OUR TEAM

The Arts Fund carries out its mission with the help of our talented staff, volunteers, and board of directors. 

Staff & Volunteers

Ceilidh Birkhahn, Executive Director

Ceilidh Birkhahn (BFA SAIC ’23) creates multimedia art and design work at the intersection of fantasy and technology, including music, writing, performance, HTML/CSS, and illustration. They co-run Procrastinating Writers United, and published anthologies Both False & True (2019) and Long-Winded (2024) through Lip Think Press. Their work has been exhibited and/or published various places, most recently the Electronic Literature Organization (un)linked 2024 Conference. They currently work alongside several arts organizations and educators, including The Arts Fund and OneStopDRAMAShop, focusing on making the arts more accessible to a wider local and global audience.

Bella P, Gallery Manager

Bella currently works for the Arts Fund supporting administrative duties, curating guest experiences, and promoting MSME on various social media platforms. When Bella is off the clock, Bella loves listening to music, watching TV, and writing- both fiction and non-fiction. Bella is so honored and excited to be a part of the Arts Fund team.


Board of Directors

Jamie Dufek, President

Jamie Dufek has been serving on the board of The Arts Fund since 2015. A native Minnesotan, she earned a BA in Studio Art and holds a MBA with a specific focus in nonprofit management and corporate social responsibility. Currently she works for TIGER 21, a membership organization for successful, high-net worth entrepreneurs, and has her own consulting business for non-profits focused on fundraising and board cultivation. Jamie’s passion is centered around service and community, and she currently serves as Communications Chair for The Women’s Fund, and also serves on the board of A Different Point of View. Jamie is a mixed media and print artist and teaches art classes on the West Side with students K-12.

Ronnie Cox, Vice President

Ronnie Cox is the Director of Investments in the Santa Barbara headquarters of Pensionmark. Ronnie is responsible for the investment manager search process, quarterly client reporting and market reviews, developing analytical tools and reports, and other research projects. In addition, Ronnie chairs Pensionmark’s Investment Committee, which sets strategic policy and directs a broad number of activities related to investment services Pensionmark provides. Ronnie is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, holding a B.A. in Business Economics and a minor in Technology Management, has earned the Certified Funds Specialist and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist designations, and holds his Series 7 and 66 registrations. Ronnie joined the Board of The Arts Fund, recognizing the importance of its programs and wanting to contribute to the promotion of the arts in the Santa Barbara community.

Kayvon Salafian, Treasurer

Kayvon Salafian has an extensive background in sales, business development, project management, finance, and recruiting. He is passionate about creating and sustaining new businesses and business divisions, and founded the Business Development Division and Lead Generation Program at Pensionmark. Mr. Salafian graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Economics with an Emphasis in Accounting and a Sports Management Minor, and also earned his certificate in Technology Management. He completed his Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship at Pepperdine, and currently maintains his Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation as well as Life and Health Insurance licenses. He brings experience with insurance benefits, tax compliance, banking, and general accounting to The Arts Fund as Treasurer. Living in Carpinteria, he cares deeply for local community and continues to dedicate time with Partners in Education, The Unity Shoppe, and United Way of Santa Barbara. In his free time, he enjoys long walks on the beach with his adorable pug, Lilly, and enjoying all the restaurants the area has to offer.

Kitty Balay, North County Liaison

Kitty Balay is an actor, director, and dialect coach, and has appeared in more than 80 productions at PCPA. Kitty worked in several west coast theaters, including appearing as Patsy Cline at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, and teaches Voice and Speech in PCPA’s Professional Acting Conservatory. As Engagement Director, she develops events to enhance experiences and reach new audiences. Kitty is the creator and director of the company’s literacy program, PCPA READS, which brings language to life and instills in students the magic of reading. Kitty is a member of Actor’s Equity League, VASTA (Voice and Speech Trainers’ Association) and a Registered Music Together®​ Teacher. She earned a BA from Brown University, and an MFA in Acting from UC Irvine. Kitty has served twice as a mentor twice with The Arts Fund’s Teen Arts Mentorship Program, which resulted in the following performances: “Journey to Home”​ – ​The Immigrant and Outsider Experience Expressed through Song, and “The Homecoming Court of Self-Expression​”​ – ​An Exploration of Identity Through Song.

John Hood, North County Liaison

John Hood was invited to start the first Teen Mentorship in the North County in 2015. The group (18 students from 4 area high schools) spent weeks creating a huge mural depicting imagery influenced by the Discovery Museum (one of the patrons, along with the Squire Foundation). John was raised from an early age in Los Angeles, where he began his lifelong fascination with the sea. Considered a non-objective painter, he is best-known for highly textured mixed-media surfaces with meditative forms. In the early 1990s, John held his first solo exhibition of painting and film at the Individual Artists of Oklahoma gallery in Oklahoma City. His work gained viewership nationally and abroad with group exhibitions in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, Paris, and Florence. By 1998 he was working as both artist and educator, and became tenured faculty at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. Then until now, John has worked with the Central Coast community as exhibition organizer and juror for a variety of art shows. Over the last few years, he has devoted his time and attention to both family (lovely wife Debra and two beautiful daughters) and academic issues, where he continues to be an advocate for emerging local artists in Santa Barbara County.

