Get to know us.
Trudi Ferguson is a professor at the USC Marshall of Business, and a consultant to a wide variety of public and private organizations. Her expertise includes organizational change and effectiveness, strategic planning, executive coaching, career strategy, gender and diversity issues, and communications. Ferguson has consulted on hiring and retaining women for many organizations, including the Los Angeles Police Department.
Ferguson received her doctorate in Behavioral Science from the UCLA Anderson School of Business. She is the author of two books, Answers to the Mommy Track and Blue Collar Women, and is an expert in the successful integration of women and diversity into organizational life. Among her wide-ranging professional affiliations, Ferguson has been President of the Center for Applied Behavioral Science, a member and past Dean of the National Training Laboratories Institute, and a member of the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute. Additionally, Ferguson has served as adjunct professor at Stanford University, UCLA, Antioch, and Loyola Marymount University.
Alan Arkatov is the Founding Director of USC’s Center EDGE (Engagement Driven Global Education), and the Katzman/Ernst Chair for Educational Entrepreneurship, Technology and Innovation at USC’s Rossier School of Education — an appointment with an interdisciplinary emphasis, leveraging the work at USC’s Schools of Communications, Cinematic Arts, Medicine, Public Policy, and Business. He previously was the President of Changing.edu, CEO of the Teaching Channel, part of the founding team and EVP for 2U, President of eEducation Group, and the founder and Chairman of OnlineLearning.net. Alan has guided some of the preeminent communications companies in the US, and as a political media consultant, helped produce the ads for over a dozen successful Mayoral, Gubernatorial, US Senate, and Presidential campaigns.
In addition to serving on California’s State Board of Education, Alan was the Chair of California’s Post-Secondary Education Commission, a US Secretary of Education appointee to the Congressional Web-Based Education Commission, President of the LA Commission for Children, Youth and Families, and Chair of the LA Information Technology Agency. He currently serves on the boards of the Annenberg Center for Third Space Thinking, Road Trip Nation, the Alliance for College Ready Schools, the LA Chamber Orchestra, and Catapult Learning.
Lisa Boren has worked as a ghost writer for numerous professionals across a myriad of industries. She received her BA in comparative literature from Colorado College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. She earned an MA in Professional Writing from USC. She has also completed the Intensive Practice Program at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center and has facilitated councils and life skills circles across Los Angeles.
Dr. Richard S. Cheung currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Advisory Board. Richard has been involved with LA’s BEST for almost 15 years. He was one of the original founding members of BEST Friends. One of Richard’s favorite activities with LA’s BEST is helping students with their homework at Castelar Elementary in Chinatown. He also has had the honor of being a judge at an LA’s BEST regional science fair. Richard lives and works in Pasadena, where he maintains a chiropractic practice.
Bill Coggins has worked as a psychiatric social worker for the Veterans Administration and the State of California. He also worked as a psychotherapist in private practice in outpatient psychiatric clinics, including the LA Suicide Prevention Center. From 1965 to 1966, Coggins studied and worked as a psychotherapist at Tavistock Psychiatric Clinic in London as a Fulbright Scholar. In November 1966, he was hired to develop the Kaiser Permanente Watts Counseling & Learning Center, a community service program funded by Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Inc. In 1967, the Center opened with Coggins as founding director, with the goal to bring much-needed counseling and educational programs to the Watts community. What began with three people in one room in a prefabricated building has grown to a 30-member staff in a facility of more than 9,000 square feet, now located at the corner of 103rd and Success. Coggins has been a member with the LA’s BEST Advisory Board since 1988.
Jennifer Cowan currently serves as the Executive Director of Connections for Children—an early childhood resource and referral agency serving children, families, and communities in West L.A. and the South Bay. Previously, Jennifer led the development of strategic partnerships at First 5 LA. She has also designed, managed, and funded education programs at The After-School Corporation and Brooklyn Children’s Museum in New York City, and the Charles & Helen Schwab Foundation. Jennifer has held various board positions, including the Santa Monica Family YMCA and LA’s BEST, and is a member of the Santa Monica Social Services Commission. She received her M.A. in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education and B.A. from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
David Flaks was the LAEDC’s President & COO. In this role, Mr. Flaks brings together the capabilities of the LAEDC’s mission-delivery departments, from applied economics to industry cluster and talent development to public policy and advocacy, into a single powerful force to deliver the LAEDC’s critically important mission to collectively advance opportunity and prosperity for L.A. County’s residents. Prior to LAEDC, Mr. Flaks served as the Communications Director for the Democratic nominee in a high-profile, DCCC “Red to Blue” U.S. House race in Arizona. Previously, he served as President of David Flaks Capital, a DC-based financial advisory services firm, which served as the lead financial advisor on and helped arrange for the placement of more than $102 million worth of equity and debt securities for development-stage medical technology companies. Mr. Flaks was also a partner at Ten Peaks Capital (TPC), a Bay Area-based private consulting firm that provided corporate partnering, IR and financial advisory services for life sciences companies. At TPC, Mr. Flaks advised clients during a number of corporate partnering negotiations and personally arranged for the placement of millions of dollars’ worth of equity securities privately for development-stage biotech firms. Additionally, Mr. Flaks has held corporate law positions at large law firms in New York and Miami, managing the legal side of financings under Regulation D and public offerings, as well as holding positions with the SEC and the New York State Attorney General. He graduated with Distinction from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S. in Philosophy, received his J.D. from American University, Cum Laude, and graduated as Valedictorian from the George Washington University with a M.A. in Political Management.
