Staff Bios

Meet the MoAD team!

Linda Harrison

Director - CEO

Linda Harrison is Director and CEO of the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). Since her appointment in 2013, Ms. Harrison has expanded the museum’s mission, advocating for contemporary art through its exhibitions, public programs and education programming.

While maintaining MoAD’s focus on art through the lens of the contemporary Black diaspora, the museum has presented landmark exhibitions by notable and forward-thinking contemporary artists, like Toyin Ojih Odutola, Alison Saar, Mickalene Thomas, and Todd Gray. Ms. Harrison is a proud Getty Foundation Executive Leadership Institute Fellow, exceptionally skilled in organizational transformation and strategic planning. Under her leadership, MoAD annually presents over 80 public programs, igniting diverse and inclusive conversations on race and culture in the arts and disruptive public programming connecting social justice with the arts.

In 2015, she established a MoAD Chef-in-Residence program (other museums have since followed suit) and appointed Chef Bryant Terry to that position. Chef Terry is a scholar, published author, and James Beard Award Winner. He curates an in-conversation series with food and culture historians, authors and chefs.

Within Ms. Harrison’s first year at MoAD she redesigned the museum – with the help of the Gensler Architect Team – doubling the number of galleries. She has increased fundraising by 60 percent and raised museum attendance by 25 percent. Additionally, in 2017 she secured a $1 million dollar gift for MoAD, the largest in its history.

Ms. Harrison is equipped with over 20 years of leadership experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining MoAD, Ms. Harrison founded two San Francisco businesses, worked as a Vice President for Eastman Kodak along with other Fortune 500 companies.

Ms. Harrison has garnered awards for her work on behalf of the Yerba Buena Arts district. Among other awards, she is a recipient of the 2017 Yerba Buena Center of the Arts 100 List and the 2017 Arts and Culture award from San Francisco’s Commission on the Status of Women. Additionally, in her career as Realtor, she received numerous awards for her work with the city of San Francisco supporting affordable housing initiatives for low and moderate income residents.

Over the years, Ms. Harrison has served on Bay Area non-profit boards of directors, including Frameline, Horizons Foundation, Earned Assets Resource Network (EARN), the California Association of Realtors, the San Francisco Association of Realtors and the Chinese Association of Realtors. She currently serves on the boards of Project Open Hand, the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, the Yerba Buena Alliance and Frameline.

Ms. Harrison enjoys living in San Francisco’s Russian Hill neighborhood with her wife, Ellen. They love attending film festivals and traveling on ships with funny names to faraway places.

James G. Leventhal

Deputy Director and Chief Development Officer

James G. Leventhal is a museum leader who has been in the field as an arts professional for over 30 years. With significant experience in all elements of high-impact museum work from education, marketing, collections digitization, and organizational development to fundraising. James last served as the Director of Development at the San José Museum of Art. In the Bay Area James has also worked at The Exploratorium (Director of Development), The Contemporary Jewish Museum (Deputy Director, Development), the Judah L. Magnes Museum (Director of Development and Marketing), and the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco during the tail end of the Campaign for the New de Young.

Before moving to out west, James worked for eight years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, first as a research assistant in the Department of European Paintings, then as a manager on a large-scale collections management project, and eventually as a leader in the development department. Previous to his years at the Metropolitan, James worked in art galleries in New York, along with early years at The Phillips Collection and the Baltimore Museum of Art. With undergraduate study at NYU and graduate work at City College, New York in art history and museum studies, James completed an MBA from John F. Kennedy University. School. James also recently completed the Getty Leadership Institute. Leventhal has served on grant making panels for the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Museum Loan Network, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and been a Museum Assessment Program leader for the American Alliance of Museums. Leventhal has lectured nationally and extensively on best practices in museum management and fundraising.

Linda Spain de Bruin

Chief Financial Officer

Linda joined MoAD in March 2013. Her financial career began as a cost accounting instructor at the University of Texas in Austin. Since then she has logged over 25 years as an accomplished financial and operational manager in the private and non-profit sector. As CFO, Linda successfully organized and grew a consumer product company to a multi-million business catering to Fortune 500 retailers.

She has also managed a cross-cultural exchange program and an international economic policy program. Linda’s expertise includes annual budgeting, financial modeling, cash flow forecasting, lending and legal negotiations, and audit management. Linda is also adept at creating order out of chaos and streamlining processes, making her an ideal member of FENG, the Financial Executives Networking Group. Before diving into the world of finance, Linda studied the German, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Japanese languages.

