A longtime Davis resident, Shelly joins I-House after serving for five years as the Programs Officer of the California Arts Council where she was responsible for grant programs to support arts, culture, and creativity across the state. Shelly oversaw the programs at the Arts Council during a period of tremendous growth, initiating and implementing new programs that extended the agency’s reach to support cultural communities, artists and grassroots organizations. She will bring her commitment to supporting and uplifting all cultures to her work at I-House.
Shelly states, “I have learned so much about the incredible cultural richness that shapes California over the past five years, and I am excited and humbled to bring that knowledge to I-House. I look forward to building upon the 40-year history of I-House by uplifting, supporting and sharing the traditions, perspectives, and ideas of the people and cultures that shape Davis, the region and the world.”
Shelly has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and cultural policy as well as a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from UC Davis. She spent the first 10 years of her career in nonprofit management working for performing arts organizations, first in her hometown of Philadelphia and then in New York City. Looking for a change of scenery from NYC, she and her husband Sangho Byun moved to Davis in 2004 so she could pursue her graduate work. At UC Davis, she studied sustainability and community engagement models for dance organizations. After graduating from UC Davis, she and Sangho decided to stay in Davis to raise their two children. Shelly’s deep knowledge of non-profit management, her interest in community engagement and her commitment to cultural exchange and inclusion will coalesce in her new post at I-House.
Director of Operations
Kate has a wide range of experience supporting non-profits. Prior to joining I-House, Kate was the Business Office and Human Resources Manager for a small non-profit organization, supporting all back-office functions while enabling public-facing staff to focus on volunteers and programming. Kate previously served as the Director of the California LGBT Health & Human Services Network, a statewide coalition making policy change to address LGBTQ health disparities. While there, she was one of the premier LGBTQ health policy advocates in California and recognized nationally for her work ensuring that California’s implementation of the Affordable Care Act fully included LGBTQ people. Kate managed over $1 million in Outreach, Education, and Enrollment grants from Covered California, reaching over 1.5 million LGBTQ community members in California. Kate has worked as the Legislative and Policy Assistant for Health Access California, a Program Analyst for the Office of the Patient Advocate, a Community Organizing Resident with Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and a middle school science teacher in East Los Angeles. Kate is also the Treasurer and a founding member of Kol Rinah, a new Jewish community in Sacramento.
Kate holds a B.A. from Oberlin College in Biology and Religion, an M.A. from Loyola Marymount University in Secondary Education, an M.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology, and is currently working on an M.B.A. from American Public University.
Kate grew up in the Los Angeles area, raised as a Nichiren Buddhist within a large extended Mexican Catholic family, and converted to Judaism as an adult. She and her wife adopted their two kids from foster care, and are in the process of adding another sibling set to their family. She lives in Sacramento with her wife, 2 (for now) kids, 3 dogs, and 1 cat.
Program and Outreach Manager
Suzi is a teacher, environmental educator, wildlife enthusiast, and a dual American/Australian, deeply committed to sustainability, conservation, international relations and social justice. She brings over ten years of non-profit program management experience to I-House Davis and prior to taking on this exciting role she was the Education Program Director for the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy based in Sonoma County. At the Institute, among many other duties, she designed, planned and implemented all aspects of Leadership for a Sustainable Future which is a ten month, annually offered, sustainability leadership program targeting local/regional leaders and elected officials.
A passionate environmentalist, Suzi graduated with a BA in Environmental Studies from the University of California Santa Barbara and went on to obtain a multiple subject teaching credential and then a master’s degree in Environmental Education from Sonoma State University. After teaching elementary school in both Northern and Southern California she enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to move overseas and lived in Sydney, Hong Kong, and Singapore! While abroad she worked as an editorial assistant for the Australian Museum, created a series of guided interpretive nature walks for the Hong Kong YWCA and developed a marine biology program for young students at the Singapore American School. Finally realizing her dream of gaining Australian Citizenship Suzi returned to the United States, settling in Santa Rosa CA, and devoted herself to sustainable public policy, STEM Education and the joyous task of raising her daughter.
Suzi is delighted to become a part of the dynamic team at International House Davis and eagerly looks forward to connecting with the greater Davis community!
Corey Gonzales is the facilities coordinator at I-House. He started his position in May of 2019, and if you are interested in renting out any of the rooms at I-House, he would happily show you around. Corey is in charge of making sure I-House is well maintained and that all needs are met from staff to volunteers.
Though Corey has been in the area for most of his life, he recently moved to Davis after escaping the Camp Fire in Paradise. He is excited to be back in a familiar area where his family has a long history. Corey grew up on a horse ranch and spent years helping it run by fixing equipment and meeting with vendors. He earned a degree in business while gaining experience in facilities maintenance and events at an active retirement community. When not working, he is most likely coaching water polo or swim — he has a passion for mentoring youth aquatics.
Helping others is always a high priority for Corey. Making sure everyone is taken care of and feels comfortable is one of the many reasons he enjoys working at I-House. This is a place where people of all backgrounds can come together and better themselves, and by extension their community. Corey is excited about the future of I-House and being a role player in its success.
Volunteer and Office Coordinator
Shahzana helps plan and coordinate International House Davis’s language classes and also works with the volunteers, which are crucial parts of the events and daily workflow of the organization.
Shahzana began as a volunteer and worked with the International Festival, and she also taught an Indian cooking workshop. In August 2018, she received the coveted SEN Award for outstanding service as a volunteer. She joined our paid staff first as a Facilities Assistant, adding to her knowledge of the workings of I-House. She then graduated to her current position, and still teaches a cooking class when she is able. Her goal is to make all visitors feel that they are welcomed and comfortable in our home-like environment.
Shahzana has a degree in journalism from India. She is also a certified Zumba instructor, where her journey at I-House began when she taught a class for a year. She is also a community theater artist and won an ELLY award for her performance in the documentary play, “SEVEN.”
Rijin Sahakian comes to the International House with nearly twenty years of experience in the cultural arts sector. Upon completing her MA in Art and Public Policy at New York University, she received a Fulbright award for postgraduate research in Jordan, leading her to found the nonprofit initiative Sada for contemporary Iraq, conducting education, production, and advocacy programs for college level art students in Baghdad, Iraq. Sahakian ran Sada for five years between Amman, Beirut and Baghdad before shutting its doors due to rising instability in 2015. Sahakian has worked as a curator in the US and internationally, including the Montalvo Arts Center, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She has contributed essays to artist books, catalogs, and publications, and lectured widely at centers from Ashkal Alwan in Beirut to the California Institute of the Arts.
Much of Sahakian’s work has been oriented towards developing multi-faceted, cross disciplinary programming to facilitate new opportunities for engagement by participants and audiences alike. The International House’s commitment to steering its future to act as a regional center for rigorous, innovative international programming as well as a conduit for collaboration amongst the many communities and organizations that comprise Sacramento, Solano and Yolo counties, is an exciting step that Sahakian is enthused to build forward.
International House Davis Telephone (Main): 530.753.5007
10 College Park
Davis, CA 95616