Mike serves as Trustee of the Los Angeles Community College District. As the largest community college district in the country, the Los Angeles Community College District is comprised of nine colleges serving approximately 250,000 students with a service area of over 800 square miles and over 5 million residents.
Mike serves as Director of Policy and Government Relations for the City of Los Angeles Department of Neighborhood Empowerment. In this role, Mike leads a team of experienced professionals on policy development and government relations for the Department and Neighborhood Councils in empowering and collaborating with Neighborhood Council Board Members, leaders, and stakeholders in improving the lives of residents throughout the City.
Active in the community, Mike serves as a Board Member for Goodwill Southern California and as an Advisory Board Member for LA’s BEST.
Mike graduated from California State University at Northridge with a Master of Public Administration in Public Sector Management & Leadership and from University of California at Los Angeles with a B.S. in Psychobiology and a minor in Education.
Jeff Goad joined LA’s BEST Friends Board in 2013, became Chair in 2016 and was also a member of the Board of Directors. In 2019, Jeff founded a management consulting firm, The Insultants LLC that provides services for manufacturing, service and CPG chains companies. Prior to the Insultants, Jeff worked with companies including Drybar, Johnson & Johnson and General Motors. Jeff earned a degree from the University of Michigan.
Eric Gurna joined LA’s BEST in 2015 as the second President and CEO in the organization’s history. He brings a deep commitment to positive youth development to his work at LA’s BEST, and a national reputation for thought leadership in the Expanded Learning movement. Prior to leading LA’s BEST, Eric was the founder, President and CEO of Development Without Limits, where he designed and facilitated staff development, curriculum and other resources for community organizations and schools nationwide. In the late ‘90s, Eric also served as LA’s BEST’s first Director of Staff Development. In that role, he was immersed in LA’s BEST values and operations, and codified the organization’s values, youth development principles and staff development practices. In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Eric to the California Department of Education’s Before and Afterschool Advisory Committee, and he is a member of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance Steering Committee.
Tyrone C. Howard is professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies’ at UCLA. Dr. Howard is also the inaugural director of the new UCLA Pritzker Center for Strengthening Children and Families, which is a campus wide consortium examining academic, mental health, and social emotional experiences and challenges for California’s most vulnerable youth populations. Tyrone was also named Faculty Director of the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools. He is also the former Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. Professor Howard’s research examines equity, culture, race, teaching and learning. Professor Howard has published over 75 peer reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and technical reports. He has published several bestselling books, among them, Why Race & Culture Matters in Schools.
Click here to read more about Tyrone.
Ann Reiss Lane is the Founder and Chair of Women Against Gun Violence, dedicated to education and advocacy to end gun violence. Lane also spent 20 years as a member of former Mayor Tom Bradley’s administration as a Commissioner for the Library, Fire and Police Departments.
Deidre Lind is an award-winning philanthropic leader with effective, impact-driven results. She has advised nonprofit, corporate and private foundations on social impact, strategic grant making, partnerships, fundraising, governance, measurement and long-term results.
Dr. Eugenia Mora-Flores is a Professor of Clinical Education in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California (USC). She teaches courses on first and second language acquisition, Latino culture, and in literacy development for elementary and secondary students. She began her work in education almost 25 years ago as a first grade, dual-language teacher and went on to teach a range of grade levels and instructional contexts.
A lifelong Angeleno via Peru, where she was born and raised until age 7 when her family immigrated to Los Angeles, Rosa Navas is proud to bring more than 15 years of experience in community development and relations to the LA’s BEST board. As the Director for Community Well-Being for Adventist Health White Memorial, Rosa organizes several summits and educational programs throughout the city of Los Angeles. Past projects have included raising awareness of heavy metal contamination in the Boyle Heights and East LA area, which involved securing partnerships among environmental organizations, hospitals, academic institutions, and community leaders to strategize and expedite cleanup efforts. Rosa has also worked directly with LA’s BEST via organizing its garden education program at two East LA elementary schools. These efforts not only taught health education to children in grades two through six through various community partnerships, but provided local pediatric departments with a communication pathway to some of LA’s most under-served residents. Previously, Rosa worked as the Marketing and Strategic Partnership Manager for La Opinion, one of LA’s most well-known and highly regarded Spanish-language newspapers. When she is not working to bring the city together, Rosa can be found at the LA Opera or spending time with her two pit bull rescues and Siamese cat.
