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Staff and Board

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KAREN MACK
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

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BETH PETERSON

COMMUNITY ARTS PROGRAM 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.

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.

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LESLIE TAMARIBUCHI

STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

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.

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DENA CHENG

DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER

Dena (she/her) hails from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Ethnicity and Race Studies from Columbia University. During her undergraduate years, she was active in the Columbia Artist Society, and she regularly staffed free weekly figure drawing sessions for students who desired a creative outlet but did not have access to studio time. Before coming to LA Commons, she worked at Asian Americans Advancing Justice -- Los Angeles, Asian Americans Writers' Workshop, Center for Migration Studies, and Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples. 

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JACKIE HERNANDEZ

SENIOR CULTURAL ORGANIZER

Jackie Hernandez is a Visual Artist born and raised in Los Angeles. They began working as an Associate Artist for the USC/EXPO Mental Health Awareness Project with LA Commons and are now working as a Community Arts Organizer. They have graduated from California State University, Long Beach with their B.A. in Studio Art. Jackie works with various mediums of art such as painting, printmaking, animation, digital illustration and murals.

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HANNAH DOMINICA CHUA

OPERATIONS SPECIALIST

Hannah Dominica Chua (she/they) is a fourth year undergraduate student, pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in World Arts and Cultures and Pilipino Studies at UCLA. Their passions lie at the nexus of arts activism, community advocacy, and youth empowerment. As an organizer and cultural worker within the Pilipinx community, she is a firm believer in the transformative potential of the arts as instrument for critical, social and political change. They have experience in program management, curriculum building, and leadership development at the collegiate level. In their free time, they enjoy listening to comprehensive video essays about strange and obscure phenomena.

KAITWAN JACKSON

PROGRAM MANAGER - PROMISE ZONE ARTS

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ELIZABETH CHO

PROGRAM MANAGER - PARTNERSHIPS

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AFRIKA BAKENRA

OPERATIONS SPECIALIST

Afrika Bakenra has over 15 years of experience in non-profit work. She has been involved with multicultural arts and education since she was a child. She began learning traditional cultural dance before the age of 10 and has internationally performed for/with Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Ellen Degeneres, Youssou N’Dour, the LA Lakers and more. In addition, she taught K-12 for close to 5 years in schools in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Cleveland, Ohio. An Ohio native, she moved to Los Angeles in 2010 and completed her B.A. at Occidental College. While there, she discovered that she had an ability to write songs. She has written over 1000 songs and counting. In addition to her success in dance and songwriting, she is an active team member at LA Commons and is grateful to be a part of the team.

Kaitwan Jackson is a native of Washington, DC, where he began his love for dance and devotion to creating and leading programs that increase community access to arts and culture. Kaitwan holds a B.S. in Public Policy with a concentration in Philanthropy, Nonprofits, and Social Innovation from the University of Southern California. He currently serves as the Program Manager for LA Commons’, Cultural Treasures of South LA: A community-driven cultural asset mapping initiative in the South LA Promise Zone. Additionally, he performs professionally with the Lula Washington Dance Theatre and other Los Angeles-based companies and choreographers. 

Elizabeth Cho is the daughter of Mexican and Korean immigrants, born and raised in the Inland Empire. She is passionate about art, culture, and public space as a means to activate, empower, and heal. From 2018 to 2022, she was the executive assistant for the artist Shepard Fairey, assisting with mural installations, print releases, and civic art campaigns. She has organized with Gente Organizada in Pomona and gardens with the Beverly Vermont Community Land Trust. Elizabeth received her BA from Wellesley College, majoring in Cinema and Media Studies and minoring in Education.  In her free time, she enjoys drumming, book-binding, and road trips.

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VALERY MENDOZA-MARTINEZ

COMMUNITY ARTS PROGRAM MANAGER

Born and raised in Southeast Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, Valery’s experiences as a first-gen student of color fueled her desire to impact the systems that create barriers for communities to thrive. At UC Santa Cruz, Valery planned comprehensive social justice campaigns and programs based on students’ requests and interests. This led her to pursue her Master’s of Social Welfare, with a concentration in Social/Economic Justice at UCLA and aligned her passion for the leadership development of Black and brown residents of Los Angeles. Valery was shaped by her family’s values of mutual aid and care for others. She has led numerous mutual aid art fundraisers to support Black, Indigenous people of color across the country.

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BLAZE BAUTISTA

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT & COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR

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ÁNGEL PONCE

PROGRAM INTERN

Blaze Bautista is a visual artist and arts administrator who recently graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures and a minor in Visual and Performing Arts Education. With her concentration in arts activism, she has developed and facilitated student workshops that educate on using the arts for social justice and healing. She is passionate about uplifting communities through art, even through her visual arts practice. As a painter and digital illustrator, Blaze uses captivating visuals to engage audiences in social issues. In her free time, she enjoys singing, painting, and journaling.

Ángel Ponce serves as our Program Intern assisting with many public projects in diverse neighborhoods. They are interested in how art serves as a tool for social change: community building, and inter-generational healing. Angel is passionate about art making outside of the confines of institutional spaces and increasing accessibility of the many mediums they have learned. She holds a Bachelors in Art and Sociology with a minor in Applied Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Angel will be attending Loyola Marymount University to obtain her Masters in Marital and Family Therapy/Art Therapy.

