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SHOW DESCRIPTION, Forums, Press release


FORUMS Additional Information


Additional information about Forum topics, hosts, and panelists. Topics include:



Forums in chronological order:

Friday, October 28 @ 7:30pm, El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro

COVID LOST & FOUND. Strategies for non-profits and public service agencies impacted by Covid-19: employees, students, families, funding, clients, education, et al.

HOST: Ron Baza, PhD University of San Diego

Dr. Ron Baza is currently Vice President of the Board Directors of Teatro Mascara Magica, a Common Ground Theatre Company. Retiring in December 2018, Dr. Baza was the President of Ron Baza & Associates Inc., a consulting firm specializing in human resources, leadership & organizational development, and strategic planning. For 18 years, his firm’s work focused on performance improvement, organizational effectiveness and program development. Previously, he worked for 13 years with Hughes Electronics Corporation and 10 years with the State of California in various management positions and several departments. Prior to 2018, Ron was also an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Diego, Southwestern College and the University of California San Diego. He taught numerous undergraduate courses including Human Resources, Leadership, Urban Planning & Community Development. His many community involvements included serving on the: UCSD Board of Overseers, Wells Fargo Community Board, Inglewood Private Industry Council, Chicano Federation Board of Directors and California Community Colleges Private Sector Liaison Committee. Dr. Baza earned his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies at USD.    

PANELISTS: Lisa Cuestas with Casa Familiar, Omar Calleros–Chula Vista Community Collaborative, and David Flores–County representative District 1

Lisa Cuestas is currently Chief Executive Officer of Casa Familiar, a 501(c)(3) non-profit community-based organization in San Ysidro, CA. Ms. Cuestas has worked for Casa Familiar for 21 years and nearly 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She is a Fronteriza – raised along the U.S./Mexico border.  Lisa understands the importance of community and the notion of rising by uplifting others  Casa Familiar (Casa), is a community service and development agency dedicated to ensuring residents of San Ysidro and the South Bay have a leading role in all aspects of the development and sustainability of their community.

Omar Calleros currently serves as the Executive Director of the Chula Vista  Community Collaborative. Previously he served as the Coordinator of Full Services Community Schools, Attendance and Expanded Learning Program at San Ysidro School District.  Omar has been involved with Community Based Organizations for 20+ years. His experience includes 14 years at the YMCA of San Diego County where he served as Associate Executive Director. He also worked as Department Director of family social and supplemental services for SBCS.  Omar’s primary focus as a public servant is to bring opportunity and equity to underserved communities through various programs and collaborative efforts. Omar is dedicated to providing full wrap around supportive services to all members in his community.  Omar has served on several public platforms, such as: San Diego County Social Services Advisory Board, Regional Taskforce on the Homeless, San Diego County HHSA School Workgroup Chair, Imperial Beach Community Clinic Board of Directors, Art Pratt Foundation Board of Directors and Rotary President. He has shown great dedication and has strong empathy for the people in his orbit.

Mr. Flores is the Director of Policy for Vice-Chair, County Supervisor Nora Vargas for Supervisorial District 1 in the County of San Diego. He also staffs the Supervisor as Chair of the San Diego Air Pollution Control District, the California Air Resources Board, and the San Diego County Airport Authority. This work supports the Supervisor’s goal of advancing structural changes for a more equitable County government to uplift equity and community. Previous to this position, Mr. Flores was the Air Quality Campaign Director at Environmental Health Coalition (February 2020 to February 2021) where his focus was to advance the development of a Community Emissions Reduction Plan (CERP) for Barrio Logan and National City, and push the Port of San Diego on the development of their Maritime Clean Air Strategy. Before joining EHC, he was the Community Development Director at Casa Familiar in the San Diego border community of San Ysidro. His efforts in border development revolved around building community engagement and partnerships for community projects, Casa’s affordable housing projects, and on developing recommendations for improvements in integrating federal, state, and local infrastructures and transit systems, particularly focusing on Bi-National pedestrian impacts and pedestrian built environment.

Saturday, October 29 @ 2:00pm, El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro

DON’T STAB ME PLEASE, I’M NOT CHINESE. Violence against Asian Americans, in the wake of Covid-19.

HOST: Susan Hasegawa, writer and professor of US and Asian American History, San Diego City College

Susan Hasegawa, Humanities Advisor, professor at San Diego City College teaching U.S. and Asian American history. She has written on the Japanese American WWII Incarceration for the past twenty year and curated numerous exhibits on the subject, including articles for the Japanese American National Museum and consulting on projects for Oxford Publishing, University Press of Colorado, and The Old Globe Theatre.

