School of Arts and Culture at MHP Selects Jessica Paz-Cedillos as Executive Director

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Local non-profit administrator is familiar with East San Jose

School of Arts and Culture

San José, Calif. — Jessica Paz-Cedillos was named the new executive director for the School of Arts and Culture at MHP by the School’s board of directors on January 29, 2019. She comes from SOMOS Mayfair in San Jose, where she has served as director of resource development since 2015.

“Jessica has outstanding experience in managing and building non-profit community organizations, and she has deep knowledge of the people, challenges, and opportunities in our community,” said Roy Hirabayashi, president of the School’s board of directors.

“She has demonstrated effective leadership and a strong commitment to community engagement in order to develop the resources needed to achieve the best possible outcomes for families in East San Jose. I’m confident Jessica will help lead the School to a bright future.”

She succeeds Tamara Alvarado, who left the School in June 2018 to become executive director of the Leo M. Shortino Family Foundation in San Jose and had served as the School’s executive director since its founding in 2011. Paz-Cedillos is scheduled to start in March.

Since graduating from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in history and Spanish, she has held various positions as a direct service provider and fundraiser to protect constitutional rights, end homelessness, and close the opportunity gap. She has dedicated her career to the public service sector and has worked for organizations like the Bill Wilson Center and ACLU.

“As the daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador, I know firsthand the impact that arts and culture can have to build pride, preserve our heritage, and fuel community and economic development,” she said.

“I look forward to working with a great team and our community partners to ensure the School remains a vital resource for our children and their families, especially for our low-income immigrant community, where people can celebrate their culture and build meaningful relationships with each other.”

At SOMOS Mayfair, Paz-Cedillos was responsible for overall fund raising and communications. She diversified its revenue sources, nearly doubled its annual revenue from $1.5 million to $2.8 million, and helped raise more than $10 million over four years.

SOMOS Mayfair is a non-profit community-based agency in the Mayfair neighborhood of East San Jose that supports children, organizes families, connects neighbors, and addresses systemic inequalities to uplift the dreams, power, and leadership of the community (

During the search process, Vanessa Shieh served as interim executive director for the School. She has been associate director for the past seven years and will continue in that role.

“I’m deeply grateful for Vanessa’s leadership during this critical transition,” said Hirabayashi. “Her familiarity with our programs and our vision, and her strengths in non-profit management, have helped keep us on a steady course over the past six months. Vanessa will remain on our leadership team and assist Jessica as she takes the reins to carry out our strategic plan.”