Careers in the Creative Economy Course

Careers in the Creative Economy provides students with information, tools, and strategies to embark on arts career exploration and preparation, including strategies for addressing challenges and opportunities related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Students will explore their career values; network with guest speakers in creative fields (alumni, faculty, graduate students, professional artists); and prepare and create career-related documents (update resumes, cover letters, project proposals) as well as learn about a variety of Arts careers through guest speakers, readings, videos, and podcasts. 

This course, funded by a Title V, Part B, Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) grant: Graduating and Advancing New American Scholars: Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (GANAS PPOHA)—from the U.S. Department of Education— will help the campus increase the readiness of Latinx, low-income, and students of color from UC Santa Cruz and CSU Monterey Bay to apply and succeed in graduate programs and careers. ART 177 is co-sponsored by the ART Department and the HSI Initiatives at UC Santa Cruz.

About the Careers in the Creative Economy (ART 177) instructor:

shelby2-0394.jpg Shelby Graham has been an arts educator and arts advocate for over 40 years and served as the Director/Curator of the Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery at the University of California, Santa Cruz, from 1999 to 2021. Graham earned her MFA in photography from San Jose State University and specializes in alternative and experimental photography with innovative contemporary curatorial praxis. Please see her website for more info:

Calendar of Guest speakers for Careers in the Creative Economy 

If you or your students are interested in sitting in on one of the lectures or would like to see the recorded video please email


April 6, 2022

Melissa Lesh: Documentary filmmaker “The Story of Plastic” and other films.

Melissa Lesh is an award-winning director, editor, and cinematographer, who was born in Mumbai, India, and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. Her work has been screened at festivals around the world as well as on platforms such as National Geographic, PBS, and Discovery. Lesh is a 2019 Sundance grantee and 2022 artist in residence for the Jacob Burns Film Center in New York. Melissa is one of the cinematographers for The Story of Plastic. She is currently directing, producing, and editing a feature-length documentary film for Amazon Studios.


April 13, 2022

Juan Morales-Rocha: Design Analyst at Xbox Game Studios Publishing

Juan Morales-Rocha is a Game UI/UX Designer based on the Central Coast of California (born and raised in Watsonville, CA). He has a B.A. in Art & Design: Games + Playable Media, and a  B.S. in Cognitive Science: Artificial Intelligence/Human-Computer Interaction from the University of California, Santa Cruz. As a designer with a background in game design & cognitive science, he creates unique interfaces and interaction systems that focus on player immersion and game feel. He is currently working as a Design Analyst at Xbox Game Studios Publishing. Juan is the creative director and co-founder of an indie game studio called No Static Games.





April 20, 2022

Ela Troyano & Krista Fabian DeCastro: from Creative Capital, NY

Ela Troyano is an interdisciplinary filmmaker, born in Cuba and based in New York City. The Arsenal in Berlin presented a career survey of her work in 2012 including rarely seen films from the eighties. Recent shows include live film performances at the New Horizons Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland (2011) and Berlin International Film Festival (2010). She is currently collaborating with her sister, performance artist Carmelita Tropicana on Post Plastica, a hybrid performance presented at the Colony Theater in Miami (2013) and El Museo del Barrio in NYC (2012). Her films include the PBS documentary La Lupe: Queen of Latin Soul and featurette Carmelita Tropicana Your Kunst is Your Waffen (Your Art Is Your Weapon). Troyano has worked as a writer/director in film, theater, and television and improviser in experimental music and dance. She attended writing workshops with Maria Irene Fornes at INTAR and Gabriel Garcia Marquez at Sundance. Select awards include funding from the Ford Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting, Independent Television Service, New York State Council on the Arts, and United States Rockefeller Fellowship.

Krista Fabian DeCastro is a cultural manager committed to serving bold artist voices through artist professional development and career services, grantmaking, festival and event programming, and international cultural exchange. She is Senior Manager of Artist Engagement and Programming at Creative Capital, where she has designed artists' professional development programs for 14 years. Previously, she served as program director of Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center, manager of the international programming department at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and manager of Africa Exchange, a program of 651 ARTS that supported collaborative exchanges between performing artists in the United States and Africa. Krista holds a BA from The New School and a MA in Arts Administration from Columbia University, with additional studies in Hungary and Ghana. She lives in Chicago with her family.


May 4, 2022

Betty Avila: Self Help Graphics, L.A.

Betty Avila’s (she/her) work has centered on the intersection of the arts and social justice, with a particular focus on community building, public space, and youth empowerment. She grew up in the Northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Cypress Park and has held positions with the Getty Research Institute, The Music Center, and the Levitt Pavilion. Betty joined Self Help Graphics’ leadership in 2015, an organization with a 48-year nationally-recognized artistic legacy of empowering the Chicana/o and Latinx communities of Los Angeles through the arts. She is the Chair of the Latinx Arts Alliance, sits on the boards of Little Tokyo Service Center, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and was a founding board member of People for Mobility Justice. Betty is a passionate arts advocate, centering equity and justice, and she sat on the inaugural Advisory Committee for Los Angeles County's Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative as an appointee of Supervisor Hilda Solis. Betty has been invited to speak for the Ford Foundation, The Getty Foundation, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, California Association of Museums, Western Art Alliance, and more. In 2017, Betty was named one of C-Suite Quarterly Magazine’s NextGen 10 in Philanthropy, Arts and Culture, and an Impact-Maker to Watch by City Impact Labs. She received her B.A. in Literature at Pitzer College, has an M.A. in Arts Management from Claremont Graduate University, and is a 2008 Fulbright Fellow to Korea.


May 11, 2022

George Luna-Pena: The Broad, L.A. Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP)

George Luna-Peña serves as the Program Director for the Diversity Apprenticeship Program (DAP) at The Broad in Los Angeles, CA. The DAP provides paid, full-time apprenticeships in preparation/art handling to apprentices from underrepresented groups in museums. Before joining The Broad, Luna-Peña was a Research Manager for the Media and Participatory Politics Group at the University of Southern California and the Special Projects Coordinator at Generation Justice. Luna-Peña earned an M.A. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico and a B.A. in Latin American History from U.C. Riverside.



May 18, 2022

Eric Rosales, Feature Film Production Department Manager & Christina Weiland, Technical Director  from Pixar Animation Studios

Eric Rosales is a Feature Film Department Manager at Pixar Animation Studios and is currently the Producer of the next original Pixar Spark short film. Upon graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 2000 with a BA in Film and Digital Media, Eric worked in television and live-action feature film production before joining Pixar in 2004 as the Rendering department coordinator on The Incredibles. Most recently Eric managed the Art department on Pixar's upcoming feature film, Lightyear.

Christina Garcia Weiland is a Lead Technical Director in Sets at Pixar Animation Studios. Christina graduated from Texas A&M University's School of Architecture with a Bachelor of Environmental Design and studied Visualization for her master's degree. Before joining Pixar in 2002 as a generalist intern on Finding Nemo, Christina designed custom homes for an architecture firm in San Antonio, Texas. She is currently finishing up work for the upcoming Lightyear film.