Denisse Alanis, Volunteer Corps Manager
Denisse received her B.A. in Religion and Social Justice from Agnes Scott College. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo teaching English and as an AmeriCorps member in San Diego focusing on job placement of refugee clients. She has previously worked as an English instructor in South Korea and as a bilingual advocate for survivors of sexual assault in Arkansas. Denisse is a modern southern belle in search of finding the best fried green tomatoes in LA. Jurassic Park is her favorite movie even though she is afraid of dinosaurs.
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.
Kami Bruner, Director of Operations
A relative newcomer to Los Angeles, Kami originally hails from Nashville, TN via New Orleans. She's interested in systems thinking, social justice and helping organizations achieve greater impact. Kami received a BA in Religious Studies from The University of the South (Sewanee) and an MS from Tulane University where she focused on sustainable community & organizational development. Between her studies, Kami interned with the U.S. Consulate in Germany, worked with the University of TN's Institute of Public Service as well as several environmental organizations, and was deeply involved in community activism in her hometown. As L.A. Works' Operations Manager, Kami provides support for all departments and facilitates capacity-building initiatives. When not at “the Works,” you'll likely find her repurposing scavenged treasures, TimeBanking, or having her ankles mauled by a tiny blind foster cat.
Deborah Brutchey, Executive Director
Prior to joining the L.A. Works team in June 2009, Deborah worked in development for a family service agency in Santa Barbara and program management for an organization serving children impacted by a parent with cancer in San Francisco. 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, is a member of the Points of Light's Corporate Institute Leadership Faculty, and is a graduate of the Los Angeles' Chamber Leadership Los Angeles class of 2014. Deborah completed her MBA degree 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.
Vanessa Davis, Volunteer Corps VISTA Leader
Vanessa obtained her B.A. in Creative Writing from California State University Long Beach and is an accomplished author, published under Divine Garden Press. She has been working with AmeriCorps for the past three years, serving as a VISTA member for Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach for two years and a CalServes VIP for one year at Sonoma County Family YMCA and Inland Empire United Way. Vanessa is an upcoming Master’s candidate at California Baptist University. She loves butterflies, giraffes, crocheting, listening to music and reading (her favorite author is Sci-fi writer Octavia Butler). An active member at her home church, St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church in La Puente, she is a part of the Drama, Anointed Hands of Praise (sign language), and Arts & Crafts Ministries. Vanessa is extremely excited to encourage VISTA members and the community through the various activities at L.A. Works.
Denise Flaten, Signature Project Coordinator
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.
Austin Kottkamp, Event Production Coordinator
Austin Kottkamp grew up in Orange County. He received a BA and MA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he studied Theatre Arts, specifically Scenic Design and Technical Direction. Austin trained as a carpenter and painter for the theater, designing scenery in LA, and works in both theater and film. He studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland and has traveled a good deal, but is always looking forward the next trip. In his spare time, Austin enjoys geeking out with his friends, playing Dungeons and Dragons, frequenting the many museums and productions across the LA area, hanging out with his mom, and each summer volunteers as a director for a youth camp on Catalina Island.
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.
Jessica Manzo 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.
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.
Christine Posadas, 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.
Andrew Ramaglia, RSVP Pro Bono Coordinator
Andrew, born and raised in the suburbs of northern New Jersey, spent thirteen years doing social work on a voluntary and professional basis in New York City prior to enrolling at USC for a dual masters program. Now in his final year of earning a Master in Social Work, with a concentration in social change and innovation, and Master of Urban Planning, with a concentration in community and social planning, he is continuing his professional goal of bringing equity and social justice to communities that need it. Outside of work, when he is not eating his way through the LA food scene, he is getting lost in wilderness backpacking through national parks in the US or lost in translation traveling the world.
Denise Santamaria, AmeriCorps VISTA - Corporate Engagement
Denise was born and raised in the LA area. She has her BA in Communications from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Denise worked at Univision Radio as a coordinator assisting in community events and volunteers with her Grandmother’s church at the LA Food Bank. Through volunteering, she discovered the need for more to be done, and is finding new ways to create engagement. Denise is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Public Administration while serving as a VISTA through AmeriCorps. Outside of work, she is training for a marathon or training in Crossfit.
