Our Staff

Michael A. Nelson, Chief Executive Officer
After several years with Walt Disney organization, Ringling Bros., Radio, Television and various Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Mike became the Managing Director of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood California while serving on the host committee of the Hollywood 100th anniversary celebrations. While Managing Director, Mike lead the operating and constructions teams through a $30 million renovation while continuing operations within the hotel. Shortly after the Roosevelt’s grand reopening, Hilton Hotels Hawaii offered the position to relocate to Hawaii as Director of Marketing for the rebranding of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and opening of the Ali’i Tower.

Upon arriving in Honolulu, Mike embarked on repositioning of the Hilton Hawaiian Village; the opening of the new Ali’i Tower and oversight for three other Hilton properties in Hawaii which led to an opportunity with his own event-destination management company providing meeting and convention services and producing special events. Mike has worked with a variety of partners in the Hawaii travel industry, producing events such as the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona, Ko Olina Triathlon and working with the Ko Olina resort master developer’s multimillion dollar plans for a world class resort.

After years of traveling to and from Volcano, Mike commenced building a home with plans to become an active member of the Volcano community. Joining the Volcano Art Center team is truly an excellent opportunity to support the many varied artists in Volcano while contributing to the center’s future.

Emily Catey Weiss,  Director of Development and Galleries 
Emily has years of experience coordinating public art programs and exhibits. She earned a B.F.A. from Ohio State University in 2000, which paved the way for Emily Catey Photography, LLC, which she ran successfully in Hale’iwa on Oahu’s North Shore before moving to the Big Island in 2009. From 2004 to 2009 she was involved in various civic, business and state organization in the revitalization of Honolulu’s Arts District. She also served as President of the Hale’iwa Arts Festival. She joined VAC as Program Director in 2009. Since then, she has held various positions within the organization. Her philosophy is grounded in the belief that cultivating, sustaining and celebrating the arts is essential to a vibrant community.

Alyssa Johnasen, Program Manager
Alyssa grew up on the Big Island, spending a great deal of her free time immersed in all of its splendor – from hiking to remote waterfalls and snorkeling in pristine bays, to experiencing close-up lava encounters. She attended both the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Queens College in New York City, earning her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. A yoga practitioner and adventure enthusiast, Alyssa feels there is much more to explore. She joined VAC’s staff in late 2014, and is currently responsible for the creation, marketing and coordination of VAC’s educational workshops, updating VAC’s Web site and social media accounts, and managing volunteers for special events.


Claire Nolan, Gallery Sales
Claire was born and raised on the East Coast but has been a Hawai’i resident since the 1980s. She has always possessed a great appreciation for art and artists. On her travels in Southern France and Italy she recognized how the natural landscapes inspired the masters. She joined VAC’s gallery sales team in 2001, shortly after moving to Volcano from Maui. She especially enjoys sharing the inspiration behind the artwork with residents and visitors.