Emily A. Kuhlmann

Director of Exhibitions & Curatorial Affairs

Emily Kuhlmann has been engaged at MoAD in various capacities since 2011. She organized past exhibitions such as The Grace Jones Project (2016), Where is Here (2017) and The Ease of Fiction (2017)As Director of Exhibitions and Curatorial Affairs she has curated the following solo artists exhibitions: Alison Saar: Bearing (2016), A Matter of Fact :Toyin Ojih Odutola (2016) and Todd Gray: My Life in the Bush with MJ and Iggy (2017). 

Emily received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Irvine in Art History with a minor in Women’s Studies. Returning back to Bay Area, she received her Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies from California College of the ArtsHer research interests include performance studies and critical race art history. 

Soleil Summer

Exhibitions Associate

Soleil Summer has been employed at MoAD since April 2017. Previously, she has worked in administrative roles at Pro Arts Gallery and Betti Ono Gallery in Oakland, CA. She is has also been a part of the Bay Area-based arts collective, Blackmail Collective, since Fall 2016.

Mark Sabb

Director of Marketing & Communications

Mark Sabb is a digital strategist, artist, and designer dedicated to the intersection of arts and community. Through independent collaborations Mark has cemented himself as a cutting edge digital artist in San Francisco, and in 2014, along with Michael Warr, Mark was granted the Creative Work Fund award as a part of the multimedia project, Tracing Poetic Memory in Bayview Hunters Point.

Paul T Plale

Graphic Designer & Marketing Associate

Paul T. Plale joined MoAD in April 2014 as a graphic design intern. He studied at Academy of Art University in San Francisco pursuing Web Design & New Media with a focus on brand design, where his work was featured multiple times in the AAU Spring Show. Prior to working at MoAD, he designed for African American Shakespeare Company and served as President of SpeakOut! Slam Poetry.

Born in Albuquerque, raised in central Pennsylvania and educated in San Francisco, Paul interprets life and art from many angles at once. He enjoys exploring the conflux of subcultures as they interrelate and spark new ideas. These ideas find their way into his art, writing and design.

When he’s not in museums & galleries, Paul can be found browsing comic shops or record stores, and volunteering at Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society. His work was recently featured in the graphic novel anthology Not Forgotten, and in the 3rd Street Village Gallery.

Demetri Broxton

Director of Education

Demetri Broxton joined MoAD in January 2016 as the Director of Education. An Oakland-native, Broxton has over 16 years of experience working in the field of education and the arts. At MoAD, he leads the educational programs that enhance the visitor experience at the Museum. His department helps to connect youth, educators, and the public to the historical, cultural, and intellectual contributions of the worldwide African Diaspora.

This appointment marks Broxton’s second tenure with MoAD. He previously served as Education Program Manager for MoAD from 2007 through 2010. Outside of his role at MoAD, Demetri is an independent curator and educator. In 2012, Broxton founded Demetri Broxton Studio, an independent curatorial service and has served as curator for the City of Berkeley’s Civic Arts galleries since 2013. Demetri’s largest projects include Decoding Identity, which he co-curated at MoAD in 2009 and Past Forward, at the African American Art and Culture Complex (SF) in 2010.

Demetri graduated from San Francisco State University with an M.A. in Museum Studies with a dual emphasis on Education and Curatorial Practice. He received his Bachelors of Fine Arts from UC Berkeley in Art Practice and Education.

Richard Collins

School & Community Outreach Coordinator

Richard Collins joined MoAD after working the last six years as a classroom teacher in Bay Area K-12 public schools and teaching college freshman at California State University East Bay while earning his MA in Applied Anthropology. His interest in museums began as an undergraduate student when he pursued several internships including an education internship with MoAD. After this internship, Richard went on to become an intern with the Smithsonian Institution at the National Museum of African Art.

In addition to classroom teaching, Richard has held many positions with San Francisco museums and cultural institutions including working as a docent, in public education, and managing visitor services. This combination of frontline museum experience and classroom teaching skills lead him to the role he currently holds with MoAD leading school groups and public tours as well as training docents and managing volunteers.

Richard is a California native who grew up in the East Bay and has also lived in Washington D.C. and San Francisco. He has been a lifelong Golden State Warriors fan.

Elizabeth Gessel, Ph.D.

Director of Public Programs

Elizabeth leads MoAD’s Public Programs department; and she is a critical thinker with excellent research, writing and communication skills. She has been developing and running public programs at MoAD since 2010. She has launched new program series on spiritual practices, folktales, sacred music, and dance. With a Ph.D in history from the University of California at Berkeley, Elizabeth is experienced in the educational and community organizing field, having worked with educational reform organizations and public school volunteers.

