Board of Directors
President: Anthony Cascardi, Sidney and Margaret Ancker Distinguished Professor at UC Berkeley, Dean of Arts and Humanities
Anthony J. Cascardi is Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also Professor of Comparative Literature, Rhetoric, and Spanish. He is former Director of the Townsend Center for the Humanities and of the Arts Research Center. Cascardi’s research interests include the relations between literature and philosophy; aesthetic theory; the novel; and early modern Europe. His recent publications include the two edited volumes "Art and Aesthetics After Adorno" and "Poiesis and Modernity," and the books “Cervantes, Literature, and the Discourse of Politics" and "The Cambridge Introduction to Literature and Philosophy."
Vice President: Elizabeth S. Peña, Director of the Center for the Arts & Religion and the Doug Adams Gallery at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley
Ms. Peña is the Director of the Center for the Arts & Religion and the Doug Adams Gallery at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She is also Senior Lecturer in Art, Anthropology, and Museum Studies. An archaeologist and museum professional, she is affiliated with the MA Museum Studies Program at the University of San Francisco and undertakes consulting projects in museums and art conservation. She previously served as Director of the Art Conservation Department at Buffalo State College and Curator of Anthropology at the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Treasurer: Will Schieber, founder North River Management Services
Mr. Schieber is a native of the Chicago metro area where he attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. His professional career was with the United Nations in Geneva and New York where he worked in information technology. Upon his return to Berkeley he was a licensed agent for a local real estate broker. He later established North River Management Services which does website design and management for non-profits and individuals in the arts. He also serves as a Trustee on the Board of Cal Performances. He finds that living in the Bay Area offers great opportunities to attend fine arts events.
Secretary: Amanda Wu, Major Gifts Officer at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Amanda Wu is a development professional at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a fundraising and event production consultant in the Bay Area. Prior to the Conservatory, Ms. Wu worked at Cal Performances and at the San Francisco Symphony, raising funds through annual giving and special events. Outside of her development work, Ms. Wu is a double bassist with a background in classical music from University of California Davis. She can often be found playing with local ensembles or in an orchestra pit for musicals in the Bay Area. When she is not involved with the arts, Ms. Wu enjoys rock climbing, running, and eating delicious food.
Jonathan Arons, Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and of Physics, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Arons grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his B.A. in Physics from Williams College and his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton University Observatory and the Institute for Advanced Study before becoming one of Mark Twain’s loose nuts and rolling West, coming to rest in Berkeley in 1972. He enjoys cooking, playing the cello in amateur orchestras and chamber groups, as well as taking concerts, theater and film from the overflowing Bay Area cornucopia, with occasional expeditions to New York and LA.
Martin Cohn, Founder, Cohn & Wells
Cohn &Wells, one of the ten largest direct marketing firms in the United States, was merged into the Euro RSCG international network. Mr. Cohn has served as president of the Board of Directors of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and as a member of the boards of San Francisco Performances, French American International School and the Instituto Italiano Scuola.
Carol Christ, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley
Ms. Christ is the eleventh chancellor and first female leader of UC Berkeley. She has served in a number of administrative positions at the University of California at Berkeley, including six years as Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. In 2002, she moved to New England to become President of Smith College until her retirement in 2013 when she returned to UC Berkeley to head the Center for Studies in Higher Education.
Andrea Plesnarski, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble musician
Ms. Plesnarski has served as a musician board member with Oakland East Bay Symphony for the past 8 years. She has volunteered with Students Run Oakland for several seasons and now works as a garden mentor with City Slicker Farms in Oakland. Ms. Plesnarski is Principal Oboist with Oakland East Bay Symphony and actively freelances in the Bay Area. She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute, where she studied with John de Lancie and Richard Woodhams.
Marilyn Schuster, Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and Provost emerita of Smith College
Ms. Schuster graduated from Mills College before attending graduate school at Yale in the department of French language and literature. A faculty member for many years at Smith College, she helped found the Program for the Study of Women and Gender and served in a number of administrative positions. She has written about Arthur Rimbaud, Marguerite Duras, Monique Wittig and Jane Rule, among others; her most recent book is “A Queer Love Story: The Letters of Jane Rule and Rick Bébout” (2017). Upon retirement in 2015 she returned to the Bay Area. She currently serves on the Mills College board of trustees.
Susan Shalit, Attorney, Law Offices of Susan M. Shalit (retired)
Susan Shalit managed her own successful criminal and civil law practice for well over two decades, emphasizing criminal law, wills-trusts-probates, and the rights of children. Ms. Shalit holds a law degree from the Hastings College of Law and earned her BA in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley. She currently lives in San Francisco with her partner Mary, their adorable cat Cleo and mischievous dog Sasa. Her previous board affiliations include Equal Rights Advocates.
Lena Zentall, Project Manager, University of California, California Digital Library
Formerly with the administrative staff of the San Francisco Symphony, Ms. Zentall has worked in a wide breadth of industries including software, biotech, nonprofit, corporate, and higher education. She brings experience in project management, strategic planning, integrated marketing, and design.
Nick Benavides is a composer that has worked with prominent groups such as Nomad Session, Elevate Ensemble, Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, The Bay Brass, SopraDuo, The International Orange Chorale, for change dance collective, and Friction Quartet. Nick was 2016's winner of the Heartland Symphony Annual Composition Competition and in 2018 was commissioned by the Washington National Opera for a 20-minute chamber opera as part of their American Composers Initiative. He was invited to be a part of both the Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy in 2018. Formerly the first managing director of Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Nick is now a doctoral student at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. www.nickbenavides.com
Kate Knickerbocker served on the Board of the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble for over a decade, starting in 2004. She was its board president from 2010-2012, and has served on many of its committees over her tenure. Kate has a doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco and currently teaches at College of Marin; her dissertation examined whether people who spoke tonal languages had better musical pitch recognition than speakers of non-tonal languages. Kate played viola through college, and lives in Marin with her two young children and their Cavalier spaniel.
Thomas Laqueur is Helen Fawcett Distinguished Professor of History at Berkeley where he has taught since 1973. His most recent book The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains was published by Princeton University Press in 2016. He wrote the libretto for the opera Death with Interruptions performed by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble. Laqueur is an amateur cellist and avid cyclist. When not practicing, riding, walking his dog or working, he tends an orchard in the Santa Cruz mountains with his wife Dean Carla Hesse where they make all things apple, from brandy to vinegar.
Carl Schimmel, winner of the Bearns Prize, the Lee Ettelson Award, and the 2017 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, has received honors and awards from many organizations, including MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Copland House, New Music USA, and ASCAP. His works have been performed throughout North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia, by ensembles such as the Minnesota Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Alarm Will Sound, Da Capo Chamber Players, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many others. He is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Composition at Illinois State University.
Image credit: Vivian Sachs