Who We Are

Arts Council Napa Valley (ACNV) began in 1963, and obtained 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 1981. Today ACNV is Napa County’s designated arts agency, executing programs and services countywide benefitting and uplifting our local arts and culture sector and community as a whole.

Our primary focus is increasing public access to the arts. We do this by supporting the creative industry through our programming, accessible services, and advocacy efforts. Our programming works to increase visibility and funding for local artists while our services aim to inform and connect creatives to opportunities in their fields. Our advocacy efforts work to both support and uplift emerging and mid-level artists while increasing access to arts education for students countywide.

More about our programs, services and advocacy work can be found under the “What We Do” section of the website.


Arts Council Napa Valley provides leadership that unites, supports, and enhances our exceptional arts and culture community.


Throughout Napa County the arts are celebrated, fostering a cultural center that inspires the world.


Innovation. Inclusivity. Collaboration. Integrity. Strategy. Fun.


Christopher DeNatale

President & Chief Executive Officer

Chris DeNatale has worked for 20 years in the areas of Event Production, PR, Media Marketing, Non-Profit Leadership, Fund Raising, Venue Management and Audience Development. He has worked for CBS, iHeartMedia, Granite Broadcasting, Entercom Communications, Cumulus Radio, and The SF Media Company where he rose to the position of Vice President of Integrated Marketing. He has also held the position of Marketing Director for City Winery Napa, a national music venue, ArtistWorks, an online music learning start-up, and at Lincoln Theater where he was promoted to the position of Foundation Director. He most recently served as the Marketing & Events Director at Boys & Girls Clubs of Napa Valley. He has produced events with and for Live Nation, This Is My Brave, Symphony Napa Valley, the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco Giants, San Jose SaberCats and the Oakland Athletics. He is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California with a degree in English and Communication. He currently serves as Chair of the Napa County Arts and Culture Advisory Committee, is a former member of the City of Napa Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission and is a graduate of Leadership Napa Valley Class 30. He lives in Napa with his wife Julia and three children all of who are active participants in the performing arts in Napa County.

Crysta Tim

Programs & Administration Manager

Crysta has always been invested in the arts. She grew up largely in Napa, taking part in various arts programs, courses, and an internship centered around different artistic media. She continued pursuing education in the field and obtained a BA in English from CSU, Sacramento in 2019. She has returned to Napa to employ her learned skillset to benefit the community of artists she grew up surrounded by. She spent 2019 – early 2021 as ACNV’s Programs & Administration Associate and now holds the position of Programs & Administration Manager. She puts her experience to use in maintaining & improving programs, marketing, researching, broadening her skill set, and continuing to seek new methods to uplift Napa County’s Arts & Culture sector among various other tasks. Beyond her professional involvement in the arts, Crysta continues to pursue her creative passion through drawing, writing and reading.

Lisa Sullivan

Education Alliance Co-Coordinator

Lisa Sullivan comes to the ACNV with over 40 years of dedicated experience in the arts world. At the age of four she first started training and performing, inspired by Shirley Temple and Bo Jangles. Her devotion to the art of dance has never wavered. The past 30 years have been dedicated to teaching and choreographing in both the private and public sector, as well as the professional world. As a competitive dance coach she has guided her teams to 7 National First Place Titles, among hundreds of State and Local Awards, Trophies and Recognitions. Lisa just celebrated her 20th year as the Dance Director at Vintage High School. In more recent years her career has evolved and taken on the shape of research and leadership. She has eagerly served as both Professional Learning Community Leader and Department Leader for the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Vintage High School and holds a position on the Napa Valley Unified School District Arts in Education Leadership Team. Lisa was an instrumental key player in the construction, development and approval of the NVUSD Board adopted Arts in Education Master Plan. By doing so, was honored with the Recognition of Excellence Award by both the State and National Congress. Her passion and love of everything Dance has in recent years carved a pathway  toward Advocacy in Art and Curriculum. She has appeared as a guest speaker on several accounts advocating for arts educational access and equality for all public eduction students. Lisa knows that joining the ACNV is the perfect next step in her journey to support  youth and art. She is thrilled to be a part of such a phenomenal Organization and hopes to live up to the ACNV’s expectation. Lisa’s long term goal is to see the NVUSD Arts Master Plan realized in full.

