Meet the Board
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Lisa Brughera is currently a stay at home mother and spends much of her time in active community service. She spent 11 years working in the nonprofit sector as a developer of affordable housing for low income families, individuals and disabled people. In addition, she has served on a variety of Boards and Advisory Committees in the social service arena. She holds a degree in Political Science and a Masters in Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego. Lisa brings her strong organizational, project management and financial skills, as well as a deep commitment to personal growth and service to others to all of her projects and activities. Lisa’s involvement with Berkeley Playhouse dates back to its early years when her daughter joined the program as one of its youngest members. She was an active volunteer, focusing on supporting students during rehearsal and back stage, as well as assisting with costumes and props. She spent two and a half years on the Board of the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, prior to its merger with Berkeley Playhouse, during a critical period of strategic planning and financial stabilization for that organization. Her love of the Julia Morgan Theater building as both an architectural treasure and locus of community, as well as her belief in the value of theater as a medium for social change, human connection and growth motivates her continued involvement with this special program.
Tim began his online career at Prodigy, an early consumer online service, where he developed the first bundling programs of online services with computers, software and modems. He then moved on to Softdisk Publishing, a software subscription company, where he conceived and developed the first online store selling software via digital download. In 1994, Mr. Choate launched FreeShop.com, a top 20 website to promote direct marketing type offers from major brands. Mr. Choate led FreeShop through significant growth and its Nasdaq IPO in 1999, as well as its subsequent privatization and sale to the parent company of the University of Phoenix, the Internet’s largest advertiser. Tim has served as a Board member for multiple companies, including Digital River (Nasdaq: DRIV), Traveling Software, PhotoTrust, and ImproveMyBusiness.com, as well as Online Interactive and Aptimus. He continues to serve on the board of RemitHome, an Internet based remittance service for the Philippines. Tim has also become active in the non-profit arena. He has served as Board President for the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts for many years. He founded the Imagination Foundation, which supports arts, education and environmental programs. He has also served on the Board for Park Day School and is on the marketing advisory committee for Sonoma Land Trust. Mr. Choate holds a B.S.E degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Rajan has enjoyed all of the jobs he’s done at the Berkeley Playhouse, ranging from supervising kids backstage to helping with concessions or ushering. Recently, Rajan has been supporting video production activities with Rhea. Professionally, Rajan has been focused on building businesses where a combination of business strategy, design thinking and technology come together to create outstanding experiences and products. He started his career with NewsCorporation in publishing; worked as a Principal in a Strategy Consulting firm, and then participated in growing and selling three service businesses focused on internet ecosystems, marketing and products. Most recently, he was the President of Hot Studio, Inc., which was sold to Facebook in March. He now works at Facebook. Rajan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UC Berkeley and an MBA, with a focus on marketing and finance, from Columbia University.
At Berkeley Playhouse, Rhea has loved volunteering with the kids and working front of house at many shows. Recently, she has brought her video skills to the organization, helping with the development of video marketing materials (Sound of Music, Guys and Dolls) and the development of a program to make video recordings available to families for licensed conservatory productions. Rhea is completing an MLIS degree at SJSU, focusing on Management, Digitization, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records. Previously, Rhea had earned her MPH in Maternal and Child Health at U.C. Berkeley. While there, she also continued to pursue her undergraduate interest in film with coursework in film studies, including work as a TA with the Ethnic Studies video program. Upon completion of her MPH, she finished several, community-oriented documentaries for which she performed a variety of tasks including writing, researching and producing. Most recently, she has been volunteering in the library and archives of SFMOMA, helping the organization by researching and ordering rare books and manuscripts, as well as assisting with the selection of a Digital Asset Management system through background, company, qualitative and quantitative research. Rhea’s undergraduate degree is in Liberal Studies from SUNY Purchase. She is a member of the honor society, Phi Kappa Phi.
An accomplished actor, blues musician and producer, Dennis relishes the role of performer but really digs producing. In business, Dennis is also known as a producer, having orchestrated the creation of 10 successful niche publications, a CEO think tank, and now in his work as president of the Placemaking Group. Dennis brings some 25 years of marketing strategy and information industry experience to the Placemaking Group. Here he is a lead strategist in the development of big ideas and is always available should any client need his help. Dennis created BAM Magazine in 1976 to give the West Coast entertainment industry a way to reach young people at a reasonable cost. He made BAM the first publication to be distributed free at point-of-purchase in retail outlets throughout California. In 1984, Dennis launched MicroTimes, which became the nation’s largest regional computer magazine with a circulation topping 200,000 when sold in 1999.
In 1978, Dennis founded the first Bay Area Music Awards, more commonly known as the “Bammies.” He produced the internationally recognized annual awards program, which attracted over 6,000 music industry leaders and fans, for 25 years. He’s a Director with the Alliance of Chief Executives. When not producing for work or pleasure, Dennis contributes his time and talent to a number of regional performing arts organizations including serving as the president of the Town Hall Theatre in Lafayette and a member of the Program Committee for the Diablo Regional Arts Association.
