Ethan van Thillo, Executive Director / Founder – Media Arts Center San Diego,

Ethan van Thillo is Founder and Executive Director of the Media Arts Center San Diego. Since 1989, he has been working in media arts field 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 100s 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 the 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 non-profit Media Arts Center San Diego in 1999. Under the umbrella of MACSD Ethan has developed & created innovative new community based media programs such as the California state-wide 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 new Digital Gym community technology center and movie theater. Ethan has served on various funding panels including San Diego 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. Mr. van Thillo has also been asked to speak at such national conferences as National Association of Latino Independent Producers, National Association of Latino Arts & Culture, and National Alliance of Media Arts & Culture.



Ryan Kuratomi, Media Director,

Ryan Kuratomi graduated from UC San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media and has worked on productions in the San Diego and Los Angeles regions in both production and post-production departments. Ryan leads Media Arts Center’s Video Production Services team which produces content for various clients such as the YMCA, San Diego Natural History Museum, United Way and SDG&E.




Moisés Esparza, Exhibitions Manager,

Moises graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies with a concentration in Psychology. Currently, he is a Master of Arts candidate in the Television, Film, and New Media Department at San Diego State University. His past professional experience includes internships at Summit Entertainment and The Weinstein Company, where he assisted the heads of development and acquisitions departments with a multitude of tasks.



Anna Hayman, Operations Manager,

Anna Hayman recently relocated to San Diego from New York City, where she was the Managing Director of CultureHub, the Art & Technology center at La MaMa. At CultureHub, Anna produced over 300 multimedia productions by artists from New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Belarus, Iran, Italy, and the U.K, among others; and oversaw numerous community and education initiatives that used the media arts as a tool for social engagement. Other producing credits include: OBIE award winners The Provenance of Beauty and Myopia/Plays;  Audelco winner Angela’s MixtapeHavana BourgeoisPing Pong Diplomacy, and Drama Desk nominee Billboard at 59E59 Theaters; and the film Fingernail Moon, which will screen at Amsterdam’s New Vision International and Garden State film festivals. As a performer, her credits include OBIE award winners Benten Kozo and Jennie Richie; numerous New York and regional productions, voiceovers, and featured vocalist on compositions by Donald Johnston, Joel Forrester, and others. She holds a BA in Theater and Film Studies from Barnard College, a Postgraduate Diploma from Drama Studio London, and an MFA in Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College.


Larry Silveira, Education & Outreach Coordinator,

Larry combines his lifelong love of cinema with his passion for education by coordinating our Youth Media Education programs. These include camps, after-school workshops, and partnerships with school districts, libraries, and community organizations. He holds a B.A. in Social Science from San Diego State University, an M.A.  in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene University, and an A.A. in Video Production from Mt. Hood Community College.


Natalia Valerdi-Rogers, Education & Outreach Manager,

Natalia Valerdi-Rogers received her M.F.A. in Dance and Technology from the University of California, Irvine with a concentration in dance film and interactive video installations. Natalia’s early artistic career dissolved the intersections of video projection design, choreography, and arts education. She toured a guest artist and guest lecturer to Cuba, Europe, Mexico and throughout Southern California for over 20 years. As Associate Director of the Patricia Rincon Dance Collective (PRDC), she collaborated with Patricia Rincon as an artist and administrator for ten years. The collaboration produced dance and film work focused on research around border cultures, the immigration debate and the American Dream. She produced PRDC’s Salon Dances Series, co-produced the Blurred Borders Dance Festival, toured Europe, including the TANZINOLTEN festival, and researched indigenous cultures in Mexico. Natalia also designed video projection art for choreographers Yolande Snaith (UK) and Alicia Rincon (USA). Her passion for arts education evolved through her work as Dance & Technology Lecturer at the University of California, and as Adjunct Instructor at San Diego City College and Southwestern College. She work with students and teachers in the San Diego community as a Teaching Artist with Collaborations of Teachers and Artists, and as Residency Programs Manager at Arts for Learning San Diego. She continues to work on supporting youth make positive contributions to society through media arts, and raising the voices of underserved communities as Education and Outreach Manager at the Media Arts Center San Diego.




