Helen Kupka is passionate about the arts. She has always had an interest in the arts and as a young girl she would stage plays in the garage and put on skits after dinner until her parents begged me to stop. Growing up, Helen played the viola and participated in youth and community orchestras. In college, she was a folk singer (it was the 60’s after all) and minored in theater arts. Since moving to Coronado in 2010, Helen has held several jazz concerts in her home and she is actively involved with the San Diego Rep, La Jolla Playhouse, and the San Diego Symphony. In 2015, she was fortunate to volunteer with the Commission in staging two outdoor events in the Cays in celebration of CC125, Coronado’s 25th anniversary. Before joining the Commission Helen served on the Pubic Art Working Team. She also served on the Coronado Cays Homeowners Association for five years. During that time she led as both Vice President (2014-15) and President (2015-2017).
Educated in the literary and visual arts, Brad Willis is an author, musician, and videographer. Brad has produced dozens of video profiles on artists, authors, musicians, performers, and art-related events in Coronado. He is also the producer of a documentary short on the 50th anniversary of the San Diego Coronado Bridge that was shown at the Coronado Island Film Festival. Brad is a former foreign correspondent for network news who covered stories around the world and also served as a war correspondent. His reports from Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation earned the Columbia duPont Award, considered the Pulitzer Prize of broadcast journalism. Brad is also a published author, musician, and painter. "Art transcends language geography and cultural differences," he says, "and has the power to comfort us, connect us, enrich us and enhance our community."
Deb Kaller expresses her creativity as both an artist and an engineer. Her lifelong passion has been ceramics, maintaining both a home studio as well as working in group studio environments. Deb has traveled extensively and enjoys food and cooking. Other creative outlets include a travel sketchbook and a cooking blog. Her professional background is in the semiconductor industry, where she worked with worldwide teams to develop new technology and make cell phones smaller and smarter. Deb has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Arizona. She has two patents and has made numerous presentations at industry conferences. She started a consulting company in 2008 which advised multiple companies on technology strategy and intellectual property. Before joining the commission, Deb served as a volunteer with the Visual Arts working group including the installation of the C3 Gallery, and then with the Communications team, leading upgrades to the CAC’s social media presence.
Mariah Gillespie, Arts Education, and Performing Arts Commissioner holds a BA in Music from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and an MA in Journalism & Communications from the University of New South Wales, Sydney. She has played the piano since age 5 and the harp since age 10. Mariah’s piano studies have earned her national and international awards, and at age 13 she was a featured soloist (harp) with the Southern Great Lakes Symphony Orchestra. She has taught private and group music lessons in the United States and Australia, having completed Yamaha Music Education Certifications in both countries. Her teaching experience spans from leading classrooms of 3-4-year olds to conducting private lessons with students ranging from 5-75 years old. Mariah is the founder of Coronado-based Ms. Mariah’s Music, and she is passionate about arts and music education.
Mark O'Brien joins the Cultural Arts Commission as Commissioner of Programming (Visual, Literary, and Performing) & Special Events and has a passionate appreciation of the arts. Since making Coronado his home in 2019 after years of "off-island" in downtown San Diego, he has dedicated himself to volunteering and working for the community. Before he was appointed Commissioner, Mark joined with Commissioner Deb Kaller on a project to inventory all the community facilities with event space on the island so there is a clear understanding of what is available to local artists, the commission, and the community interested in holding special events. He found joy connecting with the leadership of hotels, churches, schools, parks, and city facilities in town and generated a lot of excitement about hosting future Cultural Arts Commission-sponsored events. Mark is a licensed Real Estate professional at Salas Properties in the village and is a member of the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, a certified Military Relocation Professional (MRP), and has the Military and Veterans Housing Certification (MVHC). A "jack-of-all-trades", Mark jumps at any chance to assist, support, and be a cheerleader for all commission efforts. He lives in the village with his wife Samantha and their new puppy, "Buffy O'Brien".
Teresa Espaniola joins the Cultural Arts Commission leading the Programming Area. She has enjoyed creating art since childhood, which was encouraged in the household. With a portrait artist father and landscape artist grandmother, art has been a natural avenue for her to follow. Her mother was very crafty, which broadens Teresa’s pallet of creativity. Her background as an art teacher for children and adults prompted her to publish a book called Silly Goose Gramma Games which is filled with arts and crafts, word games, and much more. Since moving to Coronado in 2005, Teresa has been active in her own artwork as well as working with public and private schools in the San Diego area. Advocating for the health of the ocean, she collaborated with teachers and their students in elementary schools in Southern California to create public art using beach trash. She was hired by KPBS to produce educational projects for a national campaign based on the Jim Henson Company’s Splash and Bubbles Children’s animated series. She has volunteered and donated art to several nonprofits in San Diego over the years. Teresa has lots of ideas for promoting the visual, literary, and performing arts in the community. “Having benefitted from the Coronado Cultural Arts programs, including the Orange Avenue Banner project, the C3 Gallery, the Flower Show, and art receptions in the Winn Room and Spreckels Center, I would like to give back to the Coronado Cultural Arts and to the community of Coronado. I look forward to working together with the Cultural Arts Commissioners and volunteers.”
Tillie Vuksich is a wife of 23 years and a mother of five who now resides in Coronado, CA. She is a freelance writer and college student in a Human Services degree program. Tillie has donated her time and talents to Tacoma Art Museum as an education docent, has taught arts and crafts at her children’s elementary school, has organized several public art displays consisting of fiber art, written grants, and managed the social media of several non-profits. She enjoys meeting new people, learning, and collaborating on community projects. Tillie loves traveling, writing, reading, knitting/crochet/sewing, kayaking the bay, walking the beach, playing Skip-Bo with her family and friends, and a good cup of tea. Her main goal in serving the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission is to support artists and her community to find ways of being creative and together during a pandemic. Tillie heads the Communications: PR and Media Program area of the Cultural Arts Commission and is responsible for the CoronadoARTS.com website and the popular weekly e-mail publication 3 on Thursday.
Kelly Purvis was hired as the first Contract Arts Administrator for the City of Coronado and staff liaison to the Coronado Cultural Arts Commission. She joined the team in December of 2013. In February 2019 she was hired as a Senior Management Analyst for Coronado and continues to work in support of Arts and Culture and the Cultural Arts Commission. A local arts supporter and longtime community volunteer, Purvis assists the Cultural Arts Commission in fulfilling its mission to strengthen, coordinate, and connect the arts with the citizens of Coronado. Purvis served as the first director of development for the Coronado Historical Association and did event coordination for the San Diego political fundraising firm of