President & Chair of the Board
President & Chair of the Board
Mercedes has been an active member and advisor to the Board of Directors for over 15 years. She is committed to providing opportunities for underserved youth to transform their lives through work experience and education while caring for our environment and revitalizing our communities. In addition to serving as the President and Chair of the LA Conservation Corps, Mercedes was a founding board member and served 7 years as Vice Chair the Board of the YouthBuild Charter School of California, and serves on the Advisory Board for Walk with Sally. She is also an active volunteer in her local community, her childrens’ schools, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and sports teams. Mercedes is a corporate attorney, advising companies with start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and governance matters as well as advising entrepreneurs, executives, and partnerships. Prior to her own legal practice, Mercedes was a corporate and securities attorney at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP. Prior to Manatt, she was a corporate attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP.
Mercedes earned her J.D. from Stanford Law School. Mercedes graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Political Science and Beta Gamma Sigma with a MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona. She resides in Manhattan Beach with her husband and three children.
Vice Chair and Development & Marketing Committee Co-Chair
Vice Chair and Development & Marketing Committee Co-Chair
Samantha has over twenty years of experience in advocacy, community engagement and government affairs. Prior to starting Kindel Gagan, Samantha was a principal with Rose & Kindel from 1996 through 2009. Samantha has a breadth of experience managing a diverse combination of clients in industries and interests ranging from entertainment and education to public works and technology. She represents clients before multiple jurisdictions in Southern California and has experience working with officials at all levels of government. On behalf of both public and private sector clients Samantha develops and executes comprehensive public affairs programs to gain support for a broad range of issue areas. In addition to her work, Samantha is involved in many civic and non-profit activities. Samantha serves as Chair of the Board of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, sits on the executive board of Los Angeles Conservation Corps, and is on the board of the Century City Chamber of Commerce. She a is a past-president of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats and is a member of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, the Los Angeles County Business Federation and the Greater Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. She is a graduate of the Anti-Defamation League’s Salvin Leadership program and is an alumna of the Leadership LA Program of the Los Angeles Business Council. A former White House Intern, Samantha received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master’s Degree in International Political Economy from the University of Southern California. Samantha lives in Cheviot Hills with her husband David and their two children.
Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair
Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair
Albert Chavez has served as CFO of KCET since 2011. Mr. Chavez was part of the leadership team to usher through the merger between KCET and Link Media to form KCETLink, and retained his position as CFO for the new organization. Prior to joining KCET, Mr. Chavez was the Chief Financial Officer of Grupo Radio Centro’s (RC) broadcast operations in Los Angeles. He was previously the Chief Operating Officer of Lombardia Capital Partners, LLC, a $1.7 billion institutional investor, where he managed all administrative areas of the firm and was the Chief Compliance Officer from 2006 to 2009. Previously Mr. Chavez served as the SVP/CFO for Si TV, Inc. (2003-2006), a digital television network in Los Angeles. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Chavez provided financial consulting services to a variety of early stage or troubled companies in the technology, media and financial services areas.
Prior to that Mr. Chavez co-founded and was the SVP/CFO of El Dorado Communications, Inc. (1991- 1998), a radio broadcasting company. Before El Dorado Communications he worked for the RCA Corporation and General Electric Company (which merged in 1985) in various financial positions in New York City, Mexico City and at GE’s corporate headquarters in Fairfield, Conn. (1985-1990). Mr. Chavez began his career with Deloitte in Los Angeles where he earned his CPA. He received a bachelor’s degree in history and mathematics from the University of Texas at El Paso and went on to earn his MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
As the Senior Compliance Director for CityView, Teresa manages and directs CityView’s regulatory compliance over broad areas of organizational operations. Prior to joining CityView, she served as a Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco and for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. In addition to her work in private practice as an associate with Rutter, Hobbs and Davidoff LLC, Teresa has also served as the local President of a charter school management organization. Teresa continues to actively engage in public and non-profit services as a volunteer mediator for the City Attorney’s Office. Ms. Burton holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. from Yale College.
Jimmie Cho is Senior Vice President of Gas Operations and System Integrity for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities. He oversees gas distribution, engineering, system integrity and major projects. In addition to his tenure with Sempra Energy, he formerly served as director of resource conservation and public outreach at the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, a member agency of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and started his professional career as a project engineer for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Brown University and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University.
