2014 NLC Fellows: Los Angeles

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Andrew Ammon, San Gabriel Unified School Board Member

Andrew AmmonAndrew Ammon is currently a school board member in the San Gabriel Unified School District. Andrew grew up in San Gabriel and was involved in a variety of service activities and organizations in his community, including: interning at City Hall, serving on his high school’s Community Leadership Team, and being an active member of the Boy Scouts of America, where he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Through these memberships, he developed a passion for community service.

Andrew has spent most of his professional life as a teacher. He taught in K-12 education in inner-city schools. His experience in education ranges from teaching in affluent schools with tremendous access to resources, to less fortunate schools in high poverty areas with heavy gang activity. This disparity has shaped his views on education and society, as one of his goals is pursuing greater access for students to a quality education.
Andrew graduated from Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts. He is currently attending Southwestern Law School to pursue a career in law. He was elected to the San Gabriel School Board in 2011 and served as Board President his first year.

Ashley Arax, Project Manager for COPE Health Solutions

Ashley AraxAshley Arax works as a Project Manager for COPE Health Solutions, a non-profit consulting company in Los Angeles that works with all-payers to expand access to health care in underserved communities. Ashley’s current work focuses on the redesign of clinical delivery systems, including expanding access to specialty care and substance abuse treatment for patients in Los Angeles County and Salinas.

Prior to her current position, Ashley was part of the 2011 Summer Associate class at the Greenlining Institute, a racial justice institute whose mission is to empower communities of color through public policy, research, and advocacy. Her work centered around policy research on the Affordable Care Act and its implications for small businesses, including the development of a presentation and report used to educate business owners about qualifying for tax credits. She currently serves as the Greenlining Alumni Academy Association’s Los Angeles alumni coordinator.

Ashley earned her MPH from UCLA and her BS in Environmental Biology from UC Berkeley. While at UC Berkeley, Ashley pursued her interest in education by designing and teaching an environmental justice class to high school students at Oakland Technical High School. At UCLA, she worked as a Teaching Associate for the Department of Life Sciences, receiving the “Distinction in Teaching” award for years 2010-2012.

Ashley grew up in Fresno, California, and lives in Inglewood. She enjoys hiking, traveling, backyard gardening, and spending time with her two dogs, Toby and Malbec.


David Azevedo, District Director for LAUSD Board Member Tamar Galatzan

David AzevedoDavid Azevedo is a proud, homegrown Californian, four years into a public service career centered on the belief that when the bond between community and government is energized, true progress can be made.

Originally from a small farming town in California’s Central Valley, David has spent the last seven years as an Angeleno. First set on a career in Hollywood, he enrolled as a film major at Loyola Marymount University. But as his film set experience took him across Los Angeles, he grew less interested in the storytelling and more in the story-making.

He turned to international politics, to seek out those stories abroad. Returning to California after two years in the United Kingdom, North Africa, and Europe, he found his transformative experience less than 200 miles from his hometown. On an immersion trip in Bakersfield, he met and lived with politically active migrant farmworking families, led by progressive labor-rights legend Dolores Huerta. Dolores’ unique community organizing approach—empowering the disadvantaged to become their own agents of change, by giving them the knowledge of the “system” and how to work it—revolutionized how David saw politics and policymaking. He’ll never forget how Dolores laughed at him he when asked her why she was still in her home community 80 years later: “Why would the rest of the world want help from me, if they look at my own backyard, and see I left behind a community with work still needing to be done?”

This notion of “backyard justice” became David’s new true north. He focused his last two years at LMU on California economics, history, and politics, then completed a Master of Public Administration at the University of Southern California, specializing in political management and local government. His ideal job is what he has now—as the District Director for an LA Unified Board of Education member, he works to empower the students, parents, and communities of the San Fernando Valley in a way that would make Dolores proud.

Brittany Ballard, writer, producer, curator, director

Brittany BallardBrittany Ballard is a writer, producer, curator and director of independent, narrative films. This year she completed her 8th year as Director of Programming for the Urbanworld Film Festival. From 2009-2012 she served as Manager of FILM FORWARD, a joint initiative between Sundance Institute and The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. Film Forward brought independent films and filmmakers to communities throughout the world with little access to cultural programming, such as Kenyan refugee camps, rural Moroccan high schools, and Chinese factory workers. Brittany organized, facilitated, documented, photographed, and used social media to promote these events.

