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Ethan van Thillo, Executive Director/Founder

Ethan van Thillo, Executive Director/Founder

Ethan van Thillo is Founder and Executive Director of the Media Arts Center San Diego (MACSD). Since 1989, Ethan’s worked in media arts, programming Latino film festivals for the University of California, Santa Cruz; Cine Acción in San Francisco; Cine Estudiantil at the University of California San Diego; and the National Latino Communications Center in Los Angeles. Ethan has curated hundreds of programs at festivals and/or special events in 45 libraries across California, Mexico City, Morelia, Las Cruces, Nuevo Laredo, San Antonio, Tijuana, Sacramento, and San Diego.

In 1995, Ethan transformed Cine Estudiantil into the San Diego Latino Film Festival. In 1999, to broaden the scope of the festival following four successful years, Ethan established the nonprofit Media Arts Center San Diego in 1999. Under the umbrella of MACSD, Ethan has developed and continues to create innovative community media programs such as the California Digital Story Station initiative, Teen Producers Project, Youth Media & Tech Camps; Mobile Stories, Speak City Heights, The People’s Post, Video Production Services Department, and the Digital Gym community technology center and CINEMA.

Ethan has served on various funding panels including San Diego’s Commission for Arts & Culture, Latino Public Broadcasting, Rockefeller Foundation’s 2004 Film and Video Fellowships; California Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts’ funding panel for Media Arts. He’s spoken at the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, National Association of Latino Arts & Culture, and National Alliance of Media Arts & Culture.

Ryan Kuratomi, Director of Video Production

Ryan is a director and producer who leads MACSD’s Video Production team in creating work for clients like SDG&E, The Old Globe, Cajon Valley Union School District, San Diego Natural History Museum, and others.

Ryan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Media from University of California, San Diego and started at MACSD shortly after while freelancing in production and editing. Ryan enjoys learning about new topics and perspectives with each client project and creating impactful stories about our region and its people. 



Moisés Esparza, Director of Development

Moisés Guillermo Esparza Galeana serves as the Director of Development for the Media Arts Center San Diego. Prior to this role, he held the position of Exhibitions Manager within the same organization. In that capacity, he was responsible for curating film-related initiatives, including the San Diego Latino Film Festival and the Digital Gym CINEMA.

His background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies with a concentration in Psychology, which he earned from Columbia University.  Additionally, Moisés has served as a juror for the International Documentary Association Awards in 2023.  It’s very impressive to see his contributions to the world of film and media arts!


Carmi Casas, Bookkeeper & Operations Manager

Carmi is proud to be part of the MACSD team and happy to support their esteemed mission and vision, as well as their ongoing impact on the community and youth. Carmi will manage all of MACSD’s accounting needs, including AP/AR, payroll, and more. Beyond accounting, she will also manage the daily operations of the organization to ensure the office operates smoothly.  With over 20 years of experience in operations, accounting, and business management, Carmi has contributed to both national and international companies, managing many essential aspects of the organizations. She has provided consultancy services to various profit and non-profit businesses and associations, offering her expertise in production and systems management. Additionally, she has conducted in-house educational programs, entrepreneurial workshops, and personal development sessions. Her commitment to community involvement remains strong, particularly in the personal development of our youth. Carmi is University of California, Santa Cruz alumni with degrees in Psychology and American Studies (Ethnic pathway).

In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball, her favorite sport with her favorite partner, Rogelio. Hula dancing is another of her passions, one she shares with her daughters. Through Hula, her love for Nature, the Earth, God, and Ohana (family) is expressed with the Aloha Spirit.


Tammy Strobel, Grant Writer

Tammy is MACSD’s Grant Writer. She is also an experienced photographer and teacher. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from California State University, Chico, a Masters in Public Administration from California State University, Chico, and a Master of Arts in Education from California State University, Sacramento.

Tammy’s past professional experiences include working at various non-profits that provided essential programs and services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. During her time in the violence prevention field, Tammy was a Peer Counselor, Public Affairs Coordinator, and Research Associate. Tammy is also a published author. Her essays and books focus on social connection, positive psychology, and the cultural perspective of meaning.

Tammy spends her free time reading, cycling, and hanging out with friends and family. She lives in northern California with her husband and cat.

Kristian Perez-Franco, Exhibitions Sr. Manager

With nearly a decade of experience in various cinema roles and an unwavering love for film, Kristian is passionate about curating exceptional cinematic experiences and contributing to the growth and development of the Digital Gym Cinema and future editions of the renowned San Diego Latino Film Festival.

