Humanities and Arts Advisory Council (HAAC)

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The Humanities and Arts Advisory Council (HAAC) is an external advisory body for the UC Davis Humanities Institute that supports and advocates for the work of the Humanities Institute and the value of the humanities and arts in education and public life. Council members advise the Institute on development strategies, external outreach and marketing, and public programming. Members engage with the Humanities Institute and its faculty and student affiliates through its events and other special opportunities for faculty, student, and community engagement.

Shelly Gilbride, B.A. American University; Ph.D. UC Davis: Shelly is the Executive Director of International House (I-House) Davis, where she brings a deep knowledge of non-profit management, interest in community engagement, and commitment to cultural exchange and inclusion. Shelly recently served as the Programs Officer of the California Arts Council, and spent a decade in nonprofit management working for performing arts organizations — first in her hometown of Philadelphia and then in New York City. For her graduate work at UC Davis, she studied sustainability and community engagement models for dance organizations. Shelly lives in Davis with her husband and two children. 

Eric Gimon, B.S., M.S. Stanford; Ph.D. UC Santa Barbara: Eric is a physicist and independent technical and policy expert who works in energy policy and the nonprofit sector. An active philanthropist, Eric engages in many capacities with the Flora Family Foundation and is on the boards of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation as well as the Land Institute.

Bret Hewitt, B.A., M.A. UC Davis; MBA Stanford: Bret is the Executive Director of Tuleyome, a volunteer advocacy-oriented nonprofit conservation organization. He has served on the boards of UCD’s Alumni Association and Foundation, on advisory councils for the College of Letters and Sciences, and the UC Davis Arboretum, and on the board of the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. Bret lives in Davis with his daughter Clare. 

Cyril E.B. Juanitas, Jr., B.A. UC Davis, J.D. Georgetown University Law Center: Cyril is the Vice President of Business Development at Pearson, Inc. and has experience serving in board leadership positions with non-profit organizations and governmental/educational commissions. Cyril has served on boards of institutions such as: City of Davis Recreation and Park Commission; St. Joseph School Commission; The Tribes Project; and, Asian Bar Association of Washington.  As a UC Davis undergraduate, Cyril studied with both Karl Shapiro and Alan Williamson, who helped him cultivate his understanding and appreciation of poetry.  He has had his poetry published by The Seattle Review (University of Washington).

Elizabeth Lesly Stevens, B.A. UC Davis, B.S. Northwestern University: Elizabeth is a writer and editor, working at BusinessWeek (media editor), New York magazine (media columnist), Brill’s Content (executive editor), Talk magazine (senior editor) and the nonprofit Bay Citizen, which produced the Bay Area section of the New York Times. She now lives near Washington D.C. and serves on the UC Davis regional volunteer board with her husband, also a UC Davis alum. Elizabeth also serves as a mentor to incoming refugee families through Lutheran Social Services. 

Liz McAllister, B.A. UC Davis: A recent graduate of UC Davis, Liz works in environmental education in Sacramento. She is also cofounding a nonprofit focused on regenerating Lake Tahoe’s natural ecosystem. Her passions include helping others grow and thrive; engaging the public by interpreting policy, science, and arts and humanities research; and building a collective and empathetic understanding of complex systems at global and local scales.

Nana Nakano Howell, B.A. Loyola Marymount University, J.D. Pepperdine School of Law: Nana is Chair of the Board of Trustees of The Presentation School (K-8), Co-Chair of the Sonoma Valley Hospital Foundation’s Celebration of Women Luncheon Gala, mentor with the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, and former University Counsel at California State University. She lives in Sonoma, California, with her husband Daniel and daughter Sophia. 

Ava Roy, B.A. Stanford University: Ava is the Founding Artistic Director of We Players, the Bay Area's premiere site specific theatre company. Over the past two decades, she has pioneered unique partnerships with the National Park Service, the California State Parks system, East Bay Regional, and San Francisco Recreation and Parks, creating large-scale performances at such iconic sites as Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Sutro Baths, The Palace of Fine Arts and many more. Her unique style of interactive, site-integrated performance aims to highlight the historical and natural treasures of the local landscape and encourage new ways of experiencing and appreciating these places. She is inspired by the entrenched histories and energies of each site, as well as the natural environment. Ava is an alumna of Stanford University where she earned her BA in a self-designed major: Ritual and Performance in Aesthetic Education, 2003. In addition to her performance work, Ava teaches sensory awareness based design practice at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and is a yoga teacher with 20 years’ experience. She spends most of her free time on historic wood sailboats. 

Rijin Sahakian, M.A. New York University: Rijin studied Contemporary Art and Politics at New York University. While a Fulbright scholar she founded Sada, a nonprofit project conducting arts education, advocacy, and production programs serving Baghdad-based artists, which she directed until its closure. She has conducted seminars and programs at arts and education spaces in the US and abroad including at the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, where she guest produced the exhibition Shangri La: Imagined Cities and accompanying catalog. Sahakian has contributed writing to a range of artist projects and publications including Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here, Hyperallergic, Warscapes, e-flux journal, and n+1.

Brian H. Sway, B.A. UC Davis: Brian is an advisor to public and private organizations on transformation. He has served as an executive in California state government and for a global information technology and business process management firm. Brian has founded 7 businesses and non-profits, including 2 cooperative corporations. Public service is his passion. He has helped to organize water, sanitation, literacy, and health projects around the globe. Brian served in the US Peace Corps, South Africa (2018-2019), where he leveraged his business expertise to aid in the fight against HIV. The US State Department recognized his efforts with the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Diplomacy. Brian is the 2020 Cal Aggie Alumni Association Emil Mrak International Award recipient.

Vikas Taneja, B.A. Stanford, MBA University of Chicago: Vikas is Senior Partner and Managing Director at The Boston Consulting Group, where he is their global leader for digital topics in Technology, Media, and Telecom practice. Prior to joining BCG, Vikas worked at ARCH Technology Partners where he evaluated and helped commercialize new technologies emerging from University of Chicago’s academic labs and medical school. He is a member of BCG’s executive committee and the Boston lead of Pratham, an India-based organization that has helped more than 4 million children achieve literacy and basic mathematics skills

Leslie Teicholz, B.A. Stanford: Leslie Teicholz studied literature and history at Stanford University and the Freie Universitat Berlin. She worked in journalism and finance, managing international equity funds from London and New York. Now based in the Bay Area, she is writing her second novel.  

gayle yamada, B.A. William and Mary, M.A. UF, Ph.D. UC Merced: gayle is an award-winning broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker who co-founded Bridge Media, Inc. She received her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Humanities in 2015. gayle has also co-authored two history books and is the CEO of a non-profit organization, Media Bridges, Inc. She has served on several media and arts boards.