Julia Zmed

Education Alliance Co-Coordinator

Julia’s belief in the essential value of arts in education is confirmed emphatically each day on the job, motivating her to work towards an even greater role for arts education, to include:  ensuring equitable opportunities for participation in the arts K-12; a strong aligned arts curriculum; consistent, adequate funding; support and cultivation of a district wide community of arts educators, who too often toil as an island unto themselves.

Her belief – that we thrive as humans in community – guides her hopes moving forward: to build safe communities for the teachers, artists, and VAPA students throughout Napa Valley while cultivating opportunities to showcase and recognize their boundless talents.

Julia has lived in the Valley for 13 years, working in hospitality and as a graphic designer before teaching. She earned her BFA in Painting from the College of Santa Fe and her teaching credential at Touro University California.

She can’t wait to get her hands dirty and get to work to support all of the creative hearts and minds within this district and beyond!

Board of Directors

Arts Council Napa Valley’s board of directors represent a diverse cross-section of Napa County’s local arts, business, education, and community leadership. Together the board of directors are responsible for governing the organization through financial oversight, strategic vision, and policy – guiding ACNV’s direction for advocacy and services in the community, relevant to the current and future needs of the arts.

Arts Council seeks a wide range of candidates who reflect the diverse landscape of Napa County through an open call for nominations. All nominees must be a resident of or employed in Napa County. Self-nominations are welcome. Annually, new directors are elected by a majority vote of seated board members at the June meeting.

If you are interested in serving on the board, please download the application and review responsibilities packet for further information. Contact our CEO at chris@artscouncilnv.org to ask questions or set up an informational interview.

Philippa Ward

Chair, Arts Council Napa Valley
Global Real Estate Advisor, Engel & Völkers

After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Philippa Ward returned to St. Helena in the Napa Valley to start her real estate career in her hometown. After nine years of brokering estate homes, vineyard land, and wineries, she moved to Manhattan, where she focused exclusively on the townhome and co-op markets. Philippa then moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she added to her real estate proficiency by serving as the president of the Commercial Industrial Division of the Tri-County area. She also became a CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment Member) candidate as a result of her work in commercial real estate development and with investment clients. Philippa looks forward to working with Engel & Völkers for its extensive technology platforms and focus on providing clients with a customized, highly targeted “boutique” experience—in line with her professional values. When not helping clients realize their real estate goals or representing her family’s winery, Saintsbury in Napa, Philippa enjoys travel and professional sports as well as offshore fishing.

Andy Starr

Vice Chair, Arts Council Napa Valley
Owner, StarrGreen LLC

Andy Starr, owner of StarrGreen and www.winetankbroker.com is an entrepreneur, marketing manager and winemaker, He is best known as Founder and President of Neocork Technologies, the synthetic wine cork pioneer. Andy has written and executed business plans for many early stage companies in the and wine, beverage alcohol and green technology sectors. His ecological experience was highlighted by two years as the head winemaker at the Golan Heights Winery, Israel’s first super-premium winery.  He also writes about new technology and industry best practices for Wine Business Monthly.

A passionate supporter of the arts, Andy previously served as Board Chair and Treasurer for VOENA, one of America’s most innovative children’s choirs. He received a BS degree in Fermentation Science from U.C. Davis, and an MBA from UCLA. A lifelong Californian, Andy lives in Yountville with his wife Debbie Alter-Starr, a community activist and social worker. His two grown children, both raised in Napa, graduated from Vintage High.

Geoff Hansen

Secretary, Arts Council Napa Valley
Landscape Photographer, Retired Attorney

After receiving his JD from UOP McGeorge School of Law in 1975, Geoff practiced in the field of Workers Compensation for close to 40 years, including several years as the Presiding Judge of the Redding office of the Workers Compensation Appeals Board. A Board Certified Specialist, he also served as Chair of the Workers Compensation Section of the State Bar of California. Since retirement to Napa, Geoff has committed himself to professional landscape photography. His work is currently featured in permanent exhibits at Art Gallery Napa Valley and Beneserre Vineyards. Geoff’s additional interests include skiing (including 25 years on the Mt. Shasta Ski Patrol), fly fishing and traveling with his wife, Kathy and their beloved Golden Retriever, Riley. The Hansens have 2 daughters and 3 grandchildren, all of whom live in the greater Bay Area.

