Staff & Board

National Steinbeck Center Staff

Elizabeth Welden-Smith
Director of Operations

Elizabeth 2013A Salinas native, Welden-Smith joined the National Steinbeck Center in October, 2011. She designed and managed more than 220 education and public programs across the country, including the annual Steinbeck Festival and the Mumford & Sons fundraising concert in Monterey in 2012. Welden-Smith organized The Grapes of Wrath 75th Anniversary Journey along Route 66 in partnership with Penguin Classics, and initiated the most significant national events in the history of the organization last spring when she brought National Steinbeck Center programs to The Smithsonian and National Public Radio headquarters in Washington, D.C., attracting coverage by The New Yorker.

Welden-Smith received her master’s in museum studies from the Australian National University, and her Bachelor of Arts in European History and Film Studies from Mills College in Oakland. She has worked with international museums, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. She has also worked for the Sydney-based cultural nonprofit, International Cultural Exchange, on community pride-building programs for the diverse communities in Sydney’s Western suburbs.

Lori Wood 
Director of Development

Lori Wood HeadshotLori Wood has more than 20 years experience creating and funding programs in the arts and education fields. With a degree in Literature from Harvard and an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School, Wood is a rare bridge between the fields of arts and entrepreneurship. Born in Watsonville, Wood was the Curator of Education and Public Programs at the National Steinbeck Center from 2007-2008, and curated Steinbeck Festivals from 2010-2012, initiating the Steinbeck Festival International Fringe Fest and taking the Steinbeck Festival to over 20 countries. She led the Community Conversations, Literary Landmarks and Blueprint for a City of Letters projects for the Salinas Public Library during the two-year collaboration between the National Steinbeck Center and the Library, among other projects. In the 1990s, Wood was the director of the Artist Residency Program at Montalvo and an early board member of the movement to establish a worldwide network of artist residency programs. From 2010-2012, she initiated and organized 30 residencies for 18 Arab writers in 18 residency programs worldwide, in collaboration with the Hay Festival’s Beirut39 project.

David Butler
Director of Finance & Administration
David ButlerDavid joined the NSC in 2008 and is responsible for all accounting and HR activities. He was the Chief Accountant at the Natividad Medical Center from 1988-1995 before leaving to become a controller for AdvantaCare, which was a partnership of local hospitals that provided home infusion and home medical equipment. Between 2005-2006, he worked briefly as the Staff Accountant for Kasavan & Pope, a local CPA firm, and then from 2006-2008 as the Controller for Saroyan Construction, and architect and real estate company managing residential and commercial properties.

David is a licensed CPA in Arizona and holds a Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration from Arizona State University.

Diane Arellano
Volunteer Coordinator/Museum Guest Services

Diane Arellano

Jesse Banda
Performing Arts and Events Sales Manager

Jesse BAnda