Photo of ACTA staff member Amy Kitchener

Amy Kitchener, Executive Director, co-founded the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) in 1997.  Understanding California’s unique position as the nation's epicenter for diverse cultural and multi-national communities, ACTA's work has focused on social change through grantmaking, capacity and leadership development, technical assistance, and bilingual program development.  Trained as a public folklorist with an M. A. from UCLA, Amy has piloted participatory cultural asset mapping in neglected and rural areas of the state and consults with other organizations and across sectors on this method of discovery and inclusion of community voices.  She continues to serve as a consultant for many national organizations and has taken part in two U.S.-China Intangible Cultural Heritage exchanges. She has published on a variety subjects involving California folklife, including immigrant arts training and transmission, and Asian American folk arts.  Amy and husband Hugo Morales are the proud parents of twin boys who dance and sing with regularity.  Contact Amy.

Photo of ACTA staff member Lily Kharrazi

Lily Kharrazi, Living Cultures Grants Program Manager, earned an M.A. in Dance Ethnology, studying at UCLA with Allegra Fuller Snyder, a pioneer in the field of dance and culture.  Kharrazi served as the Program Director of World Arts West, the producers of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival for 9 seasons, during which time through extensive outreach efforts, new and little known cultural dance had the opportunity to be presented.  Prior to joining ACTA, Lily worked in the refugee resettlement field as well as arts education.  She continues to write freelance on issues of dance and culture.  Kharrazi was hired as the Living Cultures Grants Program Manager in May 2005.  Contact Lily. 

photo of Russell Rodriguez

Russell Rodríguez, Ph.D., Apprenticeship Program Manager, has extensive experience as a cultural worker, academic, and accomplished artist.  Rodríguez received his Ph.D. from the department of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  In 2007, he became a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow.  Rodríguez worked as a curator for the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage annual festival, co-curating the Latino Music Program in 2004; and 2005, he co-produced the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings CD compilation Rolas de Aztlán: Songs of the Chicano Movement.  Rodríguez is an accomplished musician, composer, and dancer specializing in performance styles of huasteca, jarocho, mariachi, and other traditional music forms of Mexico.  In 2010, he completed work as the assistant producer and musical director for the documentary La Danza Escenica: El Sello de Rafael Zamarripa.  Today Rodríguez continues to play music professionally with Mariachi Mundial de Mexico and Los Hijos de José.  He speaks fluent Spanish.  Russell joined ACTA in May 2012.  Contact Russell. 


Crystal Murillo, Executive Assistant, has over eleven years of experience. She previously worked at the corporate headquarters of Gottschalks, Inc., as an Assistant Buyer serving in the overall management and day to day operations of the Petites buying office. Crystal also worked for ITT Technical Institute as an Enrollment Specialist, coordinating admission for prospective students and at Table Mountain Rancheria, planning travel arrangements for tribal members and employees and assisting with administrative support. Crystal graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a BA in Anthropology. She also holds an MBA and runs her own photography business. A dedicated community volunteer, Crystal has organized teams for Relay for Life, Team in Training, The ALS Assoc., and Walk MS. Crystal joined ACTA in July 2016. Contact Crystal. 


Beto González, Program Specialist, comes to ACTA with almost 20 years of experience in the performing arts in Los Angeles. Beto is an experienced musician, producer, and ethnomusicologist specializing in the traditional music of Brazil and the African Diaspora in Latin America.  A first-generation American, Beto was born in New York to Brazilian immigrants who then raised him in São Paulo before relocating to Los Angeles.  He is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and bandleader and is the founder and artistic director of Samba Society, a collective of musicians from the Brazilian community of Southern California. He also performs regularly with MôForró, another Brazilian group that performs traditional and original music inspired by forró, the accordion-driven dance music from northeast Brazil.  Beto holds Masters degrees in both Latin American Studies and Ethnomusicology from UCLA, is a Fulbright scholar, and is fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish.  Prior to joining the ACTA team, Beto worked for a number of performing arts organizations including the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Viver Brasil Dance Company, and Levitt Pavilions of Greater Los Angeles and Pasadena. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Inglewood Cultural Arts.  Beto joined ACTA in February 2016.  Contact Beto.

Patricia Miye Wakida

Patricia Miye Wakida, Development and Donor Engagement Manager, Patricia is a fourth generation Japanese American artist, writer, and community historian based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the past fifteen years, she has done editorial, curatorial, or development work with numerous cultural institutions such as Heyday Books, Cal Humanities, San Francisco Center for the Book, Intersection for the Arts, the Japanese American National Museum, the Oakland Museum of California, and the California Historical Society, and has served on numerous nonprofit boards.  She has studied as an apprentice papermaker in Gifu, Japan, and as an apprentice printer and hand bookbinder in Berkeley, California; to this day, she still maintains her own linoleum block and letterpress business under the 'wasabi press' imprint, handcarving and cranking out whimsical prints of flora and fauna on 100 year old equipment. She lives in the heart of the Fruitvale district of Oakland, California, with her husband and son.  Patricia joined ACTA in May 2016.  Contact Patricia.

Amy Lawrence

Amy Lawrence, Operations Manager, has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1999.  She served as the Education and Tour Coordinator for the Fresno Historical Society and managed the Society’s museum store.  Lawrence earned a multiple subject teaching credential from CSU, Fresno, and has taught second, third, and fourth grade elementary school students.  She holds an M.A. in History and her master’s thesis, Minnie Eshleman Sherman: Agricultural Pioneer, Social Activist, City Mother, won a research merit award from CSU, Fresno.  Lawrence joined ACTA in June 2009.  Contact Amy.


Photo of ACTA staff member Kenya Curry

Kenya Curry, Arts-in-Corrections Program Coordinator/Administrative Assistant, has over seven years of experience in administrative work and customer service.  She previously worked at the Willow International Center where she served as a student aide in student admissions and student activities.  Curry graduated from CSU, Fresno, with a degree in Criminology and a legal studies certificate.  Kenya coordinates ACTA’s artistic residencies in California Correctional Institutions, currently in five prisons including Valley State Prison, Pleasant Valley State Prison, California Correctional Institution, California State Prison, Los Angeles County, and California Rehabilitation Center. Kenya joined ACTA in November 2010.  Contact Kenya.