Chief Executive Officer
Philip’s journey to the Cuyama Valley began with the Zannon Family Foundation in 2014. From the foundation’s sizeable impact investment of land and building assets, Philip worked with the foundation's trustees to found Blue Sky Center with the vision to reconnect rural and urban communities and share scalable models with other communities working to address the same issues. Most notably, Philip led the transition of Blue Sky Center as an independent nonprofit and grew the organization to a staff of seven, with the support of AmeriCorps VISTA grant. Philip holds a B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Chief operating officer
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.
Director of finance and creative projects
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.
food action coordinator
Elise came to the Cuyama Valley with a passion to improve healthy food access in struggling economies. Her work at Blue Sky Center involves developing culinary arts and nutritional programming for the youth in the valley, while working with the community to create a more resilient local food system. She’s previously worked as research assistant studying grassroots community development. Elise holds a B.A. in Environmental Sustainability and Urban Planning from the University of Virginia.
Changing gears from living in Maine, Ryan joined Blue Sky Center with aims to create a more vibrant future given the shifting political and social climates in America. Ryan’s technical background plays a key role into his work creating efficient internal processes as the organization expands and develops new partnerships. Ryan holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Maine.
Rural Community designer
Matthew joined Blue Sky Center with the mission to use design as a tool to improve communities whose voice isn’t always heard. His current work with the organization includes housing research and advocacy and facilities design/management. Before moving to the Cuyama Valley, Matthew served two years in the Peace Corps as a design-builder in rural Panama working on housing and environmental infrastructure projects. Matthew holds a B.S. in Architecture from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he also worked with the American Institute of Architects Foundation.
Rural Community designer
A Los Angeles native, Julia migrated to the Cuyama Valley utilizing her skills as a designer to build capacity at Blue Sky Center in Creative Placemaking and Housing focus areas. Julia holds an M.F.A. in Graphic Design from Otis College of Art & Design and a B.A. in Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Julia has a diverse background of art and design, having also studied furniture making at the Penland School of Crafts and participated in DesignBuildBLUFF at the University of Utah. She has professional experience as a freelance designer, adjunct studio teacher, and independent book publisher, with a focus on design as a public interest tool.