National Steinbeck Center Staff
Dr. Susan Shillinglaw: Director
Susan Shillinglaw has been Director of the NSC since June, 2015. Previously she served on the NSC board, helped coordinate Steinbeck Festivals, and was NSC Scholar in Residence from 2005 to the present. She spent most of her career as a Professor of English at San Jose State University, where she was the President’s Scholar for 2012-13. Shillinglaw also directed the San Jose State University Steinbeck Center for 18 years.
Shillinglaw has been teaching and writing about Steinbeck for 27 years and has never tired of either man or writer. She has published widely on Steinbeck, most recently Carol and John Steinbeck: Portrait of a Marriage (University of Nevada Press, 2013) and On Reading The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin, 2014) as well as A Journey into Steinbeck’s California (2006; 2011). She also wrote introductions to several of Steinbeck’s books for Penguin New American Library editions of Cannery Row, Of Mice and Men, A Russian Journal and The Winter of Our Discontent. Other publications include collections of scholarly essays (i.e. Steinbeck and the Environment, 1997) as well as an edition of Steinbeck’s journalism, America and Americas and Selected Nonfiction (2002).
Susan Shillinglaw brings to the position an enthusiasm for Steinbeck’s legacy and his career. John Steinbeck was engaged with key issues of the 20th century: migrations west; ethnicity; Mexican heritage; ecology and the environment; World War II; Vietnam; and the meaning of the “common good” during the turbulent 1960s. She hopes to draw from these themes in presenting future programs at the Center. She is a resident of the Monterey Peninsula.
Director of Finance & Administration
David 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, a partnership of local hospitals providing 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, an 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.
Eric Mora: Marketing & Community Engagement Coordinator
Eric is currently the Marketing Coordinator. Eric manages the Center’s social media platforms. Prior to becoming a staff member, he volunteered at the Center as a museum greeter and an administrative staff assistant. Volunteering at the Center instilled in him a deep appreciation for the wonderful community of supporters that National Steinbeck Center has amassed over the years. Eric earned his Bachelors of Arts degree at Cornell University.
Lisa Josephs: Archivist
Lisa Josephs is the National Steinbeck Center’s Archivist—and helps with programs and grants. She is responsible for organizing and cataloging the National Steinbeck Center-owned archival materials and managing the archival collection as a whole, which includes both NSC and City of Salinas holdings. She also helps researchers utilize the collection to enhance their research projects with primary-source Steinbeck materials. Lisa is a transplant to Salinas from the East Coast, where she was studying Anthropology, South Asia, and socio-economic class. Moving out of the world of academia, she started at the NSC as a volunteer and quickly became involved in various NSC projects, which led to her hiring as Archivist.
Lisa earned her Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and her Master’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Tara Spada: Exhibits & Events Coordinator
Since August, Tara has worked at the National Steinbeck Center as an administrative staff assistant. She has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University (2017) and a B.A. in Anthropology from Washington College in Maryland. For the past five years, Tara has worked in the museum/non-profit field. She is a passionate lifelong learner and she wants to change hearts and minds through museums and their unique ability to be transformative entities. Tara enjoys learning new things, meeting new people, and facilitating programs that allow diverse groups to come together to share, learn, and think. She is an east coast transplant but loves living in California. Her work at the National Steinbeck Center focuses on educational programing and events. She is also helping facilitate the exhibit refurbishing project.
Julie Minnis: Education Coordinator
Julie Minnis taught in public schools in Santa Cruz and Salinas for over 35 years. For the past ten years, she has provided professional development to teachers in English Language Arts for Monterey Bay area school districts. She has also presented at numerous state and national conferences on reading/writing literacy. Since the inception of the Steinbeck Young Authors program, Julie has consulted and guided that program, now in its 15th year.
Yessenia Guzman: Tour/Volunteer Coordinator & Museum Store Manager
Yessenia Guzman is the museum’s Store Manager and Tour/Volunteer Coordinator. She joined the NSC in 2011. Yessenia is in charge of ordering the museum store’s merchandise, booking tours, and working with volunteers. Yessenia enjoys greeting the wonderful guests visiting from all over the country as well as out of the country. She enjoys hearing the great stories they have to tell and sharing the passion they have for Steinbeck. Yessenia is proud to be a part of this wonderful organization. She hopes to be involved for many years to come.
Maria Almanza: Sales Associate
Maria Almanza is a part time Sales Associate at the NSC (National Steinbeck Center) since September 2017. I was born and raised in Salinas; I’m the oldest of four, trying to set a great example to my younger siblings by being a college student trying to get her AA degree in Elementary Teacher Education. Even though I was raised in Salinas I can say I didn’t have the knowledge of who Steinbeck was. Although I recall reading some of his books in high school I never knew he was from this area. Thanks to this job opportunity I’m aware of who he was and what he wrote and I can say he was such a great author, and he’s still inspiring a lot of people out there just like myself. Something I really like is that he spoke the true.
Ariana Mora: Sales Associate
Being a part-time employee at the National Steinbeck Center has given Ariana an incredible insight into downtown Salinas and the number of tourists that visit the area every day. Aside from being a part-time employee, Ariana is also a part-time student pursuing a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies with an Urban Planning/Studies minor. She hopes to help Salinas grow after she completes her bachelor’s degree. When she is not working or studying, Ariana enjoys hanging out with friends and family, and simply exploring the wonders nature has to offer, especially going camping.