Announcing the California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellows and Host Organizations

Pilot statewide fellowship program pairs arts leaders of color with established cultural organizations for mentorship and professional development opportunities

SACRAMENTO, CA – The School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza (SOAC), an Administering Organization of the California Arts Council, today announced the inaugural cohort of Fellows and Host Organizations for the California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellowship program. 

Individual arts administrators and cultural organizations will participate in a nine-month professional development fellowship committed to expanding equity in the arts and community engagement beginning this month.

About the California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellowship

The California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellowship program was initiated by the California Arts Council with the goal of uplifting an inclusive workforce and supporting the vibrancy of organizations that create and preserve the cultural identities of all California communities, reflecting the Arts Council’s commitment to racial equity. The pilot program is made possible by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation and 2018 one-time increased state arts funding.

 “California is the most diverse state in the country, and it is essential for the leadership at our arts and culture organizations to reflect our communities,” said California Arts Council Chair Larry Baza. “The urgency for arts organizations to invest more in our artists and arts leaders of color is greater than ever, and the Administrators of Color Fellowship program provides institutional access and resources to bolster these extraordinary Fellows in their future leadership roles. As a native Californian and arts administrator of color whose career spans more than 40 years in our state, it gives me, my colleagues on the Council, and the CAC staff great pride in providing this career pathway for the next generation of California’s arts administrators of color.”

Baza added, “This program represents our Council’s values by fostering a sense of belonging as we support California’s cultural workers. We are grateful to The James Irvine Foundation for their generosity in support of the program, allowing SOAC to successfully develop a hands-on program for the Fellows and Host Organizations at this vital time.” 

The Arts Council designated SOAC, a cultural institution in East San Jose, as the statewide Administering Organization at a public meeting in September 2019, following a competitive application process. SOAC and their local community partner SVCreates, with support from the California Arts Council, managed the marketing and outreach of the call for Fellows and Host Organizations applications, facilitated the peer-review panel process, and developed programming.

SOAC will offer valuable engagement opportunities for Fellows, including monthly virtual professional development sessions and immersive co-learning programming reflecting the concerns of the communities where Fellows and Host Organizations are based. SOAC will provide a final evaluation report at the completion of the program.

“This $1 million workforce development initiative is years in the making, and carries even more weight as our creative sector grapples with unprecedented challenges,” said Jonathan Borca, Director of Strategic Partnerships at SOAC and Program Director for CAC ACF. “Personally, this work gives me energy. As we see our communities uprise and demand racial equity, I wake up daily hoping to do justice for this inspiring network of change agents.” 

Fellows will receive a $50,000 stipend in addition to professional development opportunities and resources. The fellowship offers Host Organizations $35,000 to mentor their Fellows and assist with administrative costs of the program. 

About the Fellows & Host Organizations

Following a competitive application process in the summer of 2020, SOAC convened a panel of experienced arts administrators and culture bearers to select this year’s cohort, reflecting the breadth of expertise from arts leaders of color statewide. The 2021 cohort includes 10 individual Fellows paired with mentoring Host Organizations based in their respective regions. 

Click here to learn more, including Fellow bios and Host Organization details.

Bay Area

Fellow: Sarah Guerra (Oakland)
Host: Richmond Art Center (Richmond)

Fellow: Betty Nguyễn (San Jose)
Host: Red Ladder Theatre Company (Japantown, San Jose)

Fellow: Javier Stell-Frésquez (San Francisco)
Host: World Arts West (San Francisco)

Central Coast

Fellow: Eric Mora (Salinas)
Host: Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (Downtown Santa Cruz)

Central Valley

Fellow: Theodore Davis (Stockton)
Host: Arte Américas: The Mexican Arts Center (Downtown Fresno)

Greater Los Angeles

Fellow: Jade Puga (Los Angeles)
Host: Avenue 50 Studio (Highland Park, Los Angeles)

Greater Northern Region – Capital 

Fellow: Beatrice Thomas (Vallejo)
Host: Latino Center of Art and Culture (Sacramento)

Greater Northern Region – Upstate

Fellow: Nanette Kelley (McKinleyville)
Host: Ink People Center for the Arts (Downtown Eureka)

Inland Empire

Fellow: Khalil Bleux – (Murrieta)
Host: Riverside Art Museum (Riverside)

San Diego Area

Fellow: Luisa Martínez (Tijuana/Chula Vista)
Host: Museum of Us (Balboa Park, San Diego)

For more information about the California Arts Council Administrators of Color Fellowship program, visit

Click here to view the full announcement from the School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza.

Arts Council Media Inquiries:

Kimberly Brown 
Public Affairs Specialist      

Fellowship Program Contact:

Jonathan Borca, SOAC
Director of Strategic Partnerships


The California Arts Council is a state agency with a mission of strengthening arts, culture, and creative expression as the tools to cultivate a better California for all. It supports local arts infrastructure and programming statewide through grants, initiatives, and services. The California Arts Council envisions a California where all people flourish with universal access to and participation in the arts.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Larry Baza, Vice-Chair Lilia Gonzáles-Chávez, Jodie Evans, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Stanlee Gatti, Alex Israel, Consuelo Montoya, and Jonathan Moscone. Learn more at

The California Arts Council is committed to increasing the accessibility of its online content. For language and accessibility assistance, visit

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