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Museum Staff

Photograph of woman

Dr. Ciara Ennis, Director
Professor of Practice, Department of Art and Art History

As Director, Ennis is responsible for developing the vision, artistic direction, and strategic leadership for the museum including exhibitions, programming, permanent collection, academic integration, and public profile. Ennis oversees museum operations, staffing, finances, and fundraising, and serves as the primary liaison between the museum and Santa Clara University.

Prior to directing the de Saisset Museum, Ennis served as Director and Curator of Pitzer College Art Galleries, transforming it into a significant center for contemporary art and discourse through intellectually provocative initiatives focused on diverse communities of artists exploring issues that define our times. A Museum Studies scholar, Ennis’ research explores the appropriation of Wunderkammer strategies as a means for rethinking contemporary curatorial practice. Ennis has been a panelist and guest speaker for the College Arts Association, American Studies Association, the International Sculpture Conference, the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, the California Community Foundation, the Rijksakademie Amsterdam, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Ennis is a member of Prospect Art’s Advisory Board and X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly’s Advisory Council. She has an MA (RCA) in Contemporary Curatorial Practice from the Royal College of Art, and a PhD in Cultural Studies/Museum Studies from Claremont Graduate University.


Portrait of Lauren Baines 

Lauren Baines, Assistant Director

As Assistant Director, Baines is responsible for developing the museum's exhibitions and planning related interpretation, integrated education opportunities, and public programs. She is also responsible for the museum's marketing, promotion, and outreach and works to build collaborations with University and external partners. For 3 years, Baines also served as Interim Director of the de Saisset.

She has always worked in the arts / arts nonprofit field, with previous roles at the Palo Alto Arts Center, Montalvo Arts Center, and other Bay Area organizations, in addition to her own practice as a professional choreographer and dancer. She serves on the Board of the California Association of Museums and was a Steering Committee member of genARTS Silicon Valley, a program of SVCreates, for 10 years. Baines holds a M.F.A. from Mills College in Choreography/Dance and B.A. and B.S. degrees in Art History, Theatre Arts (Dance Emphasis), and Psychology from Santa Clara University. 

Samantha Hull, Museum Engagement and Operations Coordinator

Samantha handles the day-to-day administration of the museum. Serving as the first point of contact to various internal and external constituencies, Samantha handles financial planning and processing, scheduling and supervision of tours, museum co-sponsored programs, academic gallery engagement, gallery interpretation, and administrative support for the professional staff. Samantha has worked in the nonprofit arts sector for a decade in previous roles at the San Jose Museum of Art, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Oakland Museum of California, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.

Outside of the museum, Samantha is the Research Assistant and Publication Project Manager for Gail Anderson on two publications, Mission Matters: Relevance and Museums in the 21st Century (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019) and Reinventing the Museum: Relevance, Inclusion, and Global Responsibilities (Rowman and Littlefield, 2023). She also serves as the Board Vice President of Local Color SJ, a women-operated artist nonprofit with the mission to build equitable opportunities for artists in San Jose. Samantha is also a member of the College Art Association's Museum Committee and a member of the Editiorial Advisory Committee at the Alliance of American Museums. In addition, she was an Art Contributor for the art history database Sartle (See Art Differently) from 2017-2022. Samantha holds a B.A. in art history from the University of Oregon and an M.A. in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University.

Portraits of staff member Chris Sicat.

Chris Sicat, Exhibitions Project Coordinator

Chris Sicat is an artist, curator and educator. Chris Sicat is responsible for the design and installation of the museum’s exhibition galleries, and the maintenance of the exhibitions. He also supports the permanent collection, art storage areas, and preparatory spaces. Chris serves as the museum's primary facility manager, coordinating regular upkeep and maintenance of the building. Along with his museum work, Chris is a visual artist working in sculpture, painting and performance art. He teaches studio art classes at West Valley College and has taught at Cal State Monterey Bay. It is working closely with college students that inspires the learning and growth in his art practice. As an independent curator, Chris has organized exhibitions at Art Ark Gallery and Alcatraz National Park. He has performed at the J. Paul Getty Museum, East West Players and Barnsdall Gallery Theater. He has directed numerous site-specific performances and plays at Highways Performance Space and Montalvo Arts Center. Chris holds a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design and an MFA from the New York Academy of Arts.

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Summer Olsen, Collections Manager

As the Collections Manager, Summer oversees the care and preservation of more than 12,000 objects held in the museum's permanent collection. She also handles exhibition registration. Some of her chief responsibilities include the coordination of insurance, overseeing art storage, and attending to the conservation and preservation needs of collection objects.

Her experience includes working for not for profit museums and the commercial art storage industry. She has worked with a wide variety of collections including at the National Museum of the American Indian and the American Folk Art Museum. Most recently she served as Assistant Registrar, Outgoing Loans at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). She holds a B.A. in Vocal Performance and a B.A. in Anthropology from Scripps College and a M.A. in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture Studies from Bard Graduate Center.