Helen Kupka, Commission Chair and Arts Partners and Advocacy

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. Prior to 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). 

Brad Willis Headshot

Brad Willis, Commission Vice-Chair and Public Art

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 Headshot

Deb Kaller,  Facilities

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 Universit 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. Prior to 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

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, Programming (Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts) and Special Events

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.  Prior to his appointment as 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".

William M. Lowman, Development and Special Events

Bill Lowman graduated from the University of Redlands with a BA in History,  Music, and Civilization. He started out as a young vocalist, conducting church and community choirs as well as performing as a tenor soloist. He helped found the Las Vegas Symphony, consulted for many small arts organizations, and moved into arts administration as the founder and Director of the Nevada School of the Arts; a summer music camp and year-round community school. In 1985 he was appointed the Executive Director of the Idyllwild Arts Foundation. He retired in 2011 as the President of Idyllwild Arts. From 2012-2014 he served as Director of the University of Redlands Salzburg Semester. A new resident to Coronado, Bill brings to the Cultural Arts Commission a wealth of experience, having over the years assisted in the development and training of many of the outstanding musicians, dancers, artists, actors, writers, and filmmakers who are working at the heart of contemporary art and culture across the US, Europe and Asia. Lowman served as the ad hoc chairman of Coronado CREATES, a strategic plan for arts and culture as well as the former Vice-Chair of the Commission. He is currently leading the Commission's efforts to explore the establishment of a community foundation.

VACANT, Communications: Public Relations & Media

Communications: PR and Media Program area of the Cultural Arts Commission and is responsible for the website and the popular weekly e-mail publication 3 on Thursday.

Commission Staff Liaison


Kelly Purvis, Senior Management Analyst/Arts, and Culture

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 Dorsee Productions. Volunteer experience includes work with the University of Southern California, Coronado Unified School District, P.E.O. International, and the City of Coronado. A strong proponent of preservation, Purvis served on the City's original Residential Standards Improvement Committee as well as the Vice-Chair of the City of Coronado R-4 Standards Committee. She was named the San Diego Save Our Heritage Organisation "Preservationist of the Year" in 2007 and was honored by the University of Southern California in 2012 with an Alumni Service Award.