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Our Board of Directors

Board, Italian American Arts and Cultural Association of San Diego (IAACASD)
Victor Laruccia

September 28, 1941 - March 17, 2022

Retired Telecommunications Administrator & Station Manager/Director of Video and TV production, City of Pasadena.  Former film professor, Brown University & UCSD (joined 1st UCSD undergrad class in 1966; UCSD BA, 1973; Ph.D, 1975).  Board Member: House of Italy. Board Member: Italian Cultural Center. Board of Providence, R.I., Italian Settlement House.  Founding member of the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena.  Founding member of IAACASD.

Carolynn Crooks-Mueller

Carolynn Crooks-Mueller joined the Board of the IAACASD in May, 2016. She has over 30 years of Executive Management experience in corporations in the Human Resources and Job Placement industry, serving the last 10 years in the Retirement Industry. Her Italian heritage and the interest in the Italian language and film were the reason for joining the IAACASD Board. Having a B.A in Sociology, minor in Art History (UCSB) and a Masters in Library Science (CSU, Fullerton), she has been on many San Diego nonprofit boards. She is currently an Art Consultant for Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery in La Jolla.

Ron Sahmel
Treasurer, Certified Public Accountant

Ron Sahmel began his accounting career in 1977 at Considine & Considine in San Diego and became partner there and managed the tax department.   From there he went on to work as the Chief Financial Officer of a real estate construction and development company in La Jolla. In 1993 Ron joined Nick Oliva and Tom Goddard to form Oliva, Sahmel and Goddard, a CPA firm in San Diego. Ron managed the tax department and provided expertise in accounting, taxation, tax planning, and business consulting. Ron founded Sahmel & Associates in January 2008 and is committed to partnering with his clients to provide excellent, on-time, comprehensive taxation, accounting, and financial services. Ron has served on numerous for-profit and non-profit boards over the years.

Sandra Silverstein
Vice President

Sandra Silverstein met “film” at the Film Society of the University of Wisconsin where she received a BA in History and an MSW. After 25 years dealing with children in trouble, she turned to the arts in retirement. She is a curator for the San Diego Jewish Film Festival and its Community Partners Chair and Co-chair of CJC Presents, the performing arts series at the Center For Jewish Culture, Lawrence Family JCC.

Sandra met Italy when her husband received an appointment at the Universitá di Padova where her family spent two and a half incredible years.

Jeff Quinn
Board Member

Jeff was born in San Diego and has lived here all his life.  Jeff and his wife, Mary, live in Mission Hills with a second home on Orcas Island in Washington.

Jeff graduated from UCSD in 1973 with a degree in American Literature.  

Most of his professional life centered on real estate development and investments with a few side bars along the way.

In the early 1990’s, he formed a partnership with San Diego’s Hahn family to purchase and operate the San Diego Sports Arena.  He was a minority owner and the general manager of the Arena and the San Diego Gulls Hockey Club.   

In the last ten years, he formed a series of investment partnerships to purchase/develop self-storage properties including three facilities in Madrid, Spain.  

Jeff has served on several boards and held executive positions with non-profit organizations, including San Diego Jazz Festival, San Diego International Sports Council, San Diego Hall of Champions, San Diego Children’s Museum, and the Orcas Island Jazz Festival.

Saundra Saperstein
Board Member

Saundra Saperstein is currently a member of the San Diego Jewish Film Festival's Executive Committee and Film Selection Committee. She also recently held the past chair position. Saundra has taught at the University of Utah (Department of Theatre) and was the former Director of Marketing for the State of Utah Film Commission. Film has been a big part of Saundra's life. She also served as the Media Director and Event Producer for Sundance Film Festival and Media Consultant for the Maui Film Festival.

Gail Baldi Mackler
Board Member

Raised in a Chicago Italian family, educated at George Washington University (BFA Theater Arts) and USIU (MFA Theater Acting & Directing), met Mel in college, married in Chicago. Came to San Diego for graduate school, lived in Ocean  Beach since 1972. Two daughters raised in San Diego, one now living in Lucca, Italy, other in NYC.

