STAFF

Karina Aguilar, Pro Bono Coordinator
Karina was born in Mexicali, Mexico and raised in Southern California. She received her Bachelor’s in Portuguese & Latin American Studies from Princeton University. Throughout her time at Princeton, she was invested in organizing 1vyG, the country’s largest conference for first-generation, low-income college students. She also advised high school students in their college application journey and interned at HomeWorks Trenton. She is very passionate about access to education, art in activism, and fighting for immigrant rights. When she’s not working, Karina loves to read, play tennis, travel and watch Marvel movies.

Beth Albrecht, Associate Director of Corporate Events
Beth was raised in the suburbs of Los Angles and has a degree in Studio Art from UCSB as well as a Masters in Public Administration from USC. Her event planning experience includes four years as the event's chair for a creative business network in Austin, where she planned bi-annual craft shows, facilitated partnerships with non-profits, and worked with SXSW affiliates. She has volunteered all over the world and continues to work every summer as a volunteer director at a youth summer camp on Catalina Island. When she's not planning the next party or DIY'ing something, she loves running, camping, and napping at the beach.

Deborah Brutchey, Executive Director
Deborah has proudly led the L.A. Works team since June 2009. Prior to role at L.A. Works, Deborah worked in Santa Barbara doing fundraising for a family service agency and prior to that in San Francisco leading a program  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.

Nahtahna Cabanes, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships | Director of RSVP
Responsible for recruiting and supervising baby boomer volunteers, Nahtahna's appointment as the director of RSVP 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 low-income youth, incarcerated populations, and single-working mothers. 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 half marathons and spending time with her morkie, Sia.

Jessica Carrera, Associate Director of 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, Volunteer Corps Manager
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.

Renee Chang, AmeriCorps VISTA
Renee was born and raised in the SGV. She ventured to the East Coast and received her B.A. from Princeton University before promptly returning home to sunny Southern California and has happily stayed here since. She has a background in business development and client services and is excited to jump into the non-profit world as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Renee feels passionately about issues around food waste and food insecurity and has most recently been volunteering with the LA Regional Food Bank. She is an avid traveler and loves learning about the history, culture, and, of course, the local cuisine. She’s become an aggressive pandemic baker, baking through over 75 lbs of flour, and has started bartering with her neighbors; their most recent exchange: bread for tomatoes.

Denise Flaten, Programs Manager
Denise is a volunteering junkie. Growing up in Iowa, she was committed to volunteering with homeless, immigrant, and at-risk youth populations. A short acting career moved her to Phoenix, New York, and San Diego, before she returned to human services in Los Angeles. Denise has helped manage volunteers at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Young Storytellers, and what feels like every Catholic church in LA. When she’s not helping volunteerism thrive at L.A. Works, she’s running, learning Japanese, or volunteering with incarcerated youth.

Christine Gonzalez, Program Associate: RSVP Special Projects
Christine was born and raised in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles. Growing up, she participated in the leadership mentoring program, Girls Today Women Tomorrow 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. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Nonprofit Management at Antioch University Los Angeles. Her life goal is to create her own nonprofit that focuses on animal welfare and humane education. When she isn’t studying or volunteering, Christine enjoys swimming with her 3 rescues, Fifi, Dodger & Honey and baking cakes for them.

Daniel Keim, AmeriCorps VISTA
Daniel just moved to Los Angeles this past September from Indianapolis, Indiana, where he had lived his whole life previously. He graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana with a Bachelors in English Education. After realizing the world of secondary education was not for him, he worked as a youth pastor and supervisor at an after school program in Indianapolis. He enjoys work that helps people in a tangible way and is excited to serve the Los Angeles community at L.A. Works. When he is not working, Daniel enjoys hanging out with his wife, playing board games, watching movies or TV shows, reading, hiking, and discussing lots of nerdy things with friends.

Johnathan Lopez, Event Production Coordinator
Johnathan was born and raised in the Los Angeles County. He went to Cal Poly Pomona where he received a Bachelor's in Music and has worked in several fields both during and after his studies. Johnathan has worked in the food service industry, as a music tutor for lower and upper division music students, as a legal assistant for a personal injury lawyer and even as a dialogue editor for animation. When Johnathan isn't working, he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends, maintaining his character in the FFXIV MMO, or exploring new cities with his boyfriend.

Raymond McAnally, RSVP Outreach Coordinator
Raymond came to L.A. Works through a personal search for volunteer opportunities and a desire to get involved in the greater Los Angeles community. An actor by profession, Raymond received his MFA in Acting from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Raymond has been an arts educator and advocate since 2004, working with nonprofits and grant organizations while teaching acting at Universities and professional studio programs. A native of Tennessee and a resident of NY/NJ for ten years, Raymond still can't get over the sunshine, beaches, deserts, and mountains. So, when he's not organizing volunteers, acting, teaching, or writing, Raymond can be found in the outdoors or "fiddlin" around with a carpentry project.

Kim Olpin, Vice President of Corporate Engagement
Raised in LA, Kim has a Masters in Public Administration. She has a variety of non-profit event experience from Boston Pride, Los Angeles River clean-ups, and mobile medical clinics in the jungles of Panama. She loves LA and enjoys planning adventures for her friends around town. When she’s not working on some sort of event she sings in LA’s oldest LGBTQ choir, the West Coast Singers; enjoys making and drinking tasty cocktails; and reads a lot.