PANELIST: Michael Yee, Panelist.  Lecturer – Cal State San Marco;  public historian; former Chair of San Diego Chinese Historical Museum as well as San Diego Chinese Center. Retired from his career in IT, Mr. Yee has served on arts committees for Balboa Park, San Diego Foundation, City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, and as a California Arts Council/CORO Arts Fellow.

Saturday, October 29 @ 7:30pm, El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro

Immigration during, and after Covid–if there is any such time.

HOST: Luis Aragon, President of Border Angels, former Deputy District Attorney, President of La Raza Lawyers.

PANELIST: Sheila Solorzano, board member of Border Angels

Luis Aragon is the Managing Director of Teatro Máscara Mágica (TMM) and the President of the Board of Directors of Border Angels.  Aragon, a composer, playwright, and theatre manager, is a recognized leader in San Diego’s theatre community. His leadership of San Diego’s premier Latino theatre company, Teatro Máscara Mágica, has led to collaborations with San Diego’s multicultural theatre companies and a residency at ‘LA SALON’, theatre in San Ysidro.  As an artist, he’s composed the music and co-authored the book for two musicals, ELENA, FELONS! and wrote the book, lyric and music for his musical,  LOVING CUPID.  He’s co-authoring the stage play, CAFÉ CORONADO and  is currently writing, TITLE FIGHT, a two-act play.  Of his work with Teatro Máscara Mágica (TMM) and Border Angels, Aragon said, ‘I am privileged to serve with two iconic organizations, TMM that historically has given voice to multicultural communities through its programming and Border Angels that has given voice and hope to migrants and DACA recipients.  Border Angel’s mission is one of love and fearless rejection of racism, nativism, and hate.”  Aragon has served as Director and Vice President of the San Diego County Bar Association; President of San Diego’s La Raza Lawyers Association; Vice President of San Diego County’s Child Abuse Foundation;  Director and Secretary of the San Diego County District Attorney’s Association and as Director and Vice President of San Diego’s Balboa Park, “Centro Cultural De La Raza”.  He’s received the San Diego County Bar Association’s “Public Lawyer of the Year”;   the San Diego Theatre Arts Counsel’s “Star” Award and the San Diego District Attorney’s “Outstanding Prosecutor” Award. Aragon earned his B.A. degree from Yale University and studied law at Georgetown Law School and Thomas Jefferson School of Law.  Luis has two children. 

Sunday, October 30 @ 2pm, El Salon Theatre, 114 W. Hall, San Ysidro


Host: Gingerlily Lowe, Asian Story Theater & Kent Lee Brisby, Writer/Director NOT WORKING

Guest panelists: Raya Heart Pearson, Belle Ramos, Dave Scott…

Gingerlily Lowe- (Actor, Director, Writer, Songwriter, Teaching Artist) is a founding member of Asian Story Theater -formerly Chinese Story Theater, a founding member and past president on San Diego’s first Asian American Theater company–Pacific Asian Actors’ Ensemble, and also the Magic Machine.  She is proud of  the decades of multi-ethnic theater she has been able to help produce, celebrating Asian American art and culture, and bringing new faces, voices, and stories to the community.  She has been a teaching artist with Arts for Young Audiences, Institute for Arts Education, and currently is on the teaching artist staff for Guitars in the Classroom, and the Education Director for Asian Story Theater.

Raya Heart Pearson (she/they/siya): Jumping into community theatre in 2000 (most endearingly with San Francisco’s Bindlestiff Studio)  as well as voiceover (clients include Asian Art Museum), then turning heads with her commanding lead vocals for a handful of blues bands in East Bay clubs, restaurants and homes, Raya is a self-proclaimed “utility creative” delighted with the challenge of songwriting and performing in and for these times. Heartfelt gratitude to HP, my family, friends, teachers, the arts communities and my inspirations.

Dave Scott is well known in San Diego for his last 30 years on KUSI, where he has created, written and hosted numerous shows including “More of the Wild” with Joan Embery, “On the Edge” Science series, San Diego Backroads, “Dave’s World of Wonder,” and as our KUSI weekend weatherman who has won numerous Emmy and Associated Press Awards. As a musician, Dave picked up a Jazz Artist of the Year nomination at the 1998 San Diego Music Awards and leads his own groups “Monsoon”, “Mambo Trombo Trio, and The New Slide Quartet.”  He has also had the chance to sing and share some unique musical moments with the likes of Steve Allen, Robert Goulet, Mel Torme, Bill Watrous, Toni Tenille, Ed McMahon, Jimmy Buffet, Carol Channing and even Wayne Newton and CNN’s Larry King. His compositions have been featured on radio and television including KSDS Jazz 88 and KIFM’s Morning Drive Show, KUSI’s Good Morning San Diego and San Diego Backroad’s. 

