2009 NLC Fellows: Los Angeles


Los Angeles

Byron Adams, Corps Member, Teach for America

Byron Adams is a corps member with Teach For America, a non pro?t organization committed to eliminating the achievement gap in public education by recruiting recent college graduates to teach in under-served communities. He currently teaches U.S. History at Locke High School, a focal point of education reform efforts in Los Angeles. Locke High is a test of the charter school model's effectiveness in transforming what was, at one time, a dysfunctional urban school into a high achieving, safe and civil exemplar of reform. Before his work with Teach For America and Locke, Byron gained experience in public policy as a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation intern in the Washington D.C. office of Representative David Scott. His political experience also includes work as an organizer with the Working Families Party in New York City. Byron received his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Pomona College and was a 2007 Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson School.

Ajay Bam, Product Manager, Nokia

Ajay is the Product Manager for mobile commerce for Nokia (the leading provider of mobile handsets) globally, where he is transforming, evangelizing and shaping the future of mobile payments. Ajay is also currently a fellow at the Boston Cares Civic Leadership Institute. Previously Ajay co-founded MobileLime (now Modiv Media), a venture capital funded company that provides in-store media delivery and self service check out solutions to retailers and merchants.

Aviva Altmann, Development Associate, Green Dot Public Schools

Aviva Altmann was born and raised in Mountain View, CA. She moved to Los Angeles when she started college at UCLA, and she has been here ever since. While at UCLA, she majored in political science and global studies, studied abroad in Hong Kong, and spent every second of her time running Dance Marathon at UCLA, a fundraiser for pediatric AIDS which is the largest student-run philanthropy on the West Coast. Outside of school, she interned in Washington DC for the U.S. State Department, for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, AFSCME Local 3299, and for the Hillary for President campaign. She now works for Green Dot Public Schools as a Development Associate. In the future, she hopes to go to business school to get an MBA in social entrepreneurship so that she can one day start her own nonproft organization.

Dina Cervantes, Student, California State University, Northridge

Dina Cervantes, 27, of Mexican descent, was raised in Inglewood, CA. Although off to a rough startwhile in high school, she found her true love and passion in activism and organizing. A resident of SanFernando Valley for over ten years, she attends Cal State Northridge (CSUN) as she works on doublebachelorette degrees in Child and Adolescent Development and Family Consumer Science-FamilyStudies. She is currently serving as the Legislative Director for the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats. In 2007-2008, Dina served as Chair of the California State Student Association, the nation's largest four-year statewide student association, where she led a historical march of over 4,000 students to the state's capitol. At CSUN, she passionately served the students in order to promote political activism, voter registration, and social awareness in her roles as the Dir. of Legislative Affairs, and Dir. of Political Awareness, among other positions. Prior to serving as the students of the CSU, as a student atSanta Monica College, Dina served the former statewide representative organization for California community college students; she was the Los Angeles region president and state representative for 14community colleges. Locally on her campus she served as Student Trustee and Inter-Club Council Chair. Dina is interested in pursuing a career in advocacy for children, families, and higher education

James Erickson, Sabbatical

James Erickson was born on the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by my mother, an immigrant from Haiti who came to the States to pursue a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Chicago. James attended Stanford University, where he studied economics before returning to pursue a joint degree in law and business. Following his graduate studies he went into management consulting. James moved to Los Angeles over five years ago but have spent much of his time traveling.

Jonathan Gibson, Volunteer Coordinator, The Cambodian Family

Jonathan Gibson graduated Magna Cum Laude from Chapman University in 2006 where he majored in Psychology and minored in Business Administration. Following graduation, Jonathan worked for L.A. and Orange County Social Services as a Welfare to Work case manager for a year. Despite enjoying working with a diverse group of clients, Jonathan was frustrated with the red tape and bureaucracy of the county government and eventually moved into the non-profit sector. Jonathan currently works for a small non-profit community center in Santa Ana called The Cambodian Family as the agency volunteer coordinator. Since 2007, Jonathan has worked in the agency’s youth program where he has established a successful mentoring program "kind of like Role Models but with less cursing". This year Jonathan plans to get more involved with his agency's grant writing process and is excited about being a member of the New Leaders Council. Jonathan's future plans are to attend law school in 2010 where he plans to study public policy or a related field. While not working, Jonathan enjoys snowboarding, basketball (Lakers over Boston in 6), and watching live music from jazz to rock.