Juan Lopez, Exhibitions Coordinator,

Growing up in San Diego, Juan Lopez was fascinated by Film at a very young age. The under-representation and portrayals of Latinos in film drove him to ameliorate the conventional. He attended The Los Angeles Film School, where he was able to take part in crews of various short films and TV shows. When he returned to San Diego upon graduating, Juan joined Media Arts Center as a marketing and PR Program Associate for the Digital Gym CINEMA. Mr. Lopez also coordinates PR efforts and the Community Partners program for the San Diego Latino Film Festival.




Marco Chavez,  Cinema Associate,

Marco is a local San Diego filmmaker. He’s been working with Media Arts Center San Diego’s Digital Gym CINEMA for over three years. Additionally, he has worked with the organization’s annual San Diego Latino Film Festival in both box office and in video editing.




Kristian Perez-Franco,  Exhibitions and Marketing Associate,

Kristian Perez-Franco is an aspiring filmmaker and all-around movie lover. He previously worked as a manager at the Landmark Hillcrest Theatre where his appreciation of independent film grew. He brings his discerning eye to the Digital Gym’s line-up and helps program the Digital Gym on the Blvd and Modern Classics film series. He grew up in San Diego and enjoys stocking the Media Arts store with unique items that speak to local culture as well as new and hard-to-find soundtracks and scores on vinyl from his favorite films.”



Shanna Trenholm, Consultant/Grant Writer

Shanna is a writer, coach, and consultant who has worked closely with MACSD since 2010. Raised in San Diego, Shanna understands the needs of our community and assists us with prospect research, fundraising development, and grant writing.



Danila Cervantes, Teaching Artist

Danila is an animator, illustrator, and fabricator from San Diego. She graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design where she majored in film, animation and video. Her visuals relate to the desert’s natural beauty and cute interpretations of fauna and flora that manifest her own personal spiritual folklore.


Gabriela Espinal, Teaching Artist

Gabriela is a San Diego-based documentary filmmaker, video journalist, and digital media instructor. Espinal attended the University of California Santa Cruz, double majoring in the History of Art & Visual Culture and Feminist Studies. During her time at UCSC, Espinal served 2 years as a producer of a Student Cable Television broadcasting organization. Espinal has been editing on industry software for over 15 years. She attended Creative Performing Media Arts (CPMA) Middle School, where she began editing on Final Cut Pro 7 at the age of 10.

An inaugural Fusion Rise Up Be Heard Journalism Fellow, Espinal has her camera work and investigative journalism featured on Netflix. During this fellowship, Espinal was mentored by Dax Tejera then Senior Producer of AMERICA with Jorge Ramos. She and her team were awarded the 2017 Cynopsis Social Good Award for their coverage. Born and raised in City Heights, she utilizes her technical knowledge of video production to pass the mic to youth in her community and amplify the work they do to better our world.

The past 4 years, Espinal has mentored students in our Youth Media Tech Camps, Teen Producers Project, as well as many of our offsite educational residencies.


Astrid Gonzales

Astrid Gonzales, Teaching Artist

Astrid is a filmmaker and visual artist from San Diego. Astrid attended the University of California, Berkeley and received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies with a concentration in Film Studies. Her journey in filmmaking began at UC Berkeley where she began making short documentaries and short narrative films. Major influences on Astrid’s work include Trin Min Ha, Julie Dash and Jim Jarmusch.  While at Berkeley she co-founded the campus’s first film and visual arts collective for artists of color, In Color. In Summer 2018, Astrid attended the UCLA Theater Film & Television Film Production program and served as a producer on the film, Curandera. Astrid’s work is committed to sharing stories that center communities of color across genres and visual forms.


