Who We Are

Joan Sieber
President, Director of Local Outreach –  Hayward

Joan Sieber became Executive Director of Paintbrush Diplomacy (PBD) in 2011, and in 2016 became co- Executive Director with Leia Alex.  Joan now administers the local PBD programs within Hayward Unified School District, which focus primarily on integration of art into the curriculum, and creation of a master plan to make visual and performing arts classes available to all students within the district. Joan is an emerita professor of psychology; upon retiring from teaching, she founded and was editor-in-chief of a journal focusing on evidence-based ethical problem solving in human research worldwide (Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics -JERHRE).  She also became involved in helping create Cal State East Bay University’s Center for Financial Literacy and is its Deputy Director.   In 2016, she passed JERHRE’s editor in chief mantle to one of JERHRE’s associate editors, and began devoting more time to art classes. She has now re-ignited a passion that was vibrant in her pre-graduate school days – oil painting.  She looks forward to becoming a portrait painter.


Leia Alex 
Director, National and International Outreach

Leia Alex graduated in 2016 from Georgetown University with a degree in Culture and Politics, looking specifically at the intersections between art and diplomacy. During her time in Washington, D.C., she interned with International Arts & Artists and the National Peace Corps Association. As a student, she also worked as a scenic carpenter and painter at the Georgetown University Department of Performing Arts Center. For the past 3 years, she has worked to preserve Paintbrush Diplomacy’s collection and continue its programming. She now works alongside Joan as one of the Directors of Paintbrush Diplomacy, focusing on International programs and outreach. As a lifelong artist, Leia loves exploring all different forms of art, including dance, graphic design, painting, and theater.


Rebecca Alex
Vice President, Treasurer, Board Member

Rebecca Alex  (B.A. Colby College, M.F.A. John F. Kennedy University) is a professor and lead faculty for the College of San Mateo, where she has taught for the past 23 years.  She is a founding member of the Women’s Caucus for Art in Santa Cruz, Chair of the Art on Campus committee at CSM and believes strongly in the power of art to change and improve community. She is a working artist and exhibits regularly.  Recently her cold-wax encaustic paintings were featured in “Encaustic Painting of the 21st Century.”  Rebecca’s favorite quote is “The power of imagination makes us infinite.” – John Muir


Stephanie Couch
Board Member 

Stephanie Couch currently serves as executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program, which celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. She has 16 years of experience in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education policy; research, development, and deployment; and strategic fundraising. Previously, she worked as the interim associate vice president at California State University, East Bay, served as Bayer executive director of the Institute for STEM Education, and as director for Gateways East Bay STEM Network at California State University at East Bay. Stephanie also helped design and launch the statewide California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) and has won numerous awards for her leadership role in advancing STEM education in California. Most recently, she was selected as one of San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business for 2016 and inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame in the education category. In 2015, she received the Biotechnology Educator of the Year Award from California Life Sciences Association.

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