Author: juanasvoice

A Journey to ‘The Voice’

In 2000, 3 years after I first moved to San Francisco, I met a young girl named Deanne Palaganas. She was in my chorus club at the very first elementary school where I was in residence. She was full of personality, always smiling and she loved to sing! She was one of those kids you never forget. Recently, I ran into her while I was rehearsing a group she was performing with. Out of the blue she asked me if I would consider being her mentor and now Juana’s Voice is mentoring her and helping her prepare to chase her dream! She is scheduled to be in Los Angeles this July to audition for “The Voice”. Deanne is a young woman fierce with ambition and stunningly talented who works incredibly hard, follows through with everything and has the courage to listen to her heart. We are honored to be here with her as she walks this path. Please follow her FB page and send her positive energy as she goes for it!

Dreaming Big

Juana’s Voice is officially a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization! This dream has been in the works, in some variation or other, for many years and so it was very exciting to feel the big push of forward momentum. Along with the many small accomplishments that we celebrate come the very big dreams that we have for the organization. We share these dreams to create hope and excitement for our future. And as a good friend recently said “It’s about time you two started to dream big!” The ultimate dream is the Westport House. (pictured) Twenty acres on the Mendocino Coast of California. A permanent home for Juana’s Voice. A place to be still; A beautiful environment, intentionally created where you can discover your highest potential. Where you can come on retreat, or to take a class or workshop from healers, musicians, gardeners, authors and artists. A place that hosts all women, including artists-in-residence, and girls and women with financial limitations. A place for writing and painting, singing and music making, woodworking and gardening, ceramics and cooking. Pretty much, whatever we can think up. Let’s …


After months of research and work we have started our non-profit: Juana’s Voice, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. We have been fortunate to partner with the Brava Theater for Women in the Arts  in San Francisco to offer classes in expressive arts.

Pioneering A Girl’s Perspective

A digital photography program at the Brava Theater. We want to congratulate the girls who participated in our program! We met twice a week for four weeks. The students came in wanting to learn to ‘look at things differently’ and ‘take better pictures’. They definitely accomplished their goals and then some! We are proud to present a gallery of their photos.

Maria and Consuelo

I usually don’t deal with disappointment very well. But I am very good at hiding it. I could go down the list of my life altering disappointments, but I won’t. Yesterday was the first day of our photo project with girls in San Miguel de Allende. Yesterday we waited and waited and no one showed up. As we drove home we talked about what went wrong and we talked about what it means to us to give back, the importance of sharing what we know with girls and women. It seems like it should be easy–we find an underserved market and we provide everything free of charge. The realization that giving and sharing isn’t as easy as it sounds, has set in. Shannon and I are always good with a plan B. We are used to being thrown curve balls. Though we would like for things to go smoothly, they rarely do. We often find ourselves scrambling to make our ideas and projects work. We live with so much uncertainty that it seems like we …

JV in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Our photo project in San Miguel starts this coming Monday! We cannot wait to meet our students and to see this beautiful town through their eyes. An enormous thank you to Maria Almirantearena for translating the newspaper article into Spanish for us! We definitely could not have, and I mean not at all, done it without you!  

TenderPics in the Tenderloin

When I moved to San Francisco in 1997 the first place I lived was a seedy motel on the border of the Tenderloin and Union Square.  The restroom was down a dark hallway that had peeling 1970’s wallpaper. The room smelled like the last person that had lived there and every sound that was spoken or grunted echoed around me.  In 2002, to take advantage of cheap rent, my best friend moved into an apartment on the fringe of the Tenderloin. From the train station I had to walk eight blocks, through the heart the neighborhood, to get to his apartment. Mostly I remember the smells; pungent urine, sour beer and rancid food. Smells that stuck to my clothes and lingered in my nostrils, leaving me feeling like I needed a hot bath.   In 2009 Shannon worked with writer Sean Owens and composer Don Seaver on a musical dedicated to the seedy history of the Tenderloin. As I sat in the audience and watched these twelve characters (ie: a crooked cop, a drug addict and the …


While we were in NYC we thought it would be fun to spread some words of encouragement and inspiration for the new year. Elizabeth wrote each card by hand, an inspirational phrase on one side and a collage art piece on the other. We put them all over the city, Brooklyn to Park Avenue, with little pieces of red string. We were always looking over our shoulders and giggling at the thought of getting caught. Our sincerest hope is that the person that picked it up was touched in some way. Maybe it helped them believe in themselves. Maybe it made them smile at a stranger. Maybe the holidays weren’t as lonely. And maybe, they turned around and shared it with someone else who needed it.


“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” Bob Kerrey (1943) Recently I watched a video about photographer, Richard Renaldi  and his project Touching Strangers.  Basically he pulled people (strangers) off the streets of New York City and paired them up with unlikely “friends” so that he could photograph them as if they had been dear friends or loved ones.  In the end his photographic subjects were able to really see strangers as people not just a black man or an old lady or a bum or a yuppie…you get the point. He helped to break down barriers, no labels–just people. This project affected me so much that I thought I would love to do something like that here in San Francisco. My version of Richard’s project includes little cards with words of encouragement and kindness to share with strangers–we’re gonna make it easy for you to share tenderness in the Tenderloin :-).  I wanted to add this element because of the many times I have been unable to …

Her Folkloric Life

  Traditional beliefs, myths, tales and practices have forced her mind to blossom her wings strengthen her body becomes infinite as the sea and stars. She is rooted to the earth, she is the mighty oak, among the tulips and able to feel the wind. It is all within. Even when the world tries to disassemble her.   Mixed Media Collage hand sculpted porcelain woman, glazed in colors of tree bark and leaves, paper, beads, metal, vintage buttons, shell, plastic, dice, glitter, paint in a painted French Brie cheese round. Come and see Director Elizabeth Rosas’ latest work. Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center & The Luggage Store present Flo Oy Wong, The Whole Pie Opening Reception: Friday November 8, 2013 from  6-8pm The Luggage Store – 1007 Market St. San Francisco more information HERE