Board of Directors




Our Board of Directors represents the diversity of museums in California, which vary greatly in size, discipline, geographical region, and mission. CAM board members are elected to serve a two-year term and are eligible to serve a total of six years (three two-year terms). Nominations are reviewed by the board’s Governance Committee.

Current members of the CAM Board of Directors:

Milena Acosta, Senior Community Engagement Manager, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Lauren Baines, Assistant Director, de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University
Carolynn Birilli, Assistant Curator, Museums of Lake County
Carla Bitter, Reaccreditation Reviewer, American Alliance of Museums
David Burton, Executive Director, Grace Hudson Museum
Joe D. Horse Capture, Vice President of Native Collections and the Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture, Autry Museum of the American West
Horacio Correa, Jr., Chief Operating Officer, Fleet Science Center (CAM Treasurer)
Karen Crews Hendon, Senior Curator, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Tomoko Kuta, Chief Operations and Experience Officer, San Diego Botanic Garden (CAM President)
Aimee Lee, Chief Operating Officer, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
Katrice Lee, Senior Director of Development and Grants, San Diego Natural History Museum
Lisa McDermott, Director, Carnegie Art Center Foundation (CAM Secretary)
Kevin McGarry, Associate Director for Public Engagement, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation
Delta Pick Mello, Executive Director/CEO, Sacramento History Alliance (CAM Vice President)
Kristen Mihalko, Director of Operations, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership
Ana Navarro (she/her/ella), Institutional Giving Coordinator, Bay Area Discovery Museum
Rick Noguchi, President and CEO of California Humanities
Brittani Orona (Hupa), UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, UC Santa Cruz 
Kalie Sacco, Director of Member Strategy at the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC)
Solimar Salas, VP of Content and Programming, Museum of Latin American Art (CAM Vice President)
Leah Van Der Mei, Chief Operating Officer and Head of Government Affairs, California Academy of Sciences
Vicki Wawerchak, Exhibit Curator, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
Laurinda Willard, Chief Operating Officer, Turtle Bay Exploration Park

 

Milena Acosta

(Senior Community Engagement Manager, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County)

Milena Acosta is a marine biologist and science communicator, with 20 years of experience working in out-of-school learning institutions. Milena joined the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County in 2015 and currently serves as the Community Engagement Manager. In her role, she fosters relationships with community-based organizations and implements a comprehensive community engagement strategy for creating community partnerships and programs in Los Angeles County. She oversees several collaborative programs and works with staff and community stakeholders to ensure inclusive and authentic partnerships are aligned with the Museum’s mission and community aspirations. Milena holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Loyola Marymount University, and a Master’s in Museum Studies and Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University.

 

Lauren Baines

(Assistant Director, de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University)

Lauren Baines holds over 13 years of experience in the non-profit arts sector, including roles with university museums, art centers, artist residencies, performing arts companies, and professional associations. She currently serves as the Interim Director of the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University, stewarding the museum through its first DEAI Roadmap / JEDI strategic plan, and serving as the co-coordinator of university-wide Indigenous initiatives. Baines previously held positions with Montalvo Arts Center, Palo Alto Arts Center, and several Bay Area performing arts companies with experience in education, programs, project management, strategic planning, marketing, fundraising, and curation. Prior to joining CAM’s Board, Baines served for eight years on genARTS Silicon Valley’s Steering Committee, a program of SVCreates dedicated to emerging arts professionals. Baines received BA and BS degrees from Santa Clara University in Art History, Theatre Arts, and Psychology and a MFA from Mills College.

 

Carolynn Birilli

(Assistant Curator, Museums of Lake County)

Carolynn Birilli is the Assistant Curator at the Museums of Lake County and currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University pursuing her MA in Cultural Heritage Management and a Certificate in Digital Curation. Since 2008, she has had experience in small regional Museums throughout Northern and Southern California as both a volunteer and a paid worker. She has acquired a wide range of skills while working at these small sites, knowing the impact that small museums can have in their local communities. Using her history and graphic design background, she has done a variety of museum work from fundraising and outreach to exhibit design and collections management.

