Elisa Thomson, Executive Director
Elisa received her B.A. from the University of California, Santa Barbara and continued her education at Art Center Pasadena and The Brooks Institute of Photography. She traveled extensively as a photojournalist and worked as a photo editor for ABC-Clio/Exegy. Her teaching is also informed by her many years as a commercial photographer for clients such as Quiksilver, Roxy, Tea & Scones, and House. Before founding Outside the Lens, Elisa was the lead educator at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego.
Lucy Eagleson, Advancement Director
Born and raised in Escondido, California, Lucy spent about 3 years living and volunteering at an orphanage in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was during that time that she found herself in the midst of unique stories as she came to know the wise individuals behind those journeys. That wisdom, paired with a deep appreciation for the power of the image, inspired Lucy to pursue a career in filmmaking. Lucy obtained her Master of Fine Arts in Film and TV Production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and she continues to produce and direct short documentary films. She is honored to bring her passions together by seeking to instill in young people the importance of telling their stories, while providing them the skills necessary to create digital content.
Brooke Newman, Education Director
Brooke received her B.A., multiple subject teaching credential, and M.A. in Teaching and Learning from the University of California, San Diego. She has taught for sixteen years, and during that time collaborated with OTL for ten years with the Cameras in the Classroom program. Brooke is excited to mentor our OTL Media Educators and to empower youth across San Diego to use digital media. In her free time, Brooke enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, being outdoors, cooking and gardening.
Tyler Hodgson, Education Manager
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.
Brittney Carey, Education and Community Outreach Manager
Brittney graduated with a B.A. in Advocacy and Social Justice with a concentration in Education from Pacific Oaks College. She received her M.A. in Legal Studies from the Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law. While studying abroad in South Africa, she gained an important perspective on the intersection of identity and culture within education, healthcare, and law. As an educator of learners across the lifespan, she is a strong advocate for culturally responsive curriculum and trauma informed social policy. Brittney is a Southern California native who enjoys reading a good book, taking care of her plants, and endless cuddles from her dog, Pepper.
Kevin Tung, Media Makers Program Manager
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.
Alisha Faith, Media Makers Client Services Manager
Born and Raised in Southern California, Alisha graduated from CSU Bakersfield with her B.A in Psychology and Minor in Spanish. Just before finishing her track & field career, she managed to spend some time overseas in Southern Spain where she developed her passion for Cultural Diversity, Arts, and Education. This led to her pursuit in completing her M.S in School Psychology. Before Outside the Lens, Alisha worked in mental health spaces focused on fostering interpersonal growth through education and character development in youth and young adults of low socioeconomic status as well as recovery homes and juvenile detention centers. When she isn’t busy impacting lives, you can find her traveling, exploring the foodie scene with her adorable Yorkipoo, T’Challa, or being a rockstar at your local CrossFit gym.
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.
Roberta Sutton, Development Advisor
Roberta earned her M.S. in Organizational Change Management from The New School in New York and B.A.s in Art History and Studio Art from Binghamton University. For 8 years, she supported social change conferences at the New School for Social Research with grant writing and event management. For 2 years, she co-directed Armature Art Space, a free gallery and darkroom that provided fee-free exhibitions and coaching to low-income, unestablished artists. For 8 years, she headed volunteer gardening, events, and concerts in the local park. Moving to San Diego in 2020 awoke her passion for teaching art and oil painting.
Liliana Hueso, Media Educator
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
Jana McBeath, Media Educator & Youth Council Coordinator
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.
Aaron Gilliam, Media Educator
Aaron was born and raised in America's Finest City. He received his B.A. in Communications with an emphasis in Public Relations and Photography from California State University, Fullerton. While studying abroad, Aaron realized his passion for learning about other cultures and has been a youth sports coach in his local community since 2012. Before Outside the Lens, Aaron worked in Public Relations for a startup in Orange County and as a Photographer for the Kansas City Chiefs and National Football League in Los Angeles before starting his own business, AG images. When he isn't behind a camera or computer, Aaron is with his wife, son, and two dogs, camping and hiking, gardening, or crafting DIY projects, all while listening to music.
Lanae King, Media Educator
Originally from San Diego, Lanae has spent the last decade traveling the world photographing and teaching. She earned a B.A. in Visual Communication from CSU Fullerton and an M.F.A. in Photography from Lesley University College of Art & Design. Besides photography, she loves reading, being outside, and finding new adventures.
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.
Braden Haycock, Media Educator
Born and raised in Rocklin, California, Braden first gained an interest in film watching Turner Classic Movies on Saturdays with his dad. He discovered his love for educating others at a young age while working at the Sacramento Zoo, and after studying Media Communications and Environmental Science at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Braden continued working in education. When not at work, Braden enjoys travelling, cooking, gardening, too many pets, and true crime podcasts.