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.
Pooja Singh, Volunteer Corps VISTA Leader
Pooja received her B.S. in Public Health with a minor in Studio Art at the College of Charleston as well as her Masters in Public Health from the Medical University of South Carolina. Some of her previous volunteer service includes building a community garden at a primary school in Morogoro, Tanzania and serving a year with Notre Dame Mission Volunteers - San Francisco. Aside from her super cool hobbies, like art and sleeping, Pooja is just a small-town girl kicking it in the real world.
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.
Sam Ahn, Community Relations & Nonprofit Outreach Associate
Sam is originally from South Korea, has a Masters degree in Urban Design and over 10 years of experience in various corporate sectors, including running her own company. She is passionate about building communities that work together to give hope, support, and the opportunity to thrive to those who feel like they have no other options. She recently left her successful corporate career and completed an MA in Positive Developmental Psychology and Evaluation at Claremont Graduate University (including research on poverty, leadership and social capital in relation to youth gang prevention). Through her studies and her time with L.A. Works, she hopes to better prepare for a career that contributes to increasing meaning and purpose in people’s lives.
Warda Baig, Social Media & Content Producer
Before moving to the U.S., Warda worked with Telenor Pakistan (a BU of the Telenor Group) within the Corporate Communications team. She graduated with a Bachelors in Business from the National University of Computers & Emerging Sciences (NUCES) in Islamabad. She also did freelance content creation for Mangobaaz (a Buzzfeed-like entertainment company in Pakistan) while juggling a career in comms, prior to my move. In her free time, she likes to cook and reimagine ways to take over the world… one nap at a time. As a Social Media & Content Producer Volunteer Associate at LA Works, Warda looks after the organization’s SoMe channels & and tackles challenging communications projects.
Cammila Blasquez, Event Logistics Associate
Committed to becoming an advocate for change, Cammila is pursuing a B.S. degree in Environmental Science with a minor concentration in Environmental Engineering. As an undergraduate researcher for the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science, she is currently involved with a student-based initiative that seeks to monitor and assess the ecological recovery of wildlife after the recent Woolsey Fire. Cammila served as a volunteer in the vibrant healthcare community at the Ronald Reagan Hospital for 3 years, where she cultivated a passion for building meaningful relationships. Through her engagement with L.A. Works, Cammila aspires to possess an understanding of the issues that afflict urban communities, so that she may empower those who resolve to join the fight for societal justice.
Mike Castiglione, Leadership Development Associate
Mike is originally from Niagara Falls but has been in L.A. For 12 years. He’s got 6 years of experience teaching middle and high school mathematics and was the Program Director of Teacher Leadership for the Center of Math and Science Teaching (CMAST) at Loyola Marymount University, where he worked with over 50 schools within 11 school districts, impacting over 48,000 students. He earned his MBA from Loyola Marymount University and also has a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the State University of New York at Fredonia. One of Mike’s professional passions is building instructional coaches capable of fostering sustainable change within their organizations. When he’s not helping develop leaders, he’s probably off traveling somewhere amazing!
Micah Durham, Corporate Development Associate
Micah is a newcomer to the Los Angeles area, originally growing up in Louisiana but most recently spending 10 years in the Las Vegas area. He received his Bachelors in Business Administration, with a concentration in Entrepreneurship, from The University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Professionally Micah is a Business Development, Marketing, and Project Management Consultant who works to add actionable and tangible value to businesses of all sizes and types. He is passionate about social activism and has contributed efforts to a variety of organizations including The Human Rights Campaign, Amnesty International, March of Dimes, and various community level services. When he is not working, he is typically enjoying the outdoors, exploring food and drink, or engaging with anything and everything automotive.
Nikki Eclarinal, Advocacy & Special Projects Associate
Nikki grew up in San Antonio, Texas and studied Finance at the University of Texas at Austin. She became interested in law, advocacy work, and social justice after interning at the Texas House of Representatives and then moved to Los Angeles to attend law school. Nikki enjoys volunteering because it allows her to advocate for particular social issues that impact her and her community. She’s been fortunate enough to work with disability law, health justice, educational law as well as assist Amnesty International staff with lobbying efforts for the DREAM Act and the International Violence Against Women Act. Nikki enjoys hiking with her husky and hopes to one day start her own nonprofit focused on advancing education for Filipino Americans. Nikki will be focusing on advocacy strategy both for LAWD 2018 and the organization more broadly.
