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Our People

Staff

Elisabeth Setten, executive director
Stan Gibbs, program manager
Kieran Strachan, gallery host

Elisabeth Setten

Elisabeth Setten
Executive Director

415.451.8119 x702
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Elisabeth is passionate about the visual arts and is committed to the vision that creative cultural environments are essential to society’s well-being. Elisabeth has 25+ years of experience managing diverse real estate holdings and communities and is currently a board member with the San Rafael Business Improvement District, the Downtown San Rafael Arts District, and the Dia de Los Muertos Organizing Committee. Elisabeth spent her childhood in San Francisco with her artist family and later attended high school, college, and graduate school in Boston.  She is an avid gardener and currently resides on a 3-acre organic farm, Happy Acres, Mill Valley, CA.

Where did your love for art come from?
My love of the visual arts comes from my family -- my mother and grandfather are visual artists. Most of my family are involved with the arts in some capacity -writers, actors, poets, singers. I grew up in San Francisco in the 1970's living a creative life surrounded by creative people.

What advice would you give yourself when you started this business?
There is strength in community. The best thing we’ve done here in San Rafael is come together collaboratively instead of trying to work independently. Listen to the different voices in your community, and take the time to truly represent those voices thoughtfully.

What is your favorite memory of working in this industry?
One favorite memory (there are many!) is six months of living in the ancient village, Teotitlan del Valle in Oaxaca, Mexico learning traditional dye methods from Zapotec weavers.

Stan Gibbs

Stan Gibbs
Program Manager

415.451.8119 x701
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Stan Gibbs is thankful for the opportunity to serve the community by supporting the arts; which fulfills his belief that creativity, open-mindedness, and dialogue are critical to the well-being of our society. Stan earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Dominican University and has been with Art Works Downtown since 2001 as the office administrator, manager of programs, host, and let’s-figure-it-out team-player. Through his days in the downtown scene, he also volunteered as the space designer for the contemporary group AlterTheater and served on the Business Improvement District for eight years, including 5 years as president. Stan has since returned to creativity in form of rock and roll as a guitarist for The Choice, continues to dabble in painting, and cherishes time with his nieces and family.

“My love for art comes from optical intrigue. I’m fascinated and enthused by the visual composition of materials and the way they communicate and emote. As a viewer, art experience provides a non-literal connection to our collective unconscious while simultaneously inducing personal self-reflection. As a maker, the experience is both humbling and liberating. I also love that my connection to art is only one of many different ways to connect with art, and to people through art, which means we can endlessly discover new perspectives and connectivity.

“One of my many admirations of Art Works Downtown and the art world is the quiet, iterative dialogue different artists, art lovers, and art discoverers experience. Whether they have a grand “aha” moment, or simply raise an eyebrow, their experience contributes to their growth which expands into our community’s growth. Like rain drops, these individual experiences combine to form a mass of movement and life.” 

 

Kieran Strachan

Kieran Strachan
Gallery Host

Humanity’s ability to communicate before written language was first done through visual story telling. Everyone has a story to tell and it takes work to create it. Artwork in the modern day is sometimes questioned for its value in society. Yet if you talk to artists, thinkers and creatives, it is a driving force that empowers them and others to keep telling their stories. Art came first before cities and farms, it is necessary to have as a species to bring up hard topics or show the truth of beauty in nature. It is a way to circle back to the meaning beyond our day to day lives, or just a whimsical take on imaginative creativity.

A painter and Illustrator, I create from life, drawing from nature and portraits. In staying current, I study animation in 3D and 2D digital art, as well as make my own masks, sculptures and 3D prints! My website is: www.kieranstrachan.com

   

 

Board of Directors

Gil Sambrano, president
Jennifer Burrell, vice president
Will Toft, treasurer
Tobi Lessem, secretary
S. Kramer Herzog, board of directors
Terry Lofrano, board of directors
Kala Shah, board of directors

Advisors

Judy Gum, chief financial officer
Phyllis Thelen, advisor

 

Gil Sambrano President

Gil Sambrano
President

Gil is Vice-President of Portfolio Development and Review at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Gil has contributed to building the vision of CIRM and advancing its mission to accelerate stem cell treatments to patients with unmet medical needs. His scientific education includes a B.S. in biology from the University of Texas at El Paso and a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of California, San Diego. Gil trained as a postdoctoral fellow at the Cardiovascular Research Institute at UCSF.

