Charles Desmarais: President
Charles Desmarais was appointed President of SFAI in May 2011, and assumed responsibilities on August 1, 2011. Desmarais served as the Deputy Director for Art at the Brooklyn Museum from 2005-2011, overseeing all curatorial departments, conservation, collections, exhibition management, and the education division. Under his leadership, the museum emphasized the dual goals of scholarship and public engagement, becoming a recognized leader in using new technologies and innovative strategies to increase audience participation. From 1995 to 2004, Desmarais served as the Director of the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, revitalizing the institution and spearheading the planning and fundraising for a major new building designed by architect Zaha Hadid. When the building opened in 2003, The New York Times declared it “the most important American building to be completed since the end of the cold war.” From 1988 to 1994, Desmarais was the Director of the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, California, and in the 1980s, he directed the California Museum of Photography at the University of California, Riverside. An accomplished critic and curator, Desmarais has written scores of articles and essays, and organized more than 50 exhibitions of the work of artists including Lee Friedlander, Paul Kos, Tim Hawkinson, Ron Mueck, and Ilene Segalove. Desmarais is a native of New York, and earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the State University of New York, Buffalo. He has also been a fellow at the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and participated in the Museum Management Institute program at the J. Paul Getty Trust.
Follow President Desmarais on Twitter at @sfaiprez.
Elizabeth O’Brien: Vice President of Enrollment
Elizabeth O’Brien joined SFAI in March 2010 as the Director of Admissions, and has been pivotal to significant increases in student enrollment. Prior to SFAI, O’Brien had seven years of Admissions experience at NewSchool of Architecture + Design, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and Woodbury University. Before beginning her career in enrollment, O’Brien taught English and Literature at a private university in Istanbul, Turkey. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Literature from San Diego State University and a Master of Arts degree in English from San Francisco State University.
Cynthia Perry Colebrook: Vice President of Institutional Advancement
Cynthia Perry Colebrook has been helping non-profits accomplish their missions for over twenty-five years. She has served major cultural and religious institutions, hospitals, schools, youth and environmental organizations, and social service agencies. She was the first Managing Director of the Cincinnati Parks Foundation, and successfully recruited an influential board, guided the fledgling organization through policy development and strategic planning, and established an award-winning newsletter, an annual special event, and on-going fundraising programs. During the past decade she has directed capital campaigns with goals of $10-35 million for Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Ms. Colebrook is a national provider of training and technical assistance for the Corporation for National and Community Service providing teaching and coaching for Senior Corps, VISTA, and AmeriCorps. She has participated in Leadership Cincinnati, a program of the Chamber of Commerce, and chaired a task force for the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments. She has served the Association of Fundraising Professionals both locally as Chapter President, and nationally as a member of the Continuing Education Review Board, Conference Education Advisory Council, and the Parity Task Force.
Espi Sanjana: Chief Operating Officer
Espi Sanjana joined SFAI in June 2008 as the Chief Operating Officer. Sanjana had been the Chief Financial Officer at two art colleges prior to joining SFAI -- Ex’pression College for Digital Arts (three years) and Academy of Art University (four years). Prior to that, he was CFO in various international manufacturing companies. Sanjana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering and an MBA, both from Columbia University in New York City.
Larry Blair: Director of Financial Aid
Larry Blair has been working in the financial aid field since 1981, in various types of postsecondary schools. Prior to accepting the position at SFAI, Blair spent 16 years administering the financial aid programs at New England Institute of Technology, enjoying exception-free audits and a high satisfaction level from students and parents. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Boston State College.