Brandon Johnson, Media Makers Educator
Brandon Johnson is a alumni of Full Sail University gaining a Masters of Art In Media Design and Instrutional Design. Prior to Outside The Lens, Johnson was a Adjunct Instuctor at Kennedy King College, a college in the media communication space. Previously, he was a Content Creator and Producer at Creative Architech and Maurice Brandon Jointz. He has contributed to a number of different industry organizations, including OWN Network, Free Spirit Media, and Pulitzer Crisis Center. In his/her spare time, he blogs about food and tech, reads books, and Tik Toks with his daughters.
Jeff Valenzuela, Media Educator
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.
Ale Uzarraga, Media Educator
Passionate art educator dedicated to create diverse curriculums and teach lessons that focuses on emotional awareness, social justice, visual literacy, storytelling and leadership through community programming. Ale Uzarraga applies narrative + art therapy methodologies, ancestral wisdom through photography as a tool to explore and reflect on oneself in the collective we are part of addressing behavioral health, self-esteem, social integration, and developing leadership skills. She also promotes mindfulness and critical thinking to reflect together on our identities with a sensitive and compassionate approach to cultivate trust and community.
Han Wiles, Media Educator
Han Wiles earned two degrees in Communication Studies, a B.S. from Ohio University and an M.S. from Illinois State University. Han has a background in social media marketing, video production, and teaching college-level communication courses. When not behind the camera, you will find Han spending time with their loved ones and four cats, writing poetry at their local coffee shop or exploring new places. Han is honored to have the opportunity to support and empower youth to share their stories and express themselves unapologetically.
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.
Luke Grigg, Youth Voice Platform Specialist
It all started on his family’s onion farm for Webby Award-Winning Director Luke Grigg. Luke discovered his passion for storytelling and cross-cultural understanding in high school when he lived as an ambassador for the U.S. in Lima, Peru through Rotary International. He graduated from UCLA Film School with a specialization in Interpretive Digital Media and social impact filmmaking. Luke is excited to join the OTL staff to help build our first 100% virtual youth media program - Youth Tellers!
Caroline Moran, JVC Media Education Associate
Caroline Moran is from Madison, Mississippi and holds a BA in graphic design from Spring Hill College, a liberal arts Jesuit college in Mobile, Alabama. She studied as a visual artist at the Mississippi School of the Arts prior to her college years and gathers a lot of inspiration from the people in her life, animals, and nature.
Will Pham, Media Education Associate
Will was born in San Francisco, but grew up in Texas. He has been to 15 countries outside of the US, mostly from his service as a Navy Veteran. Utilizing his GI Bill, Will earned a BFA in Digital Film and Video Production. Will believes in serving his community and wants to promote self expression through all forms of mediums. In his spare time, Will is an avid rock climber and can be found inside a climbing gym or outside on the side of a crag. He is also an outdoor youth educator and finds inspiration and empowerment through nature.
Rob Mahan, Media Education Associate
Rob Mahan is a local to San Diego, and recently earned their BFA in studio art at Michigan State University. Throughout college, Rob was an education assistant for summer art programs, and has been working with kids since a young age. Their interest in education and creative arts inform their daily practices as an artist, educator, and friend aiming to service people and the community. Hailing from a working class background, Rob’s goal is to provide resources that inspire creativity, spark dialogue, and build strong connections with one another in working class communities. In addition Rob is passionate about art, music, film, philosophy, and history.
Macie Lewis, Media Education Associate
Macie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Portland State University where she studied film and writing. She previously was employed by a variety of child care arrangements while also simultaneously emerging into the realm of film production. Landing a role as an Associate Technical Producer soon after graduating, she gained an abundance of experience pertaining to both pre and post production in children’s media that simultaneously enforced creativity and compassion. Producing media content targeted at children, Macie has grown to understand and embody the value of individuality and empathy when working with children. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and is greatly fond of the PNW but certainly doesn’t mind the abundant sunshine that is so generously offered in San Diego.
Alan Brockington, Media Makers Intern
Alan Brockington is a San Diego-based creative storyteller who loves to tell stories with acting, art, music and filmmaking. He's brings a whole lot of life and love to people with his multi-talents and skills. He's a guy who goes above and beyond his expectations and is always a happy handy-helper.
Josh Bell, Media Makers Intern
I have a B.A. from UC Irvine, studied animation in UCSD for a year, and took an internship at Power of Neuro-Gaming also in UCSD. I have experience in animation, graphic design, game design, storyboarding, and cartoonist. I am nice, easy going, passionate and always ready to lend a hand.
Tim Lawrence, Operations Director
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.