Friends of VADA

Friends of VADA is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization created to support the Visual Arts & Design Academy (VADA) both financially and with in-kind volunteer help.

2020-2021 Board of Directors

Jeff Speer, President

Jeff is an executive vice president of strategy at ReviveHealth, a full-service agency focused on the intersection of healthcare delivery, finance, and innovation. Jeff serves as a lead strategist for branding, marketing, and communication programs. He designs multi-faceted marketing and communication campaigns, orchestrates market research, develops strategy and messaging, and collaborates closely with teams on creative production and program implementation. Over the past 19 years, Jeff has worked with provider, service, data, technology, and medical device companies across the healthcare spectrum on campaigns targeting businesses, consumers, providers, employees, investors, and thought leaders.

Jeff has served on the Friends of VADA board since 2016. He is married and has three children, two of whom have benefitted from the unique VADA experience.

Elizabeth Lovelace, Vice President

Elizabeth Lovelace has managed many small businesses from Japan to Colorado. She now owns Liz’s Glass Kitchen, a kiln formed glass studio creating useful glass objects. Most recently she serves as Vice President on the Friends of VADA board of directors and co-chairs its Capital Campaign committee. 

Liz received her Bachelor of Science degree from University of Maryland University College. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband, Jeff, and son Carter, a student in the Visual Art and Design Academy.

Lesley Gonzalez

Lesley understands it takes a village to support the successes leading to a greater good in our global community. With a background in K-6 education and international travel to remote and tribal areas of Asia, she has a vision of human connection that reaches beyond the average commercial portrayal. The opportunity to gather in support of building the future’s creative problem-solvers, brings her to the FOV Board of Directors. Lesley is the secretary and parent liaison for the Board. 

Her son knew the VADA program was for him and brought her along for the ride. It is home and a place of joy in the continuous experiment we know as high school. 

A native of Colorado and raised in Santa Barbara, Lesley can be found scrambling the sandstone boulders of Lizard’s Mouth with her husband and two children.

Rebecca Szerwo, Treasurer

Rebecca is a Controller for a local ecommerce company. She earned her Business degree from CSUN and continued accounting coursework at UCSB. She earned her Certified Management Accounting designation from the Institute of Management Accountants. She has had the privilege of working in private and public companies in the Santa Barbara area throughout her career. 

Also having attended local schools she is enjoying having two children excelling at Santa Barbara High School and in VADA. She currently serves as Treasurer of the Friends of VADA Board of Directors.

Andy Beall

Andy is co-founder and Chief Scientist at WorldViz, a leader in professional virtual reality solutions. With his vision for cutting-edge technologies and how they connect to people, WorldViz has provided services to Fortune 500 industrial customers as well as numerous government agencies since 2002. Prior to that, Andy completed his B.A. in cognitive science at Brown, Ph.D. in experimental psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and post-doctoral program at MIT. 

Andy served on the Peabody Charter School board of directors for nearly 5 years during the time his children attended school there. His daughter aspires to attend VADA starting the academic year 2021-2022, and his son is enjoying the DPHS Engineering Academy.

Jacqueline Buckingham Anderson

Jacqueline went to Emory University, received her B.A. in Art History from The University of Toronto, and completed post graduate coursework at Harvard in Lifestyle Medicine. An actress, cultural leader, and social entrepreneur for 25 years, she now coaches individuals, is a regular speaker, and leads training programs for women. The founder of a media company and lifestyle brand, her projects have focussed on integrating art with healing, style with empowerment, and entertainment with activism.

Jacqueline brings art world experience to the VADA board as a civic leader and former first lady of the The Whitney Museum of Art, The Dallas Museum of Art and The Indianapolis Museum of Art where she chaired dozens of national and international events including the opening events for the Venice Biennale on behalf of the United States.

Originally from Texas, she moved from New York City to Santa Barbara in 2019 to plant her roots in the like-minded community, stunning beauty, and proximity to nature. A mother of 2, Jacqueline lives in Santa Barbara with her daughter Devon, a first year student in the Visual Art and Design Academy.

Maureen Burke

Maureen is a senior marketing executive specializing in growth marketing for national and international companies in the technology, media and retail industries including Autodesk, NBC and Williams-Sonoma. She is now on the agency side helping companies drive their go-to-market and customer activation strategies as SVP Client Engagement at CMO Labs. Maureen has an MBA from Pepperdine University and is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. 

Maureen has two daughters. Her oldest is a sophomore in the Visual Arts and Design Academy and a varsity member of the Santa Barbara Dons Wrestling team. Her youngest attends Santa Barbara Junior High and hopes to join her sister in the Visual Arts and Design Academy next year.

Stephanie Christoff

Stephanie graduated from Rice University with a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Art/Art History. She worked for the firms of Venturi, Scott Brown in Philadelphia, PA and Deborah Berke Partners in NY, NY before returning to Santa Barbara. Stephanie taught as an adjunct faculty member at Philadelphia University, School of Architecture.

She has served on the Santa Barbara Architectural Board of Review, the Marymount School Board of Trustees, and Board of Directors of the Architectural Foundation of Santa Barbara. Stephanie works in architecture and property management. She has an interest in environmentally friendly design, and used her own home as a test case to push the limits of healthy house design.

She is married with two grown step-daughters, a sophomore in VADA and son in elementary school. She is delighted to be a part of the Friends of VADA Board as it combines two of her main interests: education and the arts.