Acting experience at the Old Globe, San Diego Rep, and North County Theater; recipient of three Old Globe Atlas Acting Awards.

Founding Board Member, San Diego Ballet, seven years. Educational Outreach Director (Administrator and Narrator) of the San Diego Ballet for 15 years serving an average 20,000 students per year. This program has become a model for both primary and middle schools throughout San Diego County.

Speech and Drama instructor at US International University, and Founder & Director of Del Mar San Dieguito Jr. Theater, an after-school theater program for secondary school children.

Moderator for the League of Women Voters live Candidate Forums.

Life-long love affair with theater and performing arts. Travel as much as possible, with Italy a prime destination.

Ron Miriello
Board Member

Ron Miriello received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design from Colorado State University and La Poggerina, Italy.  He works extensively now in the build environment, applying branding principals to help turn buildings into places. Ron works to advance design-thinking by lecturing and serving organizations such as: American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), IDEATE Charter High School and the San Diego Innovation Center.  He is an AIGA National Fellow and recipient of the AIGA lifetime achievement award. His 100 Worlds Project sculpture exhibition is exhibition through 2017 at the San Diego International Airport.

Rosamaria Ruggeri
Board Member

Rosamaria Carrara Ruggeri is a native of Italy, she was born in Bergamo, a beautiful town 30 miles north of Milan. She started her professional teaching career, after she received the Laurea in Foreign Languages and Literatures at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan with the emphasis on German Language and Theater.

She moved to San Diego in 1982 and in 1991 she received her Master Degree in Comparative Literature at the University of California San Diego. Her focus was on the Representation of Italy in German Literature and dealt with Politics of Representation.

From 1986 she has taught Italian language, Literature, Cinema, Opera, Cultural Studies, at UCSD, Mesa College, Stella Maris Academy, Italian Cultural Center and since 2004 she is a Lecturer in Italian at San Diego State University.

She also likes to  cultivate  her interests in Italian Cinema and Opera, which she has developed since  her early years in the very rich cultural environment of Milan. As a subscriber of the San Diego Opera Season and the San Diego Italian Film Festival   she communicates her enthusiasm to students and friends by inviting them to take part.

Paola Richard
Board Member

With a University degree in Marine Biology, Paola became an expert in environmental communication and media relations, working in Italy as a journalist, information officer and campaign coordinator for national and international organizations.

She specialized in publishing about health, food, environment and wildlife, for the National Geographic Italian website, The Huffington Post and the main Italian news website La Repubblica. She currently owns Gelato Love in Carlsbad, in partnership with her cousin Cristina Amoroso.

Helena Stage, CPA
Board Member

Raised in Hawaii, Helena has over 30 years of professional experience managing finance and accounting departments for a spectrum of organizations.  Most recently, Helena has consulted for several M&A projects in the $70-$100m range.  Previous positions include: VP of Finance at Awarepoint Corporation a technology startup, CFO for Florexpo, a $150 million flower importer and bouquet manufacturer, to name a few.  Helena currently serves as Treasurer for NuSI, a non profit organization supporting research of obesity and related disorders.

Helena holds a CPA license in the State of California.  A graduate of Mills College in Oakland, Helena has also attended the MBA program at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, as well as continuing education classes at UCSD in real estate development, human resources, and finance.  

Married to an Architect, Helena is an avid Active traveler participating in cycling tours throughout Europe and Asia as well as Arts and Architecture themed city tours.

Jose Alonso
Creative Director

As Creative Director & Founder at dcba in San Diego, California, he leads a hand-picked team of talented directors, strategists, designers, writers, and photographers in partnering with incredible clients to make a difference in how people understand a quality brand experience. 

Born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico, he began his career as an architectural designer, which molded his fine-tuned attention to the smallest of details while keeping the big picture top of mind. This meticulous attention to all aspects of a design project eventually led to him to opening his own branding agency in 2007, transforming businesses from start-ups to global corporations.

He regularly participates at design conferences and universities on the topics of Brand and Design in a trans-media era. His focus centers on how to integrate all channels best while maintaining a strong and consistent brand.