Minita Gandhi (she/her/hers), National Program Director, is a Los Angeles based writer/actor/healer/activist born in Mumbai, India. Chicago will always be her theatrical home. Her critically acclaimed solo-show Muthaland, which was Jeff Award-nominated for best New Work and best Solo Performance. Off-stage, Minita’s socio-political work focuses on cultivating community, disrupting isolation, and healing. Gandhi is currently piloting a program with the team at AGE (Advance Gender Equity in the Arts) that bridges Portland based BIPOC women and non-binary emerging artists with BIPOC National Theater Leaders. She is the former National Co-Director for StateraArts Mentorship, created a global women’s leadership program for senior executives, and has led sessions on business leadership at National Conferences. As an activist and speaker, Minita was the keynote speaker for Commit2Change in 2018, a former PBS Pledge Host, and the moderator for the Seattle Arts & Lectures special event featuring best-selling novelist Imbolo Mbue in 2019. She teaches workshops on Artivism, does work to support survivors, and is the Founder/CEO of www.minitastudio.com. Regional Theater includes Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theater. TV includes Chicago Fire, Chicago PD (Dr. Prospere), Onion News Network (Nina Shankar), Brown Girls (Mussarat). She voices Shuma Mukherjee and others on Disney’s Mickey’s Mised-Up Adventures. www.minitagandhi.com Instagram/Twitter: @minitagandhi
Yasmin Ruvalcaba (she/her/hers), Operations Manager, is a Portland based director, writer, and arts advocate. She centers her work around advancing equity, honoring mentorship and education, and promoting community outreach and engagement. Yasmin is currently working at AGE as the Operations Manager. In partnership with AGE she founded The Theatre Collective. Her time is also spent working with Portland Center Stage as a teaching artist. Yasmin has also engaged with her community through directing. Most recently she was also honored to be the assistant director for La Ruta (Artists Repertory Theatre) and La Isla En Inviero/The Island in Winter (Bag&Baggage Productions). Yasmin is also an active writer in the community. Two of her monologues are currently featured in Theatre Diaspora’s Here on This Bridge: The -ism Project.
Lane Cooper (he/him/his), Executive Leadership and Administrative Manager, is a a recent graduate of Portland State University, with a B.S. in Psychology. His background lies primarily in leadership and organizational development, which he hopes to bring into the nonprofit world. As a transgender individual, gender equity is very close to his heart, so he is very much looking forward to bringing a unique gender perspective to AGE and helping AGE provide resources and support for women and non-binary artists. And with a brief history in animation, Lane recognizes the value of being creative. His love of whimsy and storytelling shines through in both his academic and professional spheres.
Nic Fredericks (they/them/theirs), Fundraising Associate, is a volunteer and event coordinator, stage manager, program developer, grant writer, and overall many-hat-wearer. They enjoy working with community-focused non-profits in areas of social justice, arts, and the environment. After attending Beloit College for Theatre Production and Media Studies, they headed back to the West Coast to continue their journey down the Cascade Mountains. Since moving to Portland they’ve had the pleasure of working with Advance Gender Equity in the Arts, The Old Church, We Love Clean Rivers, and Oregon Parks Forever. They dedicate their initial love for non-profit work to their experiences at Nature At The Confluence and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and will absolutely talk off your ear if you ask them about it. You can usually find them reading gardening zines, graphic novels, and new works of speculative fiction when they’re not cooking with their partner.
Casey Kaimele Yasuda (she/her/hers), Social Media & Marketing Consultant, is a Native Hawaiian Los-Angeles based social media marketer born and raised on Oʻahu. When she’s not working on boosting brand awareness and building an engaged online community, you can find her sewing, illustrating, or attempting to cook. She’s currently working on co-founding an inclusive indigenous-led book club that explores themes of identity and place by indigenous writers in the Pacific and beyond.
Sloane A. L. Spencer (they/them/theirs), IGNITE Administrative Consultant, is a trans nonbinary theatre maker based on Piscataway/Nacotchtank land (Washington, DC). In their 19 years of professional technical theatre experience, they have worked with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Arena Stage, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Silk Road Rising, and more. When not making theatre or knitting, Sloane can be found running a small mutual aid fund for theatre folk affected by the pandemic shutdown.
