Natalie Cone

Director of Operations

As Director of Operations at CounterPulse, Natalie employs creative strategies to support day-to-day operations of the organization. Natalie holds a B.A. in the History of Art from University of California, Berkeley, bolstered by Queer, and Feminist, and Ethnic studies minors. Natalie’s personal background as a first generation college student fuels the desire to focus her education, leadership experience, and labor on inspiring solidarity among the diverse Bay Area communities. Natalie spends her time attending performances and playing outdoors with her 6 year old son, Fela. She also jogs near Lake Merritt, paints, tends the garden, and practices Yoga with her longtime mentors at Oakland’s Barefoot Movement.

Rick Darnell

Community Engagement Associate

Rick came to CounterPulse through the Fellowship Program, and brings 30 years experience in dance, theater, social work, and activism to his role as the Community Engagement Associate. Rick has lived, worked and made art in the Tenderloin neighborhood since 1995. During this time, Rick has facilitated a number of social practice art based project with special populations in the Tenderloin and other communities Along with project partner Central City SRO Collaborative, Rick produces Block Fest, a monthly outdoor event which engages neighbors, visitors and passerbys through a shared arts experience.

Zerena Diaz

Operations Manager

As Operations Manager, Zerena organizes day to day financials and supports facilities management at CounterPulse to support its transition into a new space and expanding programming. Zerena is a recent graduate and holds a B.F.A from UC Berkeley. She is a practicing performing and multimedia artist based out of Oakland and her work has been exhibited at YBCA, SomArts, and CounterPulse. In her professional and personal life Zerena seeks to creatively problem solve, educate, and act to recreate our reality. She spends her free time at drag shows, queer orgs, punk concerts, and art spaces.

Erica Dixon

Director of Engagement & Strategy

Erica amplifies the story of CounterPulse and our artists by strategizing marketing campaigns, designing our website, and championing clean prose. Erica holds a BA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Technology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to working with CounterPulse, Erica served in marketing and creative roles for grassroots electronic art organizations. In her personal art practice Erica makes wearable sculptures and abstract paintings. Erica’s hobbies include mushroom foraging in forests around the Bay Area and playing backgammon.

Justin Ebrahemi

Communications & Engagement Manager

Justin designs and implements strategic marketing activities to build CounterPulse’s audience, in addition to overseeing the Front of House program. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from CSU Monterey Bay and M.A. in Environment & Community from Humboldt State University. Throughout his academic career, Justin advocated for food and environmental justice as an activist and spoken word artist. He brings his expertise in community outreach to deepen CounterPulse’s engagement with the Tenderloin, while his background in social science research spearheads the organization’s demographic and webpage analytics. He enjoys outdoor recreation, poetry, and gardening.

Julie E. Phelps

Artistic & Executive Director

Through CounterPulse, Phelps intersects grassroots community responsiveness with practices borrowed from tactical urbanism, placemaking and social innovation to co-create transformational experiences. Phelps recently spearheaded the process of acquiring and renovating a new building as the pilot project of the Community Arts Stabilization Trust (CAST). In collaboration with Jensen Architects Phelps designed a facility that is acclaimed by the public, press and featured in architectural reviews. Phelps has led the enterprising team of CounterPulse in funding and launching an acclaimed program of performing arts events, community-based programming, and international exchange projects. Phelps tours nationally and internationally as a speaker, U.S. representative, and dance artist.

Nicky Martinez

Program Manager

Nicky’s role at CounterPulse is to provide space tours, help with the House Artist Program, and manage timelines for CounterPulse’s ARC programs. Before this position Nicky worked at the University of San Francisco (USF) as a Professor Assistant to Amie Dowling. They received a BA in Performing Arts and Social Justice from USF and has worked in theaters such as the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, San Francisco Shakespeare Company, and Crowded Fire. Apart from working at CounterPulse Nicky is a native bay area actor and playwright that received a Gender Justice award for their work tackling *Trans/LGBQ issues. They are very excited to work at CounterPulse to continue their drive for promoting social justice performative art in the community.

Leo Piller

Front of House Coordinator

As the Front of House Coordinator, Leo works with staff, volunteers, and artists s to create the ideal guest experience. He leverages his prior experience with beverages and hospitality to design an environment where members of the local community can come together, connect, and share in a mutual respect of the arts. Likewise, he utilizes a degree in Economics from San Francisco State to progress the efficient utilization of CounterPulse’s common spaces producing a seamless transition from ticketing, to refreshments, to performance. Separately, he enjoys spending his time cycling around the Bay Area, helping people and businesses through his financial planning practice, and cooking for his friends.

Jeanne Pfeffer

Director of Producing & Advancement

As Director of Producing & Advancement, Jeanne works to build and maintain the relationships and resources to further the CounterPulse mission. Prior to joining the CounterPulse staff in 2014, Jeanne honed her skills working with dance and performance artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, most notably with FACT/SF (Operations Manager, 2009-2014) and Jess Curtis/Gravity (Program Director, 2012-2014). She is a former Fellow with the Emerging ArtsProfessionals – San Francisco Bay Area, and a current member of the FACT/SF Board of Directors. As an artist, Jeanne is most interested in the continuous improvisation of life.