Engage communities in artistic and cultural expressions that tell their unique stories and serves as a basis for dialogue, interaction and a better understanding of Los Angeles. Through community-based arts programs, centered on youth leadership development, we help diverse, generally low-income neighborhoods create dynamic works of public art that build community connection and empowerment.
At the foundation of our work is a desire to further opportunity for everyone, recognizing that communities require support to make their places more just, healthy, and livable.
Because discrimination has been a key factor in creating the challenges faced by our neighborhoods, promoting equity is integral to all that we do.
Through collaboration with local partners who have built deep wells of trust, we leverage art and cultural approaches to create positive change.
Ordinary people have the power to meet the challenges facing our neighborhoods, through our sense of connectedness with place and each other.
Culture is an essential community resource. All communities possess local knowledge and local assets.
Artists have a leadership role to play in community development. Art is a powerful tool, to share stories and create change.
Youth are vital participants in community development processes, their energy, hope and creativity transcends the limitations of the past to envision new futures.
have the power to help meet the challenges facing our neighborhoods, through our sense of connectedness with the place and each other.
is an essential community resource. All communities possess local knowledge and local assets.
have a leadership role to play in community development. Art is a powerful tool, to share stories and create change.
are vital participants in community development processes, their energy, hope, and creativity transcend the limitations of the past to envision new futures.
Meet our Staff
Founder and Executive Director
Karen Mack is a life long resident of Los Angeles and spent her early years growing up in Compton before moving to the current LA neighborhood of Miracle Mile. She decided to start LA Commons after her work in the civic sector revealed the challenge of building a sense community the city and her deep belief that art has the power to address this challenge. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University where she studied the role of culture in community building and is a former Vice President of Community Partners, LA Commons' fiscal sponsor. She brings her focus on issues of civic engagement and creative placekeeping to her role as an appointed member of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.
Community Arts Programs Director
Beth Peterson is the LA Commons Director of Community Arts Programs and has organized over 65 public arts projects in 13 neighborhoods successfully involving youth, professional artists, high schools and community partner organizations in diverse neighborhoods. She serves as a Master Puppet and Mask Teaching Artist for the Music Center of Los Angeles County and LA Arts, and as puppet and mask artist at venues and celebrations throughout the region. In addition, she serves as an adjunct faculty member at Antioch University teaching approaches to integrating arts into school curriculum for the Masters of Education Program.
Strategy and Operations Directior
Leslie has championed arts and cultural equity as a strategist, teacher, producer and administrative leader in Los Angeles for over 25 years. As Managing Director and ensemble member at Cornerstone Theater Company she produced participatory theater projects with partners in Boyle Heights, Pacoima, Watts and Chinatown, and led a $1.5 million capital campaign for sustainability. At California Institute of the Arts she served on the faculty of the School of Theater, teaching cultural policy and fundraising for the expanded field, and serving as Associate Dean and faculty Co-Director for Equity and Diversity. A founding member of the boards of Watts Village Theater Company and Los Angeles Performance Practice, she serves on the national board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and as an advisor to the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Theater Project. She holds an MPA from the Kennedy School and studied as a Mombusho Fellow at Kyoto University.
Development and Campaign Coordinator
Communications and Program Coordinator
Meet our Board
Curator and Cultural Organizer
As Director of The Main Museum, an institution noted for its commitment to access and community, Agsten pioneered a program centered on an artist residency program rather than a permanent collection. Previously, as Curator of Public Engagement at the Hammer Museum, she developed a precedent-setting program devoted to creating an exchange between visitors and the museum through works of art. Prior to her time at the Hammer, Agsten was Director of Communications at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), spearheading key institutional initiatives related to accessibility. Agsten began her career at CNN, covering the arts, entertainment, and financial news as a producer in the Los Angeles bureau.
Attorney at Law - Office of Todd Becraft, Los Angeles
Todd Becraft is the First Vice Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Immigration Section Executive Committee and the Asylum co-liaison for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Southern California Chapter. He is a former associate of the Law Office of Judith L. Wood and the Human Rights Project. He has extensive experience representing clients in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Board of Immigration Appeals and Immigration Court.
Director - Community Marketing and Engagement, Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, Los Angeles
Tammy Brown is a media and entertainment executive with expertise in marketing, sales and promotion in television, publishing and digital media services who has served in senior-level leadership positions at the globally known brands of Disney, ESPN and Fox. As part of the creative marketing, sales and promotions teams at Nickelodeon, Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Ballantine Books, Tammy created B2B and B2C programs across multiple types of media from digital to video to print. Tammy held positions in content marketing and entertainment digital services marketing at digital content delivery market leaders Vubiquity and Technicolor. As a marketing consultant, Tammy has created and managed social media programs and digital advertising for a number of clients in the health and fitness and film/visual effects fields. Tammy graduated from the City University of New York – Queens College with a BA in Communications/Media Studies.