Rhonda is CFO and Executive Chairperson of Noribachi, a premiere US-based manufacturer of high output lights for commercial and industrial applications. Prior, she was the co-founder of Niku Corporation, and helped take Niku public in 1999 (NASDAQ: NIKU). The company was later acquired by Computer Associates. She also worked for Webvan, Oracle Corporation, Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young) and at GE.
Rhonda earned a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering from Northwestern University and an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University. Rhonda served on the Board of Trustees for The Bosque School, the Board of Directors of Acción New Mexico and on New Mexico’s State Board of Finance. She is the co-author of “Just Add Management: Seven Steps to Creating a Productive Workplace and Motivating Your Employees In Challenging Times” (McGraw-Hill).
Gary Dunn serves as Executive Vice President and Community Development Officer (CDO) for Banc of California. Mr. Dunn has over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry. He has produced “Outstanding” CRA ratings for his employers for the last 20 24 years. As the CDO, he designs, implements, manages and documents a comprehensive CRA program that incorporates formulating policies and procedures that best serve the credit needs of the company’s assessment areas. He was the first known California banker to design and implement a financial literacy program and deliver it to underserved communities through a network of bank branch manager volunteers. Mr. Dunn was also the first banker to start donating refurbished computers (over 4300 to date) and other office equipment to nonprofits and low income individuals and families in underserved communities. He challenged all other banks at a Neighborhood Pride Day event through the press to follow his lead and donate computers and other office equipment to the underserved communities of California. This program is going strong today and many institutions have taken the challenge and donated.
He is a leader and is often the first board member on all the nonprofit boards he serves on to come to the rescue with immediate financial support for urgent needs. Over the years he has facilitated funding for various nonprofit pay roll needs with only 2 or 3 days’ notice.
Anne Freiermuth, CPA is a Principal at Mission Math and has 15 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations in the areas of accounting, audit preparation, human resource management, board presentations, and governance policy development, working with over 40 nonprofit organizations. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Vassar College in New York, Anne worked for JP Morgan Chase as a credit analyst in Connecticut. Looking for a milder climate and a more personally meaningful career, Anne returned to Los Angeles, where she grew up. She soon began bookkeeping for a tiny nonprofit with a staff office located in the room behind the garage of the board chairman’s home. It was love. Anne pursued her interest in accounting by taking coursework at UCLA Extension while working full-time and received her Certificate in Accounting in 2009. She then became a California-licensed Certified Public Accountant in 2011. Anne has also taught nonprofit accounting for UCLA Extension, the California Society of CPAs, American Jewish University and Riordan Leadership Institute.
Tony Gingiss is a Director of Programs at Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, CA. He has more than 25 years of experience in the Aerospace industry, and currently manages a portfolio of communications related programs with a combined scope of over $2B. Tony has a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Purdue University, and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT. He began his career at Hughes Space and Communications (now Boeing Satellite Systems) in 1992 as a Mission Analyst, and subsequently worked in Ground Systems, Systems Engineering, and ultimately Program Management. He has worked on Commercial and Government programs across all phases including; business development, concept, design, product development, delivery, and on-orbit support.
Tony has a passion for, and is active in, Boeing Corporate Citizenship events and outreach activities, at the local, state, and national levels. He is active in Boeing employee resource groups’ company, and community activities, and is a passionate advocate for a diverse and inclusive workforce within Boeing, and the industry at-large. Descended from generations of Midwestern farmers, Tony learnt to respect, appreciate, protect, and nurture our natural environment. He is an ardent proponent of conservation and service projects that benefit our community. Outside of work his personal interests include, multimedia design, artistic pursuits, and restoring and landscaping the 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival home in Los Angeles, where he and his husband Sean reside.
Risa Green is the author of six novels, including Notes from the Underbelly and Tales From the Crib, which were the basis of an ABC television series titled Notes From the Underbelly. Risa also writes Tales from the Mommy Track, a popular weekly blog which appears on both www.mommytracked.com and www.modernmom.com. Prior to becoming a writer, Risa was a Co-Director of College Counseling at Milken Community High School, and before that, worked as a corporate attorney in the Los Angeles office of Morrison & Foerster.
She received her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and her J.D. from The Georgetown University Law Center. Risa is married with two children, and is involved in charitable causes that include Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, The Westside Children’s Center, Communities in Schools and the Liberty Hill Foundation.
