Categories: Meet the Team! Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 23 Comments

Leadership Team


SUSANNA PEREDO SWAP  has over twenty years of experience as an arts administrator, actor, jazz vocalist, arts advocate, and public relations specialist. While working for the San Diego International Airport Art Program she curated over eighty exhibitions with some of San Diego’s best museums, artists and galleries; as well as a fantastic roster of talent for its performing arts series. She has previously served on the board of the San Diego Art Institute, as Vice President of the Alliance Française de San Diego, Vice President of the San Diego REPertory Theatre, President of the National City Public Art Committee and Vice Chair on the Port of San Diego’s Public Art Committee. Susanna is a magna cum laude graduate of San Diego State University where she majored in Humanities and minored in French. She holds a Professional Certificate in The Cycle: Management of Successful Arts and Cultural Organizations from the Devos Institute of Arts Management, University of Maryland; a Professional Certificate in Business for Arts and Nonprofit Arts Organizations from University of San Diego; a Certificate in Photography: Images and Techniques from University of California, San Diego; studied Art History at the Université Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV); and History of Video Art at the École du Louvre in Paris, France. Her passion for the visual, performing, and culinary arts has taken her to over fifteen countries and inspired her to create an organization that aims to bring people together across different backgrounds, interests and creative professions.



DAN ATKINSON (Board Member at Large) is a Grammy nominated producer, musician, and music curator. He began his arts career in the mid-1980s as Project Director for the Center for World Music, producing a free summertime festival of world music and dance at venues throughout San Diego’s Balboa Park. From 1988-2000, he was Program Director for Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, overseeing a major expansion of the library’s music and arts programs. He founded Athenaeum’s jazz concert series in 1989 and continues to act as its artistic director. The Athenaeum has been heralded by DownBeat magazine as one of the world’s great jazz venues and by JazzTimes magazine as one of the leading jazz series on the West Coast. He has received numerous accolades for his contributions to San Diego’s Cultural life including the national Jazz Journalists Association “Jazz Hero” Award and the City of San Diego officially designating April 4, 2018, as “Daniel Atkinson Day”. He received a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental recording in 2008 for producing Peter Erskine’s “Standards” and has also been active as a producer of music for radio and television. Atkinson is a Voting Member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (United Kingdom). At UC San Diego Extension, Atkinson is active as Director of Public Programs, including the nationally-acclaimed UC San Diego Jazz Camp, which he founded in 2003.  As Director of Public Programs, Atkinson has responsibility for distinguished speaker events and conferences including world leaders such as the Dalai Lama, Elon Musk, Salman Rushdie, John Lithgow, Joan Didion, David Rockefeller, and Thomas Piketty, among others. Views of web streamed videos on UC-TV of many of these presentations total in the tens of millions (;;

CHI ESSARY (Board Member at Large) is an artist, writer and photographer who promotes and explores the intersection of art, science and the public.  She studied printmaking and photography at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon and has an active practice in oil painting and found objects. She curates cross-disciplinary exhibitions that bring artists together with other fields of creative inquiry such as contemporary literature and science, as she is a firm believer that “the best gift to humanity is bringing people together.” In 2017 she curated “Extra-Ordinary Collusion”, pairing almost 50 scientists and artists for a massive cross-disciplinary exhibition encouraging further exchange in San Diego’s rich artistic and scientific communities. She also curated several lofts for an immersive art take-over called SENSORIUM which was featured on the NatGeo Channel. A board member of Vanguard Culture since 2014, Chi has applied her talents as a photographer toward content management for Vanguard Culture’s Instagram and Facebook pages, in addition to being the lead contributor to the artist studio visit series: Poetic License. Her curating and writing has given her a unique perspective that she applies towards her mission to help build programs that support world class art in San Diego. In 2019 she was selected to reorganize and curate the San Diego Art Prize for the 2020 season.


TARA GRAVISS is an Expressive Arts Therapist & CEO at Mind Body Arts. She has been involved in nonprofit arts education in San Diego for over 16 years, serving in various capacities: volunteer, teaching artist, trustee and formerly as Executive Director of Arts for Learning, San Diego.  A lifelong devotion to the arts and education combined with a proven background in business make her a dynamic leader and advocate for students, families, communities, and artists.  Tara is a passionate and dedicated professional with the experience needed to lead and develop organizational performance through collaboration and partnership.  Her 20+ years of experience in international hospitality services ensure she has all the customer service and operational skills to be a change agent in the long term sustainability of arts education in our schools and communities. Tara holds a B.S. in Business Administration and an M.A. in Expressive Arts Therapy from the European Graduate School and Expressive Arts Institute. Tara is a visual artist and poet and dedicates her private practice to supporting women recovering from trauma.

ANTONIO IANNOTTA (Board Member at Large) is the Artistic Director of the San Diego Italian Film Festival. Antonio received his Ph.D. in Communication and Media Studies from University of Salerno (Italy). He has published essays on cinema, TV series, comics, theory of media, and a monograph about Samuel Beckett. A forthcoming book is Il cinema audiotattile – Suono e immagine nell’esperienza cinematografica. He has worked as Communications Director for several International Festivals. Antonio teaches Italian language and culture at the University of San Diego and encourages extra-curricular activities that deepen students’ understanding of Italian language and culture thanks to his collaborations in the Italian community, from the San Diego Italian Film Festival to the Italian Cultural Center.

