VP of Enterprise Sales with One Medical


Joseph Benesh
, Director
Lauren Henschen, Deputy Director
Lane Black, Operations Manager
Jessica Valiente, Programs Manager
Lindsey Krause, Thunderbird Manager
Kait Ahlschwede, Advancement Manager
Kelly Fitzharris, Patron Services Manager
Colin Conway, Camp & Youth Programs Manager
Stephanie Aranda, Management Consultant – Marketing
Mirinda DiBiase, Creative Designer
Melissa Smallwood, Business Associate
Will Snider, Technical Coordinator
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
Laurielle Schwab, Development Intern
Kevin Lopez, Communications Intern
Ileyna Witenstein, Intern – Teen Artist Guild
Ted Ciccone, Student Art Series Curator – Volunteer
Cat Beaudoin, Student Art Series Associate Curator – Volunteer

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

Lane Black

Operations Manager
Lane Black

As Operations Manager for the Center, Lane is the person to talk to about using the various spaces in and around the Center, either for a one day event, or for a longer engagement. She has been working in professional theaters across the country since 2003, filling roles in all aspects of technical theatre for companies such as American Repertory Theatre and Blue Man Group (Boston). Lane obtained her Master’s of Fine Arts in Technical Production from Boston University in 2012. In her spare time, Lane enjoys hiking and backpacking with her husband and dog, cooking, and teaching her son about all of life’s exciting adventures. Lane hopes to help aid in the expansion of the Center and its reach into the community that surrounds it.

Lane’s Superpower: Spreadsheet Goddess
Office Hours:
Tuesday: Remote
Wednesday-Saturday: 7am-11am, 12:30pm-4pm
Subject to change without notice
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 306

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

Kelly FitzharrisPatron Services Manager
Kelly Fitzharris

Kelly began working at Phoenix Center for the Arts in 2016, as a recent transplant from New Jersey. She loves life at the Center and, in her role as Patron Services Manager, has formed amazing relationships with the fantastic instructors, quirky staff members, resident organization families, and clients! She loves all the nerdy aspects of her job, like maintaining detailed reports, creating new procedures, and investigating mysteries! She works in tandem with four fabulous staffers in her department to provide accessible community connection through robust customer service. Kelly is a self-proclaimed introvert, maintains a personal blog, and rides her bike to work. In her free time, you will find her in nature, enjoying various forms of movement, exploring new places, writing, and reading.

Kelly’s Superpower: All things #Virgo
Office Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 309

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

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

Technical Coordinator 
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: Dependent on theater schedule. Please email arrange meetings.
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 308

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

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