Elizabeth participated in a Museum Studies program at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Since then, she has worked with museums developing and producing educational curriculum, leading school tours, and working with community non-profit organizations. She brings a level of leadership and experience to MoAD, having worked with educational institutions and community groups managing projects and programs.

Elizabeth likes almost any activity she does with her family who include her two sons, Milo and Henry, and her dog, Lucy.

Suzy Drell

Director of Special Events

Known for her creativity and calm demeanor, Suzy has produced events in the Bay Area for over 20 years. With a Fine Arts background and the sole owner a small high-end design firm, producing décor, original design, product development and large outdoor installations, she has a reputation of taking an idea from inception to execution that creatively integrates events, environments, video production, digital media, decor and technical production.

Find more on Suzy at

Eric Brizee

Director of Facilities

Eric joined the MoAD staff in January 2016. He graduated Ohio University in 1979 with a B.S. in Journalism / Theater Criticism, but has spent a majority of his career in museum services. He managed offices and operations for the Western Association of Art Museums, the Art Museum Association of America and the American Federation of Arts, and served as Operations Manager for the San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum (now Museum of Performance & Design) for ten years. Other positions included Executive Officer to two advisory boards for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and four years as Operations Manager at Rising Sun Energy Center, an energy efficiency jobs training and workforce development non-profit based in Berkeley.

Eric continues to be active in the arts as a producer (Keep Your Day Job Productions)and as a playwright and performer. His credits include shows at The Hypnodrome, the New Conservatory Theater, the Cable Car Theater, Theater Rhinoceros, and the American Conservatory Theater Studio.

Nicole Winthrop

Visitor Experience Associate

Bringing people of varying fabrics together through Art is a mission for which Nicole’s skills, experience, and passions were made to serve. Visitor Experience Associate is a role that calls to mind welcoming, guiding, and serving customers as a Server, Host, and Demo Specialist; and brings to attention going above and beyond in providing support, professionalism, and market insight to clients, sellers, and buyers as a certified Real Estate Salesperson; as well as conjures the organizational, administrative, and technical skills she has developed over the 15+ years working in Sales, Hospitality, and Customer Service. Further, serving the immigrant and international academic communities as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher (as well as a traveler), has put her in touch with identities ranging from Malian professors to Japanese makeup artists, Colombian traders to Chinese small business owners, Polish actresses to high-ranking Ghanaian military officers.

As an ESL teacher, Nicole was sometimes put into contact with people dispersed from their homelands for economic and social reasons and often became their first real connection in the United States. Aside from being a compassionate person by nature, having lived abroad has certainly brought to her attention ways to interface with the sensitivities and needs a person has when being somewhere different and seemingly strange. It is the same aptitude developed as a call center representative, where she connected with people by listening, a skill that helped her launch a new health food product from conception to Whole Foods shelves; generate 2.5M over four years selling real estate; and administer to the company’s largest supplier as a Partner Relations Associate for a cultural exchange program based in San Francisco.

Having worked for different companies and organizations in the Sales and Customer Service industries, Nicole’s ability to acclimate and adapt to varying operating systems in a timely manner has prepared her to take on new projects with confidence and eagerness, recognized, for example, by Au Pair Care, who had promoted her from Administrative Assistant to a role responsible for managing all correspondence and communication with the company’s most significant international partner based out of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Certainly, given NIcole’s experience and interests, one would understand her thrill at being a part of San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora!


Nia McAllister

Visitor Experience Associate

Nia McAllister joined MoAD in December 2017 as part of the Visitor Experience team. With previous experience in sales and customer service from working at World Market and the Claremont University Consortium Library, Nia enjoys engaging with the public and connecting people with information and resources. Nia applied her passion for working with people to an arts context as an intern at the American Museum of Ceramic Art, where she worked as a sales associate and managed the museum store.

As a poet, avid reader, and environmental justice advocate, Nia values working in spaces that creatively facilitate collective learning and dialogue through art and community engagement. Having initially connected with MoAD as a visitor and participant at many of the museum’s public programs, Nia witnessed first-hand how MoAD successfully serves the community as a vital educational and cultural resource. Drawn to the community-based mission and impactful ways MoAD creates space for the exchange of ideas, art, and conversation about the African Diaspora, Nia is excited to be working directly with the public to help others have equally as meaningful experiences with MoAD.