 

Carla Bitter

(Reaccreditation Reviewer, American Alliance of Museums)

Carla Bitter’s museum career spans four decades dedicated to creating, managing and delivering high impact and award-winning public science education and outreach programs, interactive media experiences and innovative museum/zoo exhibits. She enthusiastically supports ALL learners in knowing science and nature as a way of understanding our world. Carla earned an MS LSFC in Biology (Molecular Genetics/Conservation Ecology), a BA in Anthropology, and spent her early career as a field archaeologist (US and Great Britain). She has proudly served on multiple NASA EPOESS, NOAA, and IMLS review panels in support of Climate, Earth and Space science public education, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the California Association of Museums and as a reaccreditation reviewer for the American Alliance of Museums. Her career highlight was the honor of serving the American space program as the EPO Manager for NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander Mission. She reserves special energy for all the "ologies" as well as trail running, kayaking, beach bumming, star gazing, hominid genomes, fossils, family, friends and travel. 

 

David Burton

(Executive Director, Grace Hudson Museum)

David Burton has been a museum professional for over 25 years, 13 of those in senior management and executive leadership. Prior to becoming the director of the Grace Hudson Museum in 2017, he led the Yakima Valley Museum in Yakima, Washington, and before that spent 16½ years in progressively senior roles at the Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, including director of government affairs and senior director of the Autry’s research institute. David has served on the boards of Arts for LA (regional arts advocacy), the Cante Sica Foundation (documenting the stories of Indian boarding school survivors), and two small theater companies. He is a founding board member of the Greater Ukiah Business and Tourism Alliance.

 

Joe D. Horse Capture

(Vice President of Native Collections and the Ahmanson Curator of Native American History and Culture, Autry Museum of the American West)

Prior to joining the Autry, Horse Capture’s previous appointment was as the first Director of Native American Initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society in Saint Paul, MN. He is an enrolled member of the A'aniiih Tribe of Montana and has more than 25 years of museum experience, including his time as an Associate Curator of Research and Documentation for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian and 15 years as a curator of Native American Arts at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

 

Horacio Correa, Jr.CAM Treasurer

(Chief Operating Officer, Fleet Science Center)

Horacio Correa Jr. joined The Fleet Science Center in 2017 and oversees all administrative areas. Previously, Horacio was the Vice President of Operations and Chief Financial Officer at Partners of the Americas in Washington, DC. Horacio has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of finance and accounting, auditing, government grants and contracts, and information technology (with particular emphasis on upgrading IT infrastructures). With a deep understanding of the mechanics of both for-profit and non-profit, Mr. Correa has also acquired substantial expertise in administration and human resources, including the areas of compensation, benefits, insurance, and facilities. A Gulf War veteran, Mr. Correa spent four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and received an honorable discharge. He holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Systems from Washington Adventist University and an Associate Degree in Accounting from Montgomery College. 

 

Karen Crews Hendon

(Senior Curator, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes)

Over the past 20 years, Karen Crews Hendon has worked as a museum curator and educator in California institutions, private collections, and universities. Prior to working at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, she served as Interim Gallery Director and Adjunct Faculty for the Museum Studies program at CSU Fullerton, Curatorial Advisor to the MAW Collection of Mexican and pre-Columbian Art, Chief Curator of the Monterey Museum of Art, and Associate Curator at the American Museum of Ceramic Art. Crews Hendon holds her MFA degree from CSU Fullerton with a specialization in Exhibition Design and Curatorial Studies and attended the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, Jalisco, México and CSU Long Beach for her undergraduate BA degrees in Foreign Language, Studio Art, and Music Performance. 

 

Tomoko Kuta, CAM President

(Chief Operations and Experience Officer, San Diego Botanic Garden)

Tomoko Kuta joined San Diego Botanic Garden in April 2021. In her role as Chief Operations and Experience Officer, she oversees public and student programming, visitor engagement, earned revenue opportunities through admissions and the Garden’s membership program as well as fundraising through grants, individual donors, and sponsorships. Previously with The New Children’s Museum from 2011 to 2021, she contributed to that organization’s tremendous growth. Tomoko began her career over twenty-five years ago while living in Japan and has continued her career in art museums and non-profit organizations in the US. She has a B.S. from Cornell University and an M.A. from the University of Chicago where she studied the visual arts through the lens of society’s broader culture and history. At the Garden, she leads a multi-faceted and talented team dedicated to sharing plant wisdom and healthy stewardship of our planet. 