Gil is also an artist whose work has most recently focused on cityscape and portrait paintings. He draws inspiration from his love of big city life and the diversity of people across the nation.  Having been a part of the San Rafael community for over 10 years, he is interested in supporting the development of the visual arts in Marin and helping artists thrive. Artwork can be viewed on his website (www.gilsambrano.com ) as well as on Facebook and Instagram under @ArtofGilSambrano.

 

Jennifer-Burrell

Jennifer Burrell
Vice President

 

Jennifer has lived in San Rafael with her husband Tom and son Logan for over 9 years. Currently, Jennifer is the Sr Director of Global Merchandising and Partnerships for ShopStyle. Previously, Jen worked at Shutterfly as Sr Director Merchandising. Jen currently is working on AWD’s new strategic plan and fundraising committee.

Will Toft

Will Toft
Treasurer

Will Toft is a portrait and fine art photographer, who has devoted himself to the arts following a career in technology that started at the National Geographic Society in Washington DC. He managed technology and engineering for over a decade at First Republic Bank in San Francisco, and most recently was CIO of the Asian Art Museum. He has also worked as a barista, a carpenter, helped build theater sets, raced bicycles and motorcycles, volunteers with the SF/Marin Food Bank and is a nationally-known roller derby photographer. His work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, California Adventure Sports Journal, the Castro Valley Advance, marketing posters, annual reports, websites, and of course all forms of social media. 

  Tobi Lessem
Secretary


Tobi Lessem is owner of Body Wise Massage in downtown San Rafael. Tobi’s healing expertise, business acumen, and background in community building helps Art Works Downtown maintain its mission to provide an environment to thrive for the well being of community. Tobi in an active community volunteer, she also sits on the Downtown Business Improvement board of directors
www.bodywisemassageinc.com  

 

Kramer Herzog S. Kramer Herzog

 

Producing award-winning films seems to be Kramer’s forté. His documentary San Quentin Inside, which presents a rare inside look at sports in prison, scooped up the 2010 Video Excellence Award for Western United States. He also produced a film about a San Quentin program, No More Tears, which uses role-playing strategies to give inmates practical guidance on how to cope once they are released from prison to prevent recidivism. In 2012 his Doc Eye of The Storm got him Producer of the year. In 2017 The World of Dennis Patton got Kramer the best in Film at Classical Arts Film Festival. “I love the Arts and that is what got me interested in Art Works Downtown back in the 90's.”

The eye of The storm on Vimeo
S. Kramer Herzog - IMDb
The World Of Dennis Patton

 

Terry Lofrano Terry Lofrano

 

Terry Lofrano has served on the Art Works Downtown board for over a decade.  He is principle of Lofrano Architecture Sculpture Design and a 43 year resident of San Rafael. Terry has been constantly involved with art from the earliest age. He is passionate about all art forms of art which lead him to begin his architectural practice before graduation from UC Berkely. Terry works in the artistic media of sketching and sculpture as an adjunct to his architectural design practice. He created the epic Starry Night metal and cast glass sculpture for the past AWD fundraiser Starry Night. Terry leads the AWD building committee, has deep knowledge of our historic 1880’s building, and provides valuable expertise with all building related issues. 

 

Kala-Venugopal-Shah 

Kala Venugopal Shah


I'm delighted to join the board of Art Works Downtown, an institutional gem at the hub of Marin's art scene. My roots are in public policy, with 20+ years of experience designing and implementing a range of social impact programs and a passion for community engagement and compassionate leadership. Most recently, I’ve served as Executive Director of Community Heroes . I grew up dancing (Indian classical) and singing and continue to enjoy anchoring the arts in my life. I’ve lived in San Rafael for 20 years, raising 3 teenage sons with my spouse Nimish. I look forward to helping advance AWD’s mission to build a more vibrant community. 

Judy-Gum

Judy Gum
Chief Financial Officer

Judy currently serves as the CFO advisor of AWD. With over 30 years of experience in leading finance and accounting operations, financial planning and analysis, HR, IT and compliance in high-tech and consulting services organizations, Judy has shifted her focus to her passion -  working with arts organizations in the non-profit sector. While not an artist herself, Judy enjoys art, and in fact met her husband in the rotunda of the Legion of Honor at an Art Point events.