David Graham-Caso, Account Executive, Fiona Hutton & Associates

David Graham-Caso was raised in San Diego by two public school teachers and active members of the California Teachers Association. Throughout high school and college, David concentrated on journalism, acting as Editor-in-Chief for his high school newspaper, a Special Correspondent for Little League Baseball International (where he traveled to the annual Little League World Series to write game articles for the Little League website) and a freelance writer for various community news outlets. During his college years at University of California, Los Angeles, David was a staff writer and columnist for the UCLA Daily Bruin and served as President of the California Omicron chapter of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. After graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in Political Science and an emphasis in American Government, David joined the Studio City-based public affairs/public relations firm Fiona Hutton & Associates (FH&A) and was quickly promoted to an Account Executive position in the growing firm. David still works for FH&A, where he is a media relations specialist, allowing him to design and implement successful media relations programs for a broad spectrum of clients dealing with a wide range of statewide and regional issues, including health care, energy, water, land-use and entitlement processes, and environmental issues. David has been active in Democratic politics since he was young and has volunteered on a variety of statewide and regional campaigns. He has additionally worked as a Voter Contact Representative for the California Democratic Party. David is currently a member of both the Los Angeles County Young Democrats (LACYD) and San Fernando Valley Young Democrats (SFVYD). In 2009, David was elected to serve on the LACYD Executive Board as the organization's Legislative Director.

Saurabh Kikani, Committee Member, Young Lawyers for Obama

Saurabh Kikani is a graduate of UCLA and Fordham University School of Law. He spent the last year working to help elect Barack Obama, helping raise money, get out the vote, and protect voters from acts of intimidation and illegality through the Young Lawyers for Obama. His interests and experience are wide-ranging, with an emphasis on politics, film, law and international relations. He has training in conflict resolution and mediation, having worked as a mediator for the Manhattan Civil Court and trained in the Hague, Netherlands with the International Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution. He has produced short films and is currently learning the business side of the film industry. Ultimately he wishes to harness the power of storytelling, media, networking, and progressive policy to produce innovative ideas for change.

Denise Lopez, Field Representative, California State Senate, District 22

Denise Marie Lopez is an advocate for social responsibility in the media, and sees a need for the development of intelligent debate using meaningful media. Denise was a member of, film maker Robert Greenwald's, "Brave New Films" Foundation, a non-profit that specializes in producing documentaries on progressive issues and worked to garner interviews, collect footage and put together short web videos on the virulent anti-immigrant attacks by Right Wing politicians and media personalities. Leading up to the 2008 California primary elections, Denise worked diligently on a youth voter engagement campaign with the Southwest Voter Registration & Education Project, registering first time voters at local community colleges in Los Angeles. Denise also volunteered as a Precinct Captain for President-Elect Barack Obama in the 31st District, affording her the opportunity to engage many Latino and youth voters. Denise has also served as a Field Representative to California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo, specifically addressing the concerns of the communities of Boyle Heights and Downtown Los Angeles. Denise was also responsible for recruiting, developing and overseeing the Senate District 22, Young Senators Program, created to empower high school youths to become active participants in their community, while learning how legislation is created, passed and implemented into law. Denise wishes to purse an advanced degree and hopes to work towards framing the public debate on Internet and access policy.

Ana Mascarenas, Membership Coordinator, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles

Ana Mascareñas is the Membership Coordinator at Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA), a policy advocacy nonprofit that brings together health professionals and the diverse communities of Southern California to reduce threats to public health related to war and environmental toxins. After earning a B.A. in Human Biology and a B.A. in Sociology at Brown University in 2006, she served in the Capitol and District offices of Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-31). Ana is a resident of City Terrace, a neighborhood in unincorporated East Los Angeles, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the East Los Angeles Residents Association (ELARA), a community-led organization that is leading the Cityhood for East LA campaign. Her commitment to environmental and economic justice -- and involvement in the progressive movement -- started with an internship in urban development at the Albuquerque City Council. She is an active volunteer in progressive grassroots campaigns.

