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Public Health AmeriCorps Members

Finding Inspiration in Every Turn

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Meet Our PHAC Members

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Natalie Aguilar,

Public Health AmeriCorps Program Coordinator

Natalie is a first-generation college graduate, born and raised in San Fernando Valley. She received her Bachelor's in Public Health, Psychology, and Criminology from UC Irvine. She became a volunteer coordinator with AmeriCorps VISTA program then went on to obtain her Master's in Public Health from Cal State LA. Natalie is excited to return to the nonprofit world to help support the community. In her spare time, she enjoys going on walks with her fur pup, traveling, watching new shows, and trying new food spots.


Nahtahna Cabanes,

Strategic Partnerships

Responsible for building relationships with Los Angeles change-makers, Nahtahna's appointment as the V.P. of Strategic Partnerships continues her life's work creating opportunity and change through advocacy, education and community outreach. With two masters degrees, she's an experienced educator having worked in high schools and colleges with opportunity youth, incarcerated adults, and returning students. As a Bohnett Fellow, she worked with Mayor Villaraigosa on his education reform agenda. At CASA of L.A., she recruited hundreds of volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children. She enjoys running and spending time with her morkie, Sia.


Deborah Brutchey,

Executive Director

Deborah has proudly led the L.A. Works team since June 2009. Prior to her role at L.A. Works, Deborah fundraised in Santa Barbara for a family service agency and led a program at Stanford University serving children impacted by a parent with cancer. In 2001, Deborah was interim Executive Director of the AT&T Center for Service Leadership at the Pennsylvania State University. Deborah has served on the City of Los Angeles "We Serve LA" Community Service Advisory Cabinet and the Points of Light's Corporate Institute Leadership Faculty. She is a graduate of the Los Angeles Chamber Leadership Los Angeles class of 2014 and was named one of the City's 2020 Impact-Makers to Watch by Stratiscope. Deborah completed her MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business with a focus on social entrepreneurship. As the mother of two young girls, Debbie tries to model a healthy work-life balance to her team by spending her non-work hours at the pool, beach, with friends, traveling, and just enjoying the time with her family.


Jessica Carrera,

Director of Americorps - Seniors RSVP

Jessica is a Stockton native who became an Angeleno while earning her BA at Mount St. Mary’s University. Jessica went on to work at her alma mater for three years post graduation in Student Financing where she served as the Co-Chair of the Committee on Staff Affairs. As an AVID graduate and Dell Scholar Jessica feels very passionate about empowerment through education. During high school, she volunteered as a tutor and looks forward to promoting educational programs through her role in the RSVP program. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, decorating and traveling - especially to her parent’s hometown ranch in Michoacán, Mexico.


Alisha Cathirell-Tanzer,

Director of Americorps - State & National, VISTA

​Alisha is an LA native, and comes from deep roots of activism and community involvement, in particular with education and youth athletics. She is currently enrolled as a full-time student at Arizona State University, where she is working online towards a BS in Public Service and Public Policy. Before resuming her education, Alisha volunteered for years as the Player Agent for Central Altadena Little League, managing players and coordinating between families, coaches, and league administrators. When not driving her future-astronaut daughter to and from cheer practice, Alisha can be found gaming with friends around the world, moderating fan groups, and listening to podcasts.


Margaret Daly,

Climate Action Fellow

Margaret recently moved back to California after living abroad in the United Kingdom for three years and Austria for two years. With the intensification of climate change, particularly in her home state of California, she felt compelled to take action of some kind. Joining CCAC with LA Works seemed like a great way to get hands-on experience in capacity building for climate resilience. In her free time, Margaret likes to swim, hike, read, and make music.


Jamie Cho,

Climate Action Fellow

Jamie was born in South Korea and spent her teenage years in Saipan, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean. After being deprived of sunlight for 10 years in Seattle, Jamie has been enjoying soaking in all the warmth of the sun in Southern California. Jamie worked in the social work field serving immigrants and refugees for seven years and is now ready to serve her communities by combating climate change. Jamie recharges herself by sightseeing in nature, bird-watching, taking photos, and exploring different cultural cuisines.


Stephen Davalos,

Vice President of External Affairs

Stephen joined the L.A. Works staff after having worked in the baking industry for 10 years. Growing up in Los Angeles, Stephen always loved the city. In 2016, he realized he felt called to do more to serve his community and began the hard process of changing careers. Since then, Stephen has been working for his church in Pasadena, playing music, and leading the youth group. In 2018, Stephen started working for City Service Mission and began to understand the nonprofit landscape of LA. In 2019, Stephen married the love of his life, Allison. Stephen and Allie live in Pasadena with their stubborn dog, Bosco. In his free time, Stephen enjoys hiking, baking, and throwing pottery.

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Estefany Espinoza,

RSVP Social Connections Coordinator

Estefany was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and Master of Social Work from the California State University of Northridge. Her previous work experience is in the mental health field and suicide prevention. She is passionate about helping others and contributing to the healing of disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles. When she is not helping others, she can be found hiking, meditating, or reading at the park.


