Debra has served as the Executive Director of the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) since 1993. Infused with a deep understanding and commitment to the organization’s mission and vision… a socially relevant, activist minded, diversity driven organization, at the heart of what it believes is that art can be a tool for social change and self-transformation.

Prior to being at SPARC, Debra was the Managing Director of Borderlands Theater in Tucson, Arizona for seven years. She has served on numerous panels and committees, including but not limited to: the Rockefeller Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust for the Visual Arts, the Ford Foundation-Working Capital Fund Panel, the Hispanic Heritage Awards Foundation-Youth Awards Committee Chair, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Latino Theatre Council for the Latino Theatre Initiative at the Mark Taper Forum, the John Anson Ford Latino Audience Initiative Advisory Council, the Los Angeles Cultural Tourism Department, the City of Santa Monica Cultural Grants Panel, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission Civic Art Panel, the Tucson/Pima Arts Council Grants/Heritage Panel, Arizona Commission on the Arts Grants Panel, the Tucson Museum of Art Advisory Board, and served for 14 years on the Board of Directors of Cornerstone Theater Company and for 5 years on the Diversity Advisory Committee for the Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles. She is a proud member of ArtTable, the leadership organization for women in the visual arts. She serves as Chair Emeritus of the Board of Directors for Arts For LA.

Debra was selected by the California Community Foundation to be part of their leadership fellowship program entitled “Ambassadors Within.” The aim of Ambassadors Within was to deepen and broaden the network, capacity and reach of civic entrepreneurs for the benefit of the community we serve. In addition, the program aimed to perpetuate the work of civic entrepreneurs, to engage the experience of community builders, and to benefit organizations focused upon nurturing community leadership.

Debra was part of the inaugural group of 12 women selected (out of 120) in Los Angeles for the Women’s Leadership Circle (WLC). WLC recognizes and supports the diversity of women’s leadership paths and brings together circles of women from different communities and disciplines. WLC organizes leaders engaged in social justice work to collectively create healthier lives and societies.

Debra is a proud recipient of the Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Award.

Huffington Post Interview with Debra J.T. Padilla