Deputy Director, LA County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs
Azusena Favela is a seasoned community leader with a proven track record of working with and for traditionally marginalized communities. Prior to the recent appointment to her current job, she was Director of Programs & Operations at Inclusive Action. In this capacity, she oversaw many initiatives including the organization’s community engagement efforts and micro-finance programs. Raised in South Central LA, her career has been dedicated to serving her community in the nonprofit, private, and philanthropic sectors. She specializes in development, community outreach initiatives, training residents on civic engagement, and forging public/private partnerships. She has degrees in Chicana/o Studies, History, and Community Economic Development and believes our sidewalks are the last truly democratic spaces in the city, as such all Angelenos deserve to occupy or navigate the streets free of harassment and safely without fear of injury.
Senior Vice President, Controller - TV Guide Network
Glenn Gatien is a seasoned administrative professional who has a long history in the entertainment industry. He has held is current position for eight years with responsibility for all financial oversight, accounting and consolidation of reporting for all entities. Prior to this position, he held senior administrative positions at Disney Consumer Products, Warner Bros Entertainment and Warner Bros Pictures. He began his career at Price Waterhouse and is a Certified Public Accountant. Mr. Gatien graduated with a summa cum laude with a BA in Economics from Claremont McKenna College.
Maria Rosario Jackson
PhD, Senior Advisor/Professor - Kresge Foundation Detroit, MI and Arizona State University, AZ
Maria Rosario Jackson is an expert in the fields of urban planning, comprehensive community revitalization and arts and culture and was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Obama. Jackson is senior advisor to the arts and culture program at the Kresge Foundation. She was also recently appointed as a professor at Arizona State University and was director of the Culture, Creativity and Communities Program at the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based national public policy research organization for 18 years. There, she led research on measuring cultural vitality and the role of arts and culture in community revitalization, the development of art spaces, and also research on support systems for artists. Jackson earned a PhD in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a master of public administration degree from the University of Southern California.
Community Planner, Southern California Edison, Los Angeles
Anne McAulay currently works as a Planner in the Environment, Health & Safety department at Southern California Edison (SCE). In her role at SCE she facilitates the siting process for new power projects, including analysis of impacts to local communities, land use and the environment. She also supports her department’s outreach to the environmental nonprofit sector active in the Los Angeles basin. Outside of work, Anne serves on the Board for the nonprofit, LA Commons, and is an Advisory Board Member for Genesis LA Economic Growth Corporation. Prior to earning her Masters in Urban Planning at UCLA, Ms. McAulay spent eight years working in the commercial real estate sector for Arthur Andersen and Standard & Poor’s. She received her B.A. in Economics from Occidental College, Los Angeles.
Retired Associate Dean, UCLA School of Public Affairs, Los Angeles
Bill Parent is Associate Dean for Initiatives and Programs at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He currently oversees custom research, conference, and executive education initiatives, the UCLA Center for Civil Society and the Center for Community Partnerships. He teaches Leadership in the Public Interest in the Department of Public Policy. He previously served as Associate Dean for Advancement and Assistant Dean overseeing the Policy Form at the school. Before coming to UCLA, Bill was on the senior staff of the Harvard Kennedy School for 14 years, and served as executive director Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Program, the largest single-grant program of the Ford Foundation. He was also Teaching Fellow in Harvard College. A former newspaper reporter and public school administrator, Bill worked in the Paterson, New Jersey, and New York City school systems and wrote for The Register and Cape Codder newspapers in Massachusetts. He was also writer/editor in the California Office of Appropriate Technology under former Governor Jerry Brown. He holds a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has published articles in Urban Age, The Washington Post, New England Monthly, and The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, New Perspectives Quarterly, and writes the annual chapter on state political challenges in California Policy Options.
Autumn Breon Williams
Curator and Contemporary African Art Dealer
Autumn Breon Williams brokers art for artists and collectors in Europe, Africa, and the States. She works to reimagine a global narrative of Africa through the lenses of education and art. A graduate of Stanford University, Autumn studied Aeronautics and Astronautics and researched aeronautical astrobiology applications for NASA. After recognizing disparities in access to education opportunity, she founded STEMgineers Shifting Gears, a STEM-focused after school, tutoring, and summer program based in Watts. Her work to further the dialogue on educational equity led to her frequent travels to the African continent and re-introduction to contemporary art. Autumn Breon now works as an art advisor specializing in contemporary art and contemporary African art, curating and brokering art in Europe, Africa, and the States. Her work has been recognized by the Smithsonian Institution, Aspen Institute, TED, the Obama Foundation, and LA Magazine.
LA Commons is supported by the following organizations:
This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at
This project, LA Commons, is funded in part by L.A. Care Health Plan and will benefit low-income and uninsured resident of Los Angeles County.
LA Commons is made possible by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
This program is supported (in part) by the USC Good Neighbors Grant Program funded by university employee contributions to support university-community partnership.