Our Team

Edwin Bernbaum

Environmental Leader & Co-Founder, Vital Arts

Edwin Bernbaum is a scholar of comparative religion and mythology and the father of Jonathan Bernbaum, who died in the Ghost Ship fire. Ed consults on leadership, culture and the environment and has presented widely at venues such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Geographic Society, the Wharton School, and the American Museum of Natural History. He is the author of The Way to Shambhala (Anchor Doubleday) and Sacred Mountains of the World (University of California Press), which won a gold medal from the Commonwealth Club of California. Formerly a program director at The Mountain Institute working with National Parks, Ed co-chairs the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s group on Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas. He lives in Berkeley with his wife Diane. Ed holds an A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard College and a PhD in Asian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.

Beth J. Jay

Attorney & Co-Founder, Vital Arts

Beth Jay served the California Supreme for most of her career, the last 27  years as Principal Attorney to three successive Chief Justices.  She was repeatedly named one of California’s 100 Most Influential Lawyers.  Since retiring from the court in 2015 she consulted on and edited petitions to the Supreme Court, conferred on appellate and ethical issues, and strategized on issues involving access to justice. She continues to mentor young lawyers.   Beth has supported organizations providing legal services to underserved Californians during her career and since retiring.  Her work in improving the administration of justice and advancing access to justice has been recognized with the Bernie Witkin Award, the California State Bar’s highest honor, as well as OneJustice’s Opening Doors to Justice Award. Beth holds a B.A. from Vassar College and J.D. from Stanford Law School. 

Thomas Dolan

Architect & Co-Founder

As an architect, Thomas Dolan has specialized in mixed-use urban infill for 35 years, including designing and building the nation’s first purpose-built live-work space. Tom consults extensively with the City of Oakland on building codes, and has a comprehensive knowledge of live-work spaces in Oakland. He is the author of Live-Work Planning and Design (John Wiley), and two guides on local live-work codes: Live-Work in Plain English for the City of Oakland, and Work/Live in Vancouver for Vancouver, BC. As a founding member of Safer DIY Spaces, Tom works directly with residents of creative spaces to preserve, legalize, and better regulate where they live and work . Tom lives in Oakland with his wife and two children. He holds a B.A. and M.A. in Landscape Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a charter member of the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Chelsea Burton

Program Manager, Vital Arts

Chelsea Burton can usually be found at the intersection of policy-making, data-analysis, and art. Her interest in bridging qualitative and quantitative practices has taken her from designing data-capture tools for public policy research, to mapping public art and designing documentary installations. Raised in Oakland, she graduated first in her class with a B.A. in Economics and Social History. Her commitment to the community is reflected in a record of projects that have successfully facilitated interaction between neighbors, activists, policy-makers, and elected officials at local and regional levels, while being repeatedly recognized as “Arts & Culture Editor Picks” in the East Bay Express. Her work has included collaborations with Oakland Art Murmur, the Oakland Heritage Alliance, the City of Oakland, and the Oakland Museum of California.