GET TO KNOW THE JUNIOR CENTER
The Junior Center of Art and Science encourages children’s active wonder and creative responses through artistic and scientific exploration of their natural environment. The Junior Center’s programs integrate art and science to promote children’s fresh, hands-on and personalized interaction with their natural world. The Junior Center contributes to the development of citizens who value nature and appreciate the importance of art and science in our community.
After World War II, members of the Junior League sought new ways to serve the community. An advisory committee of fifty-two educators, artists, government officials and community leaders recommended working with children in creative fields to provide new interests, encourage talent, and foster understanding in a climate of common interests. Inspired by this idea, the Junior League invited the Art League of the East Bay and the East Bay Children’s Theater to join them in exploring the concept of establishing a new center for children.
In 1949, these three groups began an extensive study to determine the needs and goals of a “Junior Center”. The Oakland Recreation Department became interested in the project and invited the groups to join in the establishment of a “Junior Center” in Mosswood Park, creating a unique alignment of public and private agencies. After a five year fundraising campaign, the City’s allocated $70,000 was matched by the group. Following construction of the new facility the Junior Center of Art opened to the public in May of 1954. Inspired by the recent pioneering of space, the “Center” added Science to its name by the end of the decade.
In 1992, at the invitation of the Mayor, the Junior Center relocated to Lakeside Park – providing a wealth of new art and science resources.
In October 2019, the Junior Center will celebrate 65 years of service to Oakland and the greater community. If you would like to support our expanding efforts, please consider donating or becoming a member of the Junior Center of Art and Science.
Board Of Trustees
Joel Hart President
Joel is a Bay Area native. Joel studied Philosophy at the University of California. He has worked for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E_ for 14 years, and is currently a Supervisor in Gas Operations, supervising PG&E work in the East Bay area. He now lives in Berkeley with his wife and 3 children. In 2014, for his work with the JCAS, Joel received PG&E’s prestigious Mielke Award honoring PG&E employees who have made outstanding contributions to their communities.
Caroline Purves Vice-President
Caroline was born in Canada but has lived in Berkeley for over 20 years. She received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Caroline worked over 30 years in private clinical psychology practice in 3 countries: United States, Canada, and England. For several years, she ran a Head Start program in Rodeo, focusing on low-income families of diverse backgrounds. At the end of her working career, Caroline had a private practice in Berkeley and Pleasant Hill, and was a Supervisor at the West Coast Children’s Clinic in the Fruitvale district in Oakland. Her work always included children and adolescents, along with adults. She retired from active practice in 2012. Caroline was drawn to the JCAS through her involvement with one of the JCAS’s supporting neighborhood associations, the Aesop Auxiliary, and elected to stay on the board.
Susan Spiller Acquistapace Treasurer
Susan was born in New Orleans, LA, but was raised in the Bay Area. Although Susan’s undergraduate program at University of California, Berkeley, included a Pi Beta Phi and an English major, her career pathway led elsewhere. After several years at Bank of America, Susan developed a passion for biology. Susan received a second Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, and a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology from the University of California, Berkeley. Marriage, three post-doctoral positions in Plant Physiology, Molecular Biology, and Biochemistry of chlorophyll biosynthesis paralleled the birth of three daughters. Susan spent 25 years as Professor of Biology at Mills College. She retired in 2014, and is presently Professor of Biology Emerita at Mills.
Brian Dickerson Trustee
Brian was born and raised in Oakland, CA. He attended the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his BS degree from the Haas School of Business. Brian has been employed by PG&E for over 13 years and currently holds the position of Customer Relationship Manager. He is married with two children. Brian is passionate and committed to working with children. He enjoys working with children and finds joy in helping them develop new skills and being part of their development.
John Howell Trustee
John, an Oakland native, currently lives in Oakland and is a construction manager with Harris and Associates. John has provided project management expertise to a number of projects in Oakland, including the Elmhurst Community Prep Elementary School, Oakland Community Land Trust affordable Housing, Kaiser Permanente Phase 2, and La Escuelita Downtown Education Center, Phase 2. He has also worked as a securities and bond trader. He holds a degree in Finance from Fisk University, and has completed programs in real estate development and construction small business strategic partnership
Tamara Rasberry Trustee
Tamara Rasberry is a 16-year veteran of the Capitol Community. She recently joined the staff of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. As the Assistant Deputy for Strategic Business Partnerships and Outreach, Ms. Rasberry is responsible for building public and private partnerships in the Bay Area and Northern California. Ms. Rasberry was most recently the manager of State Agency Governmental Affairs for Sempra Energy, is responsible for maintaining Sempra’s interests in all state regulatory agencies and legislative advocacy. Ms. Rasberry lives with her husband, Kirby Harris, and their two daughters in Oakland, California.