Before forming little plow films with Jamil, she was Head of Acquisitions at Newmarket Films and Programmer at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Brittany studied with Directing/Acting Coach Joan Scheckel and participated in USC’s prestigious Directing Intensive. She graduated with Honors, Double Majoring in Black Studies and Comparative Literature with an Emphasis in Media Studies from University of California at Santa Barbara. In 2012, Brittany produced, music supervised and secured North American DVD/VOD distribution for The American Dream, a micro-budget narrative feature.

Brittany and Jamil have co-written and will co-direct Repeat After Me, the Bay Area screen adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s acclaimed novel, Daughter’s Keeper, for which they hold the film/TV option. Additionally, Brittany and Jamil will premiere Wild Geese, their first short work as co-writers/co-directors at numerous international film festivals throughout 2013, while they develop their 3rd feature film, Steal That Horse.

Steve Bott, Sr. Application Developer, Capital Group Companies, Inc.

 Steve BottBeginning with Howard Dean’s presidential primary campaign in 2003, Steve Bott has been engaged and active in progressive causes and the Democratic Party. He organized and volunteered for the past three Democratic presidential primary and general election campaigns, and is active in a number of Los Angeles-area Democratic Party clubs. Over the past year, Steve has been instrumental in helping to develop websites and maintain membership data for the clubs on the new NationBuilder platform. Steve currently serves as the Miracle Mile Democratic Club’s Membership Director and Stonewall Democratic Club’s Credentialing Committee Vice-Chair.

Professionally, for the past 12 years, Steve has worked as a front-end and back-end web application programmer at The Capital Group Companies, Inc., a global investment services firm based in Downtown Los Angeles. As a Sr. Application Developer, Steve’s role is both a Java programmer and a technical lead in the development of new features on the American Funds website. The website serves the individual investors and financial intermediaries of the American Funds mutual funds, one of the largest mutual fund families in the U.S. by assets under management.

Born and raised in Miami, FL, Steve traveled across the country to Los Angeles to pursue a Film degree at the University of Southern California, where he later graduated with a B.A. in Cinema-Television. After college, Steve worked for a few years as a freelance Film Loader and Second Assistant Cameraperson (2nd AC) on a number of shorts and independent films. As the dot-com era unfolded, Steve took his passion for technology and the web and began his programming career as an HTML coder working for eToys.com, one of the top e-commerce websites of the time.

Jonathan Beutler, Principal, PACIFIC RIM Advisory

Jonathan BeutlerJonathan Beutler is the founder of PACIFIC RIM Advisory, a California-based international public affairs firm. Prior to launching PACIFIC RIM, Jonathan was an American diplomat, most recently serving at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, where he was involved with the TOMODACHI Initiative, a public-private partnership dedicated to developing the next generation of U.S.-Japan leaders. In Washington, he worked on Department of State task forces to monitor crises in the Middle East and to assist American citizens during Japan’s 2011 triple disaster. Previously, Jonathan worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Mayor Villaraigosa, Senator Harry Reid, and cofounded a technology start-up.

Jonathan is also actively involved with a variety of community and civic organizations, having served as a director of the Los Angeles Maritime Museum and currently serving on the Chinese Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors. In 2008, he was appointed to the University of California Academic Senate’s Committee on Technology. In 2010, Jonathan participated as a delegate to the California Democratic State Convention.

Having lived on four continents, Jonathan’s passion is building bridges across sectors and borders. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the International Visitors Council, and the National Eagle Scout Association. Jonathan resides in the South Bay region with his wife and daughter.

Tamika Butler, CA Director of Young Invincibles

Tamika BulterTamika Butler is the California Director of Young Invincibles, a national policy and advocacy organization working to amplify the voices of young adults around the economic issues that matter to them most—healthcare, higher education, and employment. Tamika opened the California office of Young Invincibles. As California Director, she is responsible for the development of all of Young Invincibles’ programs in the state and for building out Young Invincibles’ operations on the West Coast.
Before joining Young Invincibles, Tamika was an attorney at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center from 2009 to 2012. She was the John and Terry Levin Fellow for the Fair Play for Girls in Sports project where she engaged in community education, negotiations, litigation and policy work on behalf of female youth—primarily in low-income communities—who were not afforded equal athletic opportunities under Title IX. Tamika joined LAS–ELC as a Skadden Fellow in the Racial Equality Program expanding employment rights outreach to members of the African-American communities of the Bay Area.
Tamika received her J.D. in 2009 from Stanford Law School, and in 2006 received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology with a specialization in Criminal Justice from Creighton University in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She currently serves as co-chair on the National Center for Lesbian Rights Board of Directors. Tamika lives in Highland Park with her girlfriend and adorable schnoodle, Stewart Little, where all three enjoy cheering on the Clippers.

