Academy of Art University celebrates International Women’s Day, Launches "Female Leaders in Art and Design" Video Series

As leading professionals in various art and design fields including entertainment art, game development, architecture, and fashion, the female faculty members of Academy of Art University share their experience and perspective of gender equality in their respective industries.

March 5th, 2020 – San Francisco, CA:  Academy of Art University is excited to announce the launch of a new video series, “Female Leaders in Art and Design”. In time with the celebration of International Women’s Day, and with the aim of inspiring young artists, the video series features female Academy faculty members from various fields such as game development, fashion design, and entertainment arts to share their experience and advice for young artists.

The video series features exclusive stories of their unique professional journey: their experience as a woman in their industry,  how the environment around women has or has not changed, and how we can make a difference.  

Jan Yanehiro, the Director of School of Communications & Media Technologies, looked back on the days when she started her career as a news reporter on radio in the 70s, describing, “People weren’t hiring women who look like me. All the men were in charge and there wasn’t any woman as a disc jockey.” 

Catherine Tate, the director of 3D animation of school of Animation & Visual Effects, shared that she once attended a computer graphics conference and she remembered  “walking in the main hall of the Convention Center and just seeing a sea of heads of people that were all men and [she] thought this is really not balanced”. 

Today, certain changes have been made as Julie Trachtenberg, one of the instructors and board members at School of Landscape Architecture, points out seeing “a huge shift in the work environment, especially with male employers who are really trying to adjust and make a more equal environment for men and women.” However, the environment is still lacking a lot of role models,” as far as Jana Memel, the Executive Director of Schools of Entertainment, is concerned, noting that “many of my female students still don’t feel empowered to speak up for themselves.”

As more art and design career opportunities arise, employers are on the hunt for the next generation of talented and skilled creative professionals. Academy of Art University’s faculty is comprised primarily of working professionals and industry leaders to provide students with work-ready skills and real-world experience, helping bridge the skills gap in a number of exciting fields. Our faculty members play as role models to inspire young artists and grow the next generation of industry leaders.

New episodes of “Female Leaders in Art and Design” video series will be released throughout March on Academy of Art University’s YouTube channel and social media channels. 


About Academy of Art University

Established in 1929, Academy of Art University is one of the largest private accredited art and design schools in the nation. Located in San Francisco, the epicenter of culture and technology, Academy of Art University offers more than 135 accredited degree programs spanning 40 areas of study, including entertainment arts, advertising, fashion, architecture, game development, music, communication, photography and more.  For more information, please visit

Featured female leaders

Jana Sue Memel 

Executive Director / Schools of Entertainment

Jana Sue Memel is an Academy Award-winning producer and writer. Ms. Memel has produced over 25 movies and over 65 half-hour, live-action shorts that have played as television series in more than 30 countries. The films she has produced have won Writers Guild and Directors Guild Awards, Emmys, CableACE Awards and the Humanitas Prize.

Catherine Tate

Director of 3D Animation / School of Animation & Visual Effects

Catherine has been a VFX Supervisor and/or compositor on over sixty feature films and shorts, including Academy Award-nominated features, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Theeb. She also was the onset and post-production VFX Supervisor on Fruitvale Station, directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed, Marvel’s Black Panther.) Fruitvale Station also won the audience and grand jury awards at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.

Catherine worked at Industrial Light and Magic for ten years as a compositor and worked on dozens of projects, including “Star Wars,” and “Men in Black.” She also worked at other noted companies including Framestore, London and Esc Entertainment. Catherine has been a faculty member at Academy of Art University for fifteen years. Her collaborative studio-based classes at the Academy, called StudioX, have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, East Bay Times, San Francisco Chronicle, KGO news, and other local news channels. She believes working in a real-world production environment in school can better prepare students to get a job and succeed in the industry.

Jan Yanehiro

Director / School of Communications & Media Technologies

Yanehiro traveled the world in search of exotic places and fascinating celebrities. She has bungee jumped, skydived with the Army’s Golden Knights, and climbed a frozen waterfall in Colorado. She has hosted six documentaries on the US Government’s relocation and redress of 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. Yanehiro has won multiple awards including an Emmy, the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award and the Girl Scout’s Woman of Distinction. She is Board Chair of The Representation Project and holds seats on Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation and The Bank of Marin. Yanehiro graduated from Fresno State University with a degree in Journalism: News-Editorial. She is the author of three books, her latest is, This Is Not The Life I Ordered … 50 Ways To Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down.