Andréa Morales (she/her/hers), Grant Writer, is an actor, voice artist, and theatre maker, born and raised in Arizona. She has worked nationally as a performer, activist, and teaching artist. She serves as Artistic Associate of Magnolia Theatre Company. Andréa enjoys teaching acting and improvisation to students at Earlham College and Wittenberg University. She has worked as a member of the Ensemble at Childsplay Theatre Company in Arizona for two decades, where she continues her passion of creating theatre for young people. As part of her graduate work in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, she created the Today’s TYA workshop, which brought together 7-8 grade students in the community and LSU students to create and perform TYA shows. Regional theatre credits include Southern Rep Theatre, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, Swine Palace, Sedona Shakespeare, The Geffen Playhouse, Mixed Blood Theatre, Teatro Luna, American Theatre Company, and Adventure Stage Chicago. Her recent voice work includes Cincinnati Bell, GE, and Uber. She is a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild. Andréa lives with her husband David and their furry children Avery and Braxton.
Brenda Jean Foley (she/her/hers), Grant Writer, is a Phoenix-based actor, activist, and producing artistic director of The Bridge Initiative: Women+ in Theatre, working to create more professional opportunities for local women and non-binary artists in all theatrical disciplines (www.bridgeinit.org). She has appeared on stages across the U.S. and internationally, and has more recently devoted much of her free time to working on representation. With The Bridge Initiative, she has helmed and been award many grants, providing ongoing funding for the organization. She was nominated for the Phoenix Mayor’s Arts Award in 2019. Proud member Actors’ Equity Association.
Sonia Comstock (she/her/hers), Board Intern, is a Portland-based poet and writer currently finishing up her B.S. in Sociology at Portland State University. She gained the amazing opportunity to join the AGE team through a leadership program at the PSU Honors College, and she is deeply passionate about AGE’s goals of inclusion and equity for marginalized genders in the arts. In the future, she plans to enter a Library & Information Science Ph.D. program and continue her journey in academia. Her previous work has been published in the Pathos Literary Magazine and the Anthos Research Journal. In her free time, you can usually find her playing with her cat, obsessing over Sylvia Plath, and reading feminist fantasy novels.
Board of Directors
Jane Vogel Mantiri, Founder, Board President, is an actor, an activist, and a clinical psychologist. She has an extensive history of championing for social justice issues. She holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Oregon. She served on the Board for the Center for Community Counseling in Eugene, OR for fifteen years, including tenure as Board President. Jane was born in Indonesia, lived in the Netherlands and became a naturalized US citizen in 1967. Jane and her husband live in Portland. They have two grown children.
Whitney Vogel, Board Treasurer, is a founding AGE Board member. She is currently working on her PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Portland State University. Whitney served most recently as director of continuous improvement at Angie’s List in Indianapolis, IN where she led enterprise-wide project management and business process improvement initiatives. She has an MBA from the University of Chicago with a concentration in Finance, Entrepreneurship and Strategic Management. Whitney is passionate about projects that benefit the greater good, and believes that Age and Gender Equity in the Arts can positively impact women in the arts and help create healthier communities.
Arnie Perlstein, Board Secretary, is a retired attorney and would-be author of literary sleuthing/analysis about Jane Austen’s feminist “shadow stories.” He was born in NYC, attended Williams College & Michigan Law School, practiced commercial real estate law for 30 years in South Florida, and moved to Portland with his wife two years ago. His commitment to revealing Austen’s feminism (suppressed for two centuries) helps fuel his passionate support for AGE’s goals for gender equity in the arts.
Dayna Corwin, Board Member, is in attorney who recently produced her first play. She graduated from Lewis and Clark College of Law and has been a litigator for over 25 years. She believes strongly that art is the best medium to move our culture/society to higher levels of understanding, tolerance, curiosity and social justice through inspiration (versus confrontation). She joined AGE because of its advocacy; it provides the structure and opportunity to put these beliefs into practice.