Abre’ Conner, staff attorney at CPRE

Abre' ConnerAbre’ Conner is currently a Staff Attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE). At CRPE, she litigates and offers policy support in areas such as air quality, fracking, civil rights, and sustainable community development.
Abre’ Conner is a graduate of the University of Florida with dual degrees in Political Science and Marketing and the American University Washington College of Law. During her time in law school, she was Associate Publications Editor for the Criminal Law Brief, worked for the Honorable Robert R. Rigsby, and served as the 2011-2012 National Attorney General for the National Black Law Students Association where she oversaw the entire advocacy program for NBLSA. Also, she interned for personal and committee offices in the United States House and Senate in Florida and in DC, as well as the United States Department of Education (ED) in the Equal Employment Opportunity Services, the ED Office for Civil Rights, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
Before joining CRPE, Ms. Conner was a J.D. Distinguished Fellow at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) in the Washington, DC office where she assisted in federal civil rights legislation coordination as well as a variety of civil rights cases. In 2012, she was also an Associate in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel. Currently, Ms. Conner is a board member for Dreaming Out Loud and in 2013, was featured on the “Hot List” as a top 100 attorney under forty. She is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc since 2007 and in 2012, was featured in her sorority’s national magazine.

Aubrey Farkas, Director and Treasurer, Progress for a New Generation PAC

Aubrey FarkasAubrey Farkas is Director and Treasurer of Progress for a New Generation PAC, a network of young professionals dedicated to fundraising and campaigning for progressive candidates, and serves as Vice President of Programming for Los Angeles County Young Democrats. She works for Valley Presbyterian Hospital as Community Development Manager, where she oversees community, business and government outreach efforts.
Aubrey worked for Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) for nearly eight years, and during that time, served in several different capacities. She worked as Congressman Sherman’s Deputy Campaign Manager during the 2012 re-election campaign and was responsible for formulating and implementing the campaign’s digital communication and media strategies, obtaining political endorsements and special projects. She also served as a Policy Deputy and Field Representative in Congressman Sherman’s district office, where she was responsible for communicating the congressman’s positions by interacting daily with various constituencies.
While living in Washington DC, Aubrey worked for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit watchdog organization dedicated to exposing corruption in federal politics. As President George W. Bush left office, she was part of the team who wrote a published report on the revolving door politics of the Bush White House.
Aubrey earned a Masters of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy and studied Political Science, Middle Eastern/South Asian Studies and Art History at UC Davis. If a career in political communications does not work out for her, she plans on moving to a Parisian artist colony.

Joel Frost-Tift, international human rights worker; USC law student

Joel Frost-TiftJoel is currently a third year law student at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law where he is focusing his studies on international human rights, is currently a researcher for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and is a Case Worker for the Iraqi Refugee Project.

Passionate about helping people in need around the world, he spent last summer in The Hague, Netherlands as a Legal Intern for the Appeals Chamber for the Internal Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda where he researched issues such as the application of Joint Criminal Enterprise to rape and helped the drafting team prepare decisions and opinions. Before that he was a Case and Project Worker for the USC International Human Rights Clinic where he helped a human trafficking victim successfully obtain a Trafficking Visa and reunification with his family and drafted bench memoranda for the Appeals Chamber of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Joel received a B.A. in Government and History from Cornell University where he ran Varsity Cross-Country and was on the Dean’s List 4 semesters. As an avid runner and traveler, Joel hopes to someday run a marathon on every continent.

Aida Macedo, Attorney at Miles, Sears, & Eanni

Aida MacedoAida is an attorney with the law firm of Miles, Sears, & Eanni. She grew up in the City of South Gate in southeast Los Angeles and attended the University of California, Irvine where she received her B.A. in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies. She interned with the office of Congressman Xavier Becerra in Washington, DC and the William C. Velasquez Institute in Los Angeles.
After college, she served in the Capital Fellows Program as a Judicial Administration Fellow at the Orange County Superior Court working on community outreach and court administration. She is a graduate of the University of California, Davis School of Law where she was co-chair of La Raza Law Students Association, founding member of Coalition for Diversity, and lead other progressive efforts on and off campus. She was an extern to the Honorable Lawrence K. Karlton; Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area; Public Advocates, Inc.; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF); and the Independent Civil Rights Commission in Woodland, California.
In 2011, Aida was selected as an Equal Justice Works AmeriCorps Legal Fellow at Central California Legal Services in Fresno, California and worked on issues of legal access for the rural poor. Aida plans to dedicate her career to public service and civil rights litigation.
When she is not working on progressive efforts, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, running, yoga, watching Lakers games, and the beach.