Flore Morton

Associate Director / School of Fashion

Flore Morton joined the Academy’s School of Fashion in 2006 and has built the styling program from scratch while teaching portfolio-level fashion design, fashion styling, and photo shoot production. During her 20 years in the fashion industry, Flore Morton has designed knitwear, woven, leatherwear, swimwear and accessories for Martin Margiela and Jean Paul Gaultier at Hermès women’s ready-to-wear department in Paris. She has expertise in tailoring, dressmaking, knitwear, leatherwear, swimwear, accessories, and styling. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from the École Supérieure d’Arts Appliqués Duperré in Paris. She is also managing the photo shoots and styling for 180 Magazine, and leading the School of Fashion exchange programs.

Alina Bokovikova

Costume Design Coordinator / School of Fashion

Alina Bokovikova has a Master’s Degree in Education from Russia along with an MFA Degree in Costume Design from UC San Diego. Her main goal as a professional costume designer and program coordinator has been to explore artistically diverse and socially responsible theatre to develop a system where costume design students will get professional opportunities while pursuing performance art education.

Her skillset emphasizes costume construction with a focus on historical costumes as well as modern deconstructive and sustainable costume design practices. She incorporates classical drawing and watercolor painting, pallet knife acrylic renderings and mix-media collage techniques into her unique discipline. Bokovikova’s portfolio comprises of nearly one hundred professional and educational productions for live performances.

She has several regional Best Costume Design awards and presented her works at the “Costume Design at the Turn of Century” exhibition, Prague Quadrennial, and was featured in “American Theatre Magazine”. Bay Area audiences could see her design at San Francisco Opera, Opera Parallele, California Shakespeare Company, Opera San Jose, TheatreWorks and Cutting Ball Theatre. Her regional theatre credits include The Old Globe Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, North Coast Repertory Theatre.

Dana Jakobson

3D Artist and Instructor / School of Game Development

Dana Jakobson has been interested in art all of her life. Growing up, one of her favorite activities was closely studying illustrations in whatever book she was reading. Before Dana learned computers, she painted in watercolor. She received her BFA from School of Visual Arts in NY in 2000. Some of Dana’s first professional projects were in commercials and sports graphics. Soon after moving to San Francisco, Dana entered the game industry and has been working in it ever since.

Throughout her game career, Dana has taken on various roles as an Environment Artist, Character Artist, and Motion Graphics Designer. She’s had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of game genres and styles. Her last position was Senior 3D Artist at Zynga. She taught an Environment Modeling class in the fall of 2019 graduate gaming dept at Academy of Art University. Today, Dana has gone back to painting in her spare time. Picture books remain some of her favorite reading.

Elizabeth Shypertt

Advisory Board Member/ School of Jewelry and Metal Arts

Elizabeth Shypertt was the co-founder and co-owner of Velvet da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco for 23 years. During that time, she organized more than 80 exhibitions including one-person and group shows of both national and international jewelry artists.

Since leaving the gallery, Ms. Shypertt has curated jewelry shows for the Petaluma Arts Center, the Center for Enamel Arts, for Shibumi Gallery in Berkeley, and for the Museum of Craft and Design in San Francisco. She has juried the Philadelphia Craft Show and the American Craft Council Show. She has also twice juried the Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition.

Ms. Shypertt is a long-standing member of the local Metal Arts Guild and the Art Jewelry Forum and was a board member for both organizations. She is currently on the board of the Society of North American Goldsmiths and is curating a show to celebrate SNAG’s 50th anniversary in Philadelphia in 2020.

Julie Trachtenberg

Instructor / School of Landscape Architecture 

Julie Trachtenberg is a landscape designer who has worked on a wide range of urban and residential projects, such as masterplans for UC San Diego and Stanford University.  She has developed large and small scale residential projects as well as an edible school yard in Richmond, California. Before entering into the world of landscape architecture, she was immersed in museum planning, zoo and aquarium design and exhibition design. She has worked on projects in France, Germany and throughout the US.  She states that the language of design is not singular to a specific field, as much as the environment and clients that may provide exciting and surprising opportunities. She received a Masters Degree in Museum Studies at JFK University and a Certificate in Landscape Architecture at UC Berkeley Extension. 

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