Executive Director

Alejandro Gutierrez Chavez

Currently residing in the city of San Bernardino, Alejandro Gutierrez Chavez is a strategic leader, social entrepreneur, and dedicated advocate for the arts. Born and raised in San Bernardino County, Alejandro’s journey has taken him from acquiring a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from California State University, San Bernardino, to roles such as a 6th grade math teacher for Duval County Schools, Research and Evaluation Analyst at First 5 San Bernardino, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Impact at El Sol to co-founding the nonprofit youth initiative, Lifting Our Stories.

Recognized as one of the area’s 30 Most Influential Leaders Under 30, Alejandro is a first-generation Chicano and former educator. His deep belief in art as a catalyst for change and a platform for amplifying voices fuels his work.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Alejandro is an outdoor enthusiast, constantly seeking to explore and appreciate the natural world. Whether in his work or his personal life, Alejandro’s mission is to inspire, innovate, and provide the tools for others to fulfill their highest potential.


Associate Director

Ulises Rodriguez

Ulises Rodriguez, a native of Mexico, has woven a vibrant tapestry of artistic passion and community dedication throughout his life in the Inland Empire.
Arriving in the US in 2000, Ulises quickly became a stalwart advocate for the arts, tirelessly championing accessibility to safe creative spaces. Throughout his high school years, he assumed pivotal roles such as president of the M.E.C.H.A. Club and board member of the Student Honor Society, laying the groundwork for his lifelong commitment to community enrichment.
Embracing his artistic calling, Ulises embarked on a multifaceted journey as a musician and performer, with a focus on theater and social justice themes. For over seven years, he lent his talents to compositions that stirred hearts and sparked dialogue.
Transitioning seamlessly from the stage to community activism, Ulises became an integral part of the Mexican Cultural Center in Santa Ana. There, he organized events, rallied community support, and engaged in political advocacy, leveraging the power of traditional Veracruz music, Son Jarocho, to amplify causes such as voting rights and immigration reform.
In the past 12 years, Ulises has assumed diverse roles as a teaching artist and marketing manager for non-profits and art galleries. His imprint can be felt in the creation, management, and assistance of numerous community driven festivals, including MUCHO GUSTO FEST, Riverside Day of the Dead, and the celebrated opening of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture.


Arts Education Program Coordinator

Andrea "Dre" Bonales

Andrea ‘Dre’ Bonales is a 22 year-old artist from Rialto, CA who enjoys working with many mediums, but her main forms are animation and film. She graduated from Riverside City College in 2021 with a degree in Film and Television along with a degree in Fine and Applied Arts. Since then she has worked on a variety of different projects such as directing her first film “The Core,” with the help of close friends and acquaintances.

Currently, she is working with Arts Connection as the Arts Education Program Coordinator and as a Teaching Artist. She has presented her various skill sets within and outside her community. In November of 2020 she released her comic book series “Torn” which pushed her to sell her work in local art events. With her connections to the film industry she was presented work on projects amongst other artists such as DJ Khaled, Law Roach and Comedy Central.

Although her time experiencing these events may seem short she has gained a great deal of knowledge through them. She hopes to continue her growth by gaining a Bachelor’s in Animation and working within the industry for a while to eventually come back to her Inland Empire community and teach her knowledge to the youth.


Art Program Director – San Bernardino

Yulissa Mendoza

Yulissa Mendoza is a multi hyphenated artist and community engager who was born and raised in San Bernardino. The foundation of any work that they do is to create a safe space that serves as a building block in order to amplify voices, empower marginalized communities, and carve space for those often overlooked. As Art Director at the Arts Connection they developed Blocks of Care as a way to create movement and change within the city through art by engaging with 13 artists over a 5 month period. They have also developed and lead the Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program and space  at the Garcia Center to mentor and provide supportive resources for local artists to help build their platform and skills by assisting the artists in facilitating community engagements such as workshops, galleries, and gatherings. Yulissa is also actively involved in the regional community, having curated The Artlands first ever pride gallery event in Redlands and was recognized by the city via a proclamation for their increasing efforts in creating space for the LGBTQ+ community. Through their botanical art, they have provided mutual aid for community movements and members such as slowbloom coffee co-op, BLM, and local LGBTQ+ orgs.


Communication Director

Willis Salomon

Willis Salomon is a visual artist, photographer, and creative based in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles areas. He grew up in the IE area but has also spent time in Hawai’i. He studied Visual Communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.

Prior to the Arts Connection, he spent his time in Los Angeles in commercial fashion, doing art direction, photography, wardrobe styling and set design. As well as a visual display artist in various retail locations.

Currently he is a freelance photographer, with a focus on fashion and product, as well as food and bev. And also consults for social media marketing for small businesses. If he’s not out exploring in the outdoors, he is working on his personal art practice which involves art installation and photography.


Administrative Assitant

Hannah Velasco

Born and raised in the Inland Empire, Hannah Velasco is a multidisciplinary artist whose journey into the arts began in middle school as merely a hobby. However, throughout high school, her paintings won awards in small competitions, consistently securing 3rd place and above. Upon her graduation she decided to pursue film and movies, which led her to The Garcia Center for the Arts. Hannah rekindled her passion for studio arts in 2021 by launching her own business called, Art by Hannah. In 2022, Arts Connection’s program, Arts Avenue, opened the doors for her to teach painting to students in the San Bernardino County School District. Watching the student’s excitement and hearing their stories ignited a passion in Hannah to reach beyond the schools.
Her ambition is to bridge communities through art, and through her involvement in art markets she feels she’s in the perfect position to reach her goal. This vibrant community of vendors and artists has become a cherished part of her journey, offering not just a platform for her work but a source of inspiration. Hannah Velasco stands as a testament to the power of art to unify and inspire.