Vanessa Manzi, President of DREAM Bar Association

Vanessa ManziVanessa Manzi was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She immigrated to the United States when she was 12 years old. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2009. While at UCLA, Vanessa developed a passion for community service and mentoring. She founded Teen Korner, a community service project, mentoring at risk youth at a gang infested area in North Hollywood, California. The mission of Teen Korner is to encourage minority adolescents in their pursuit of higher education through mentorship. Vanessa enjoys mentoring Latinas and believes that our communities can only improve through helping educate the younger generations.
Since she began her studies at Southwestern Law School, Vanessa has worked hard to balance her time between school, work and volunteering. Vanessa currently works at the Joseph A. Vail Center for Immigrant Rights, where she coordinates their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Vanessa has also held many leadership positions while at Southwestern Law School serving as the Co-President of the Latino Law Students Association, the Co-President of the Immigration Law Student Association and the Vice President of Teen Court. Vanessa hopes to devote her career to serving the most vulnerable population of immigrants and become the voice for the voiceless. As the current President of the DREAM Bar Association, a national organization, Vanessa advocates on behalf of this group of talented individuals in the struggle for a fair, humane and comprehensive immigration reform.

Armilla Staley-Ngomo, Associate at Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC

Armilla Staley-NgomoArmilla Staley-Ngomo is committed to social justice and criminal defense. She is currently an associate at Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, PC, a litigation boutique located in downtown Los Angeles. As an associate, Armilla represents individuals in both state and federal criminal proceedings, including grand jury investigations, drug-related offenses, domestic violence, criminal expungement, and driving under the influence. She also prepares mitigation and proffers to the government, and drafts pretrial motions and sentencing memoranda on behalf of her clients. Armilla’s pro bono representation includes assisting undocumented individuals with their applications for asylum and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and representing garment and factory workers in their wage-and-hour employment disputes.

Prior to joining Caldwell Leslie, Armilla clerked for the Honorable Consuelo B. Marshall, United States District Court for the Central District of California. Prior to her clerkship, Armilla served as a Deputy Federal Public Defender in the Trial Unit of the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California. In that capacity, she provided every aspect of written and oral legal representation to indigent individuals charged with federal criminal offenses.

Armilla received her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 2008 and earned her B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Whittier College in 2003.

Armilla was raised in Madrid, Spain and is fluent in Spanish. Her mother is originally from Equatorial Guinea, a small country located in western Africa that was a former Spanish colony. In her free time, Armilla enjoys hiking and going to the dog beach with her five-year old Cocker Spaniel Nikko.

Jessica Pace, Strategic Communications at California Calls

Jessica PaceJessica Pace works as a Strategic Communications Coordinator with California Calls, an alliance of 31 organizations in California organizing the voters most impacted by years of budget cuts and deteriorating public services in support of systemic, progressive solutions to our state’s fiscal crisis. She focuses on innovative ways to stay in contact with voters between election cycles using new media.
Previously Jessica worked for the Service Employees International Union Local 721 as a Communications Specialist for Los Angeles County Workers in Health Services and the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Before moving to Los Angeles to pursue her “California Dream”, Jessica worked as the Data & Communications Organizer for Missouri Jobs with Justice where she helped organize tipped employees and was a fierce advocate for workers’ rights.
Jessica has a Master’s in Public Policy Administration from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and was a member of the New Organizing Institute New Media Bootcamp 5.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Jessica cut her teeth as an activist in high school and has spent the last decade working for social justice in low-income, people of color & oppressed communities.
Jessica now lives in the San Fernando Valley and spends most of her free time enjoying as much live music as she can and finding a new reason to love California every day.

Rebecca Pleitez, Senior Programs and Patient Services Director at Clinica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero

Rebecca PleitezRebecca is the Senior Programs and Patient Services Director at Clinica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero where she is responsible for developing and executing strategic programming and patient services. She serves as a lead administrator working with cross-functional teams and program directors to offer care with respect and dignity to people with limited or no health insurance, without exclusion.