Natalie Kaczorowski, Teaching Artist – Advanced Teen Producers Projecct

Natalie Kaczorowski is an award-winning producer, director, editor and storyteller. She studied at the University of Texas in her hometown of Tyler, Texas, and received an Associate in Arts in radio and TV communications, as well as a Bachelors of Science in Journalism with a minor in speech communication. After graduating she relocated to San Diego, where she began volunteering on an indie late-night format talk show called “Tonight in San Diego.” On the show, she developed her skills on and off camera by starring as a recurring comedy vlogger called “Comic Connie.” Her portrayal of Connie became a fan favorite on the show and celebrated San Diego’s pop culture fandom community. After producing over 70 episodes of “Tonight in San Diego,” Natalie retired from the show as Executive Producer and Director, and moved to Washington, D.C. to begin work with a creative agency. Her work with major brands such as SYFY Channel, Nickelodeon, Lowe’s and The CW has been honored with several awards, including 3 Silver Tellys. Most recently, her first 48 Hour Film Project entry won 6 awards in the 2019 Washington, D.C. 48 Hour Film Project, including Best Film. Her sci-fi film, In Memoria, which she co-wrote and edited, will go on to compete at the international level at Filmapalooza 2020 in the Netherlands next spring. Natalie has also spoken at TEDx San Diego about the cultural, social, and developmental impact of fandom and following your dreams. 


Mizar Martin, Teaching Artist

Mizar Martin is a Mexican artist based in San Diego. Her education as a Cultural Anthropologist reflects on her work as a filmmaker, photographer, illustrator and tattoo artist. As an Anthropologist, Mizar has focused her research on Central-American and Haitian immigration to Mexico. She became dedicated to arts education since 2012, when she worked at a refugee shelter in Southern Mexico. In 2014 she discovered her passion for teaching arts to vulnerable youth. Her dedication to social justice is seen in her photography book A Medio Camino, which shows the contrasts between the southern and northern Mexican borders, and her debut short film No Hay Vuelta Atrás, a portrayal of the struggles of young refugees fleeing from the gangs of Central America. Mizar has been a teaching artist for various education programs at the Media Arts Center San Diego since 2018.


John Silva

John Silva, Teaching Artist – Advanced Teen Producers Project

John began studying media at Grossmont College soon after serving in the U.S. Air Force. During his first year at college, John served as General Manager of KGCR, the college’s radio station. His duties included working as radio production instructor and Executive Producer for KOGO radio where his students aired their school radio projects. During his second year at Grossmont, John received a 2 year paid internship at KCST-TV. After the internship, he was offered the position of full-time production technician. He continued his studies at San Diego State University where he received his BS Degree in Broadcast Management with a Minor in Producing and Directing. John continued with KCST during the TV station’s transition from independent broadcaster to their current status of an NBC owned and operated station. The station then changed its call letters to KNSD-TV.

Throughout out his 28 year career at NBC, John worked as a studio cameraman, floor director, lighting and staging assistant, audio engineer, technical director, assistant director and then moving into the promotions and marketing departments where he worked as a writer, producer and editor. During that time, John won an Emmy for editing News promotions and was nominated for ten Emmys for various other work. John also volunteered his free time to the local National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and was on the Board of Governors for two years.

After leaving NBC, John went to work for the local CBS station, KFMB-TV where he wrote, produced, directed and edited news promotions. Later, John collaborated with an Engineer to create two production studios out of a large office space. He helped to set up both studios from laying cables, creating a lighting grid, audio installation, staging, blocking, to technical directing and directing. John also took over the job of Writer, Producer and Production Manager producing half hour talk shows. John later began working for Viejas Casino and Resort where he wrote internal communications, catchy billboard slogans, social media, television commercials, internal marketing and promotions and then took over producing videos. John’s passion for media arts began at age 12 when he borrowed his Dad’s super 8 movie camera and filmed army men moving frame by frame to create a crude animation. John is very close to his family of 11 brothers and sisters and boasts that his biggest accomplishment in life has been raising his very successful Son and Daughter, who are now ages 30 and 28 respectively.


Need to contact us? Please contact: 619-230-1938 / / 2921 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104.