Gray Area Elevates Commitment to the Cultural Reconstruction of San Francisco with the Appointment of New Board of Directors

  •  Nov 21, 2023
  •  Gray Area

Today, Gray Area proudly announces the appointment of our new, dynamic Board of Directors. A diverse group with deep expertise in education, research, and public policy, our refreshed Board is poised to usher us into a generative era of growth and sustainability. This rebuild of our organizational leadership comes at a critical time, contributing to our ongoing revitalization of San Francisco's cultural infrastructure through the integration of culture, technology, and social responsibility.

"I am delighted to welcome to leadership these dedicated community members who have long been enthusiastic about the vision and values of Gray Area," said Barry Threw, Executive Director. "Their collective expertise and passion for artist-driven collaboration, experimentation, and innovation will play a pivotal role in steering us towards new horizons, and enable us to continue being a catalyst for creativity in San Francisco for years to come."

As of November 2023, the Gray Area Board of Directors includes:

Niki Selken, Chairperson, Manager of Design Strategy at Intuit. Selken was previously an instructor in Gray Area’s Creative Code Intensive before serving as Creative Development Director for five years, and is the Founder of the Emoji Foundation.

Dave Elfving, Co-Chairperson, Visiting Professor of Interaction Design program at California College of the Arts. Elfving is an Experience Designer, who teaches in Gray Area’s education programs. He serves on the boards of photography nonprofits First Exposures and San Francisco Camerawork. He previously worked with Apple’s interactive marketing team.

Dorothy Santos, Secretary, Visiting Assistant Professor for the Everett Program for Technology and Social Change in the Department of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz. Santos serves on the Board of the Processing Foundation, and was previously their Executive Director.

Şerife Wong, Treasurer, Director of Icarus Salon. Wong is an artist and researcher focused on AI ethics, with previous positions at Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, Berggruen Institute, and Ars Electronica. She was co-Creator of the Impact Program at Autodesk Pier 9.

Martin Rauchbauer, Executive Director of Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Rauchbauer is co-Founder at Tech Diplomacy Network and Tech Diplomacy Senior Fellow at DiploFoundation.

Nada Rastad, Senior Cybersecurity and Data Lifespan Counsel at Intuit. Rastad is a privacy and cybersecurity attorney, activist, artist, and DJ. She previously served on the Board of NAVEL, an arts and culture nonprofit which aims to foster regenerative cultural ecologies and a more just and collaborative world.

Barry Threw, Gray Area Executive and Artistic Director. He was previously Director of Software with Obscura Digital, and on the Steering Committee for the Vatican Arts and Technology Council, a non-denominational art and technology lab for the Vatican.

Nadav Hochman, Gray Area Associate Director. Hochman was previously the cofounding Director of The Tech + Arts Initiative at The Tech Museum of Innovation, led the development of award-winning Digital Humanities research projects, and has been serving as an International Advisor and Jury Member for the STARTS Prize.

“Gray Area is dear to my heart, and I couldn’t be more excited to lead this amazing organization in writing our next chapter,” said incoming Chairperson, Niki Selken. “We have an opportunity to design the future of arts and technology education, while staying deeply rooted in our community.”

This talented and diverse group will collaborate closely with staff to shape our strategy and operations, ensuring that Gray Area remains a global hub for incubating boundary-blurring, socially engaged projects combining art, science, technology, and the humanities. The Directors’ backgrounds support our increased focus on education and research, preparing us to respond to ongoing technological developments in generative AI and the decentralized web, while expanding our programs toward opportunities such as creative workforce development, online/hybrid learning, teacher training, and creative R&D partnerships.

The new Board succeeds outgoing Directors Andy Cunningham, Di-Ann Eisnor, Tim Chang, and Peter Hirshberg. After leading the organization out of lockdowns, they supported Gray Area in accomplishing one of the most significant years of programming in our history—featuring Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s revolutionary exhibition TECHS-MECHS, the survey of technology and identity Difference Machines, the groundbreaking Criptech Metaverse Lab, and the 2023 Gray Area Festival: Plural Prototypes. They will each continue to support Gray Area in an advisory capacity.

After fifteen years leading Gray Area’s Board, Peter Hirshberg will continue to mentor and inspire the organization as Chair Emeritus. He will focus on cultivating the technology and civic engagement communities in support of our mission.

“I’ve been proud to guide Gray Area’s Board since our founding, but the time is right to pass stewardship to a new generation,“ Hirshberg said. “This transition will ensure we continue to play a vital role shaping the cultural fabric of San Francisco. The future looks bright!”

A complete list of Gray Area's Governance and Advisory Board can be found here.