Previously, Rebecca served as a consultant and policy analyst for National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, where she conducted research and policy analysis to advance the Institute’s national policy agenda and legislative priorities. She has worked for the National Council of La Raza/California State University Long Beach Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training, AltaMed Health Services Corporation, and the County of San Bernardino Department of Public Health. Her work on cervical cancer and Latinas was published in the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy entitled, Latinas and Cervical Cancer, a Preventable Disease.

Rebecca obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science and Health Care Administration from California State University, Long Beach, and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health. She is a Latinos Healthcare Professional Scholar and recipient of the Ruth White Award at Loma Linda University. Most recently, Rebecca was awarded the Outstanding New Community Public Health Professional Award by the Latino Caucus for Public Health of APHA.

Rebecca counts among her greatest accomplishments her ability to finish the Los Angeles Marathon. Her new goal is to complete at least one marathon in each state – 50 marathons in 50 states, before the age of 50.

Marisa Ramirez, Manager of the KIPP Through College Program

Marissa RamirezMarisa works for KIPP LA Schools, which is a part of a national network of high performing charter schools, as the Manager of the KIPP Through College program. KIPP Through College serves students from South and East Los Angeles who have attended a KIPP middle school on the journey to get to and through college. Marisa is a founding member of the team, and has been instrumental in shaping the vision of the program to ensure that over 75% of KIPP middle school graduates continue to persist in college.

Marisa’s gift for the craft of teaching was sharpened through her Teach For America experience where she spent two years teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts at Collier Elementary School in Phoenix, AZ while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Arizona State University. After TFA, Marisa worked for the Talented and Gifted Latino Youth program at UMass-Boston as a counselor and teacher, and served as Residential Advisor for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program in Santa Cruz, CA before moving back to her home city of Los Angeles.

Her passion for service and social justice was inspired by her Jesuit education at Boston College where she studied Sociology and Latin American Studies. In her spare time, Marisa loves to read, try new restaurants, and dance.

Clinton Schaff, Digital Entrepreneur

Clinton SchaffClint Schaff is a digital marketing strategist, educator and entrepreneur with experience in social media marketing, publicity, branding, online communities, strategic creative communications and real-time marketing.

In early December, Clint started in his new leadership role as head of US operations (LA & NYC) for Dare, the internationally recognized digital creative agency. In 13 years, Clint has built and led local digital teams for global agencies such as Edelman, GolinHarris, Firestation Agency/Roll Global and M80. Since 2008, Clint has taught as an adjunct professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.

Clint’s work at Edelman with Activision helped earn a 2013 Grand Effie award, supported the all-time biggest entertainment launch (two years in a row with Call of Duty MW3 and Black Ops 2), and leveraged strategic and tactical executions to drive customer loyalty and word of mouth. Clint and his team developed the global social media strategy for Call of Duty, Skylanders and Destiny.

Clint’s career in social media was sparked through his involvement in social justice. Clint’s experience in progressive politics and activism including roles as Communications Director for SEIU, Volunteer Director for Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and White House Intern for the Clinton-Gore administration.

Clint has spoken at BlogWorld, PR News, Social Media Week, Digital Hollywood, Digital LA, Silicon Beach Fest, Social Media Breakfast, New Leaders Council, CommunityNext, TECHmunch, USC and UCLA. He is a proud graduate of both the University of Minnesota and USC.

Carrie Shuchart, Fellow at Strategy Practice at McKinsey & Co

Carrie ShuchartCarrie Shuchart is a Fellow with the Strategy Practice at McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm. Her work focuses on understanding how global trends – macroeconomic, sociological, demographic, etc. – impact the business environment. Prior to joining the Strategy Practice, Carrie worked as a consultant in McKinsey’s Southern California office, advising clients across a variety of industries and topics.
Carrie’s previous career experience has included work in journalism, marketing, and entrepreneurship. She has served as a writer and editorial consultant at The Atlantic, where she covered issues related to law and criminal justice, a freelance television producer, GMAT instructor and curriculum developer, and a marketing strategist. She has founded three companies, including an education-based non-profit for a well-known actor. In 2011, Carrie co-authored Case Studies & Cocktails: The “Now What?” Guide to Surviving Business School, which was published by Simon & Schuster.
While in college, Carrie founded the Boston office of National Student Partnerships (now known as LIFT), which helps the unemployed and underemployed access social services and job training. She was also actively involved with the Democratic National Committee’s radio communication efforts for the 2004 election.
Carrie holds an AB in Social Studies from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia University. Her undergraduate work focused on the intersection of entertainment media and politics, and much of her graduate work centered around non-profit board management.
Carrie grew up in Kansas City and now resides in Los Angeles. In her free time, she pursues her passions for stand-up comedy, television writing, and interior decorating. She also maintains a watchful eye on her Kansas City sports teams, naively optimistic that “this year is the year.”

