Black Rock Arts Foundation employs three full time staff members: the Executive Director, the Program and Development Assistant, and the Administrative Assistant/Office Manager.
Tomas McCabe, Executive Director
As Executive Director of the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Tomas McCabe leverages his background in the visual arts and environmental sustainability to further BRAF’s mission to support and promote community-based and civic-engaging art.
Tomas has long been a member of the San Francisco creative community, working as a freelance film editor since 1991. He is also an accomplished documentary filmmaker. In 1999, he began a three year journey which resulted in an award-winning documentary called “Bums’ Paradise,” which tells the stories and shows the extraordinary creativity of a group of homeless men and women, before and after their eviction from the community they built on the Albany Landfill in the San Francisco Bay. He also developed the concept for and scripted “Gang of Souls,” an hour-long documentary featuring poets from the Beat Generation.
His commitment to environmental and social sustainability is apparent in his career choices. A former Executive Director of the Berkeley Conservation and Energy Program, Tomas managed a collaborative project between The City of Berkeley and The Ecology Center created to assist ethnically diverse and underserved residents to conserve energy and reduce utility bills. As a member of the Peace Corps from 1988-1991, he was posted to Rabinal, Guatemala, as an Appropriate Technology specialist where, in addition to providing technical environmental consulting, he scheduled educational and cultural programming for local television and created videos on environmental and health issues. Tomas remained in Guatemala for an additional year at the conclusion of his volunteer work and made a 30-minute ethnographic documentary on a Mayan ritual, “La Cofradia”.
In 2007, Tomas joined the Burning Man Project as Environmental Education Coordinator for the Green Man Pavilion Expo, a project that provided an interactive, entertaining environment for Burning Man participants to learn about how green/clean technologies could be applied to their lives.
Josie Schimke, Program and Development Assistant
At the Black Rock Arts Foundation, Josie’s experiences in collaborative art projects, community involvement, social service and fine art culminate into one role. Enjoying a childhood filled with exceptional arts education and encouragement to explore all creative outlets, Josie finally landed at the California College of Art in Oakland, California, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in experimental film and drawing. She thrived in the tight-knit community of artists at CCA, and discovered the creative potential of producing artwork collaboratively.
After college, Josie went on to manage a non-profit that served adults with developmental disabilities, and then on to working as an administrator for Bay Area Video Coalition, a non-profit that provides training in digital and video arts.
Josie attended her first Burning Man in 2001 and found it to be the perfect venue for sharing large scale, collaborative projects. From 2001-2006 she played a key role in managing fun and successful theme camps. In 2007, Josie received a grant from Burning Man to produce her artwork ‘A Tree Undone,’ an interactive art installation created for that year’s Green Man theme.
At BRAF, Josie provides administrative support to BRAF’s other programs and events, and manages BRAF’s public relations. Josie also has the pleasure of writing grants for exciting new BRAF projects and initiatives. She stands by her claim that it’s easy to write proposals for projects you believe in and love.
Eli Peterson, Program and Development Associate
Eli Peterson joined the Black Rock Arts Foundation in July of 2010. He administrates the Grants to Artists program, helps coordinate Civic Arts projects, and supports the organization’s fundraising activities. He has worked as a paralegal, a teacher, the residential director of an academic summer camp, and the administrator of a small artist-run publishing collective. In college, Eli studied Theater and Anthropology, culminating his education by co- producing, directing, designing, and starring in a piece of devised theater entitled “. . . and There’s Nothing You Can Do About It.” He has attended Burning Man every year since 2005.