meet the team

core team

Chris Fessenden


Chris was fortunate to be raised surrounded by the arts. Now, as a parent with a front row seat to both the benefits of arts education and the erosion of school arts programs, he is especially motivated to work for a better future. Chris brings highly relevant media experience as the founder of a video production and distribution company; financial experience from over a decade helping large institutional investors with equity strategies in the technology, media, and consumer sectors; and practical entrepreneurial experience from two prior startups.

Barbarella Fokos

Executive Producer

Barbarella Fokos is an award-winning journalist, columnist, and humorist, and Emmy Award-winning producer. Her weekly column, Diary of a Diva, has appeared in the San Diego Reader for over a decade, along with countless feature stories covering everything from arts and entertainment to serious social issues. Known for having her finger on the pulse of the arts and entertainment scenes, Barbarella has been a frequent guest on KPBS, KUSI, FOX6, and NBC San Diego. In addition to guest appearances, Barbarella has produced, filmed, edited, and hosted regular segments for television, such as Stepping Out With Barbarella on NBC News in the Morning, and 5 Questions with Barbarella on California Nonstop. In 2014, she released her first book, Diary of a Diva: Behind the Lipstick. Barbarella also serves on the board of the San Diego Press Club (one of the largest clubs of its kind in the nation with nearly 400 members in the news communications field).

David Fokos

Executive Producer

David Fokos is an internationally renowned photographic artist and Emmy Award-winning director. His work has been the subject of over 50 solo shows, and can be found in a dozen galleries on three continents, as well as scores of museums, and prominent corporate and private collections.     Together, Barbarella and David produced, hosted, and directed Art Pulse TV, a 20-episode series that took viewers behind the scenes of everything art in San Diego County and Baja (which aired on NBC San Diego and COZI TV). Between them, Barbarella and David received 7 Emmy nominations in 4 categories and each took home a statue for Arts & Entertainment Programming. As both artists and avid art collectors, Barbarella and David share a passion for telling artists’ stories. They are delighted to bring their wealth of media production and storytelling experience, as well as sophisticated aesthetic sensibilities to The Artist Odyssey.

artist advisory board

Rick Baptist


Prolific Hollywood-based trumpeter, has played on over 1250 motion pictures, 30 years on the Academy Awards, 28 years on the Emmy Awards, and on over 100 gold and platinum records.

Jen Jansen


Renowned for her wet plate collodion work, deeply experienced in alternative process photography, portraiture, darkroom printing, and photographic restoration.

Peter Kalivas

Choreographer, Dancer, Singer, Producer

Award-winning choreographer, director, producer of Concert Dance, Off-Broadway, Musical Theater, Industrials, Vegas-style productions, Television and Film. Singer on and off Broadway, in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and international theater tours.

Trinh Mai

Visual Artist

Classically-trained abstract painter.  Known for mixed media/found objects work that documents her Vietnamese heritage.

Alexander Schaffer-Czech

Artist, Educator

Professional artist at ASC Studios, Los Gatos High School arts teacher

Steve Sherman

Photographer, Musician

Surf, skate, and music photographer.  Credited with bringing a deeper, more artistic portrait sensibility to surf photography.

Mario Torero

Visual Artist

Peruvian-born “Artivist”. Social issues inform his work with a perspective that covers the history of the Chicano arts movement.

Nena Anderson


Blues, jazz, and Americana singer-songwriter.  Nominated for 13 San Diego Music Awards.

business advisory board

Scott Coleman


International strategy for Pinterest, former head of business development for

Joel Ficks


Former CEO of satellite network LinkTV

Patricia Frischer

Visual Arts

Creator of San Diego Art Prize, SDVAN founder, gallerist in London and California

Claire Gallacher

Finance, Consumer

Leading consumer analyst on Wall Street

Chris Goldsmith


7-time Grammy-winning record producer for Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama

Matt Miller

Entrepreneur, Consumer, Legal

Founder/President of True Wetsuits, former attorney

Larry Cansler

Music, Film, Television

Decades of experience as Music Director for major Hollywood studios

education advisory board

Kevin Balzer

Arts Teacher

Innovative Arts Teacher at Oak Ridge High School

Judy Fessenden

Arts and GATE Teacher

26-year classroom teacher. GATE Symposium Teacher for Pleasant Valley School District. PVSD Director of the Arts.

Cari Griesbach

Principal and Teacher

Principal and Teacher with a Masters in Education from Harvard.

Maddy Kadish

Writer, Producer, Digital Curriculum Designer

Expert in managing educational learning outcomes.  Masters in Education from Harvard.

Jim Lobdell

Education Company Founder and Teacher

Stanford-educated former Social Studies Teacher and Founder of Teacher’s Curriculum Institute.

Chris Rosskopf


Teacher at High Tech High School in San Diego, Charter Faculty Member of High Tech High Media Arts

Steve Seely

California Teacher of the Year

25-year teacher and 3-time Oak Ridge High School Teacher of the Year. 2013 California High School Educator of the Year. Holds a Master’s degree in American History and fellowships from Harvard, Stanford, and Brown. Spent several decades developing curriculum and textbooks.

Alexander Schaffer-Czech

Artist, Educator

Professional artist at ASC Studios, Los Gatos High School arts teacher

Kathy Asher

Education and Arts Leader

Assistant Superintendent, Ventura Unified School District.  Chair of VUSD Arts Collaborative.  Cultural Affairs Commissioner, City of Ventura.