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MUSEUM STAFF                                                          

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Interim Executive Director

Laura Mitchell

Laura Mitchell, Ph.D. earned her doctorate in American History at Yale University, anticipating a career of teaching in higher education. When her first job landed her at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, she enjoyed an extraordinary opportunity to experience the transformative power of lifelong learning in museums and cultural institutions.

She has worked in the education and culture nonprofit sector for more than 30 years and has worn many hats, including professor, fundraiser, writer, strategic planner, nonprofit board member, and Executive Director. After four years as Executive Director at Visions Museum of Textile Art in San Diego, she joined the Women's Museum of California as Interim Executive Director in March 2023.

 

She is also the Board President of the San Diego Museum Council. A native Californian, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Pomona College before going to Yale for her doctoral studies. In her free time, she enjoys time with family and friends, classical music, and travel.

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Programs Coordinator

Yessenia Perez

Yessenia graduated from San Diego State with a BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. She continued her studies at San Diego Mesa College where she earned her Museum Studies Certificate focusing on museum education.

 

She has been a part of multiple gallery and museum installations throughout San Diego and is excited for her new role at the Women’s Museum of California. Yessenia is looking forward to strengthening our relationship with the local community.

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Associate Director

Melissa Jones

Currently, the associate director of the Women's Museum of California, Melissa Jones started as a Museum volunteer in 2015. She oversees all aspects of daily operations for the museum including program management, marketing, archives, and museum volunteers. 

Melissa serves on the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame Committee. Previously, she organized the Women's Film Festival, San Diego and was Director of Operations for Run Women Run.

 

Melissa has a BA in History from Sonoma State University and a masters in International Relations from Kingston University in London. 

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Artistic Director

Katie Ruiz

Katie Ruiz is a Chicana artist (1984-current), She is an interdisciplinary artist, making work in painting and fiber sculpture. She is most well known for her blanket series in which she portrays couples standing or lying under colorful Mexican blankets. She is also known for her activism work with refugees, The US/Mexico Border and the creator of The Pompom Project.

 

Ruiz creates interactive exhibits with museums including the New Children's Museum, The Oceanside Museum of Art and The San Diego International Airport. She has a Bachelors' Degree of Fine Art from Northern Arizona University and a Masters degree of Fine Art from The New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting & Sculpture in NYC.

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