About OTL

Meet the Staff

Contact specific members of the driving forces behind OTL's success.

Sarah Beckman, Executive Director

Sarah Beckman is an accomplished and collaborative nonprofit leader with a proven track record of sustaining and growing high-profile organizations. She is known for her agile approach, data-driven decision-making skills, and visionary thinking. Before joining Outside the Lens, Sarah was Vice President of Advancement for Forever Balboa Park. She previously worked for UC-San Diego, The New Children’s Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art. Sarah earned her JBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, advertising, and gender studies—providing a strong foundation for working at the intersection of critical social issues, informed communication, and creative expression.

Brooke Newman, Director of Education & Programs

Brooke is a dedicated learner and educator with a passion for social-emotional learning and project-based learning that bridges the gap between the classroom and the real world, exploring issues important and relevant to youth. She earned her B.A., multi-subject teaching credential and M.A. in Teaching and Learning from UC San Diego and taught elementary school for 16 years. Brooke is an advocate for youth and teachers alike, promoting storytelling, youth voice, and teacher development. In her free time, Brooke enjoys being with her family, exploring outdoors, cooking and gardening.

Jessie Stein, Director of Advancement

Jessie is an equity-driven nonprofit leader with a passion for youth development. With a background in team management and experience as a Speech Language Pathologist, she brings a unique and compassionate perspective to her role. Jessie holds a Master's degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from San Diego State University and has expertise in all facets of philanthropy. Making great use of local trails, Jessie enjoys hiking, camping, playing the flute and visiting local museums.

Tim Lawrence, Director of Operations

Tim is an experienced operations & administrative professional with over 20 years serving San Diego-based nonprofits and schools. From classroom teacher to operations manager, Tim has helped non-profits and schools grow by overseeing program development, finance, grants, HR, strategic planning, and community engagement. In his free time, Tim loves spending time with his family and dreaming about spreadsheets.

Kevin Tung, Director of Media Makers

Kevin was born and raised in New York City. He has a B.A. in Sociology from Syracuse University, and a B.A. in Photography from Brooks Institute of Photography. He has a passion for storytelling, and using photography to tell those stories. When not behind a camera you can find him on the golf course, the theater, or playing bar trivia.

Tyler Hodgson, Associate Director of Education & Programs

Tyler was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She received her BA in Sociology from University of California at Davis, and her MEd and teaching credential from DePaul University. She taught in Chicago, IL for five years and in Seattle, WA for one year before moving to San Diego. Through her years of teaching she led social and emotional learning as well as restorative justice curriculum and practices. Tyler believes diversity, equity, inclusion, and access to digital media in education allows for both lifelong learning and social change. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, baking, and being outdoors.

Liliana Hueso, Community Engagement Manager

Liliana is a bi-national bilingual filmmaker, and photographer. She has extensive experience in teaching media, facilitating workshops, and organizing community events on both sides of the border. Liliana has a masters in photography management at IBERO Universidad Iberoamericana de Tijuana to add to her degree in mass media communications from ITESO Universidad Jesuita Guadalajara, Jalisco, MX

Brandon Johnson, Media Makers Education Manager

As a content creator and educator, Brandon Johnson has a passion for telling stories that matter. He holds a Master of Art in Media Design and Instructional Design from Full Sail University, where he learned how to design and deliver media-rich learning experiences. He joined Outside The Lens after teaching media communication courses at Chicago City Colleges, and Chicago Public Schools, where he empowered students to express themselves through media. He has also been a Content Creator and Producer at Creative Architech, where he worked on projects with clients such as OWN Network, Free Spirit Media, and Pulitzer Crisis Center. He enjoys blogging about food and tech, reading books, and Tik Toking with his daughters.

Jana McBeath, Associate Manager, K-12

Born and raised in the United Kingdom, Jana graduated with her M.A. and B.A. in photography from the Manchester School of Art in the North of England. She has extensive experience as a freelance photographer and as a teaching artist for young people and is hugely passionate about both. When not taking photos you can find her dreaming about the ocean or watching sci-fi movies with her husband.

Jeff Valenzuela, Lead Media Educator and Program Advisor

Jeff Valenzuela Garcia is a bi-national photographer, educator, and community organizer. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, he has spent the last several years living and working along the Tijuana-San Diego border. His photography focuses primarily on documenting his immigrant rights movement work in San Diego and with migrant communities in Tijuana. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys drinking coffee, listening to records, and playing guitar.

Erin Aldana, Development Specialist

Erin Aldana is a grant writer and art historian based in San Diego. She has taught art history at the University of Texas at Austin, UC San Diego, and UC Irvine, and worked at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas. She has received grants and fellowships from the Getty Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation, and the College Art Association. Her project Xerografia: Copyart in Brazil, 1970-1990 was part of the Getty Foundation’s “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA” grant initiative on Latin American art in Southern California. She is currently writing a book on postwar Brazilian art.