KEITH MAUTNER (Board Member at Large) has loved, participated in, and supported the visual, performing, and culinary arts since he was a wee lad.  Live performance is his favorite medium and he has attended nearly 2,000 concerts, plays, musicals, and other shows. He enjoys curating his extensive music collection, much of which is composed of various genres of rock music. Keith is a forensic accountant (fraud investigator), a consulting expert and a testifying expert; and has investigated fraudulent financial statements by public companies for more than 20 years.  Before that, he was responsible for preparing corporate financial statements, or audited them.  Keith has lectured at universities for undergraduate and graduate students, and has spoken about accounting fraud at conferences, seminars and webinars.  He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner, and is Certified in Management Accounting.  Keith is President of FAILSAFE CPA, which he founded in 2008.

MICHELE SACKS LOWENSTEIN (Board Secretary) was trained in the dramatic arts; acting and winning awards at the Old Globe Theatre many years ago. Michele’s life took a sudden turn when she became an attorney; much to her surprise. The founder of Lowenstein Brown, A P.L.C., Michele has achieved honors for her work as a Certified Family Law Specialist and is now of counsel to the firm of Cage & Miles, LLP. She is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.

Michele has a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with emphasis on Theatre Arts. While short on musical talent, Michele comes from a long line of musicians. (Her grandfather played quartets with Albert Einstein, but that’s another story.) This background is evidenced by Michele’s support and interest in various forms of artistic expression. She is an avid theatre, concert, and opera-goer. Michele has an eclectic taste in music with a special appreciation for classic film scores and vintage Broadway Musicals. She and David, her husband, collect art, support a number of local arts organizations, enjoy the culinary arts and travel extensively with an emphasis on cultural attractions. Michele has many interests, which include collecting paper ephemera, and she is an expert on vintage copper jewelry from the 1940s and 1950s.

HERBERT SIGUENZA (Board Member at Large) is an accomplished playwright and producer. He is currently the Playwright in Residence for the San Diego Repertory Theatre thanks to a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Herbert is also a founding member of the performance group CULTURE CLASH. Along with Richard Montoya and Ric Salinas, Culture Clash is the most produced Latino theatre troupe in the United States. Founded in San Francisco in 1984, Culture Clash has performed on the stages of America’s top regional theatres including the Mark Taper Forum, The Kennedy Center, The Arena Stage, The Alley Theatre, The Berkeley Repertory, Yale Repertory, South Coast Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep, and Syracuse Stage, The Huntington Stage and countless universities and colleges. Mr. Siguenza has co-written, and or performed in dozens of original Culture Clash plays including: Bordertown Now, American Night, Water and Power, Peace, Zorro in Hell!, Bordertown, Radio Mambo, The Mission and others. As a solo writer and performer Mr. Siguenza has produced Cantinflas!, A Weekend with Pablo Picasso, Steal Heaven , El Henry (Best new play San Diego Critics Circle Award 2014),  Manifest Destinitis and Beachtown. Mr. Siguenza is also an accomplished visual artist and has exhibited both nationally and internationally. He has a BFA in printmaking from the California College of Arts, Oakland, California.  TV and Film credits: Ben Ten Alien Swarm for the Cartoon Network, Larry Crowne feature film directed by Tom Hanks. His voice was prominently featured in Pixar’s 2017 Oscar winning animation feature, Coco.


Tatiana SIzonenkoTATIANA SIZONENKO (Board Treasurer) is a University Professor, art historian, and curator. She received her Ph.D. in Renaissance art history, with a specialization in Venice and the Mediterranean world, from the Visual Arts Department at University of California, San Diego. Ms. Sizonenko teaches courses on Western art, from ancient to contemporary, with a strong focus on the intended function of art objects in their respective historical settings and cultural contexts. Ms. Sizonenko’s research and teaching has been informed by her wide-ranging curatorial practice.

Ms. Sizonenko held positions as curator for the University Art Gallery at UC San Diego; curatorial fellow at the Timken Museum of Art; curatorial fellow for the dean of the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego; curator of collections and special exhibitions at the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, CA; and guest curator at the La Jolla Historical Society in San Diego and at the Barrington Center for the Arts at Gordon College, MA. She received her M.A. in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University, Berkeley, CA, and a Diploma (MA equivalent) in Art History from Leningrad State University, St. Petersburg, Russia. Before coming to the United States, she was assistant curator in the Department of Medieval Art at the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has been the recipient of several fellowships including the Getty Foundation’s “Connecting Art Histories” Fellowship, the Timken Museum of Art Fellowship, the Dean of Art and Humanities Dissertation Research Fellowship from UC San Diego, the UC San Diego Visual Arts Department’s Funded Semester at Harvard University and Russia’s National Fellowship for Distinguished Scholarship in Art History.

FRANS VAN DER LEE (Board Member at Large) is the co-founder and president of Chef’s Roll – a global online network for culinary  professionals that has become one of the premier food service marketing companies. A technology veteran, he co-founded Chef’s Roll six years ago and has overseen the growth of the community to include chefs from over 140 countries and a social media following of over 925,000. Chef’s Roll works with global brands like Vitamix and Wusthof, as well as artisan ingredient companies. Frans was born in Pennsylvania, but grew up in Hong Kong, Jakarta and Singapore. He received a dual BA in Computer Science/Mathematics and Economics from Emory University. Prior to settling in San Diego, he lived in Washington D.C. and Bangkok. He has 3 children and is on the Advisory Board for Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry.


Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.

Comments (23)

  1. This is fantastic Susanna… miss you 🙂

  2. […] art with us. The speakers share their insight in a Pecha Kucha format. The night was embraced with Susanna Peredo, editor/founder of Vanguard Culture.  She shared the story of Inocente, a young SD girl who grew […]

  3. Hello! Thank you for including San Diego Dance Theater’s show “Dances of Love, Laughter, and Loss” as part of your Weekly Ticket Tip. Feel free to contact me directly in the future. Would love to set up a special partnership with Vanguard. Keep up the good work!!

  4. Thanks Matt! Please send us q uick hello via email at We’d love to partner with you!

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