Katherine Ryan, Owner, Blue Dog Entertainment

Katherine has spent nearly a decade in the entertainment business, primarily in feature film development. Following stints as Vice President of Development at both Karz Entertainment and Intrepid Pictures, she went out on her own as an independent film and television producer in 2008, founding Blue Dog Entertainment. In addition to running that company, she is currently a writer and editor for LA-based lifestyle and entertainment magazine, Swoop. Originally from Chapel Hill, NC, Katherine has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications from UNC. She is very active in several non-profit organizations and is a founding board member of the My Vision Foundation, a young-adult cancer charity. In her spare time, she enjoys reading dorky financial books, watching college football and practicing Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts).

Lisa Thong, Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment

Lisa Thong currently works for CAUSE, the Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment. CAUSE is a nonprofit organization dedicated to politically empowering the Asian Pacific Islander American community through voter registration and education, community outreach, and leadership development. Lisa is responsible for managing the daily operations of the organization as well as developing programming and events for CAUSE. Formerly a field representative for California State Senator Jack Scott, she remains heavily involved with the Asian Pacific Islander American community and local politics. Stemming from her position with the Senate, Lisa is a member of the Executive Board of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Staff (APALS) Network, a non-partisan group of legislative staff of elected officials in federal, state, and local government whose members share a common concern for the general welfare of the APIA community. Lisa also serves as Director of Administrative and External Affairs for the Board of APEX, the Asian Professional Exchange, which is a nonprofit professional networking organization dedicated to professional development, community service and cultural awareness. Additionally, Lisa is a member of the Education Advisory Committee for East West Players, the nation's premier Asian American theater organization. Lisa graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Literature and a sequence in Asian American Studies.

Igor Tregub, General Engineer, National Nuclear Security Administration

Igor Tregub is an engineer with the Future Leaders Program of the National Nuclear Security Administration. In November 2008, he was elected to the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board, a body that promulgates rent control and provides subject matter expertise to the Berkeley City Council. He also serves as Chair of the Berkeley Commission on Labor and is a member of the East Bay Young Democrats, the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, and the Progressive Jewish Alliance. After graduating from UC Berkeley in May 2008 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Political Science, he considers himself to be on a four-year vacation during which he hopes to focus on developing his activism while working part-time towards a Master's in Civil Engineering. Some of his current projects include pushing the City of Berkeley to fully implement a Sweatshop-Free Ordinance whose passage he championed in 2007, creating a leadership/mentorship nonprofit to assist at-risk youth in California's Bay Area, and starting a foundation to honor UC Berkeley College of Engineering alumni who demonstrate leadership or service to the community. In his free time, he works on a novel, trains for a marathon, and pretends he can tinker with cars or play the violin anywhere near fair. Igor is extremely honored to be joining the 2009 NLC class and looks forward to learning from and developing lifelong friendships with all of you.

Maggie Wells, Research Associate, Accumentrics, Inc.

Maggie was born and raised in Orange County, California. She attended UCLA and received her B.S. in Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology and her B.A. in Women's Studies. While in college she was active in student organizations, namely as a youth mentor "through Women and Youth Supporting Each Other" and an advocate for survivors of sexual violence "through Clothesline Project". She wrote her undergraduate thesis on the experiences of intersex individuals in the context of medical intervention. She also planned UCLA's first ever Transgender Day of Remembrance. Maggie is currently applying to medical schools; a recent medical brigade to Honduras confirmed her aspirations to physicianship. She works on the R&D team at Accumetrics in San Diego, developing novel point-of-care assays for determining blood platelet function. These assays allow doctors to tailor anti-platelet perscriptions to their patients' individual physiologies.

Jane Yakowitz, Executive Director, Project SEAPHE

Jane is the executive director of Project SEAPHE, a research organization at UCLA School of Law that examines race and class issues in higher education. Prior to joining Project SEAPHE, Jane was a practicing litigator at a plaintiff-side consumer protection and class action firm in Los Angeles. While a student at Yale Law School, Jane interned in the landlord/tenant division in New Haven's legal aid office, lobbied on behalf of a non-profit organization for tax reform and corporate transparency, and served as the symposium director of the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism. Jane also has a strong background in art and music. She has worked as Gregory Crewdson's production coordinator, and she has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe in bands and other music ensembles. Jane lives in Silverlake with her little poodle-mix named "Arthur".