 

Aimee Lee

(Chief Operating Officer, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum)

Aimee Lee partners with museum leadership to design, develop and implement strategies that will attract, engage, and develop employees and build upon a high-performance organizational culture, and handles all aspects of operations and human resources administration to improve business practices and ensure compliance with relevant regulations and policies. Lee is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and observes areas where improvements can be made and makes recommendations for training, development, and legal compliance. Prior to joining the museum field, she held positions in corporate HR settings including Amazon and Bridgestone Retail Operations.

 

Katrice Lee

(Senior Director of Development and Grants, San Diego Natural History Museum)

Katrice Lee has been a fundraising professional for over 15 years and has been at The Nat for six years. Prior to her current role, she worked in university development securing research funding for UC San Diego and Northwestern University. Katrice is a founding member of The Nat’s committee on inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. This important work builds upon her past service as a board member of the UNCF San Diego Council, and as a member of the UC San Diego Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women. Katrice received a BA in English from Spelman College and an MA in Writing from DePaul University.


Lisa McDermottCAM Secretary

(Director, Carnegie Arts Center Foundation)

Lisa McDermott was raised in Turlock, CA, and earned her BA in Art History from UC Berkeley (1983) and her Master’s Degree in Art History at Boston University (1986). She worked in collections management and curatorial roles at several museums before returning to her hometown. She served as the City of Turlock’s Arts Facilitator from 2001 to 2009, providing administrative and curatorial support to the Turlock City Arts Commission and managing the operations of the original Carnegie Arts Center. Lisa coordinated plans for the restoration and expansion of the Carnegie following a devastating fire in 2005, and assisted in the transfer of responsibility for the new center’s operations from the City to the non-profit Carnegie Arts Center Foundation. She was named Director of the Foundation in 2014. She has juried and curated numerous exhibitions of artists from Central California since 2002. Lisa has also taught Museum Studies as an adjunct professor at Tufts University, and Art Appreciation at Boston University and Modesto Junior College.

 

Kevin McGarry

(Associate Director for Public Engagement, Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation)

Kevin McGarry holds advanced degrees in history and education, and has worked in the field of education for over fifteen years—first as a high school history and social justice teacher, and later as Director of Education at the Holocaust Museum of Los Angeles. At the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP), Kevin oversees the Visitor Experience, Programs, and Curatorial departments, as well as the Presidio Research Center’s archives and library. He is managing editor of the SBTHP’s publication, La Campana, and recently helped craft and implement SBTHP’s Strategic and DEI plans. Kevin also serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Creative Project (a nonprofit affiliate of the Santa Barbara County Office of Education) that brings arts education to over 50,000 students in the Santa Barbara area each year.


Delta Pick Mello, CAM Vice President

(Executive Director/CEO, Sacramento History Alliance)

Delta Pick Mello manages the Sacramento History Museum, Sacramento Living History, Old Sacramento Visitors Center and the popular Old Sacramento Underground Tours, as well as provides support for the Center for Sacramento History. She has been in the Museum Management field for nearly 30 years having worked as Marketing and Community Relations Director for the Sacramento Zoo, Membership and Development Director for the California State Railroad Museum Foundation and Executive Director for the California Automobile Museum. She is passionate about Sacramento, its history, and its Museum community and she is currently the Chair for the Sacramento Area Museums which produces Sacramento region’s annual Free Museum Day.

 

Kristen Mihalko

(Director of Operations, Balboa Park Cultural Partnership)

Kristen Martinez Mihalko is the Director of Operations for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, where she manages internal operations and oversees several collaborative programs, including the Parkwide IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility) Working Group. An advocate for career development and personal growth, she currently serves on the board of Western Museums Association and Balboa Art Conservation Center. Past service includes: Treasurer and Secretary, Rising Arts Leaders San Diego; President, San Diego Emerging Museums Professionals; and Secretary, National Emerging Museum Professionals Network. She has a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communications from National University and leadership certificate from University of San Diego.

 

Ana Navarro (she/her/ella)

(Institutional Giving Coordinator, Bay Area Discovery Museum)

Originally from Palm Springs, Ana Navarro moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State University (SFSU). She received a Bachelor of Arts in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She recently graduated with an Master’s in Museum Studies with an emphasis in Museum Management and Fundraising. Currently working for the Bay Area Discovery Museum as the Institutional Giving Coordinator, she supports managing relationships with institutional donors. As a first-gen student, she values representation across the sector and museum operations.

