Rafael M. Diaz, board member

Rafael Diaz was born in the mid-20th century in Cuba to Spanish and Basque-Cuban parents.  His earliest musical memories include being moved to tears by his mother’s piano playing; as she played by ear and with great passion, he experienced deep emotions he could not quite understand.  He was fascinated by and in love with the piano, but was never encouraged to play or take lessons — a sensitive boy who cried when hearing beautiful music was frowned upon by his culture.  He managed to take a few piano lessons at age 15 but, as a teen, he had neither the time nor the discipline to pursue it seriously.  His love for the piano did not take precedence until, at age 25, when he finally could afford to have his own apartment and pay for his own lessons, his father kindly bought him his very first piano, an old and dilapidated $200 upright.

At the age of 22, Rafael came to the U.S. to further his education, via Aruba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.  After completion of his doctoral studies in psychology, he pursued an academic career and held faculty positions at the University of New Mexico, Stanford University, UC San Francisco and, lastly, San Francisco State University.  At SFSU, he directed the César Chavez Institute, a center for research on the impact of social discrimination on health disparities and educational inequalities.  After a very busy, successful and satisfying academic career, he obtained his California license as a clinical psychologist in order to be of service as a psychotherapist.  He also trained as a spiritual director to work with adults in a more holistic approach to psychotherapy that integrates the spiritual journey on the path to wholeness and psychological wellbeing.

Rafael moved to Nevada City in the summer of 2016 for various reasons, including his desire to live closer to his partner, Brad, who is a long-time resident of Grass Valley.  Another motivation was Nevada County’s amazingly rich cultural context and the availability of world-class classical music, much of it made possible by InConcert Sierra.  He is now a member of the local Piano Workshop taught by the accomplished pianist, Dr. Aileen James.