Rachel Kerr, Social Media & Content Producer
Rachel recently moved to LA from the UK. She studied Archaeology at University before traveling for several years and temporarily settling in Australia where she worked for a magazine. She later returned to the UK to pursue an MA in Journalism then worked in media, PR, and online marketing for some of the UK's biggest brands for many years in London, eventually setting up her own marketing consultancy. Rachel volunteered for Age UK for several years and loves running and riding horses. Her pony, Fairytale (yes that is his name), is in the UK and Rachel is currently pining for him - though he will be eating and doesn't care. Rachel drove a Land Rover to Australia from the UK and lived in Sudan, Indonesia, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia as a child.
Joanne (Jo) Long, Signature Projects Associate
Joanne is the co-founder of a scientific technology company that specializes in making open source hardware for biologists. She has a PhD in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and spent 10 years at the bench as a research scientist before starting a business. She is from the UK but has been living in Pasadena since 2004. Joanne is very passionate about volunteering and has been volunteering with programs in the LA area for several years. She currently volunteers at a suicide prevention crisis line. Joanne is particularly interested in working with non-profits on all aspects of volunteer programs and engagement.
Ebony McRae, Social Media Manager
Ebony is a Los Angeles native who is in love with her city and everything it has to offer. In 2013, she enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Security Forces Officer. After being medically discharged, she returned to school and received an associate degree in Liberal Arts from Victor Valley Community College. In 2017, she graduated from CSULA with a bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing Management. She is passionate about Marketing and Communications, as well as volunteering and working on projects within her community. Ebony has volunteered with Mother’s in Action, The Midnight Mission, and L.A. works in recent years. When she’s not at work or volunteering, she’s traveling. In 2017, she visited China and Thailand, and most recently backpacked in Europe. She’s excited to be working with L.A. Works.
Carolyn Meers, Social Media & Content Producer
Carolyn received her B.A. in Comparative Literature and Art History from UC Santa Barbara. After a stint interning at a news organization in New Zealand’s capitol, Wellington, she returned to Southern California and began writing for Angeleno Magazine. She later served as an associate editor for Robb Report and Muse by Robb Report, where she covered jewelry, health & wellness, and women’s issues. She has also been a contributing editor to The Knot, DaySpa Magazine and C Magazine. In addition to swimming, running and practicing inelegant yoga, her interests include consuming well-produced podcasts and maintaining an encyclopedic knowledge of dog and horse breeds. (It may come in handy one day.)
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.
Cris Schenck, Event Logistics Associate
Cris is an Iowa farm boy with a degree in Accounting from the University of Iowa. After moving to SoCal in 1993 he spent 25 years in Royalty Accounting in the Music and Video Game Industries. An enthusiastic runner, Cris has completed 12 marathons and over 200 half marathons, at least one in all 50 states. His father was a WW2 veteran who instilled a keen interest in veterans affairs in him. When he's not running or at work, Cris is supporting the Dodgers, Rams and Iowa Hawkeye football and wrestling teams.
Stephanie Viray, Operations/Accounting Associate
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, homelessness, music, and animal welfare and previously volunteered with a team providing medical/surgical aid to communities in Mexico and the Philippines. She’s also busy working on her undergrad in business 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 spend time with loved ones, travel, and get lost in her thoughts on long walks.
Carolyn Williamson Hughes, Pro Bono Data Associate
Carolyn Williamson Hughes is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio but now calls Los Angeles home. She has an M.B.A Degree in Business Management from the University of Redlands and a B.A Degree in Business Administration from the University of La Verne. Carolyn spent several years working for Fortune 500 companies but after 30 years, she resigned from the corporate life and opened the doors of her woman-owned business, Hues Event Design, LLC. Carolyn has two passions: family travel and volunteering. She has traveled all 50 states and 18 countries. She previously sat on the Board of the African American Firefighter Museum and is currently an Advisory Council member. Carolyn keeps active by attending dance classes several times a week. Her motto is: “Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally but what you do consistently. You are your only limit.”