Natalie Devitt, Media Educator

Natalie received her B.S. in Television, Film and New Media from San Diego State University. Prior to coming to Outside the Lens, she worked in schools throughout San Diego county. Natalie is thrilled to be combining her studies in media with her love of working with youth. In her spare time, she enjoys collecting records, playing guitar, catching screenings of midnight movies, and attending fan conventions.

Melanie Kaplan, Media Educator

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Melanie received her B.A. in Studio Arts with a focus in Photography from Illinois State University in 2013. Since her first job as a summer camp art instructor, Melanie discovered she had a passion for working creatively with youth in underserved communities. She continued her work in the non-profit sector serving as an Americorps LISC member at Outside the Lens in 2019. She has also spent time serving homeless and runaway youth while co-running an arts empowerment program that allowed them to freely express themselves through the arts, in an effort to destigmatize mental health. When Melanie isn’t out exploring with her camera, you can catch her enjoying nature via camping or hiking, chasing sunset views, attending concerts and daydreaming of the next place to travel and discover.

Hann Wiles, Media Educator

Hann Wiles earned two degrees in Communication Studies, a B.S. from Ohio University and an M.S. from Illinois State University. Hann has a background in social media marketing, video production, and teaching college-level communication courses. When not behind the camera, you will find Hann spending time with their loved ones and four cats, writing poetry at their local coffee shop or exploring new places. Hann is honored to have the opportunity to support and empower youth to share their stories and express themselves unapologetically.

Sydney Birakos, Media Educator, Media Makers

Sydney was born and raised in La Habra, CA. She attended UC Santa Cruz where she received her B.A. in Art & Design: Games and Playable Media. With extensive experience in digital media education, Sydney is thrilled to bring her passion for nurturing others' artistic endeavors to Outside the Lens. In her downtime, she enjoys exploring podcasts and tackling puzzles, embracing a spirit of continuous growth and creativity.

Melanee Garls, Special Education Specialist

Melanee is dedicated to supporting individuals with diverse needs. She was born and raised in San Diego and holds a degree in Child Development from Point Loma Nazarene University. Her background includes experience in ABA therapy and working in Special Education classrooms which helped her discover her passion for making a positive impact on those around her and creating an inclusive and nurturing environment for those she serves. Outside of work, Melanee enjoys attending San Diego Wave soccer games, listening to true crime podcasts, and going to concerts.

Jose Islas, Media Makers Media Associate

Born and raised in San Diego, José’s roots spread throughout México (Jalisco, Comala and Sonora) as well as the Northeastern region of New Mexico. His love of photography came from his father who was the family photographer, documenting all the family events and vacations while growing up. José has a passion for capturing a wide array of subject matter and moments through the lens. When he is not behind the camera or in front of the computer, José is an accomplished tailor/dressmaker and he also enjoys carrying on his grandmother’s tradition of making tamales.

James Hardesty, Operations Associate

James Hardesty is a professional photographer born and raised in San Diego. With over ten years of experience in the field, he has led numerous photography teams both in and out of school. James is passionate about photography and draws inspiration from nature, art museums, and film. He is committed to helping future generations grow and prosper as new artists, and he strongly believes in the transformative power of art. James feels fortunate to have the opportunity to expose young people to this art form and make a positive impact on their lives. He loves capturing people and landscapes with his camera and believes that every photo tells a unique story. With a background in operations, James is excited to bring his expertise to the organization and help it grow and flourish. When he is not taking photos or teaching, he loves to stay active by working out and playing tennis.

JC Nunez, Instructional Aide

JC is a multi-media artist born and raised in Barrio Logan and Logan Heights. JC dedicates their time and passion for social justice matters and involves themselves in Xicanx activist spaces. JC focuses their personal and professional career on Special Education healthcare and social-emotional teaching. Jc has worked and taught in multiple schools in San Diego County with specialization in SpEd and behavioral intervention and therapy. They are an activist and advocate for peers and students alike. They believe that change starts in the classroom and the work done at OTL can create long-lasting positive experiences in our students. On their days off JC loves taking long walks with their dog Tenoch and creating art while exploring new music.

Mary Rodriguez, Program Coordinator

Mary is a devoted student, caregiver, mother, and joy spreader, born and raised in Southern California. She wholeheartedly loves her community and expresses this love by volunteering her time to provide basic needs and resources through her Instagram resource page & actively volunteering with local organizations. She has a profound appreciation for the arts and finds immense joy in the creative processes of writing, storytelling, and poetry & believes in creative development and shedding light on its positive impact. In addition, she cherishes spending time with her children & family. Currently, she is pursuing a degree in social work with a minor in creative writing.