Get to know us.
Featured among the top 500 most influential people in Los Angeles by the L.A. Business Journal in 2016 and 2017, Damián Mazzotta is an accomplished media executive and social entrepreneur. Social justice awarded, Damián was the Publisher at La Opinión – the most relevant Hispanic News Media outlet in the U.S. – and previously worked with the top news media organizations in Latin America. He is an advisor to entertainment, education and health organizations such as UCLA Center for World Health and Zero Gravity Management, and is the Founder and Chairman of The Shower of Hope, an initiative that brings relief to thousands of people suffering poverty in Los Angeles.
Jenna Binder has worked in the real estate industry for over twenty years. She is the managing member of the private real estate fund JT HOMES, LLC, which she founded in 2010. Growing up with philanthropy, Jenna has continued to give back to her community. Jenna’s passion for education, particularly equitable access to resources, is demonstrated by her active role in many organizations. Jenna has served on the LA’s BEST Friends Board since 2015 and has also generously supported, along with her family, organizations such as UCLA, City of Hope, Children’s Hospital, and several local schools. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and received her Doctorate in Psychology at The Chicago School. She lives with her husband Todd and three children Max, Ryan, and Giselle.
Adam Deromedi is a Director of Corporate Strategy at AECOM, helping one of the world’s largest infrastructure engineering and construction companies execute its growth and operational vision. Since 2012, Adam has helped organizations achieve their strategic objectives – originally with Deloitte’s strategy consulting practice before joining AECOM.
Previously Adam worked for non-profit housing developer Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA) as a project manager, leading the construction of new housing for at-risk populations. SAHA’s innovative properties provide more than 4,000 residents in Northern California with much-needed high-quality housing, creating healthier, safer communities.
Adam holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a Master’s in Urban Planning from Harvard University, and a BA in Urban Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Adam was introduced to LA’s BEST several years ago as a volunteer supporting the Governing Board on strategy development and was so impressed by the energy and passion from the staff that he was excited to be given the opportunity to join as a Board Member in 2016.
Alberto Diaz was born in Cuba and immigrated to the U.S. with his parents at the age of 5. He grew up in Burbank and attended the University of Redlands, where he majored in Biology and played varsity basketball.
Alberto has taught junior and high school science. He served eight years in the U.S. Navy as an F/A-18 pilot and Landing Signal Officer, and participated in Operation Desert Shield prior to the first Gulf War. After briefly flying for a local commuter airline, Alberto joined United Airlines in 1995 and began his commercial airline career. Alberto has been at United for 21 years and has flown as Captain for over 14 years. He is the Los Angeles Chief Pilot for United Airlines.
Alberto started the “Pali Waves” — an all-girls basketball club created to help girls 8 -14 develop character and confidence. He lives with his wife and three daughters in Pacific Palisades, California.
Chris Dusseault is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Chris is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer whose practice focuses on high-stakes business litigation. Chris has represented clients and tried cases throughout the country, and has particular experience in antitrust and the medical device industry. Chris also helped lead the trial team that challenged and overturned California’s prohibition of same-sex marriage, Proposition 8, in Hollingsworth v. Perry. Chris was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and attended Yale University and Duke Law School. Chris lives in Pasadena with his wife of more than 25 years, Sarah Dusseault, and their two sons, Luke and Cale.
Trudi Ferguson is a professor at the USC Marshall School 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.
Neal Fraser started his career in the kitchen at age 20. Fraser’s resume includes a degree from the Culinary Institute of America and an honor roll of kitchen credits including Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, and Checkers Hotel under Thomas Keller. Currently, he and his business partner/wife Amy Knoll Fraser own and operate the critically acclaimed Redbird restaurant; special events venue Vibiana. Redbird is Fraser’s flagship where he showcases modern American cuisine, influenced by the city’s multitude of cultures. Carved into one of the city’s most historic architectural gems, Redbird is singular and timeless. The restaurant has received many accolades including a coveted spot on Los Angeles Times’ Gold List. Prior to the success of Redbird|Vibiana, Fraser and Knoll Fraser opened critical darling Grace (which closed in 2010) and the recently closed, but beloved, BLD. A second location for BLD currently operates inside Los Angeles International Airport.
