Senior Staff

Executive Director

Deborah Cullinan is the newly named Executive Director of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – San Francisco’s premiere contemporary art center. She is the outgoing Executive Director of Intersection for the Arts. Under her leadership, Intersection achieved a strong reputation as a powerful arts-focused community development organization committed to radical partnership across sectors to achieve equitable community change. Intersection is playing a lead role on the 5M Project, a 4-acre prototype for the next generation of urban development that embraces diversity of thought, life experience, and culture. Under her leadership, Intersection received numerous awards including an Inaugural ArtPlace America Award, The Cyril Magnum Award for Non-Profit Excellence, and the 2012 Philanthropedia Award for Highest Impact Arts Non-Profit in the Bay Area. She has presented at the NEA, SF Planning & Urban Research Center, Center for the Theater Commons, GrantMakers in the Arts and more. She is co-founder of ArtsForumSF; a member of the Board of the California Arts Advocates, Californians for the Arts, and The Community Arts Stabilization Trust. She is on the advisory boards of The Center for the Theater Commons and The Catalyst Initiative. She received the 2013 Visionary Leadership Award in Honor of Margo Jones from Theater Communications Group. She is a Rockwood Fellow; a Gerbode Fellow; and a participant in National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program an initiative gathering 100 top culture sector leaders to re-imagine what cultural institutions are and how they contribute to society.

Managing Director

Scott Rowitz, Managing Director, brings over 20 years of leadership and management experience in the nonprofit sector to his role at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. At YBCA Scott oversees all business, financial and operational functions for this multidisciplinary arts organization located in the heart of San Francisco.

Previously Scott served as the Managing Director for the California Film Institute (producers of the Mill Valley Film Festival and Rafael Film Center) where he was in charge of organizational operations and financial management. He was instrumental in directing the organization’s fundraising programs, creating key community partnerships, as well as implementing successful long-term business and strategic plans. Scott served as the Executive Director at the Denver Film Society (which includes the Denver Film Festival and the Starz Film Center) for nearly eight years, providing leadership and oversight for all business and artistic functions for this renowned nonprofit film arts organization. During his tenure there he increased annual audience attendance from 50,000 to nearly 200,000, oversaw projects and growth which dramatically increased the organization’s reserves and assets, and created the infrastructure for a future multi-million-dollar real estate development project to create a permanent home for the organization. Previously he was Associate General Manager at the Denver Performing Arts Complex managing organizational functions for this multi venue world class performing arts center as well as Operations Manager for the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.

Scott earned his MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from the University of Colorado, Denver and a BA in history from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Senior Staff

Kathy Budas, Director of Marketing and Communications, was a leader in the Portland (Oregon) arts community for 21 years. She began as a freelance film publicist (1986–92), then oversaw public relations activities for the NW Film Center (1989–92), Portland Art Museum (1993–96), and helped found the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA) as their Director of Marketing and Outreach from 1996–2000. She also served as Marketing & Program Manager for the Sundance Film Centers in Portland (2000) and as Director of Marketing for Oregon Ballet Theatre (2001–03) and Portland Center Stage (2003–08). Prior to relocating to the Northwest, Budas worked in the feature film industry in Los Angeles for six years.

Betti-Sue Hertz, Director of Visual Arts, served as the curator of contemporary art at San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) from 2000–2008. Previously, she was the director of Longwood Arts Project, Bronx, New York from 1992–1998. She co-organized (with Lydia Yee) Urban Mythologies: The Bronx Represented Since the 1960s (1999) for the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Her recent major exhibitions and catalogues at SDMA include Eleanor Antin: Historical Takes (2008); Animated Painting (2007); Transmission: The Art of Matta and Gordon Matta-Clark (2006); Past in Reverse: Contemporary Art of East Asia (2004); and Axis Mexico: Common Objects and Cosmopolitan Actions (2002). She was adjunct curator for Farsites: Urban Crisis and Domestic Symptoms in Recent Contemporary Art, a program of inSite_05, SDMA, and Centro Cultural Tijuana (2005). Hertz has organized several editions of Contemporary Links, a series in which contemporary artists respond to works in SDMA's collection. Participating artists have included Alexandre Arrechea, Sandow Birk, Regina Frank, James Hyde, and Shahzia Sikander.

Joel Shepard, Film/Video Curator, became YBCA's first full-time Film/Video Curator in July 1997, after serving as Associate Director for the San Francisco Cinematheque. Prior to that, Shepard was Assistant Director of the Minnesota Film Society in Minneapolis, and Film/Video Curator of Film in the Cities in St. Paul. He was named "Best Local Film Programmer" by the SF Weekly. He regularly attends the Rotterdam, Berlin and Pusan film festivals, and recently served on the jury for CineManila. Shepard is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Claire SunSpiral, Finance Director, is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has specialized in accounting for non-profit organizations for over 10 years. After several years working within public accounting firms serving nonprofits as an external auditor, tax professional, and finance consultant, she became the Director of Finance and Administration at Hidden Villa, an educational farm in Los Altos, California. Claire's love of dance brought her to YBCA, where she has led the accounting team since 2010. Claire is active in the local community of non-profit finance professionals as a member of the California Society of CPAs and CompassPoint's Non-Profit Finance Professionals Network, as well as an informal group of finance leaders from San Francisco Bay Area arts organizations.

Joël Tan, Director of Community Engagement, has more than 16 years experience in program management and coordination in the field of health education and community arts. This work has provided Tan with the opportunity to design and implement complex local and national education programs, including arts-based HIV prevention programs for at-risk youth and gay men. In addition to working as a health educator, Tan has a rich background in theater and literary arts, having served as the Associate Artistic Director for San Francisco's Asian American Theater Company and as an active member of the National Filipino Arts Network. With a BA in Comparative Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and a MFA in Literature and Creative Writing from Antioch University, Tan has been widely published in academic and commercial publications. He is a playwright and a writer of essays, short fiction, and poetry on race, sexuality, class, and colonization. His awards and honors include the Spoon River Review Editor's Prize (2004), an Eloise Klein Heal Talent Scholarship (2002), and a UC Berkeley University Scholarship (2000).

Charles Ward, Senior Director, External Affairs, has more than 30 years of professional experience in both the public and private sectors. In his early career, he worked in Washington, D.C., first as Chief-of-Staff to Congressman Ronald V. Dellums (D-Berkeley) and subsequently as a staff attorney for the Federal Communications Commission. Charles moved to the Bay Area with his wife in 1975 and joined the San Francisco law firm of Rohan & Stepanian where he practiced law, specializing in music industry clientele, until 1983. In that year he joined Times Mirror Cable Television, Inc. where he served as Vice President of National Marketing & Programming. In 1996 he began working for a fledgling nonprofit arts organization then known as the San Francisco Jazz Festival. As Director of Marketing and Corporate Sponsorships he helped to develop the strategy to re-brand the organization as SFJAZZ. From 2002 until 2005 when he joined YBCA, Charles was employed as Vice President of Institutional Advancement for Family Service Agency of San Francisco.