Christine Gonzalez,

Associate Director of RSVP

Christine was born and raised in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Growing up, she participated in the leadership mentoring program, which led her to become a devoted volunteer since the age of 13. Having volunteered at several nonprofits, Christine’s passion grew in helping others. Christine worked in expanded learning for 10 years with LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment Program. As Program Coordinator in LA’s BEST, she launched the intergenerational partnership with AARP Foundation Experience Corps program, which brings together older adults to mentor and tutor students in need. In 2018, Christine graduated from Pacific Oaks College with her B.A. in Human Development with a concentration in Social Change. In 2020, she earned her M.A. in Nonprofit Management at Antioch University Los Angeles and her credential as a Certified Nonprofit Professional. When Christine isn’t at Dodger games with her husband, she enjoys swimming with & baking cakes for her 3 rescues, Dodger, Honey & Daisy.


Ray Huerta,

Disaster Relief VISTA

Ray Huerta is a third-year college student at the University of California Davis. She is currently studying International Relations with a minor in Environmental Studies. She also works alongside UC Davis athletics and has volunteered with UNICEF, the National Honors Society, and the California Scholarship Federation throughout high school and college. Hobbies outside school and volunteering include surfing, writing, and biking.


Maurissa George,

Disaster Relief VISTA

Maurissa George graduated from the University of South Alabama, with a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences and a B.A. in International Studies. She has an interest in community/cultural resiliency factors that support psychological wellness and promote healthy lifestyles as preventive healthcare. After many years working and traveling through Asia and making Japan home, she has relocated to Los Angeles. When not exploring her new home, she can be found spending copious amounts of time with her stylish exotic songbird, Mr. Finch. For those interested, he is a shaft-tail finch from central Africa.


Karen Hoang,

Climate Action Fellow

Karen was born and raised in Los Angeles. As a Posse Scholar, she attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where she graduated with a BS in Biology and Environmental Science. While in college, she loved the friends and community she encountered while volunteering and organizing service trips in different places around the US. She is excited to be back in LA and continue her service work with L.A. Works and the California Climate Action Corps. In her downtime, Karen loves to read, get coffee/boba with friends, go to the beach, and dream up her next trip.

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Velma Jones,

Climate Action Fellow

Velma Jones completed her undergraduate degree in Communications at NYU. She graduated with her MBA from California State, Los Angeles, in 2021 and has joined L.A. Works as a California Climate Action Corps Fellow. With a background in management, operations, and communications strategy, Velma utilizes her degrees and past work experiences to cultivate consistent messaging across all business platforms. She believes working on diverse teams is required to succeed and will serve her community with this approach in mind. While working towards her MBA, Velma investigated how far systemic inequities run within America. Such injustices are especially present concerning the environment, health care, and food security as one moves from community to community. Velma wants to continue educating herself on these issues to contribute to improvement in these areas. Working with L.A. Works provides a fantastic opportunity to hone her skills further while contributing to the change she wants to see in the world around her.


Meredith Lancaster,

RSVP Pro Bono Coordinator

​Meredith joined the L.A. Works team after working for various museums and art galleries since 2010. Growing up with roots in both Los Angeles and Chicago, Meredith is a California girl with a Midwestern sensibility. Meredith earned her B.A. in the History of Art and Architecture from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, and her M.A. in Art History from the University of Oregon. She is currently in her last semester at San José State University where she will earn her MLIS with a focus on archives and digital preservation. When she does not have her nose in a schoolbook, Meredith loves spending time with her dad, getting cuddles from her rescue cat Toulouse (Yes, he is named after Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec), watching movies, gardening, or laughing at TikTok videos.


Julie Lang,

Finance Manager

Born in South Korea and raised in New Mexico, Julie has always been passionately compelled to advocate for equity. With degrees in Sociology and Sustainability, she spends her time supporting initiatives that address multilateral challenges with an end goal of intergenerational equality, environmental and economic sustainability, and social equity. When she’s not working, you can find her enjoying nature with her dogs, laughing and traveling with her partner Matthew, eating her weight in delicious food, and tending to her plants.

Supporting Roles

P.J. Schumacher, Financial Consulting

PJ has been serving as a notary, business management consultant, controller, and tax accountant since 1985. He formed Schumacher Financial Consulting in 1991 to provide full-charge bookkeeping services to a wide variety of clients, as well as serving in the capacities of controller and tax accountant. P.J. joined the L.A. Works team in 1993.

Volunteer Associates

Enis Öcal, Corporate Event Logistics Associate

Enis worked in Fortune 500 companies in pricing, revenue management, and analytics roles. He has graduate degrees from Washington University in St. Louis (Missouri), The University of Manchester (United Kingdom) and Bogazici University (Turkey). He also has a bachelor's in industrial engineering from Bogazici University (Turkey). He became interested in social entrepreneurship and volunteering mainly after TA-ing a course on social entrepreneurship in graduate school, and has volunteering experience with children, adults, and animals.

Celia Tom, RSVP General Associate

Celia retired in 2014 as Director of Clinical Laboratories at the USC Health Science Campus after 30+ years. The responsibilities included laboratory oversight and management of the USC Norris Cancer Hospital and Keck Medical Center. This included Quality Assurance, budgets, personnel (hiring, firing, training), compliance with State, Federal, City regulations and national hospital and laboratory accreditations, etc. Her parents are from China, and she was born in Central California and raised in San Francisco Chinatown. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a BS in Microbiology and a MS from CSU Dominguez Hills. Celia has 3 children, 5 grandchildren, 1 great grandson and a Standard Poodle.

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