10 Things About Russ Sperling & The Visual and Performing Arts Foundation


“Transforming Lives Through the Arts”

The mission of the Visual and Performing Arts Foundation (VAPA) is to enhance the quality of and access to art education in the San Diego Unified School District. As Co-Founder and Treasurer of the VAPA Foundation, Russ Sperling assists schools in achieving their visual and performing arts education goals.


#1 I grew up in Ventura, California.


#2 Besides my own mother (also a huge inspiration), my 7th and 8th grade GATE social studies teacher, Margaret Gosfield, was the first one who got me thinking that I might want to be a teacher too. She was so creative in developing the projects that we learned through – she was truly ahead of her time. I once made a Super 8 film instead of turning in a research paper!


#3 I was an intern for Senator Pete Wilson in Washington, D.C. when I was in college.


#4 I have been using the same conductor’s baton for about 20 years. I have used it in so many rehearsals and performances now, creating so many memories. It is the one physical item that binds all of those performances together for me and so it has become a very special possession.


#5 My bucket list is mostly places that I want to visit. I have been thinking more about getting to Salzburg, Austria, which looks incredible in pictures. It is the birthplace of Mozart and so many western arts and culture things that I want to learn more about.


#6 Cancun, Mexico is my favorite travel destination. It is what my husband Gus calls his “happy place.”


#7 Arts education is my greatest passion, and I am so thrilled by the progress that the VAPA Foundation has made in being able to enhance arts experiences for the children of San Diego.


#8 The VAPA Foundation is the one organization in San Diego that can most strategically use resources to ensure that San Diego students have the best arts education experiences that America’s Finest City has to offer.


#9 With a grant from VAPA, the Rainforest Art Project created permanent public mosaic artworks partnering with seven schools. 984 students participated in designing them! With just one of our projects, we helped 984 individuals find their voice through the arts and beautified their school in the process.


#10 Doreen Schonbrun and Phyllis Epstein are co-chairing our “Beyond Brilliance Gala”. We will honor Pradeep Khosla, Chancellor of the University of California San Diego for his support and partnership on many levels, including helping with the training of teachers.

VAPA Foundation
Beyond Brilliance Gala
Sunday, April 10
5:00 p.m.
The Conrad in La Jolla

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Esteban Villanueva