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

Michelle Taylor, Secretary
Regional VP of Enterprise Sales with One Medical

Mario L. Aniles, Immediate Past Chair
Finance Director, Housing Authority of Maricopa County

Linda Alexander
Commissioner, Phoenix Women’s Commission, City of Phoenix
Site Based Leadership Team, Madison Heights

Trustee Standing Committee, Development, Phoenix Country Day School

Carla Logan
Owner, Carly’s Bistro

RJ Muller
Community Relations Manager, Cox Communications

Gary Nolan
Regulatory Compliance Officer, APS

Heather Personne
Principal, Point B

Antoine O. Skinner
Branch Manager, US Bank


Joseph Benesh
, Director
Lauren Henschen, Deputy Director
Lane Black, Operations Manager
Jessica Valiente, Programs Manager
Rashaad Thomas, Engagement Manager
Lindsey Krause, Thunderbird Class Manager
Kelly Fitzharris, Patron Services Manager
Mirinda DiBiase, Marketing Associate
Melissa Smallwood, Business Associate
Will Snider, Technical Coordinator
Colin Conway, Camp Manager
Sonya Tarango, Community Coordinator
Andres Valiente-Marin, Patron Services Associate
Silvia Avila, Patron Services Associate
Ruben Aguilar, Patron Services Associate
Kait Ahlschwede, Development Intern – Art Mobile
LC Hood, Communications 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) (no spaces).

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 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 also sits on the Marketing-Communications Subcommittee of the Hance Park Conservancy 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 television programs including “Parks & Recreation,” “Entertainment Tonight,” and “Bones.” Her personal heroes include Fred Rogers, Jim Henson, and Joan Ganz Cooney. Lauren is an Arizona native and committed to making Phoenix an amazing place to live.

Lauren’s Superpower: Learning
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 ensures that classroom and rental spaces are well-maintained and fully functional. 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. She is delighted to be back in the Valley after a brief, five-year hiatus. As Facilities Coordinator, Lane strives to find creative solutions to overcome obstacles. In her spare time, Lane enjoys hiking and backpacking with her husband and dog, cooking, and working on a never-ending list of home improvement and organization projects around the home. Lane hopes to help aid in the expansion of the Center and its reach into the community that surrounds it.

Lane’s Superpower: Carpentry
Office Hours:
9am-5pm Wednesday-Thursday
1pm-9pm Friday-Sunday
Not available Monday-Tuesday
Subject to change based on production needs
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

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

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: Building rapport
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 Fitzharris
Patron Services Associate

Kelly Fitzharris

Kelly is a recent transplant from New Jersey and is thrilled to be a part of the Phoenix Center for the Arts team! As Patron Services Associate, Kelly looks forward to connecting with all the staff, instructors and students who frequent our classes and events in order to ensure a fun and fulfilling experience. Kelly has worked in various fields including managing an organic juice bar, working in an independent bookstore, and being a Spanish teacher! She has volunteered for numerous years in places like Guatemala, Argentina, Chile & Guyana. She also spent four years in Spanish Harlem, NYC. She thrives on connecting with people and loves learning new skills. In her free time, you can find Kelly hiking, dancing, reading, writing, practicing yoga, and checking in students!

Kelly’s Superpower: Positive energy
Office Hours: 1-9pm Monday-Friday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 309

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: Coming soon…
Office Hours: Varied

Community Coordinator
Sonya Tarango

At the very core of Sonya Tarango’s passion lie the collaborative interactions that serve to build a more inclusive and diverse community. As a young Chicana, native to West Phoenix, Sonya was not afforded exposure to the arts and culture spaces she has grown to know and love in recent years. Through her arts experiences civic action was born, and sparked her drive to help youth and communities of color to experience arts and culture. When she is not working on youth programing you can connect with Sonya at various community events surrounding arts, culture, and social justice. Sonya strives to listen to the needs of the community and help foster safe spaces at the Center, promoting creative cross-cultural conversations through the arts.

Sonya’s Superpower: Finding the silver lining
Office Hours: 8:00am-3:30pm Tuesday-Friday

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:
9:00am-12:00pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday
6:00pm-9:00pm Monday & Wednesday
Contact: 602-254-3100 ext. 309

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

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 Monday & Tuesday, 12:30-4:30pm Saturday