Belle Ramos who plays Anqa in NOT WORKING is a singer/songwriter and recently has appeared in productions of the Adams Family and The Frankenstein Project. She is a student at Southwestern College, studying the music industry.

Friday, November 4 @ 7:30pm, Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego

THE NEW NORMAL: real and virtual life as a performing artist during and post-Covid. Guest panelist/s TBA.

HOST: Frankie Alicea-Ford and/or Matt M Morrow, Diversionary Theatre

Matt M. Morrow is the Executive Artistic Director for Diversionary Theater- Joining the organization in 2014, Matt has helped to grow Diversionary Theatre’s which has been nominated for 29 San Diego Critics Circle Awards, winning two Outstanding New Play Awards in 2017 and 2019. Matt has been honored with the inaugural Larry T. Baza Arts & Culture Award from San Diego Pride, and was a Creative Catalyst Fellow with The San Diego Foundation and La Jolla Playhouse. He has developed new work with The Sundance Theatre Institute, The Old Globe, The Banff Centre, Center Theatre Group, American Conservatory Theater, Lincoln Center, PlayPenn, and Page 73 Productions in residence at the Yale School of Drama.

Frankie Alicea-Ford–Associate Artistic Director at Diversionary Theater, is a San Diego-based, New York City-trained theatre artist who has been working professionally since 2012. After receiving his BFA from the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Frankie has worked as a performer, deviser, educator, and administrator throughout the US and abroad. He has created and spearheaded multiple theater education programs throughout Connecticut and New York and worked as the Residential Director of The Center for Creative Youth, based out of Wesleyan University.  He currently works as a teaching artist with La Jolla Playhouse, New Village Arts, and Diversionary Theatre and has extensive training in devised theater techniques, arts integration, and trauma-based theater practices.

Saturday, November 5 @ 2pm, Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego

TEACH THE CHILDREN WELL: Education and teaching during a pandemic
HOST: Gingerlily Lowe, Education Director Asian Story Theater

PANEL: Nick Irby, Teacher from Nye Elementary and SDEA Union site rep.

HOST: Gingerlily Lowe, Education Director Asian Story Theater is a retired classroom teacher and current Teaching Artist with Guitars in the Classroom.  Over the years, she served proudly as a SDEA union rep. She began her teaching career in San Ysidro at La Mirada Elementary, worked for 16 years in a multi-grade, developmental model developing a project based program at the Museum School, and then at SDUSD Nye Elementary–when she discovered Guitars in the Classroom and use the program to teach her 2nd graders how to play ukulele.  Gingerlily has worked with the National Marine Mammal Foundation and the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center in developing their STEM project and working with scientists to translate their research to the classroom.  She has been involved in the California Science Implementation Network, UCSD Science Teacher Institute, and holds certification from the National Science Teacher’s Association.  She worked on the National Education Association (NEA) Charter School Initiative for the San Diego Educational Association (SDEA)’s charter project. Gingerlily and her husband produce the Asian Story Theater (formally Chinese Story Theater) in which she also serves as the educational director, using live theater as a medium for education as well as truly exciting entertainment and bringing multi-cultural theater experiences to thousands of young audience members over the years.  She is currently working on a theater project NOT WORKING recruiting composers and is one of the co-directors for the production.

PANELIST: James “Nick” Irby–Husband, Father, Grandfather. Originally from New York City. Nick has been in San Diego since 1981. Teaching elementary for about 26+ years, this is his second career. Mr. Irby worked for an electronic medical device company for some time before getting his teaching credential. He has been a union rep. for 20 years. He teaches tennis to kids at his school and plays recreational tennis most weekends at a local tennis club. Nick’s Teaching Philosophy: teach the truth and care for one another, do the right thing when no one is watching. 

Saturday, November 5 @ 7:30pm, Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego

PANDEMIC LIFE Its impact on the Black and LGBTQ community: Our personal experiences in and out of the arts.

HOST: William BJ Robinson, host of KPBS Arts program, and Tough Talk virtual discussion series

PANEL: Ajay Junious, choreographer, arts and wellness advocate, founder of Continuum Arts & Pilates
DaJahn Blevins, President of SD Urban Warrior project, Founder of Kuumba Fest at Lyceum Theatres

Host William BJ Robinson, He/They, is a Black and Puerto Rican queer arts educator and professional musician. They host KPBS/arts, a TV program on KPBS, and Tough Talk, a virtual platform that focuses on “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.” They also serve as church choir director at Christ United Presbyterian Church and on the boards of Cappella Gloriana and Loud Fridge Theatre Group.

