Elsa Sevilla is the San Diego History Center Ambassador and Director of External Affairs. In her role, Elsa promotes the History Center’s exhibitions, educational programming, research archives and the Serra Museum to reach all communities across San Diego County.
How did you become the San Diego History Center Ambassador?
I love history so starting the Historic Places docu-series on KPBS 11 years ago was a really cool way to tell local stories. We’ve been partners with the San Diego History Center to properly tell the stories of the past since starting Historic Places, so this role is a great fit and perfect timing. Everything that I’ve learned about television as a filmmaker and San Diego’s history has equipped me to understand and share the history of all communities across San Diego County. Some communities don’t experience the same visibility as others, and so an aspect of my job is to bring all of our communities and their histories to the present to tell their stories.
Can you tell us a bit about your role for those who may not be familiar?
My job is to promote the San Diego History Center and all of the incredible educational and historical programs, exhibits and events that we offer. As a museum we house our exhibits and Research Archives, which consists of 47 million historical documents and images including black and white photos. Our collections hold thousands of historical art, artifacts and clothing; and we offer K-12 educational programs. In my role I take media opportunities with many local news outlets to share our latest exhibits, resources and programs.
What have you enjoyed most about working at the San Diego History Center?
Everything! I love getting to talk about the History Center on TV and any other opportunity I can to make our programs visible. I’m a huge advocate for education and history because I find it so important. If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going and when you can know more about your history you can understand where you belong within your community. The kind of confidence and happiness that comes from that is indescribable. My favorite thing about the History Center has to be our Research Archives because of all the amazing information they contain about our communities from the past. The black and white photo collection is my favorite and it’s actually what attracted me to partner with the History Center back when I started Historic Places with KPBS. Those black and white photos tell this amazing story about our history, and I’m all about telling those stories and bringing the past to the present.
Are there any particular holiday events or traditions that you’re looking forward to?
I love everything about the holidays but mostly spending time with my husband, Guillermo Sevilla, and our children. The holiday meal with the whole family is a special time for everyone to slow down and come together. And of course, December Nights! I grew up on Christmas on the Prado and so it’s neat to carry on that tradition with my own family.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work on your free time?
I spend most of my free time with my family. My youngest, Julian, is 15 and my oldest, Samantha is 22 and my mom is 88! So I love when we all get to spend time together. We love the outdoors, hiking and walking. We sometimes go out to East County to really get away. And I live nearby so Balboa Park has always been kind of our backyard and a place to go for some exercise. Even when the kids were younger we would come here to get out and get some exercise walking our dogs together.
What are you reading, watching, or listening to on repeat right now?
I’m always looking for either period films or history documentaries, and Amazon Prime actually has a great selection. I recently finished a four-episode docuseries called The Dutch East India Company: The History of the World’s First Multinational Corporation and it was fantastic and so interesting. I’m also watching The Crown on Netflix, and Museum Secrets on Prime is also really cool!
What is your favorite spot in Balboa Park?
I don’t have a favorite because there are so many great spots in Balboa Park and I love them all. I will say that my favorite thing is walking through the Park and the gardens, and really enjoying the outdoors and nature in the air. There’s just so much to love.