Our Team

Staff & Instructors

Amanda Gonzalez
Ballet and Jazz Instructor | Show Director
Kunchang Lee
Breakdance, Guitar, Band, and Song Writing Instructor
Sean Boling
Creative Writing Instructor
Vivian Higuera
Hip Hop Instructor
Emily French
Art Instructor
Kathryn Teale
Piano Instructor
Monica Higuera
Drums Instructor
Kristin Scott
Voice and Glee Instructor
Kody McNamara
Sound Technician
Katherine Bradley
Office Administrator
Jaime Umphenour
Sewing and STEAM Instructor
Rebekah Hahn
Piano Instructor
Genevieve Higuera
Pre-Performance Dance Instructor
Keisha Sizemore
Hip Hop Instructor
Mariah Higuera
Creative Dance Instructor
Claire Fundaro
Drama Instructor & Director
Ryan Flores
Operations Technician, Lighting Designer, Theater Technical Director, & Technical Theater Instructor


Mindy Dierks
Executive Director
Emily Jagger
Director of Development

Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation Board of Directors 2018

Leo Castillo
A military change of station in 2013 brought Leo, his wife Katie, and their three young children to beautiful Paso Robles. Leo serves as an active member of the California National Guard. Originally enlisting into the Active Army component 17 years ago, he has completed two overseas combat tours and has worked in many different capacities ranging from training Non Commissioned Officer (NCO), Operations NCO, and Platoon SGT. For the past seven years, Leo has worked as a military liaison for many non-profit Anti Drug Coalitions in an effort to keep them a sustainable entity. He is currently working with a local foundation as a strategic planner. Leo has coordinated numerous events, conferences, town halls, and other gatherings that have all successfully brought the community together. His ability to connect different layers of the community for a specific cause has proven to be an asset to any organization. The skills Leo has accrued over the past 17 years gives him the expertise in communication and relationship cohesion that may benefit PRYAF and their mission. Leo says, "I believe in the Arts and not just for those who can afford it, but for those who NEED it even when their socio economic standing may not allow it."
Russell Baker
Vice President
Originally from Shandon, CA Russell is a 1992 graduate of Paso Robles High School. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from UC Davis, and is a graduate of the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy. Russell has a twenty-year career in the computer software industry, and has worked for leading companies including Oracle Corporation and Siebel Systems. He has gained a depth of knowledge serving in roles in both sales and sales management. He currently holds the position of Director of Sales with MicroFocus Corporation. His work has allowed him to travel the world and to live in some amazing cities including Boston, San Francisco, and Raleigh. Skills that he has honed that will translate well to a member of the PRYAF board include: sales management; expertise in customer and partner relationship management; revenue forecasting & reporting; and writing and negotiating legal contracts. Russell lives in Paso Robles with wife Amy and daughter Amelia, and their two dogs Max and Olly.
Sue Benitez
Chief Financial Officer
Sue has lived in Paso Robles since 2005, having moved West from Maryland. She studied Mathematics at UCLA and George Washington University, Maryland. Sue had a robust career as co-owner of a software development and consulting firm and now spends her time volunteering for a number of Paso Robles area civic and non -profit agencies. Sue currently volunteers at the Paso Robles library. Former volunteer activities include: Board member, Treasurer and Finance Chair of her Homeowners Association; Supervisory Committee member of SESLOC Federal Credit Union; member of the San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury, as well as Treasurer of the PR Friends of the Library. Sue uses her expertise to help institute upgraded financial processes and reporting for PRYAF.
Donna Jones
A five year resident of Templeton, Donna’s roots are in Los Angeles where she had a thirty-year career as Assistant City Attorney with the City of Los Angeles. To prepare for her career, Donna graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from UCLA and then earned Juris Doctor at Loyola Law School. Of that she says, “I bring a legal background, but more importantly, a love of music and the performing arts. I believe the exposure to art, music and drama is one of the best gifts that we can provide to the youth of today.
Pat Bland
A graduate of UC Davis in Ag Economics and Business Mgmt, Pat retired from a 36-year banking career in November 2014 and is now a busy Paso Robles community volunteer. Pat also serves on the Boys& Girls Club and Rec Inc. boards. In addition to volunteering for many local community non-profits, Pat has participated in many other non-profit organizations over her 33 years in Paso Robles. To all of these groups, Pat brings collaboration, problem solving and experience in the non-profit sector. Pat enjoys spending time with her 4 grandchildren, going to hot yoga and is working on getting more stamps in her passport. PRYAF has provided local kids the gift of the arts, free of charge. As a PRYAF board member, I am pleased to be involved in continuing the stewardship and fulfillment of our founder, Donna Berg's dream, of providing visual and performing art classes, free of charge.
Sybil Bonelli
Mikhail Gannage
Marc Goldberg
Gwen Severson