STAFF

Karina Aguilar Guerrero, 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, FAVE Coordinator
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.

Sophie Arkusinski, Education Equity Program VISTA
Sophie is a graduate of Southern Methodist University where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and a B.A. in Human Rights. The human rights community at SMU sparked her passion for strengthening communities and developing leaders through service. While most of her service has focused on directly supporting students in their academic pursuits, she is excited to work on organizing and volunteer efforts at L.A. Works. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, backpacking, and playing the banjo.

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.

Nahtahna Cabanes, Vice President of 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.

Jessica Carrera, 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-Tanzer, 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.

Stephen Davalos, RSVP Specialized Projects Coordinator
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.

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, 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.

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.

Rachel Niesen, AmeriCorp VISTA
Rachel was born and (mostly) raised in Portland, Oregon. On the very long list of things she enjoys, here are just a few: traveling, running, working with the community, gardening, and sewing. She attended Northern Arizona University where she studied Anthropology, Biology and Spanish. While in University, she was apart of multiple volunteer organization including a personal favorite, Global Medical Brigades which combined travel and medical volunteering. After university she served as an AmeriCorps member at the Clark County Food Bank where she taught gardening classes to the community. The adventure didn’t stop there, at the end of her service, she moved to China in the Fall of 2019 to teach English. This past September she moved home after two years in China, and with AmeriCorps in mind. Eventually the road led her to L.A. Works and L.A. Some of her biggest passions are traveling and volunteering, so any way to combine these often determines where she goes hence, the relocation to L.A.

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.

Sarah-Jane Oska, Education Equity Program Coordinator
Sarah-Jane was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and moved to LA in 2017. She has a diverse history in the education sector including: teaching in remote Aboriginal communities; classroom teaching in London, UK; tutoring; as a camp and education specialist at the Los Angeles Zoo; and most recently as the Education Programs Coordinator at Community Nature Connection, a non-profit that aims to increase access to the outdoors. In her free time, Sarah-Jane likes spending time outdoors, seeing live music, cooking, and dog watching at cafes.

Gyasi Parker-Ross, Vice President 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.

Jacey Pulusani, Operations Manager
Jacey is a Kansas native but has proudly spent nearly half her life living in California. An alumna of Occidental College, she has always been interested in the intersection of people and place and is most energized in a buzzing urban environment. After earning a degree in Urban and Environmental Policy, she has worked with children & families as well as in the hospitality space specializing in wine and stellar customer service. A caretaker at heart, in her spare time she enjoys cooking, hiking, and giggling with her husband and young son.

Jenevieve Rodriguez, Volunter Corps VISTA Leader
Jenevieve was born and raised in San Francisco. Growing up in a mixed Chinese/Mexican household, Jenevieve developed a passion for supporting her community, especially for youth from underserved populations. She has had various jobs in the different social worlds of children from an after school teacher, a behavior technician for children with autism, to working at nonprofits for youth experiencing homelessness. After graduating from the University of San Francisco with a B.S. in Biology and minors in Biochemistry and Child & Youth Studies, she moved to Los Angeles to serve as a VISTA at a nonprofit focused on helping youth experiencing homelessness to learn more about the nonprofit sector. During her free time, Jenevieve enjoys playing games with friends, binge-watching shows, volunteering, and hiking.

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 Program Coordinator
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.

Samantha Wheeler, Communications Manager
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

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.