Em joined Blue Sky Center in 2016 with a vision to challenge traditional community development methods. She envisions building capacity in the Cuyama communities through creative placemaking and grassroots entrepreneurial empowerment. Her role at Blue Sky Center has led to a focus on developing Blue Sky’s business plan through creative placemaking strategies. Em holds an M.B.A. in Social Entrepreneurship and Strategic Leadership from Antioch University in Santa Barbara, CA, and a B.A. in Arts Administration from Drury University.
Prior to joining the team full time in 2018, Jack Forinash served Blue Sky Center for two years as an organizational development consultant. Jack brings to New Cuyama over a decade of rural development experience, with a focus on affordable housing, nonprofit finances, organizational transparency, and research. As a leader in conscientious design/build ethos, he brings empathy and consideration to the practice of applied arts, architecture, and good old-fashioned fun.
Melanie Shaw is a longtime resident of the Cuyama Valley and loves all things hospitality. She brings to the team a wealth of knowledge about the region, experience from her most recent work as program coordinator for Cuyama Valley Recreation District, and a background in agriculture business management from Bakersfield College. Melanie is excited about taking on our hospitality initiatives and developing a space at Blue Sky Center for events and retreats that continue to benefit our surrounding townsites.
food action coordinator
Cecilia came to this Valley from the Central Valley. She feels connected to Latinx communities and is here to serve and be a bridge in their access to food services and community building opportunities. Cecilia is here to share her stories generously and provide spaces for community members to speak on their needs. She has worked harvesting fruit in the Central Valley and with the USDA, as well as volunteer work with different Latinx organizations.
Returning to his home state of California, Cameron linked up with Blue Sky Center in order to contribute to the economic development and food security of rural communities. He spent the last two years in an indigenous village in Panama while serving in the Peace Corps, where he helped with community organization, business development, and training farmers in sustainable agriculture methods. Prior, he managed farms in Humboldt, CA and Calca, Peru, and taught English abroad for three years in Peru, Korea, and Chile. He hopes to use his experience with intercultural exchange and integration in New Cuyama to form strong bonds between the people of the community and Blue Sky Center, while contributing new ideas centered on community, business, food systems, and agriculture. Cameron holds a B.A. in Communications from UC San Diego.
Rural Community designer
Having lived between and within rural spaces of Oregon, Washington, and North Carolina, Rimona comes to the Cuyama Valley committed to engaging students, families, and community through arts education and outreach. Prior to Blue Sky, Rimona has worked in a thrift-store-turned-art-museum, organized for a socially engaged arts conference, shelved library books, DJ-ed community radio, and edited independent publications for, by, and with young people.
Rural Community designer
Sam grew up in the Pacific Northwest. After studying Industrial Design at California College of the Arts, he moved to Brooklyn, NY where he lived for the past four years. His work experience ranges from Urban Agriculture & Education to Sculptural Production & Research and is currently working with the organization on housing research/advocacy as well as design. Sam is interested in exploring the potentials of art and design as a tool for social engagement.