Karli Maeda Trustee
Karli was born in Fresno, CA and raised in the Bay Area. She earned her Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Karli has worked in the natural gas industry for 16 years, of which, the last 6 years have been with Pacific Gas and Electric. She is a licensed Mechanical Engineer in the State of California and is currently the manager of a transmission gas engineering department at PG&E. She enjoys running, playing slow pitch softball, and volunteering.
Rich Smith Trustee
Rich holds a BBA and MBA from the University of Oklahoma and a JD from the Quinnipiac University School of Law. Rich has 30 years of experience in HR. He is currently Vice President, HR Strategy & Management for Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. Rich values community service. He has served on the boards of Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Black Parent Initiative and Albertina Kerr Centers before moving to the Bay Area.
Dominique is a visual artist, educator, and cultural worker with experience working with youth and adult learners in a variety of community contexts. Prior to joining the Junior Center of Art and Science she served as the Studio Education Director at the Richmond Art Center, the Director of Education at Leap Arts in Education in San Francisco and the Manager of Teacher Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. She received her Master’s degree in Education from the University of California, Santa Cruz, her B.A. in Studio Art from San Diego State University, and studied Drawing and Painting at the California College of the Arts. Additionally, she has over 15 years of cumulative experience in hip-hop, ballet, and bellydance. As an experiential learner, Dominique believes in the intrinsic value of creative exploration in the learning process and loves to explore new ideas through observation, dialogue, and hands-on making.
Ryan Davis JCAS Staff
Ryan has over 10 years of experience in substitute teaching, private tutoring, and outdoor science education throughout the East Bay. He manages Junior Center operations and is a part of the Junior Center’s development team.
Cybele Gerachis JCAS Staff
Cybele has been a teaching artist in the Bay Area for over 15 years. Cybele is a mixed media painter who shows her work locally and nationally. She is currently completing her MA in Art Education at Boston University.
Keith Hennessy JCAS Staff
A lifelong naturalist, Keith studied Ecology and Herpetology in Florida and Venezuela at Parupa station. He has worked with Aquarium of the Bay and The Chelonian Research Institute as an educator and animal caretaker. Keith has returned to school to pursue a masters in Elementary Education, and is excited to be working with children and developing their love of the natural world.
Bethany Vanderwest JCAS Staff
Bethany takes joy in working with children in their natural state— inquisitive, engaged, driven by their own wonderings. In over a decade of working with young people, she has yet to meet one that isn’t fascinated with science and art. After completing her teaching credential and Master’s in Education, Bethany spent the next five years of her career blending art with science curriculum both in the classroom and in outdoor education. Bethany is committed to making these topics that she is passionately curious about available to the diverse community of Oakland. She believes all children should have access to creative outlets as well as the encouragement and a safe space to explore them.
William Bocheff JCAS Faculty
Bill is a builder and currently a teacher at Town School for Boys in San Francisco. Bill also teaches at the Junior Center. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was both a pre-med and a major in Anthropology. Bill has been associated with the Junior Center for 28 years.
Julia Marchand JCAS Faculty
Using references from wildlife dioramas, public gardens and sometimes her children, Julia Marchand explores themes of nature and identity in her paintings and works on paper. Marchand has exhibited in galleries in London, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin and Mexico City. Her work can be found locally through the SFMOMA Artist’s Gallery at Fort Mason. Marchand holds a BA in Art History from American University and an MA in Art Education from Boston University. Currently, she lives with her partner and two children in Alameda CA.
Leticia Javier JCAS Faculty
Leticia Javier is an artist and educator from Los Angeles, CA. Growing up in Mid-City, a lively multi-cultural environment, sparked her interest in art. Her arts practice began in High School while attending an Arts Magnet High School. She continued to explore her curiosity in the arts and achieved a BFA in Painting and Drawing at California College of the Arts. The Bay Area’s beautiful natural landscape has continued to inspire her art and nature has become a significant muse to her arts practice. She enjoys sharing her fascination of arts and crafts with people of all ages. She thrives on providing youth with creative outlets and to inspire self-directed curiosity.
Suzanne Pierre JCAS Faculty
Suzanne Pierre is a practicing scientist and science educator. She is from the northeast but recently relocated to the Bay Area. She is currently finishing her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her research focuses on how climate change affects how forests and soils interact. Her teaching is centered on helping students understand natural processes through observation and first hand experience. She aims to strengthen students’ sense of ability and confidence as investigators. She also writes about society, nature and science.
Ngozi Oparah JCAS Faculty
Ngozi Oparah is a writer, teacher, and mental health advocate. She received her B.S. from Duke University in Neuroscience and Philosophy and is currently completing her MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts. Her work is grounded in narrative psychology, writing as healing, and personal identity theories and exploration.
The Junior Center of Art and Science
Tuesday – Saturday | 10am – 3pm
Lakeside Park | 558 Bellevue Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610