Kristian’s extensive background in theater operations includes several years of dedicated service with the San Diego Asian Film Festival, where they’ve played a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth operation of screenings and events. Their expertise in this area has been instrumental in creating memorable and seamless experiences for festival attendees. In addition to their operations experience, Kristian has further enriched the film community by teaching a DCP (Digital Cinema Package) distribution course during the Summer of 2023. This course was intended to empower aspiring filmmakers and industry professionals with valuable knowledge about the technical aspects of film distribution, further cementing Kristian’s reputation as a dedicated educator and advocate for the art of cinema. Under their leadership, the organization continues to thrive as a hub for diverse and innovative programming, bringing unique stories and voices to audiences in San Diego and beyond. Kristian’s dedication to the art of filmmaking, their commitment to fostering cultural appreciation through cinema, and their expertise in theater operations and film distribution make them an invaluable asset to the Media Arts Center San Diego team.

María Paula Lorgia, SDLFF Artistic Director

María Paula Lorgia, SDLFF Artistic Director

María Paula Lorgia is a researcher and curator of film and visual arts. She holds a Master of Arts in Media Studies with an emphasis in Documentary Studies from The New School University in New York City. She is currently the artistic director of the SDLFF -San Diego Latino Film Festival in the United States. She also works as a creative director at the Tulpa audiovisual platform and as a film professor at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the Universidad de los Andes. She worked for nine years at the Cinemateca de Bogotá, Colombia, as head programmer, where she programmed retrospectives of authors such as Barbara Hammer, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Roberto Minervini, Marlon Riggs, Sarah Maldoror,  Luis Ospina, among others. She has been part of the jury for the Teddy Award at the Berlinale-Berlin International Film Festival, the Dortmund Women’s Film Festival in Germany, the Ceará de Fortaleza Ibero-American Film Festival in Brazil, and the Mar de Plata International Film Festival, among others.

Juan Lopez, Exhibitions Coordinator


Juan is MACSD’s Exhibition Coordinator. He attended The Los Angeles Film School where he participated with film crews working on various short films and TV shows. Juan returned to San Diego upon graduating, joining MACSD as a marketing and PR Program Associate for the Digital Gym CINEMA.

Juan is responsible for managing our Digital Gym CINEMA as well as curating all of the short films for the annual San Diego Latino Film Festival.


Glenn Heath, Artistic Director, Digital Gym Cinema

Glenn Heath brings years of experience in film and media arts to his role, overseeing operations, volunteer recruitment, and internships.

Glenn was the former Artistic Director of the San Diego Latino Film Festival and currently teaches film studies while contributing as a film critic to various platforms. He holds degrees from UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State University.



Mark Madero, Cinema Manager

Mark Madero is the newest member of the team and has over 23 years of managing movies theatres both here in San Diego and Los Angeles. He has a long history with the former Mann Theatre chain which managed the world famous Grauman’s Chinese Théâtre in Hollywood.

Mark was also the Area Manager for the onetime CinemaStar Theatres in San Diego and Riverside County. Mark has a 12-year history with San Diego Theatres, Inc., beginning as the Assistant Front of House Manager and then shortly promoted to a new department in Programming as Contract & Client Service Manager. Mark’s responsibilities include the day-to-day management of the cinema and concessions, including the cinema staff and patron services. A University of Redlands graduate, with a BA in Business Management.

Laurie Piña, Exhibitions & Marketing Coordinator

Laurie Piña is the Exhibitions & Marketing Coordinator for Digital Gym Cinema. Her responsibilities include community outreach, social media marketing, graphic design, and supplementary film curation. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Double BA in English and Film & Media Studies in 2011. Before joining MACSD/DGC, she worked in education and spent five cherished years at the Ken Cinema, one of San Diego’s oldest, now-defunct single screen cinemas. She joined the San Diego Latino Film Festival’s selection committee in the summer of 2023.