Michelle Vigue, Development at City of Hope

Michelle VigueMichelle Vigue works in development for the City of Hope, a nationally ranked comprehensive cancer research institution. As a coordinator, she cultivates relationships with people who are equally as passionate about curing cancer as she is. Together with national chapters and associate groups, she coordinates various fundraising events from sporting competitions to sailing regattas and dinners. Her favorite work activity is giving tours of the cancer center to visitors.
A native Texan, Michelle serves the Los Angeles and Austin community as a member of the board of directors for the Los Angeles Texas Exes, the local chapter for the University of Texas alumni association. When she’s not arranging social events for local alumni she is organizing activities for the chapter to give back to the city of Los Angeles through blood drives and working at the local food bank.
Since 2005 she has been involved in high school youth ministry throughout Los Angeles county. On a weekly basis she teaches catechism, sings and plays guitar and attends events as a guest speaker. Over the past 8 years she has assisted in the youth ministry programs at over 6 churches. She currently serves as the Young Adult Ministry chair for a parish council in Pasadena.
Michelle received her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from CSUN. While in college, she was an active member of AMP (Alliance for Minority Participation) scholarship program for minorities in the math and sciences. When she’s not helping fight cancer, Michelle enjoys playing basketball, going to concerts and playing with her dog Kira.

Brent Walmsley, 7th grade humanities teacher; education advocate

Brent WalmsleyBrent Walmsley is currently a seventh-grade humanities teacher at Gabriella Charter School, a high-performing charter school that integrates high quality education with an dance instruction. Gabriella Charter School has been recognized a leader in the charter school movement and is ranked #2 among all California elementary and middle charter schools by USC’s prestigious 2013 School Performance Dashboard. In 2012, GCS scored an API of 894 and was named Charter School of the Year by the California Charter Schools Association.

Prior to teaching at Gabriella Charter School, Brent was an Outreach Director with Educators 4 Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led student-focused organization with the goal of elevating the teaching profession through organizing and facilitating teacher-directed policy recommendations. During his time with E4E the membership grew from 1,000 to over 2,500 teacher members and worked with teachers to write policy recommendations on teacher career paths, quality teacher recruitment, and highlighting strategies for success from schools that increased API scores of 40 points or more.

Brent continues to advocate for children as a Family Trainer with CFY, an organization that seeks to bridge the digital divide by working with low-income families to utilize technology tools aimed at improving educational outcomes. He also volunteers and directs the youth group at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Long Beach. As a Teach For America corps member, Brent taught at Webster Middle School and in Compton Unified at the Community Day School. In these settings he became aware of the effects of the achievement gap and the school to prison pipeline and dedicates his life to challenging these issues.

Brent holds an M.A. in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. Brent is also an ordained American Baptist minister. Brent grew up in Mound, Minnesota and enjoys cycling, travel, and taking his Beagle, Lucy, for walks.

Jonathan Yang, Deputy Director of Protocol with the Mayor’s Office

Jonathan YangJonathan Yang is Deputy Director of Protocol for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. In this role, he manages international affairs, strategic partnerships, and programming at the Mayor’s official residence, Getty House. He also handles special projects for the Deputy Chief of Staff.

Born in Los Angeles and a lifelong Southern California resident, Jonathan has always been drawn to his hometown and state as a leading beacon of diversity and innovation for the nation and world.

As the son of immigrants from China, he has a personal investment in ensuring the continued expansion of opportunity. With his background both in international relations and LA politics, Jonathan hopes to help his city capitalize on the tremendous potential of its people and cultures. Whenever possible, he has sought to mentor younger leaders from all backgrounds.

Before joining the Mayor’s Office, Jonathan was an internal consultant in the private sector. He previously worked for GE’s China strategy team in Shanghai, as well as Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations, a foreign policy think tank based in Mumbai.

Jonathan graduated with a B.A. in Ethics, Politics, & Economics from Yale University, focusing his studies on US foreign policy. During his time there, he served as President of the Yale Political Union, and volunteered on a number of campaigns as a Yale College Democrat.

Jonathan enjoys amateur cooking, hiking, accents, impressions, and wood-carving. He currently lives in Echo Park. He speaks Mandarin and Spanish.