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EDUARDO MELLADO JACINTO

OPERATIONS AND SPECIAL PROJECTS INTERN

Eduardo Mellado Jacinto is a rising Sophomore at Claremont McKenna College, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. He is very passionate about giving back to his community as demonstrated by his five years volunteering at LA’s Best, his previous internship at OurTurn, his service on a student committee hosted by LAUSD Board Member Monica Garcia, and his Associate Consultant position at SOURCE Nonprofit Consulting. He is stoked to be the Operations and Special Projects Intern at LA Commons.

Meet our Board
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TODD BECRAFT
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.

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TAMMY BROWN
DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY MARKETING AND ENGAGEMENT, SOCIETY OF CHILDREN'S BOOK WRITERS AND ILLUSTATORS

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.

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GLENN R. GATIEN
OPERATIONAL, ADMINISTRATIVE AND FINANCIAL EXECUTIVE

Glenn Gatien is a seasoned operational, administrative, and financial executive with a long history in the media and entertainment industry.  He served most recently as a Senior Vice President, Finance & Controller in the cable stations group of ViacomCBS.  Mr. Gatien has held executive management positions at Lionsgate, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Paramount Pictures.  As a financial operations and diligence consultant, he has provided consulting support to a variety of media and other enterprises, including Disney Consumer Products.  He began his career at Price Waterhouse and is a Certified Public Accountant.  Mr. Gatien graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Claremont McKenna College, earning a BA degree in Economics-Accounting / Psychology.

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SUSAN GRAY
CONSULTANT

Susan F. Gray is an independent consultant with 25+ years’ experience in the development of innovative arts and cultural initiatives in a range of government, non-profit and private sector settings and working with emerging, mid career and established artists. Formally trained as an artist, Susan is able to apply design thinking to creatively respond to any assignment, with proven ability to plan, direct and deliver complex curatorial & organizational initiatives to enhance urban communities. Project stakeholders have included public utility authorities, affordable housing developers, incarcerated youth, indigenous populations, and those impacted by mass transit construction. Susan is proud to have initiated several major projects with LA Commons.

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EMILY RANGEL

ARTIST

Emily Rangel is LA Commons' first ever youth artist board member. She is currently majoring in psychology and sociology at Long Beach City College and ultimately wants to study transpersonal therapy at Naropa University in Colorado, and continue to use her creative talents for the greater good. 

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ANNETTE KIM
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF SLAB, USC PRICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY 

Annette M. Kim is an artist, researcher, and educator. She founded and directs SLAB which experiments with spatial ethnography and critical cartography in order to re-see the city. Her video installations have been shown internationally. She is also Associate Professor at USC’s Price School of Public Policy where she helped found the RAP collective around race, arts, and placemaking. She received a Ph.D. in city and regional planning, M.A. in visual studies from the University of California, Berkeley, a master in public policy from Harvard University, and a bachelor's degree in studio art and architecture from Wellesley College.

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TERESA LARA
GRANTS MANAGER, LOS ANGELES CITY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE

Teresa Lara serves as Grants Manager at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office overseeing Department of Justice issued grants for the Tobacco Enforcement unit. Over the course of her career, Teresa has gained a reputation as a convener, collaborator, and unifier – but most of all, as a changeleader. She is frequently tapped to launch new ventures within established organizations due her ability to innovate, build lasting partnerships, and move major initiatives from conceptualization to success. Teresa has served as a consultant to businesses and governments around the world, and is also best known for her work at three of the most recognizable institutions in Los Angeles: USC, UCLA, and Zócalo Public Square. Her experience includes civic engagement, brand management, public relations, communications, and marketing. Teresa holds a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from San Jose State University and a Masters in Organization Development from Pepperdine University.

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BILL PARENT
RETIRED ASSOCIATE DEAN,
UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

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, at 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. 

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IBERT SCHULTZ
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF BLACK COLLEGE SUCCESS

Ibert Schultz is the Executive Director of Black College Success, a college-access and career success initiative dedicated to increasing opportunities for African American students in South LA through higher education. Schultz brings more than a decade of experience from the public and private sectors to this initiative. Previously, he held senior roles at the LA City Council and LA Board of Supervisors where he focused on a diversity of policy issues and strategic matters. 

Schultz served in the Obama Administration at The White House, US Department of Homeland Security, and the US Department of Transportation. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and B.A. from Morehouse College where he graduated cum laude. An avid art collector and consumer of culture, he leads and lives by the principle of “empowerment through academic opportunity.”

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GUADALUPE CARDONA

ETHNIC STUDIES, ENGLISH, AND THEATRE EDUCATOR

Guadalupe Cardona has been an Ethnic Studies, English, Theatre educator for 23 years.  She is dedicated to developing critical curriculum and facilitating a student-centered classroom environment based on mutual respect, critical thinking, and collaboration. She accomplishes this by fusing her classroom instruction with community cultural knowledge and a focus on auto-biographical counter-narrative.  
She earned a BA in Chicanx Studies and Latin American Studies from UCLA and a MA in Curriculum and Instruction, Language and Literacy from ASU.  She is now pursuing her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership at Cal State Northridge and is set to graduate Class of 2024. Guadalupe has spent her personal life and career re-membering herself and helps others on their quest for self-identity and the tools for telling their own stories.

LA Commons is supported by the following organizations: 
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LA County Board of Supervisors, 2nd Dist
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Celebrating 20 Years
#CreatingCulturalConnections