Jim Fabio

Aaron Foreman

After graduating from UCLA with a degree in kinesiology, Aaron began his professional career with the obvious next step of managing bands. After a couple years on the road, he became a leader in the digital music revolution with senior roles at multiple record labels under both Sony and Universal Music. He made his way to Santa Barbara to run Global Digital Marketing for Sonos, the innovative wireless speaker company, which he helped to become a world-class brand. As an advisor and marketing consultant, his current focus is helping early stage companies develop and execute their go to market strategies, as well as assisting established businesses to re-imagine their brands for new growth.

Aaron and his wife Emily have a son Tom, a freshman in the VADA program, as well as a daughter Daisy who also attends SBHS and is a member of the lacrosse team.

Kim Klawuhn

Kim Klawuhn is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and PR collateral for tech companies throughout the US. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with degrees in Communications and Sociology. The bulk of her career was spent in the Bay Area working for tech companies that ranged from start up to multinational corporations.

She and her family recently realized their dream of returning to Santa Barbara to work and live. She resides with her husband, Erich and their two children, Ethan and Kait. Kait is a sophomore in VADA.

Ruben Mislang

Ruben is the owner of M4 Interactive, a Santa Barbara based web design and development agency with clients in a variety of industries from museums, tech startups, eCommerce, nonprofits and universities. He has led the planning, design and development of nearly 100 websites involving custom eCommerce solutions, Content Management Systems, Search Engine Marketing, and complex 3rd party integration. Some notable clients (past and present) include Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Huntington Library, Cal-Poly SLO, Dollar Shave Club, UC Riverside, LA Lakers and many more.

Ruben is a Santa Barbara High School and UCSB Alumni. He and his wife Jennifer have four children, two future VADA students, a son currently in VADA and a daughter who recently graduated from VADA in 2020.

Michele Osbourne

Michele has a BA in Psychology from Humboldt State University and attended the University of Delaware as an exchange student. With an interest in enriching her community, Michele has spent over a decade working for nonprofit organizations both in Hawaii and California and is currently an Intake Coordinator at Hospice of Santa Barbara. 

She has also worked in operations and management as a small business owner for over 20 years with her husband and has spent time earlier in her career as a preschool teacher, elementary school substitute teacher and as a teacher’s aide in the ESL program at SBCC. 

Michele values creativity in education and appreciates the benefits of participating in our academy programs. She has a son who graduated from SBHS’s Computer Science Academy and a daughter beginning the VADA program this year. 

Michele currently serves as the Database Manager for the Friends of VADA board of directors.

Michael Purvis

Michael Purvis is a business attorney and real estate broker in Santa Barbara. He is the founder of The Purvis Law Firm and Collins Purvis Properties, and is a managing partner of Global Rights Management, a firm that trades in intellectual property internationally. He has extensive in-house legal experience in major entertainment companies (including The Walt Disney Company and Viacom) as well as a major toy company. He also has extensive experience representing marketing and design companies.
Michael was born in Mississippi and grew up in New Orleans. He has a B.A. degree in Psychology from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in communications from the University of New Orleans, and graduated Cum Laude from Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles. He is married to Nancy Collins, a professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at UCSB. He has two children, a daughter who is a Santa Barbara High School graduate in her freshman year at UCSB and a son in his sophomore year in VADA at Santa Barbara High School.

Jessica Risko Smith

Jessica Risko Smith is the Principle Designer at her namesake Interior Design Studio, where she works on high-end residential and boutique commercial projects here in Santa Barbara and the surrounding areas. She earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree with a Business concentration at Auburn University before returning to Southern California where she spent her early childhood years.  She began her career as an Associate at Gensler, a highly acclaimed, worldwide design firm.  She supports the local architecture and design community, is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a LEED Accredited Professional.  

Jessica has 2 children.  Her oldest, Leighton, is a freshman in the VADA program, and her son Emrys, is a 7th grader at Crane Country Day School.

Ian Smith

Ginny Speirs

Ginny is a local artist and supporter of the arts in Santa Barbara. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, she pursued her dream of being an artist from the time she was seven years old. She received her BFA from Converse College, a small women’s college in South Carolina. She then went on to receive her master’s degree in painting and drawing from University of Georgia. Ginny has worked on a variety of projects in her career as a freelance artist. She has taken commission jobs including painting on furniture and murals to painting on canvas and boards. She has had several one person shows in Santa Barbara and currently shows her paintings in the restaurant Roost. She has taught elective art classes at Santa Barbara Middle School. She currently serves on the Westmont Art Council, the exhibition committee at the Carpinteria Arts Center and most recently the friends of VADA Board. Ginny highly supports kids involvement in the fine arts and values what VADA has to offer them. 

Ginny is married to Garrett Speirs, also a local artist, and has 2 adult children, Siena and Ben. Her son, Ben, graduated from the MAD Academy in 2018.

Mia Teetsel

Mia is among the top producing real estate agents in the country, helping hundreds of clients since 1999. Committed to providing a high level of service, she is known for timely, concise communication, always giving her best to exceed expectations. Guiding home buyers and sellers through every step of the process and navigating complex transactions with ease and expertise to deliver results. Serving the Santa Barbara Central Coast, Mia brings her expert knowledge and a passion for real estate to help clients realize their dreams of owning a home in one of the most beautiful and significant places in the world. Mia has decades of knowledge and passion having devoted herself, early in her career, to serving Silicon Valley and the Tri-Valley Bay Area. Mia offers the personal and professional attention required, all the while maintaining and respecting her clients’ privacy and treating each transaction with the utmost integrity.

Mia lives in Santa Barbara with her husband John and their two daughters Marina and Ava. Ava is currently attending Santa Barbara High and is in the prestigious VADA program. Since joining the Visual and Design Academy Ava has blossomed in all aspects of her education including achieving a 4.6 GPA.


Friends of VADA
PO Box 4426
Santa Barbara, CA 93140
Federal Tax ID #73-1646663