 

Rick Noguchi

(President and CEO, California Humanities)

Rick Noguchi is the president and chief executive officer of California Humanities, which connects Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand their shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape the future of the state. He most recently served as the chief operating officer at the Japanese American National Museum where he oversaw the strategic direction, from 2015 to 2023.  With more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, he has worked at The James Irvine Foundation, the California Community Foundation, the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and the Arizona Humanities Council. He served on the recently completed Advisory Committee for the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Cultures’ Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative and has served on the Steering Committee for the Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy—Los Angeles Chapter. He received an MFA from Arizona State University and an MBA from Pepperdine University, and is the author of two collections of poetry and a children’s book.

 

Brittani Orona (Hupa)

(UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow, History Department, UC Santa Cruz)

Brittani R. Orona (Hupa) is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and currently a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at UC Santa Cruz. She holds a Ph.D. in Native American Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights from UC Davis. She formerly worked as Tribal Affairs Program Manager for the California Department of Parks and Recreation and helped set policy for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, Memorandums of Understanding involving traditional ecological knowledge in State Parks, and large-scale land use projects. In addition to serving on CAM’s Board, Dr. Orona is Board Secretary of Save California Salmon, an Indigenous led non-profit focused on health fisheries and rivers in Northern California. She works closely with both federally and non-federally recognized tribes to highlight the continued environmental stewardship, survival, and resilience of California Indian people.

 

Kalie Sacco

(Director of Member Strategy at the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC))

Kalie Sacco is the Director of Member Strategy at the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), the international membership organization for science museums and science engagement professionals. In this role, she oversees all ASTC member activities including its annual conference. Previously, she was Associate Director of the Lawrence Hall of Science (UC Berkeley's public science center), where she led cross-organizational work and contributed to research, evaluation, and policy projects related to STEM learning in out-of-school environments. Prior to The Lawrence, Kalie held a variety of roles at organizations that supported the informal STEM learning field including the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) and Coalition for Science After School. She is an active member of several professional associations, including CAM and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). She holds a Master's in Public Affairs from UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy and a Bachelor's in Anthropology and Classics from UC Berkeley.

 

Solimar Salas, CAM Vice President

(VP of Museum Content and Programming, Museum of Latin American Art)

Solimar Salas has worked on 100+ exhibitions in different aspects including bilingual content development, interpretive programming, and web content management. She oversaw the successful creation of a bilingual online database for Puerto Rican artists at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. Solimar served as the Secretary of the Board of Directors for the Association of Museum of Puerto Rico and as part of the National Program Committee for the 2015 AAM Annual Meeting held in Atlanta, GA. She also participated in the Smithsonian Visiting Professional Program and has spoke on diversity in museums and technology. Solimar holds an MA in Museum Studies from the Johns Hopkins University, an MBA in Management of Information Systems from the Universidad del Sagrado Corazon, and a BA in Biological Anthropology from Swarthmore College.

 

Leah Van Der Mei

(Chief Operating Officer and Head of Government Affairs, California Academy of Sciences)

Leah Van der Mei joined the Operations Division at the Academy in 2008 during its grand reopening in Golden Gate Park and oversaw operations to welcome more than 1 million guests each year. She founded and secured initial funding for Museums4Inclusion, an inclusive museum career development program and toolkit for individuals with disabilities and secured initial funding through the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation. Her deep commitment to inclusion has propelled the Academy to become a leading Bay Area employer for individuals with disabilities. She is also a leader beyond the Academy, serving as vice chair of San Francisco Unified School District’s Parcel Tax Committee and board vice chair of The Arc San Francisco.

 

Vicki Wawerchak

(Exhibit Curator, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium)

Wawerchak’s passion for ocean science and conservation has been a driving force of her 20-year career at aquariums along the coast of California. Currently at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, Wawerchak works on exhibit design and fabrication, and creates content and media for interpretive experiences that support the Aquarium’s exhibits. Previously she was with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in various capacities including public programs, guest experience, and the Seafood Watch program. Prior to that time, she was with Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium in education and director capacities.

 

Laurinda Willard

(Chief Operating Officer, Turtle Bay Exploration Park)

Willard has held positions of increasing responsibility during her eight years with the park, including education, programs, and now in the COO role, where she oversees guest services, education, animal care, exhibitions, and development. Before joining the Turtle Bay Exploration Park, she was an instructor and later promoted to Assistant Program Director with the Catalina Island Marine Institute.