Staff and Board
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.
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.
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.
Alejandra is a life-long resident of Southeast Los Angeles, a community whose challenges and culture have long informed her perspective as an artist and a student in the urban planning field. She holds a B.A. in Economics and a minor in Urban and Regional Studies from UCLA and is passionate about utilizing art and storytelling as a tool for promoting transformative dialogue and advancing community stewardship.
She is the founder of the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Community Map, a project centered on mapping places in SELA that have shaped the lived experiences of her community. With Alejandra’s strong connection to the Los Angeles area and her interest in story gathering and visual art, she contributes enthusiasm to LA Commons’ goal of developing a better understanding of Los Angeles through art.
HANNAH DOMINICA CHUA
SYSTEMS AND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
Hannah Dominica Chua (they/she) is a Pilipinx arts activist and cultural organizer born in Quezon City, Philippines and raised in Escondido, CA. They recently graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures and a minor in Pilipinx Studies. For their senior thesis, Hannah spearheaded a collaborative, multi-disciplinary, arts project that critically explores Pilipinx identity formation and corporate mobilizations of diasporic nostalgia: "'Joy Served Daily!': The Jollibee Empire, Labor Exploitation, and Selling Diasporic Nostalgia”. Hannah is a passionate advocate for Ethnic Studies and universal access to relevant education. She believes in the transformative potential of art and storytelling as instruments to foster the radical imagination, and inspire actionable social and political change. In their free time, they enjoy crocheting and upcycling second-hand clothing. Hannah is also a member of the Pilipinx grassroots organization, GABRIELA Los Angeles.
PROGRAM MANAGER - PROMISE ZONE ARTS
PROGRAM MANAGER - PARTNERSHIPS
COMMUNITY ARTS PROGRAM MANAGER
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.
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.
Anahit Poturyan is a writer and art educator based in LA with a strong focus on technology, research, history, and culture. She received her B.A. in English Literature and an Art History minor from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an M.A. in Aesthetics and Politics from the California Institute of Art (CalArts). She has worked at the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice, Italy; the 58th Venice Biennale, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Hammer Museum, Artbook @Hauser & Wirth, and Otis College of Art and Design. She has lectured at numerous conferences across the world, such as the Nordic Summer University in Faro, Sweden, and the Western University of Australia in Perth, Australia. Her writings have appeared in the LA Review of Books, MediaTech Ventures, Whitehot Magazine, among others.
Guillermo Alvarez (He/Him) is a Visual Artist, Photographer, and Youth-Organizer. Although he was born in the Harbor Area of Los Angeles, he lived most of his youthful days in the city of Richmond, California located in the Bay Area, where he was raised and attended his early years of college. Now residing in Los Angeles, Guillermo is a passionate organizer who utilizes creativity and art to advocate for the youth while raising awareness on the impacts of gang/gun violence, mental health, and the importance of practicing wellness. His lived experience of growing up in a family household heavily impacted by the system, and being a formerly incarcerated student has led him to creating meaningful connections in the community. He currently has an Associate’s Degree with academic goals to pursue and study Sociology and Ethnic Studies at Long Beach State University. Guillermo has worked with youth throughout Compton, South LA, Inglewood, and East L.A where he facilitates art workshops and sessions on building leadership skills with many different organizations in Los Angeles.
Meet our Board
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR AND DIRECTOR OF SLAB, USC PRICE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC POLICY
RETIRED ASSOCIATE DEAN,
UCLA SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.