Board of Directors

Michelle Nilsson, President (
Michelle Nilsson is a founding board member of Ginga Arts and currently serves as the President of the Board. In addition to her work on the Ginga Arts board, Michelle works as a consultant on a variety of urban planning, economics, policy, and child care policy projects for cities, counties, nonprofit and private organizations. She has been working with youth and youth organizations for over 20 years and received the 2006 Merrily Bronson Award from the Challenge Learning Center, a nonprofit organization she volunteered with throughout high school and college. Prior to starting graduate school, Michelle traveled to Brazil where she volunteered with at-risk youth in the favelas (slums), and saw first hand the positive impact Capoeira had on youth who face numerous challenges and obstacles in their every day lives. Michelle has a M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA and a B.A. from UC Davis in Biopsychology with a minor in HIstory.  

Shana Aelony, Treasurer (
Shana is a founding board member of Ginga Arts. Shana has two B.A. degrees from Brandeis University in European Cultural Studies and History and earned an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA 10 years later. In between degrees, she gained experience in project management, leadership, teamwork, and multi-tasking in a variety of roles organizations including Scitex America, China Exploration & Research Society (Hong Kong), AT&T Broadband, and Studio Mythos. Currently her focus is on her children and the volunteer opportunities their education obligate. Shana felt the personal benefits of involvement in after school sports as a swimmer as a child at the YMCA and competing on her high school and university teams. Her involvement in helping young people cope with their challenges began as a teen counselor in high school and continued as a Special Olympics swim coach in college. She believes passionately in the transformative benefits of youth involvement in Capoeira which is a triple-threat giving kids training in sports, music and another culture all in one fun confidence-building experience. 

Elisabeth Corinne Cochran, LVN, Board Member (Bio to come)

Mara Mark, Board Member (Bio to come)

Denise Renesto, Board Member (Bio to come)