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

 

Staff


Joseph Benesh
, Director
Lauren Henschen, Deputy Director
Lane Black, Operations Manager
Jessica Valiente, Programs Manager
Lindsey Krause, Thunderbird Class Manager
Rashaad Thomas, Engagement Manager
Kelly Fitzharris, Patron Services Manager
Kait Ahlschwede, Head of Development
Mirinda DiBiase, Marketing Associate
Melissa Smallwood, Business Associate
Will Snider, Technical Coordinator
Colin Conway, Camp Manager
Andres Valiente-Marin, Patron Services Associate
Ruben Aguilar, Patron Services Associate
Silvia Avila, Patron Services Associate
Julio Sauceda, Operations Contractor
Kelsey Kavookjian, Communications Intern
Jacqueline Elizarraras, Marketing-Design Intern
Ileyna Witenstein, Intern – Teen Artist Guild

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

Joseph Benesh Phoenix Center for the Arts
Director
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 serves as Deputy Director for Phoenix Center for the Arts 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 holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre from Arizona State University (summa cum laude), having been awarded both the ASU Provost’s Scholarship and the Katherine K. Herberger Fine Arts Scholarship. 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 big supporter of public recreation.

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 Krause
Thunderbird Class Manager

Lindsey Krause

Lindsey Krause is a long-time volunteer and teaching artist at the Center. As the class manager at the new Thunderbird location, 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


Engagement Manager
Rashaad Thomas

Rashaad Thomas is a husband, father, USAF Veteran, award- winning poet, and Voices of Our Nation’s Art Foundation (VONA/Voices) alum, who resides in South Phoenix, AZ.
He is the recipient of the 2016 City of Phoenix Mayor’s Art Award for Language Artist and Spring 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellow. He serves as a member of Phoenix Citywide Black Student Union’s Advisory Board. He is also the Arizona State University’s Performance in the Borderlands’s Curator of “Local Opener Poets” in collaboration with the University of Arizona’s Poetry Center Reading & Lecture Series, and an Associate Editor for Four Chamber’s Press

Rashaad’s Superpower: T’Challa-like heightened senses
Office Hours: 9am-1pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
and 1pm-5pm Wednesdays
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 305

 

Kelly Fitzharris
Patron Services Associate

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


Marketing Associate
Mirinda DiBiase

Mirinda is currently finishing her senior year of college at Arizona State University for 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 Marketing Assistant, Mirinda helps create and update the graphic design materials used for Phoenix Center for the Arts and Thunderbird Arts Center. 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 in school or 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 PCA has given her the opportunity to do what she was born to do.

Mirinda’s Superpower: Making others smile
Office Hours:
10:00am-2:00pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday
10:00am-6:00pm Wednesday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 311

Colin conway
Camp 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