Pedro Noguera is a sociologist, education researcher and former public school teacher, Noguera specializes in how social, economic and demographic factors influence schools and student achievement. He is the Emery Stoops and Joyce King Stoops Dean at USC Rossier Professor of Education. Previously, Pedro was at the Graduate School of
Education and Information Studies at UCLA. A sociologist, Noguera's research
focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic
conditions, as well as by demographic trends in local, regional and global
contexts. He is the author, co-author and editor of thirteen books. His most recent
books are The Crisis of Connection with Niobe Way, Carol Gilligan and Aisha Ali (NYU
Press) and Race, Equity and Education: The Pursuit of Equality in Education 60 Years
After Brown (Springer Press), and he has published over 250 research articles, book
chapters, research reports and editorials. He serves on the boards of numerous
national and local organizations, including the Economic Policy Institute, the
National Equity Institute and The Nation Magazine. Noguera appears as a regular
commentator on educational issues on several national media outlets, and his
editorials on educational issues have appeared in the New York Times, Washington
Post, Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News and Los Angeles Times. Prior to
joining the faculty at UCLA he served as a tenured professor and holder of endowed
chairs at New York University (2003 – 2015) Harvard University (2000 – 2003) and
the University of California, Berkeley (1990 – 2000). Noguera was recently
appointed to serve as a special advisor to the Governor of New Mexico on education
policy. He also advises the state departments of education in Washington, Oregon
and Nevada, and from 2009 – 2012 he served as a Trustee for the State University of
New York (SUNY) as an appointee of the Governor. In 2014 he was elected to the
National Academy of Education and Phi Delta Kappa honor society. Noguera has
received seven honorary doctorates from American universities, and he recently
received awards from the Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences
at Stanford University, from the National Association of Secondary Principals,
and from the McSilver Institute at NYU for his research and advocacy efforts aimed
at fighting poverty.
Laura C. Romero is founding President of her consulting firm, Brillante Strategies, where she advises organizations on education, mentoring, public-private partnerships, government & community relations, and strategic planning. Prior to Brillante Strategies, Laura C. Romero worked at Los Angeles Universal Preschool focusing on corporate relations. During her UCLA tenure, Romero promoted the University’s mission of research, teaching and public service by working with elected officials, corporate and community leaders, university administrators, faculty and alumni. She worked in the Office of Government & Community Relations, the Higher Education Research Institute’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program, the Extramural Programs and Opportunities Center, and taught the new “Civic Engagement in Los Angeles” seminar. Before UCLA, Laura worked as Acting Director of Public Affairs at Univision Los Angeles and National Mentoring Coordinator of the award-winning Communities In Schools, Inc./Univision Mentoring Initiative. Dr. Romero received her Bachelor’s, Master’s and doctoral degrees from UCLA, and is honored to have been appointed to the LA’s BEST Advisory Board.
Andrew Said is the Neighborhood Prosecutor for the Olympic Division. He graduated from Boston University School of Law and holds a Masters in International Relations. He joined the City Attorney’s Office in 2002. He spent 14 years in the Criminal Branch of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office prosecuting violent crimes, DUIs, hit-and-runs, thefts, frauds, and sex crimes. Prior to joining the LA City Attorney’s Office, he served as a legal services manager for the LA Free Clinic. Andrew is passionate about active transportation and protecting pedestrians and cyclists. He is an active participant in running and cycling organizations throughout the City of LA.
Lois has been an arts in education advocate and consultant for over 40 years. She was the Founder of the Cheremoya Community Arts Council, a parent support group to enrich the arts in the school; board member, Arts for Communities; Arts in Education Chair, Los Angeles County Center for the Arts in Education; and Founder and President of the Hollywood Arts Council to support the arts community in Hollywood. Lois was appointed to the Hollywood Revitalization Committee, the Citizens Advisory Committee for the Metrorail Hollywood Link and the Los Angeles Advisory Committee for MTA subway completion; founding member and Chair or President, Southern California Leadership Network, Los Angeles Cable TV Access Corp Channel 36 and the American Film Institute Associates; founding board member of LA’s BEST and the Los Angeles Jazz Society, which developed Jazz in Schools free concerts for elementary schools, bringing jazz to 23,000 children every year. She is past President, League of Women Voters Los Angeles, and former City Commissioner.
June Sale is the former Director of UCLA Child Care Services. Sale is an active child care advocate, author and consultant with a special interest in public policy issues concerning children and their families. Sale has served on many national, state and local committees and panels, and serves as a CASA volunteer in the family court program for children. Sale is also a member of Stone Soup, Samuel Goldwyn Child Care Advisory Boards, and has been on the LA’s BEST Advisory Board since 1988.
Deputy Chief Christopher Stevens joined the Los Angeles School Police Department 23 years ago. He currently holds the position of Deputy Chief, Campus Services Bureau, Los Angeles School Police Department. Stevens was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and is a product of the Los Angeles Unified School District, graduating from Monroe High School.
Christopher Stevens is a Deputy Chief for the nation’s largest School Police Department, serving the second largest school district in the country: responsible for the security of one million students, 88,000 employees, and 1,000 schools covering over 710 square miles. The Los Angeles School Police Department was established in August 1948 to provide police services to the Los Angeles Unified School District. Christopher Stevens works with a rapidly changing, culturally diverse community and recognizes the complex issues facing law enforcement today.