Elena Abel

Elena Abel is ecstatic to be joining the board of directors for The Santa Barbara County Arts Fund, where she can channel her enthusiasm for creativity and community engagement. A seasoned professional with over 8 years of experience in the dynamic field of telemedicine, and having served as a project and operations manager, Elena has demonstrated expertise in streamlining processes and ensuring the efficient delivery of healthcare services across diverse settings. Over the last year, Elena ventured into real estate with a vision to thrive. Her innovation and commitment to excellence drive her in understanding clients’ needs and working tirelessly to help them achieve their goals. Beyond professional endeavors, Elena finds joy in a variety of hobbies. Whether savoring a glass of fine wine, exploring the great outdoors, or engaging in a spirited game of lawn bowling, Elena embraces life’s pleasures with her beloved puppy, Perri, by her side. With a blend of professional expertise, a vibrant zest for life, and a dedication to making a positive impact, Elena continues to embrace new challenges and opportunities with unwavering determination and optimism. Whether it’s through supporting local artists or volunteering her time and skills, Elena finds fulfillment in contributing to the cultural landscape of the Santa Barbara community.

Whitney Chiu

Whitney Stull Chiu is a seasoned operator who thrives on transforming potential into tangible success. She currently serves as the SVP of Portfolio Strategy & Operations for The MFO Group, partnering with the leadership team to implement strategic & organizational excellence across their portfolio of operating companies. Whitney is also co-founder of Joone Creative, and devoted more than three years to fostering an art business built on wellness, inspiration, craftsmanship, and community. Her executive journey began at Shutterfly, where she served as the General Manager of both the Treat and Wedding Paper Divas brands, before moving into a functional leadership role as Senior Director of Integrated Marketing. Prior to Shutterfly, Whitney spent five years at Bain & Company delving into comprehensive market research, M&A due diligence, and spearheading operational efficiency initiatives. Her balanced combination of leadership acumen and collaborative management style, coupled with expertise in general management, branding, and marketing, has yielded a track record of success across various industries. Whitney graduated from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College with honors and has a BA from Stanford University in Public Policy. She moved to Santa Barbara in 2022 with her husband Peter, daughter Cora, and dog Ocho.

Kim Collins

Kim Collins has been aware of the The Arts Fund for years, and continues to be impressed by how the organization pivoted to an all-virtual format, allowing The Arts Fund programs and mentorships to continue and succeed virtually. Now, more than ever, the Santa Barbara County community needs these kinds of opportunities and creative outlets! They are thrilled to help continue the mission of the The Arts Fund and the incredible work being done.

Angi Daus

Angi Daus has a passion for building community connection through service. The arts is one avenue that is of great value to her, among others such at environmental conservation, public health and social justice. Angi has her MPA from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN and her BA from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. Angi is grateful to be living in beautiful CA, and lucky to have made Santa Barbara her home; it serves her needs to be outside running, hiking, backpacking, walking her dog, and wine tasting quite well.

Stephen Hiatt

Stephen Hiatt moved to Santa Barbara in 1982 as a student at UCSB. After graduating with degree in engineering he started TEK Computer Services, an IT consulting company. In 1993 he joined the docent program at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and is currently a Senior Active Docent with an emphasis on Latin Modernism. He served 4 years on the Docent Council board, and in 2008 joined the board of The Arts Fund.

Simon Kiefer

For 35 years, Simon Kiefer worked in New York City and Santa Barbara as an Urban Planner by day, while keeping fingers and toes in the visual arts and dance communities. Now in retirement, he is fully immersed in the Arts. He served many years on the Board of Art From Scrap/Explore Ecology, and currently serves on the Board of the Santa Barbara Country Dance Society, the Community Arts Workshop Outreach Committee, and now The Arts Fund. He is also an active member of the community of local poets. For The Arts Fund, he has participated in Art Walks and last year’s Monster Drawing Rally fundraiser.

Jordan Robinson

Jordan Robinson (MA, AMFT) has been a resident of Santa Barbara for over 20 years, where he has worked within the business and nonprofit sectors throughout various industries. Whether in the field of real estate or as a clinical mental health therapist, being relational while remaining client- and mission-oriented has been a fundamental value of his. As a community volunteer, he has engaged in local projects through different Young Professional Networks, and served in leadership positions within committees or board director seats for various organizations. Jordan finds using the arts as a form of creative expression a wonderful source of fulfillment; he has participated in amateur art shows from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles. Serving on The Arts Fund board allows Jordan the opportunity to blend his business and creative identities while serving the residents of Santa Barbara.