Helenann Hirsch is an attorney who has worked extensively in local and state politics, as well as in Washington D.C. with the Clinton Administration. She has worked with the California Women’s Law Center in Los Angeles, where she focused on training attorneys and non-attorneys alike on a range of legislative, employment and civil rights issues. She was also an attorney in private practice with an emphasis in employment law. After graduating from the University of California Davis School of Law, she clerked for the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal. Ms. Hirsch currently serves in a variety of volunteer capacities, including on the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps where she is a former Chair and most recently helped create the Corps’ Legal Services Support Program. She is married to Philip Recht and has two children.
Bryan LeRoy is a Los Angeles partner at the law firm of Nixon Peabody where he specializes in land use, real estate and environmental compliance matters. Bryan advises public and private entities regarding the processing of land use permits and other approvals for development, energy and infrastructure projects, as well as strategies to manage environmental concerns and other project impacts. He specializes in the application of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), including the review and processing of environmental assessments, environmental impact statements/reports, and negative declarations.
Bryan previously served as city attorney for a number of cities in southern California, and as general counsel to the Orange County Council of Governments, a joint powers agency made up of 29 cities and eight special agencies. He has passionately served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Conservation Corps for more than six years, and is currently the Chair of the Program Committee.
Mary Leslie is president of the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), one of the most respected business advocacy organizations in California. Under her leadership, the LABC has developed a national reputation as a catalyst for innovative policy in the fields of housing, transportation, renewable energy development, CleanTech and more. Most recently, the LABC led a citywide coalition to support the creation of the CLEAN LA Solar feed-in tariff program, the largest rooftop solar buyback program in the United States. Prior to leading the LABC, Ms. Leslie served as a Deputy Mayor under Richard Riordan and held a senior position under Erskine Bowles in the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C.
A graduate of Santa Clara University, she holds a Master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California and an executive certificate from the UCLA Anderson School of Business.
For more than a decade, John Rego has worked with companies to help them become better citizens. John has been with Sony Pictures since 2009, where he leads the sustainability department. The department is focused on driving value for the company through sustainable practices, primarily by integrating it into the corporate culture, thinking, and all aspects of Sony Pictures’ people and operations. His prior consulting experience has led him to be involved in a variety of sectors such as consumer products, technology, electronics, energy, media, and education. John is a graduate of Brown University and has a Master in Business Administration from Duke University.
As a teenager, Marisol worked for the LA Conservation Corps’ Clean & Green Program. She currently serves as District Director for Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, overseeing the communities in the 13th District, managing constituent services, and helping to direct policy that will improve the quality of life. Prior to joining the team, Marisol worked for Councilmember Ed P. Reyes, overseeing six communities in the First District. Before her service at City Hall, Marisol worked on the sports writing desk at the Los Angeles Times, and also joined the affiliate marketing division with Fox Cable. Marisol is a University of Southern California Trojan, and graduated with a degree in Communication and English Literature. Marisol resides in the City of Los Angeles and enjoys flower arranging in her spare time.
Nicolo Rusconi is a downtown Los Angeles-based entrepreneur specializing in real estate development and hospitality. Nico, along with co-founder Jon Blanchard, owns and operates BLVD745 and BLVD Hospitality. BLVD focuses on all aspects of real estate and hotel development, from concepting to acquisitions to project and construction management. BLVD’s most notable project to date was the conversion of downtown’s United Artist Building and Theatre into a 182 key Ace Hotel. BLVD is currently working on multiple hospitality developments throughout Los Angeles and abroad, and recently expanded their company to include in-house Food and Beverage concepts, development, and operations. They recently opened up Chicas Tacos in downtown Los Angeles – the first of many food and beverage concepts to come from BLVD.
Previously, Nicolo brought modern branding strategies into the food service industry with his import and wholesale distribution company, Paradise Spice Foods, making it a major player in the West Coast food service market in just two short years after founding the company. Upon leaving Paradise Spice in 2012, Nicolo joined with Mitch Carricart, Justin Weiss, and Paul Vizcaino to create the renowned downtown Los Angeles promotional and event brand, LaunchDTLA. Since their inception, LaunchDTLA has proved to be the go-to company for outreach to Los Angeles’ most significant stakeholders. Rusconi and his associates have built one of the strongest social networks in Los Angeles and continue to introduce downtown’s newest and best venues to their private, invite-only member-base.
Nicolo has lived in downtown Los Angeles for the past 6 years and is a large proponent for the continued growth of the downtown community. He stays actively involved in the neighborhood and is constantly looking for new business and real estate opportunities.
