Get to Know Us

Get to know our world-class staff and see why we’re one of the top arts universities in the country.
Want to get in touch with us? Visit the Directories.

Chris Armstrong

Executive Director

Before joining Academy of Art University, Chris worked for over ten years at ILM as a senior and lead animator on over a dozen feature films including The Mask, Lost World, Mars Attacks, Flubber and Men in Black II, as well as animation supervisor on Galaxy Quest and Star Wars Episode II.

Sherrie Sinclair

Graduate Director of Traditional Animation

Sherrie H. Sinclair joined the Academy over ten years ago, after almost nine years as a clean-up animator with Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando, FL. Her film credits include The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tarzan, and Lilo and Stitch.

Tom Bertino

Graduate Director

Tom Bertino is a renowned animator with more than twenty-five years of experience. He is credited with animation direction on Son of the Mask, Men in Black II, Star Wars: Episode I, and many others. Prior to working at the Academy, Tom worked at Industrial Light + Magic for nearly twenty years.

Charles Keagle

Online Director

Charles Keagle graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Art Theory and Practice. His film credits include Toy Story 2, for which he was responsible for story development and analysis and production storyboards, and South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

David Nethery

Online Director of 2D Animation

David has been teaching at Academy of Art University since 2007. Prior to teaching for the Academy, David enjoyed 25 years of experience in the field of classical animation specializing in theatrical feature film projects as an animation artist for various studios, including a long stint at Walt Disney Feature Animation. His work has been featured in animated films such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear among others.

George Pafnutieff

Assistant Director

George teaches courses in Maya fundamentals and pre-production principles, and was previously a Senior Systems Engineer at Apple Computer, Inc., Technical Supervisor for ILM, and Systems Administrator for Reliant Integration Systems. George holds a BS in Information Systems Management from San Francisco State University.

Elizabeth Sousa

Director–BFA 2D Animation

Beth has been teaching at the Academy of Art University since 2003. She started her career as a professional artist in 1978 and double majored in Painting and Metalsmithing at the University of Houston where she also studied animation. She has created work for ABC, Fox, NBC, Paramount, Virgin, Maxis and Disney and specializes in teaching stop-motion and experimental animation. In addition to teaching at the Academy of Art University, she also works on her own art and animation projects in her San Francisco studio.

Dennis Blakey

Online Associate Director, School of Animation & Visual Effects

Dennis Blakey is a visual effects and computer graphics artist, inventor and producer that began using Wavefront 3D software in 1986, and Side Effects Software since its beginning. His early computer graphics work includes Project Galileo at JPL, creating the morphing effects for the security character "Odo" on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for which he received a visual effects Emmy in 1993, and film visual effects and animation for Digital Domain and Walt Disney Feature Animation, now Walt Disney.

Robert Steele

Undergraduate Associate Director–Portfolio

Robert studied Fine Arts at Santa Monica College, and is an accomplished art director for animation, storyboarding, and computer animation with a wide range of traditional and interactive entertainment production knowledge. Credits include Disney's Jungle Book, NFL '97, numerous commercials, and the Terminator and RoboCop vs. Terminator games. He has worked at Sega Technical Institute, Virgin Interactive, Cinemawave Inc. and Captivation Digital Laboratories and has over 12 years of professional experience and game credits include Half-Life, Diablo II, and Die Hard Arcade.

Diana Coco-Russell

Associate Director, 2D Animation

Diana Coco-Russell has spent most of her artistic career in animation, with her longest run at Walt Disney Feature Animation as a clean-up animator. Beginning with Beauty and the Beast in 1992 and ending with Home on the Range in 2003 her credits appear on most films from that decade. She was known for specializing in animals and villains, and focuses her skills on costumed gesture drawing for animation and storyboard in addition to introducing students to the skills and craft of classical hand drawn animation.