Richard Hall

Treasurer & Immediate Past Chair, Arts Council Napa Valley
Founder – WeinStrategies

Richard Hall is employed as the Chief Financial Officer of Lede Family Wines in Yountville and is the former Vice Mayor of Yountville. He presently serves as President for The River School Foundation and has served in various positions with other local non-profit boards including, the Yountville School Foundation, Wildlife Rescue Center of Napa County and Yountville FOCUS. Richard received an MBA, with a concentration in finance, from St. Mary’s College of California in 1999 and received a BA Economics from the University of California at Santa Cruz. In his free time, Richard enjoys soccer (the beautiful game), golf and most importantly spending time with his family. Married over twenty years to Rachel, they have three children Olivia 10 and twins Alex and Lucie 5.

Melanie Brain

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
Development Associate, di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art

With her valuable experience in sales and marketing, Melanie is a creative individual with a deep passion for the arts. She holds a B.A. in Studio Art and a minor in Interior Design, which complements her prior role as Director of Sales & Marketing at a small production wine label.

Melanie’s expertise in marketing allows her to skillfully oversee various aspects of marketing and communications. From printed and online materials, social media, campaigns, ads, and email marketing, she crafts captivating content that resonates with audiences and contributes to success. Her adeptness in customer relations and design is evident in her thoughtful management of wine clubs and spaces like the tasting room, creating an inviting ambiance for art and wine enthusiasts.

Beyond her professional accomplishments, Melanie finds tranquility on her yoga mat, seeking balance and harmony within herself. Her nurturing spirit extends to her vibrant garden, where she cultivates natural beauty and enjoys the pleasures of fresh produce. Melanie takes pleasure in sharing her culinary creations with loved ones, adding warmth and joy to every meal. Her curiosity leads her on wonderful adventures, immersing herself in different cultures, art spaces, and experiences that fuel her creativity.

Melanie’s dynamic blend of professionalism and passion brings a fresh and exciting perspective to our marketing committee at the Arts Council Napa Valley.

Bill Gantt

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
Former NVUSD Music Teacher, Musician, Composer

For the past 31 years, Bill has led a comprehensive Instrumental Music Program at Vintage High School; a Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, Jazz Ensemble, String Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Ensembles, the Vintage Marching Band, Winter Percussion and Winter ColorGuard. He has taken his high school ensembles to local, state wide and international Music Festivals where they received many top awards. Bill has also taught Music Classes at Napa Valley College and directed the Napa Valley College Jazz Band from the late 90’s until 2014 and guest Conducted various Honor Bands and Ensembles throughout the Napa Valley Area. Bill is currently on the Arts Education Master Plan Leadership Team for the NVUSD. Bill has continued to compose and arrange music for String Orchestras, Symphonic Orchestras, Chamber Ensembles, Marching Bands, and Symphonic Bands. His latest work, “Umbria” was written in 2016 and performed this past April by the Vintage High School Wind Ensemble at his last Vintage High School Spring Concert. Now retired from NVUSD, Bill looks forward to continuing his interests in Composition, Music Education Advocacy and staying in involved with the Napa Arts Culture.

Melodie Hilton

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
DTC Manager, John Anthony Family of Wines

Melodie is a long-time Napa resident who has been lucky to spend much of her working life in the Valley – First as a journalist, and then for such awesome companies as NapaValley.com, Napa Valley Wine Train, and Napa River Inn. She is currently on staff with John Anthony Family of Wines as DTC Manager.

Her professional journey includes helping wineries set up some of the first industry websites (before WordPress!) and ecommerce; guiding diverse businesses in global digital expansion and creating national press awareness.

She says if growing up is what happens after 21, then she grew up in Napa. Her time before she reached 5’ tall was spent in The Deep South.

She loves soccer and played aggressively (but perhaps not elegantly) up until the pandemic sidelined her tourney team. She spends her free time RVing the US in a camper van. #vanlife.

She has two grown children, a 4-month old grandbaby (who is on track to be POTUS), two dogs and a new husband (whom she has known since she was 17).