Gyasi Parker-Ross, Vice President of Marketing & Entertainment Philanthropy | Director of Programs
Gyasi (Jah-C) got his start in volunteerism with HandsOn Bay Area our San Francisco affiliate back in 2009 where he served as an AmeriCorps VISTA and Corporate Project Leader. After his term of service as a VISTA, he spent two and half years with The Mosaic Project as their Youth Leadership Project Director. When he’s not promoting volunteerism here at L.A. Works, Gyasi enjoys songwriting and performing music around Los Angeles. He’s an LA native and San Francisco State University graduate with a deep passion for giving back and creating opportunities for others.

Steve Schaeffer, Events Specialist
Steve Schaeffer is a writer and event producer whose work has been featured by many of America’s top not-for-profits and corporations across the country. As an event producer, he has created gala fundraising events and meetings for some of New York City’s top not-for-profit companies, including Roundabout Theatre Company, The College Board, Atlantic Theater Company, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and MCC Theater. Steve is a graduate of UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television and also studied at the University of Hull in England. Outside of work, Steve is usually ingesting pop culture of all kinds: movies, tv, theatre, books and podcasts…oh, so many podcasts! He also manages to go outside frequently, too.

Barrett Tate, Volunteer Corps VISTA Leader
Barrett is an AmeriCorps alum, a first generation college graduate, a transfer student, and a self-proclaimed nerd. After earning his B.A. in Political Science from Cal Poly Pomona, he served in the AmeriCorps VIP program focusing on youth workforce development in the Inland Empire. When not reading anything he can get his hands on, Barrett enjoys hiking and binge watching shows like Stranger Things and The Good Place.

Stephanie Viray, Operations Manager
Stephanie was born and raised in the East San Gabriel Valley. After exploring an eclectic range of interests including music, caring for animals, working as an administrative assistant, and living in Hawaii and the Bay Area, she discovered that sharing and leading a life of service was the common thread in the pursuits most meaningful to her. Stephanie is interested in mental health and homelessness and previously volunteered with a team that provided medical/surgical aid to communities in Mexico and the Philippines. She is currently working on her Bachelor's in Business at the University of Redlands and hopes to one day work as a nonprofit accountant since, as she puts it, “no one can carry out their mission without funding or without handling those funds properly.” In her free time, Stephanie loves to run, hike, do yoga, travel, and spend time with loved ones.

Samantha Wheeler, Communications Coordinator
Born in New York and raised in Los Angeles, Samantha grew up with a passion for community engagement. Her volunteer work with nonprofit organizations such as Black Women for Wellness, Little Miss African American and The K.I.S. Foundation allowed her to focus on the causes important to her – health, youth, and education. Upon earning her Master of Arts in Strategic Public Relations from the University of Southern California, Samantha served in various communications roles serving the nonprofit, corporate and consumer sectors. She has garnered coverage for her clients in a variety of local and national media outlets, including KABC-TV, Essence and 94.7 The Wave. When she’s not working, you’ll find her baking, at spin class, watching reality television or leading her team to victory at pub trivia.

 

SUPPORTING ROLES

P.J. Schumacher, 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

Jennifer Alvarez, Adult Education Associate
Jennifer came to LA to attend FIDM in Downtown LA after receiving her B.S. in Business Administration from UC Riverside. Professionally, she's a passionate Creative Director at a wholesale handbag and beauty accessory manufacturer. At home, she's a dedicated dog-mom of one. In terms of volunteering, she has done a little bit of everything. Her most recent experience was with a local no-kill dog shelter, but she has also worked with homeless outreach programs, as well as religious education for youth.

Brody Balinski, TeleSocial Associate
Brody was raised in a small town in southwest Michigan. He moved from Detroit to Los Angeles in 2019 to continue his work in IT and data analytics consulting in a climate that doesn’t have snow. Brody has worked in several fields of business, including finance, marketing, advertising, and organizational restructuring. His consulting work spans across many industries, from beverage distribution to clean energy. Brody loves Los Angeles for the great weather and endless supply of outdoor activities. When he is not working, he can be found at the beach or on a hike in the mountains.

Rhiannon Fletcher, Community Relations Manager
Rhiannon hails from Bermuda and holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology with minors in Art, Technology, & Media. She has traveled to different places around the world with the intention of learning about their culture and community so that she may understand how to be an ally to marginalized groups. She is interested in helping people with a passion for a cause and finding the best way to support their passion and turn it into change. In her free time, she loves playing guitar, painting, and getting to know new people. Rhiannon hopes to enter a career where she is proud of her work and knows she is making a change for good.

Claire Mirsky, Social Media & Content Producer
Claire was raised in New York and moved to Los Angeles to complete her degree in Integrated Marketing Communications. A few months into her stay she became involved in fostering and rehabilitating animals. It was during this time that she fully realized the value in giving back and the community that it builds. Claire has immersed herself in many facets of the entertainment, marketing, and advertising world during her time in Los Angeles and is looking to utilize her skills to make a difference in the community with L.A. Works. During her free-time Claire enjoys hiking and biking in Griffith Park, practicing yoga, and writing.

Enis Öcal, 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 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.