Dana S. Treister focuses his practice on a wide variety of real estate transactions, with an emphasis on the acquisition and sale of commercial properties, real estate finance, land use and entitlement work, and commercial leasing transactions. He also has extensive experience representing parties in the formation of joint ventures and in structuring tax-advantaged real estate transactions. In recent years Dana has represented borrowers in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of conduit loan transactions, and has coordinated the defeasance, re-financing and restructuring of existing debt instruments. Dana also serves as an adjunct professor of law at the USC Gould School of Law. He lives in Pasadena with his wife and four children.
John Van de Kamp is a counsel in Mayer Brown’s Los Angeles office and a member of the Government practice. In a governmental career spanning some 30 years, he has served as US Attorney for California’s Central District, its first Federal Public Defender, Los Angeles County District Attorney (1975- 1983) and California Attorney General (1983-1991). He previously worked at another law firm and served as chair of its litigation department, and has been involved in litigation ranging from insurance disputes to the representation of the Sultan of Brunei and has handled numerous internal investigations. He has extensive experience in arbitration and mediation, working through ADR and AAA. In 2007 he was appointed by the California Attorney General as its Monitor of the Getty Trust. He now serves as the Independent Reform Monitor for the City of Vernon.
Julie Waxman spent a 30-year career as a production and business executive in the television industry. She worked in various capacities ultimately serving as Sr. Vice President of Business Affairs for Lorimar Productions, Warner Bros. Television and Steven Bochco Productions. Since her retirement from television in 2006, she has actively participated in a variety of community and nonprofit organizations. Presently, she is on the Board of the Friends of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and a member of the Revenue & Advancement Committee for Women for Women International. She also participates as a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Council for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.
Julie graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.B.A. in 1968. She is married to Seth Freeman, a writer and producer, and has one daughter, Lindsay, a lawyer living in San Francisco.
Dawn Wilson is Director, Environmental Affairs for Southern California Edison (SCE), responsible for the development of an integrated environmental strategy in support of Company objectives. These responsibilities include Environmental Policy, Natural Resources & Public Lands and the administration of the Corporate Responsibility Program. Prior to her current role Dawn served as the Director of Corporate Resources where she directed the strategy and operations of a $1 billion portfolio of SCE’s non-electric facilities. Her responsibilities extended to back office functions such as mailing operations, drawing management and event management and the corporate travel program. She had management responsibility for a budget of approximately $300 million with approximately 300 employees. Over the years Dawn has held a variety of management positions including Director of Business and Organizational Support, Manager Transportation Services, and Manager of Environmental Health & Safety. Dawn began her career as a real estate transactional attorney and practiced with two private law firms before joining the law department of Southern California Edison where she practiced environmental law for 14 years. Dawn has served on various non-profit boards and currently serves on the board of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and the executive board of the Pasadena Chapter of Jack & Jill of America. Dawn has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wellesley College and a law degree from the University of Michigan. She is a licensed attorney in the state of California.
Caroline is a former federal prosecutor and currently teaches at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She spent the first four years of her career as a trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. prosecuting criminal civil rights violations throughout the United States. From 1997-2008, she served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles, where she specialized in prosecuting hate crimes, police misconduct, human trafficking, and sex trafficking of minors. Caroline was Chief of the Civil Rights Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for four years and also co-chaired the Los Angeles Metro Task Force on Human Trafficking. Since 2008, she has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.
Caroline earned an A.B. at Stanford University and a J.D. at Harvard Law School. She clerked for Ninth Circuit Judge A. Wallace Tashima while he was a U.S. district court judge. Caroline is currently President of the Board of Trustees of the John Thomas Dye School, an independent elementary school in Los Angeles. She is married and has three children.
Sarah Fergusson Chambless is an associate with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP in their Corporate & Finance practice group in the Los Angeles office. Ms. Chambless practices in the areas of start-up company formation, early-stage finance, governance and compliance, venture capital investment transactions and fund formation, and mergers and acquisitions.
Ms. Chambless advises emerging companies in the digital media, technology, consumer products, social enterprise and nonprofit sectors in issues related to company formation and corporate compliance. She represents both emerging companies and venture capital investors in seed and venture capital financings (both equity and debt), and has represented buyers, sellers, issuers and investors in investments, business combinations and buyout transactions in the digital media, technology, consumer products and healthcare sectors. Ms. Chambless also has experience in the planning, structuring and formation of venture capital funds and joint ventures.
In the past, Ms. Chambless taught elementary school in Compton, California, as a Teach for America corps member. She continues to represent special needs students on a pro bono basis in matters relating to access to free and appropriate public education and school discipline.