Dr. Leroy E. Bynum Jr, Board Member, is the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Portland State University. He began his position at PSU in Fall 2017. Dr. Bynum is a performing artist, appearing in operatic roles, as featured soloist, and in solo recitals throughout the United States, Europe and South America. He has maintained a vibrant voice studio which launched students into successful careers as performers and pedagogues. Dr. Bynum was recently honored by the University of Georgia as one of its Graduate Alumni of Distinction. This award recognized graduate alumni who excelled in their respective fields.
Angela Smith-Lund, Board Member, brings a varied skill set to the AGE Board. She has a degree in French and Literature, and has competed in collegiate Track & Field. She currently works in accounting at Arnerich Massena. Angela served as a legislative aid and correspondent for a member of the US House of Representatives. She moved to Portland in 2006 to work as a sports and fashion model. Her life motto is “Be fearless. Be crazy. Win big.” and describes herself as a “fearless contrarian”, Angela has joined AGE because she believes in the mission to effect social change through the beauty of the arts.
Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara, Board Member is a licensed psychologist and an actor. As a bilingual, Latina psychologist of Puerto Rican and Cuban descents, Dr. Gil-Kashiwabara has a passion for providing culturally-responsive mental health care. Much of her work has addressed service inequities and culturally-specific service provision in Latinx and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities. She is Past-President of the Oregon Psychological Association (OPA) and currently serves as the Oregon delegate on the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives. She is the first Latina to serve as president of OPA and founded the OPA Diversity Committee. She was awarded the 2019 American Psychological Association Presidential Citation. Her private practice provides psychological consultation and training for cultural competency.
Eleanor is the mother to two inspiring daughters, ages 8 and 14 who are both actors. It is her hope that they, along with all other women in the arts, will benefit from the amazing work being done by AGE. Eleanor is thrilled to serve on the AGE Board, merging her skills and passions as a social justice psychologist and an actor.
Serena Zilliacus, Board Member, brings a variegated background to the AGE Board. She was born in Australia, is married to a Frenchman, and her daughter and son were born in Holland. Serena has British and American citizenships. Other nationalities and religions in her immediate family, cover the globe from Finland to Egypt; Quakers to Islam. She started her career in theatre and television between London and Sydney and Paris, working as an actress, stage manager, producer and director. When her daughter was born in Amsterdam in ‘98, Serena changed careers and became a Homeopath. She travelled to Boukombé, Bénin, West Africa, with Homeopaths Without Borders, to teach local people how to prescribe remedies for diarrhea to 3rd degree burns to childbirth. Serena contracted a serious form of Malaria in 2010 and changed careers again. She has served as Board Member and Chair on the Board for Portland based Northwest Dance Company. Serena is excited at the prospect of helping AGE to further their mission with women in the arts.
Pamela O’Hare, Board Member, is an actor and an advocate for social justice with a background in business management and tax analysis. She holds a B.S. in Business and Leadership from Marylhurst University, and believes that genuine curiosity and kindness are her superpower.Her mother is from the Caribbean island of Dominica, and her father is from Minnesota. Pam is a Military Brat who mostly grew up in San Jose, California before relocating with her employer to Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. After moving thirteen times in twelve years she returned to Oregon, and fully unpacked in the Portland area in 2000.An early supporter of AGE, Pam is inspired by its simple, efficient, effective strategy, and she is honored to help navigate the future of AGE as a board member.
Francene J. Blythe-Lewis, Board Member, specializes in cultural education, cultural arts programming, and executive management by building sustainable grant programs, curating cultural art programming, creating philanthropic partnerships, and advocating for representation of cultural voices. Her passion to inspire others with knowledge and discovery has helped expand learning and understanding of Native peoples in the Western Hemisphere, and worldwide. Francene currently serves as the Executive Director at Vision Maker Media in Lincoln NE. She is a proud Native American woman, as Eastern Band Cherokee and Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota from her father’s side, and Navajo from her mother. She is married and is proud of her four grown children.
“I joined the AGE board because I believe in its mission and value that equity and equality must be represented and presented in the theater arts and AGE is making that happen.”
Dr. Patricia Norris