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.
2021-2022 Board of Directors
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.
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.
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.
Spencer Barr, Secretary
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.
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 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 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 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 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.
Friends of VADA
PO Box 4426
Santa Barbara, CA 93140
Federal Tax ID #73-1646663