In addition to her love for film, Laurie enjoys writing and drawing. She runs Angel Pen, a newsletter home to original interviews, essays, and more. As a cartoonist, she has exhibited her comics locally and nationally at comic arts and zine festivals in cities like Seattle, Providence, Los Angeles, and Chicago. She is also a vinyl record collector and dj. She hosts Rare Charm, a monthly radio show on Particle FM, a San Diego-based DIY internet radio station for which she floats as a graphic designer, creative consultant, and community outreach coordinator. To see more of her work, visit:

Seth Gadsden, Programs and Grant Manager

Larry Da Silveira, Education Coordinator

Larry is a veteran educator and avid cinephile. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from San Diego State University and a Master of Arts Degree in Education from Point Loma Nazarene University.

Prior to joining MACSD, Larry taught high school for twelve years before seeking a better work-life balance to care for his son with autism spectrum disorder. Coordinating the Youth Media programs at MACSD combines his love for education with his passion for cinema.




Edwin Cruz, Teaching Artist & Education Coordinator

Edwin Cruz is a dedicated and innovative arts professional with a robust background in education coordination, creative direction, and strategic management. Currently serving as the Education Coordinator and Community Producer at the Media Arts Center of San Diego, Edwin has successfully spearheaded numerous visual arts media programs, internships, and workshops. These initiatives include the Workforce Development Initiative (WDI) video production internship in collaboration with the City of San Diego Public Libraries, the Documentales Cortos course in partnership with UCSD Extension Mi Universidad, and the Young Producer’s Accelerator Program (YPAP), which nurtures young filmmakers from underrepresented backgrounds. His leadership in these programs underscores his commitment to fostering diverse talent and advancing arts and culture within the community.

Prior to his current role, Edwin served as the Creative Director at S Media, where he led the creative process for social media video content, optimizing campaigns based on social media analytics to enhance audience engagement. As the Executive Producer at Buenpaso Media, he demonstrated his expertise in project management, overseeing film production from concept to completion, ensuring projects were delivered on time, within budget, and met high-quality standards. Edwin holds a B.A. in Visual Arts: Media from the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and has been actively involved in the San Diego arts community through roles such as Creative Videographer for the San Diego Latino Legacy Foundation and member of the Film Selection Committee for the San Diego Latino Film Festival. His strategic vision and dedication to arts and culture make him a valuable asset to any public art program.

Mizar Martin, Teaching Artist & Community Producer

Mizar is a visual artist and anthropologist from Tijuana. Her work includes paintings, cartoons, photography, and sometimes tattoos, of the absurd and dark daily life, with hints of optimism.

Teaching art to youth restored her faith in humanity. Mizar is a firm believer in punk rock and social justice. Mizar has been part of the Media Arts Center team since October 2018.




Alara Jones, Teaching Artist

Alara Jones is a filmmaker, editor, artist, and dancer originally from Vancouver, WA. She graduated from Montana State University with a BA in Film Production, a minor in psychology and a business and entrepreneurship certificate. She was a production assistant on a handful of sets in Montana for companies such as Wrangler and Marlboro. The short horror film “Do Not Develop” she wrote and directed her senior year, won First Best Time Director and Best Dark Comedy at the Hollywood Blood Horror Festival, as well as being selected in 5 other festivals. She then worked in Montana as a video editor and producer for a year before starting her own business- Alara’s Editing & Productions and moving to San Diego in the summer of 2022.

She is passionate about empowering and supporting other women in film to tell stories that matter. After arriving, she was welcomed into the MACSD teaching family! She is so excited to step into the role of teacher and expand her knowledge as she continues to learn and work with so many other talented teaching artists. Check out some of my work here!:

Amada Torruela, Teaching Artist

Hope Butner, Teaching Artist

Hope Butner is a filmmaker and actor from San Diego, CA. She creates alongside her brother and filmmaking partner, Levi Butner. Together, they co-wrote, produced, directed and starred in their first feature film The Goatman which was released in festivals 2023. The two are continuing to produce films and support their community of filmmakers.

Before working in narrative filmmaking, Hope studied philosophy and creative writing at UC Santa Cruz. She then went on to work on the YouTube channel The Physics Girl as an assistant producer and social media specialist.


Gabriel Larrinaga, Assistant Teaching Artist

Gabriel Larrinaga is a filmmaker and editor, graduated from UDCI in Tijuana. His journey into Filmmaking began with a fascination for the interplay between light and shadows, refining his technique and adaptability with each project. Beyond his work in student short films as gaffer, freelance extends to wedding ceremonies video production his commitment to innovation led him to pursue an internship in virtual production at Idigital.

