People at Namba

Meet Namba’s Founders & Board

Ben & Julia Namba




The founder and benefactor of the NAMBA Performing Arts Space, passed away on February 26, 2020 at his Ventura residence with his wife, Julia Campbell Namba, by his side.Born April 6, 1930 in Manchuria, China, Ben lived and was educated in Japan, earning his University degree there. Ben later moved to the United States in 1960. Based in Los Angeles, Ben was the owner and operator of BHN Incorporated for over 40 years, specializing in importing spices from abroad for Tampico Spice Company.

In 1994 Ben moved from La Canada Flintridge to Ventura where he built a home on Solimar Beach. In this peaceful home he could enjoy the outdoors and living on the coast.

Ben enjoyed gardening and loved the outdoors, most especially the ocean.

Being a lover of art, music, dance, and the arts, Ben was involved with the Ventura Music Festival for many years. He was the primary benefactor of the Namba Performing Arts Space in downtown Ventura, a non-profit founded in 2014 dedicated to fostering Dance, Music, Theater, Film, performances, and community arts education. The Namba Performing Arts Space at 47 S. Oak Street in Downtown Ventura stands as his legacy and a gift for the greater Ventura community.

Ben Namba is survived by his wife Julia Campbell Namba; his step-children Sanford Campbell, Laura Campbell, and Leslie Atia; his step-grandchildren Geffen Camp, Leah Atia, and Gian Atia. He was preceded in death by his first wife the late Helen Head Namba.

Memorial donations to honor Ben may be made in his name to the Alzheimer’s Association of Ventura County, the Namba Performing Arts Space in Ventura, or the Ventura Music Festival.

Julia Campbell Namba


Seven years ago Julia and her husband Ben Namba supported the launch of our performance lab space, where performers could refine their expression and an audience could be stimulated and entertained. Through NAMBA, she brought Performing Arts to the forefront of our Ventura Community – a place where hope can thrive. In this video, Julia, the consummate educator and storyteller, shares The Monk and The Rabbi; a tale of how simple encouragement can bring about hope and renewal. It is a great representation of how she nurtured us all.

Steadfast in her love and support for the arts and our community, Julia has been essential to the foundation and growth of the performing arts in Ventura. She will be sorely missed and always loved.


Tamara Varney


Tamara served as Secretary to Namba BoD for one year before being elected to Chair the Board. She is a local independent stylist, as well as a solar energy specialist/sustainability advocate. Her art is music, both writing and performing.

Shannon Dalton


Shannon served on Namba’s BoD for just shy of a year before being elected Secretary. She is presently an undergraduate program coordinator at UCSB. She has been involved in the local performing arts scene, including technical stage crew, dance and acting for close to 20 years.

Juliana Ramirez


Juliana owns her own accounting business and has been a bookkeeper for over 20 years. She is also Chair of Finance at Ventura Echelon, Founding Member, Treasurer and Chair of Events at Latina Professional Alliance of SB, and volunteers at Score SB and Women Economic Ventures.

Gigi Hartman

Vice Secretary

GiGi Hartman attended Point Park University, majoring in dance and is a graduate of Dance Masters of America Teachers Training Program. Prior to relocating to CA, GiGi owned a dance studio in Pennsylvania for 20 years. Currently she is on the Board of Directors for Dance Masters Pacific Coast and is a certified Regional and National Examiner for Dance Masters.

Sharon Wagner

Vice Treasurer

Sharon received her MBA from California Lutheran University in 2006 and her Enrolled Agent license in 2013.

She has been an active accountant and bookkeeper, both as a staff accountant for local accounting firms in Los Angeles and Ventura County, as well as a sole practitioner, for over 15 years.

Janine Ames


An original founding member and served as Namba’s President for most of 2019. She is a local businesswoman in Ojai.

Colleen O’Callaghan


Colleen O’Callaghan has been in the world of movement for her entire life. Most notably, she danced with American Ballet Theatre under the direction of Lucia Chase and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

She trained on scholarship with the schools of the Louisville Ballet, the Pennsylvania Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. Before joining American Ballet Theatre’s main company, she danced with ABT’s Ballet Repertory Company under the direction of Richard Englund and Gage Bush.

Wendy Castellanos


Wendy Castellanos is a professional dance artist with experience in the arts as a performer, instructor, choreographer and arts administrator. She is new to the Board but not new to Namba. Since 2017 Wendy has run her Flamenco dance program, utilizing Namba as home base. Her focus is in community building through the arts.

Michael Henszey


Michael’s career was forged in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In his early years, a recording studio that he co-owned and managed pulled in top tier clients like Cheap Trick and earned a photo on the cover of Mix Magazine. He also worked on music for numerous national ads for Lego, Home Depot, and Cartoon Network.

As a singer/songwriter, Michael has released five albums, performed widely, and collaborated and recorded with a bunch of talented musicians. He is a Chick Singer Night (Are You Man Enough) veteran and now lives in Ventura, California working as an audio producer and studio manager.

Advisory Board

Erin Fink, Development Committee       
Laura Campbell, Support 

Auxiliary Board

Henry Stewart, Singer/Songwriter                  

Former Presidents

Pamela Pilkenton, Cathy Jean Butter and Janine Ames

Former Secretaries

Pamela Oster, Suzanne Corridan Willerth and Tamara Varney

Former Treasurer

Dawn Golden