Julie Fry, President & CEO 

Julie joined California Humanities as its President and CEO in 2015. Previously, Julie served as a Program Officer for the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California. She has extensive experience working and volunteering with arts and culture organizations and philanthropic institutions in the US and the UK, and has been deeply involved in arts education advocacy at the national, state, and local levels. Julie earned her BBA in Economics and French from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, an MBA in International Finance from the University of St. Thomas (Houston), and is pursuing an MA in Historic Preservation from Goucher College (Baltimore). She can often be found in libraries, making music, or spending time with her children, one in college and one a recent graduate.

Neha Balram, Community Engagement Coordinator 

A Bay Area native, Neha started at California Humanities in 2014 as Executive Assistant to the CEO and is now the Community Engagement Coordinator. Prior to joining the organization, she earned her BA in History from the University of California, Irvine, and worked in the music industry, both in journalism and at an indie record label. Neha devotes her spare time to her work as a Commissioner for the City of Hayward Community Services Commission, which provides funding recommendations to City Council for local nonprofits that benefit and serve the city’s residents.

Brett Connor, Database Administrator

Brett joined California Humanities in January 2016 to manage and provide ongoing strategy and support for our database system. With over 8 years of database administrator experience, Brett has managed database systems for various industries, ranging from an office product company to a company providing medical services. Born and raised outside of Chicago, Brett currently resides in Los Angeles where he is also a church musician. Brett received his BA in Business Information Systems from Illinois State University, and a Master of Church Music from Concordia University Chicago.

Felicia Kelley, Project & Evaluation Director 

Felicia represents California Humanities in our Los Angeles office, where she has worked on grant-making and other projects since 1997, including California Reads, Community Stories, and Literature & Medicine®. Felicia holds an MA and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Southern California and a BA in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Before joining California Humanities, she held teaching and administrative positions in higher education and worked on public programming and community education projects with several Los Angeles–area nonprofit organizations.

John Lightfoot, Senior Program Officer 

John has managed the California Documentary Project grant program at California Humanities since 2007. Previously, he produced, directed, and taught documentary film for over 15 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John holds an MA in American Studies from Brown University and an MFA in Cinema from San Francisco State University.

Erin Menne, Associate Program Officer

Erin joined California Humanities in May 2015 and supports grant management and initiative implementation. She has over ten years’ experience in grant compliance and management for state governmental agencies in Texas and Minnesota. Erin holds a BS in Social Work and a BA in Spanish from New Mexico State University – Las Cruces and earned a Master of Social Work with a concentration in Community Organizing and Advocacy from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. She enjoys music, metal arts and exploring the world, especially California. 

Renée Perry, Operations Coordinator

Renée joined California Humanities in December 2016 as Operations Coordinator. She has managed operations for small and medium sized nonprofit organizations for over eight years. Born in NYC, Renée grew up in New Jersey, but has been on the West Coast for a long time. She has a BA in Biology from the University of Washington, Seattle and a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University. She volunteers with the WriterCoach program in the East Bay when she’s not being bossed around by a bunch of cats.

Jody Sahota, Communications Manager

Jody joined California Humanities in 2005 as the Organizational Effectiveness Coordinator. She received her BA in English Literature from the University of Toronto, with a minor in Art History. As the Communications Manager at California Humanities, Jody oversees communications and federal advocacy efforts. Outside of work, Jody’s love of politics has her involved in various election campaigns in San Mateo County.