Edwin FrankO, Teaching Artist

Edwin FrankO (Edwin Frank Ortiz) is a Latino filmmaker and actor of Puerto Rican and Mexican descent hailing from Barrio Logan of Southeast San Diego. He graduated from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and is currently prepping for his debut feature film, Fuego.

Edwin began his artistic journey as a break dancer at Point Loma High School before pursuing film. He learned how to dance by watching MTV music videos before the morning school bus rides. The Catalyst in his journey was when a colleague asked Edwin if he could dance in his film and also act. Being new to acting, he loved it and wanted to pursue it ever since. This eventually introduced him to film production and the rest is history. Fuego FrankO looks forward to helping his community grow by encouraging his students to pursue their passions with his knowledge.

In his free time, he can be found dancing Salsa or Bachata.

Kellen Ellis, Teaching Artist

Kellen Ellis is an internationally exhibited artist and educator. She is an experimental filmmaker, director, collaborator, and all-around maker. Kellen’s in her eighth year of teaching K-12 and college-level art and media classes. She mentored two groups of students at the All-American High School Film Festival’s Complete Film Invitational Experience, a 36-hour film festival in New York City. Her students’ films have been featured at South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival and on exhibition at The McNay Art Museum.

Kellen studied photography and sculpture at Texas State University and received a Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts & Media at Columbia College Chicago. She adores working with young artists at the Media Arts Center and also teaches as an adjunct instructor at The Art of Education University.

Daniel Villaseñor, Teaching Artist

Daniel Villasenor is an editor, actor, and filmmaker from Pasadena, CA. Growing up close to Hollywood, and taking plenty of family trips to Universal Studios sparked a deep passion for films and the art of filmmaking. He moved to San Diego around age 8 and in High School, began honing his craft in acting, participating in school plays and then going on to join in 3 Shakespeare productions at the Old Globe theatre and trying a few small roles in some local short films. Daniel studied Video Production at Grossmont College and went on to participate in some film festivals, including the 48 hour film festival where he worked on the short film Off the Deep End. Daniel has also worked on his short documentary Agricultura del Pueblo as a part of a Media Arts Center San Diego internship. Here, he continues to hone himself alongside fellow filmmakers and artists. His free time includes the movie theatre once a week (at least!), and many artistic hobbies such as miniature making, costume and prop making, some guitar and fencing.

Carly Lujan, Education Coordinator

Carly Lujan is a multimedia artist and filmmaker, whose creative journey has taken her from the cinematic world of Los Angeles to the vibrant community of San Diego. After earning her BA in Cinematic Arts and Technology from California State University of Monterey Bay, she worked in the Art Department for a number of years as Prop Master, Set Decorator, and Production Designer.

Transitioning to San Diego, Carly expanded her artistic horizons, as a Teaching Artist and Summer Camp Director. While still actively involved in film projects, Carly has embraced the opportunity to collaborate with her community through organizations like MACSD where she enjoys fostering creativity and growth in the next generation of artists.


Golnar Fakhrai, Teaching Artist

Born and raised in San Diego, Golnar is an Iranian-American filmmaker with a passion for visual storytelling. As a child, she spent weekends watching films with her father, something that would plant the seed for her desire to work behind the camera and make films of her own. After receiving a Student Heritage Award from the American
Society of Cinematographers for her undergraduate thesis film, she went on to complete her Masters at the American Film Institute (AFI). Since then, she has taught at both AFI and University of New Orleans, while continuing to work in the industry as a director and cinematographer, creating content for clients such as Nike, Ford, 7Up,
Oreo, Issa Rae Productions, and Fujifilm. In her free time, Golnar loves making arts and crafts, spending time outdoors with her husband and daughter, and watching live

Moises Cardenas, Teaching Assistant

Moises Cardenas is an award-nominated writer, director, actor, and producer. Of Mexican descent, Moises iscurrently studying Directing and Producing at California State University, Long Beach. He is on the President’s Honor List with a 3.8 GPA, holding three academic scholarships for his filmmaking and academic performance. His comedy-drama Miss Reed was nominated for Best Student Film by the San Diego Film Awards 2023.
     He looks forward to continuing making films that make viewers laugh and reflect on their personal lives. He also looks forward to continuing acting in both his own films, and others. Post-graduation, he hopes to find an internship and/or work at a TV network for comedy writing. In his spare time, Moises enjoys exercising and watching standup comedy shows with his friends. His favorite comedy series is NBC’s The Office (U.S.), and his favorite podcast is Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend.


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