Sunday, November 6 @ 2pm, Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Blvd, San Diego


HOST: Johnny Tran, musician and co-owner of Thumbprint Gallery in La Jolla, Organizer of Bar Basic in Downtown, Art Around Adams, and East Village Art Walk. Johnny is releasing his third album “Ghost of John Okada” based on 1957 novel NO NO BOY.

PANEL: BIPOC artist Thao Huynh French is an artist, muralist and photographer. Born in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, she currently lives and works in San Diego, Ca.

Host: Johnny Tran started Thumbprint Gallery with his business partner Paul Ecdao in 2009 after working in the event business as a DJ, promoter and coordinator. He began as the promoter and organizer of the legendary Tuesday night art events at Bar Basic in downtown. Johnny has also organized and curated for the annual Art Around Adams art and music walk and the East Village Art Walk. He is also a musician and has released two albums and is set in November to release his third album based on the 1957 novel No-No Boy. 

Panelist: Thao Huynh French is an artist, muralist and photographer. Born in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, she currently lives and works in San Diego, Ca. She is best known for co-founding Mindful Murals™ with her husband, where together they’ve painted over 300 community murals for schools and public spaces all over California. In addition to painting murals, she develops projects that intersect social justice and also paints commissions and displays artwork in galleries. During the beginning of the pandemic she organized an art fundraiser in response to the dramatic increase in anti-Asian violence and raised over $34 thousand for various AAPI organizations.

Saturday, November 12 @ 11am, Chula Vista Library, 565 F St, Chula Vista

THE FAKE NEWS PROBLEM. Free tools for telling fact from fiction. The definition for “alternative facts” is lies.

HOST: Erwin Magbanua, Principal Librarian and Cultural Arts Manager, Chula Vista Public Library 

PANEL: Guest panelist Matt Hall, Editorial and Opinion Editor of Union Tribune newspaper

Saturday, November 12 @ 2pm, Chula Vista Library, 565 F St, Chula Vista

HISTORY WITH HAM AND WRY. The process of creating theater around real events and individual histories–with respect, honesty, and insight.

HOST: Carlos Morton, PhD. UC Santa Barbara, Playwright with San Francisco Mime Troupe, New York Shakespeare Festival, La Companía Nacionál de México.

PANEL: Kent Brisby, Writer and Director for NOT WORKING, Artistic Director for Asian Story Theater. Kent has written, produced and directed dozens of plays and performs onstage occasionally himself. He is musician and most recently has been seen playing Da in Once at Lamb’s Players Theater and the California Theater of the Arts, and in Asian Story’s last show–THE GOLDEN RULE.

Host: Carlos Morton, PhD, Humanities Advisor. Professor of Theater at the University of California,  Santa Barbara, and the Director of the Chicano Studies department there. A prolific playwright whose professional credits include the San Francisco Mime Troupe, the New York Shakespeare Festival, and La Companía Nacionál de México. A former Fulbright Lecturer to Mexico and Poland.

Sunday, November 13 @ 2pm, Chula Vista Library, 565 F St, Chula Vista


HOST: Delores Fisher, Africana Studies, San Diego State University, African American Music in US socio-cultural history

PANEL: Dr. Brandon Gamble, Director for the Black Resource Center at San Diego State University and Andrea Bayona- Filipino American Nurse and Clinical Instructor at SDSU.

Host: Delores Fisher, Humanities Advisor, a professor in the Africana Studies program at San Diego State University, and herself a pianist and whose research focuses on African American music in U.S. socio-cultural history.

PANEL: Dr. Brandon Gamble received his training in psychology from Oakwood College for his Bachelor’s degree, San Diego State for his Master’s degree, and the University of Southern California is where he earned his Doctoral degree in Educational Psychology. He serves as the Director for the Black Resource Center at San Diego State University. Dr. Gamble’s written work and research has focused on African American male’s social capital and familial support networks that empower young men to succeed in academics.  He has served as President of the California Association of School Psychologist, also as the Western Regional representative of the Association of Black Psychologists, and on the national Guide Right sub-committee for mental health for his fraternity.

Andrea Bayona is a Filipino American San Diego Native. She has been an intensive care unit nurse at Scripps Mercy Hospital for the past 15 years, in addition to working at her Alma Mater San Diego State University as a clinical instructor to teach a new generation of nurses.