Vincent Piombo

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
Partner, Aperture Media + Design

Vincent Piombo is the Instructional Technology Coach for the Napa County Office of Education Court & Community School Programs (Camille Creek) and has nearly 10 years of experience leading and supporting technology integration in Napa K12 public education institutions. In addition to working in his current role managing and teaching technology on campus, Vince also sits on the school’s visioning team and runs the student leadership program. Vince also played a role in starting the school’s Nimbus Arts program where students can explore hands on art activities with professional artists. Vincent also owns and operates Aperture Media & Design, a small production company in Napa, CA. Clients include Thomas Keller Restaurant Group’s the French Laundry, BottleRock Napa Valley, The Napa Valley Vintners, Lollapalooza Music Festival, Vineyard 29 and more. As a Napa native Vince is always looking for creative ways to leverage his media skills to effect positive change in our valley.

Ross Portugeis

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
Broker Affiliate,
Compass Commercial

Ross obtained an MFA (Film Production) from the University of Southern
California and a BA (Economics) from UC Berkeley.

After a twenty-year career in the global news and entertainment media business living in Los Angeles,
Atlanta, and London where he oversaw licensing of programming and cable television networks, Ross returned to his hometown, San Francisco with
the resolve to become involved in a local activities. Since returning, his growing interest in community development has led to a second career as a commercial real estate

A strong believer in community involvement, Ross has served on the board of Urban Solutions, a San
Francisco neighborhood economic development nonprofit, the board of 150 Hooper Inc., a subsidiary of
nonprofit SFMade that supports local manufacturers to create a more diverse, equitable, and resilient
economy, and as an advisor to Museum of Future Sports, a STEAM education nonprofit.

In 2021, Ross and his wife moved to Napa. A steadfast believer in the value of artistic expression, whether
for career or simply for personal inspiration and well-being, Ross is pleased to have the opportunity to
support the ACNV mission.

Aisha Rivera

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
Poet, Actor, & Artist

Aisha Rivera is a poet, actor, and artist who grew up in Napa and has always had a passion for the arts. Aisha holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Theatre Arts from California State University, Fullerton and two Associates degrees from Napa Valley College (Psychology and Natural Sciences and Mathematics). Aisha has acted in many local plays and short films, their poetry can be found in the bilingual anthology: Poetics without Borders/Poetica Sin Fronteras, and they are also an illustrator who works by commission. 

They recently worked for Arts Council Napa Valley as the Equity and Inclusion Committee Head and previously as a Diversity Consultant. Aisha is now a Board member for Arts Council Napa Valley. They have a diverse background which includes working in local government (City of Napa and County of Napa) and LGBTIA Non-profits. Aisha hopes to utilize and continue to build the professional skills they have acquired to continue to give back to the arts community in Napa County. 

Aisha firmly believes in constantly working towards increasing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the arts. They believe that all art forms should be accessible to everyone of all backgrounds, and that they are not only welcomed at the table but celebrated, respected, and understood with what they contribute. It is a beautiful diverse world out there and they believe we can always strive to make our organizations reflect and protect it like it deserves. 

Brad Wagenknecht

Director, Arts Council Napa Valley
Napa County Supervisor Emeritus, District 1

Brad has been a school teacher since 1977. During the first 10 years of his teaching career he taught emotionally disturbed adolescents. Since 1987 Brad has been teaching social studies at Redwood/Silverado Middle School in Napa. Brad graduated from a local high school in Napa and went on to graduate from the University of California-Santa Cruz with a degree in Political Science and Elementary Education. Brad has split his time teaching with public service since 1984, when he was elected to the Napa City Council. He has also served as Mayor to the City of Napa. In 1998 he was elected to the Napa County Board of Supervisors and began serving as the representative for District 1 in January 1999.

Join The Board

Board Roles and Responsibilities

‘Join a Committee’ If you are interested in serving as a non-board member of an Arts Council committee, please contact the current board chair for more information about responsibilities and openings.

Marketing Committee: Chair, Melodie Hilton

Advocacy Committee: Chair, Bill Gantt

Organizational Sustainability Committee: Chair, Andy Starr

Review our Bylaws