Lavinia T. S. Hong has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and financial services. She is co-founder and vice president of marketing for remithome Corporation (www.remithome.com), a rapidly growing online remittance service focused on money transfers to Asia. Ms. Hong was named Asian Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007. Prior to remithome, she co-founded The Kenna Group, a consulting practice that provides business and marketing strategy, marketing communications, and market profitability analyses to businesses. Her clients included e-commerce companies and online financial services companies. Previously, she headed corporate and product marketing for Seeker Software, a web-based human resource application company, later acquired by Concur Technologies. She led the development and launch of a number of successful new businesses at Bank of America, including implementation of its Internet strategy, online banking and bill pay, telephone bill pay, and electronic remittances to Mexico. Lavinia holds an M.B.A. in marketing and finance from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Anderson School of Business and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has a strong interest in and has been actively involved with non-profit governance, having served on various committees and boards of Park Day School in Oakland and The Distaff Singers, an Oakland-based women’s choral group that raises money to fund and promote music programs in East Bay schools. In addition to her volunteer work at these organizations, Ms. Hong enjoys singing, performing, and helping out backstage at the Berkeley Playhouse Youth Company productions. Ms. Hong has two daughters who have been performing with the Youth Company since its earliest days in Elizabeth’s living room.
With Brooklyn roots, Linda Jacobson grew up attending Broadway and off-Broadway shows, and performing in every school play and summer-camp play that could use a borderline alto with a penchant for pratfalls. With lengthy experience serving on nonprofit local Boards in the arts and social service domains, Linda is delighted to help contribute to Berkeley Playhouse’s ongoing success. Linda otherwise serves the Berkeley community as an East Bay elder-care consultant; her company Assisted Transition is a national network of advisers that provide complementary, personalized consultations and placement services. Fundamentally an artsy nerd, Linda has a professional background as a science and technology author, editor, and marketer. Before moving to Berkeley in 2011 Linda oversaw communications and marketing for Xerox’s PARC, the infamous R&D center. In years preceding, she co-founded a virtual-worlds production studio, promoted medical and architectural simulation systems for a 3D graphics company, co-founded Wired and EQ magazines, performed as a puppeteer with the multimedia world-music ensemble D’Cuckoo, and wrote two books, CyberArts and Garage Virtual Reality. Way back, Linda was a music industry writer and photographer, with clients including Meyer Sound and Mix magazine, and musicians David Gans and Merl Saunders. Linda has been blessed with three sons with whom she lives in Berkeley.
Jef Loyola is the CEO and Creative Director at The M-Line, a branding and marketing communications firm in San Francisco. Jef has had an illustrious career over the past 20 years helping brand and market companies such as Apple Computer, Microsoft, The Moscone Center, SFO, and Pyramid Breweries. Jef is a Bay Area native and lives in the Oakland Hills with his wife Mya and children Eliza and Willem. He has been a long time performing arts enthusiast, but his love of the theater went up 10 notches when his daughter Eliza lit up the stage with the Imagination Players in 2004. She has been a dedicated theater kid ever since. “After witnessing first hand the effects of performing arts in the life of my child and my family, I am hooked. It is the mission of the JMCA and Berkeley Playhouse that inspires me to help make an impact on families in the community.”
Judith McKoy, PhD. is an educator and administrator with 40 + years experience working in colleges, hospitals, and profit and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Education, Training and Counseling for Planned Parenthood of Western Washington. Of her myriad positions through the years, Judith most enjoyed developing and leading training events. She wrote a number of curricula and several texts for English as a Second Language learners. She currently coordinates outreach projects for the Berkeley Playhouse.
Since 1995, Karen has served as General Manager at Berkeley Repertory Theatre, a LORT B Tony Award-winning regional theatre. At Berkeley Rep, she is responsible for all Union contracts, show budgets and overseeing theatre operations. In this role, she has also served as a member of the LORT negotiating committee for Actors’ Equity Association and for the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Prior to her current position, Karen was Education Director at Berkeley Rep from 1993-95. Karen also served as a Park Day School board member from 2004-07, and co-chaired the Park Day Development Committee for several years. Other industry related positions Karen has held have included: Executive Director of Overtone Theatre Company and Director of Theatre Services, Theatre Bay Area.
David Roberts is a senior executive in the financial services industry and a serial entrepreneur. Originally trained as a lawyer at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, he also obtained his MBA from the Haas School of Business at UCB. After several years practicing law, he began his entrepreneurial career building and operating restaurants. Subsequent to taking one of his companies public, he moved into the investment management business where he has served as a securities analyst, investment banker and hedge fund executive. Along the way he had the opportunity to help found two INC 500 companies where he experienced firsthand the challenges of growing and nurturing smaller enterprises. He was originally drawn to the JMCA by his keen interest in arts education and the outreach programs at the JMCA. As an amateur actor married to a semi-professional singer and father to a daughter who performs musical theatre, he is deeply immersed in the Bay Area performing arts scene. In a sense, his work at the JMCA builds on his extensive prior “theatre” experience – operating 18 Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza Time Theatres!
Gail Simpson, a PhD economist, brings an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial and executive skills to the board. After studying anthropology at Stanford, she began her professional career working for the UN in Ethiopia on drought relief programs and eventually earning her PhD from UC Berkeley. While a student, she began studying voice and found herself performing in Bay Area musical theaters, and producing her own cabaret shows. Since then, while performing as much as possible, she has maintained serious “day jobs” in both the public and private sectors, including: CEO of a consulting firm that conducted major studies for Congress; co-founder of an insurance services start-up that earned an Inc 500 ranking for three years; and executive director of the Counsel for Responsible Public Investment, a project promoting socially responsible investment by public pension funds. Gail is most recently the Founder and Artistic Director of Opera Frontier (www.OperaFrontier.org), a small troupe dedicated to “challenging stereotypes about opera – and the singers who dare to commit it.”