Peter Hidalgo is Director, Government Affairs for Charter Communications (SPECTRUM) a Fortune 75 telecommunications company. Peter is a seasoned government relations and communications leader with more than 20 years of experience in the private and public sector. His responsibilities include helping to oversee the political, regulatory, and legislative activities for Charter’s footprint and nurturing relationships with key elected and community stakeholders within the City of Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and southeast Gateway cities of Los Angeles County.
Previously, Peter has served as Chief of Staff for a Los Angeles City Councilmember and as Press Secretary to former Los Angeles Mayor. He has held leadership roles in corporate communications with Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric as well as with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, Metrolink as Director of External Affairs. Peter was born in Ecuador and is fluent in Spanish. He holds a Bachelor and a Master of Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University.
Heather Lord is SVP, Head of Strategy & Innovation at American Funds, part of Capital Group. Prior to joining Capital, Heather was a Senior Vice President, Strategy & Client Experience at Charles Schwab. Before that, she was a Principal at Boston Consulting Group. She holds a Ph.D. in applied statistics and psychology from Yale University and a Bachelor’s degree in statistics from Cornell University. She has long been passionate about early care and education – serving on the Boards of Child Care, Inc., and Minds Matter, as well as co-authoring multiple academic studies on after-school programs and “The Tragedy of Child Care in America” published by Yale University Press. Heather lives in Pasadena and enjoys spending time with her husband and two young children.
Mary Odell is an experienced early childhood educator and grantmaking professional. Mary began her professional career teaching the children of migrant farm workers in Coachella, California, was an elementary school teacher and vice-principal in South Los Angeles, and worked as an Education and Instruction Specialist for IBM Corporation. In 1991, Mary transitioned to philanthropy, serving as President of The Riordan Foundation and its affiliated public charity, Rx for Reading, until 1999 when she became the founding president of UniHealth Foundation until her retirement in 2016. Mary is recognized as a leader in the philanthropic community with expertise in managing public-private partnerships. Mary has done extensive graduate work in early speech and language acquisition, has lifetime credentials to teach multiple subjects preschool through 12th grade and adult education, and holds a certificate in nonprofit management from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Board of LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment Program.
Kelechi Ogbunamiri serves as the Chief Investment Officer of the Hankey Group. Prior to joining the Hankey Group, Kelechi served as a Portfolio Manager at Guggenheim Partners overseeing $10 billion of corporate credit assets. Kelechi began his career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr. Ogbunamiri graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Science degree in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University and obtained his Masters in Business Administration degree in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Alisa is the Head of Global EdTech Partnerships at Google, where she focuses on driving strategic partnerships with EdTech companies to create solutions that improve education for students, teachers, administrators and parents.
Prior to Google, Alisa graduated from the JD/MBA program at UCLA where she wrote her thesis on education policy in the digital age. She spent 4 years at Monitor Deloitte, leading go-to-market and digital transformation strategy projects across sectors, including several projects in educational and children’s media and with non-profits in the education space. Alisa started her career in media & entertainment, working for some of the industry’s most iconic companies, including Disney, Lionsgate, and Creative Artists Agency.
Alisa is passionate about giving back and recently completed the Coro Foundation’s Lead LA program. She is currently on the Steering Committee for Pride at Google and has served on the LA LGBT Center’s Young Professionals Council, LAUSD IT Advisory Council, and co-founded a nonprofit focused on engaging young professionals in the fight for marriage equality after the passage of Proposition 8. She is from New Jersey and therefore loves nearly anything with red sauce (especially pizza), but is a true Los Angeles convert with a love of hiking, paddleboarding, and California wine.
With experience as a campaign manager, policy advisor, and strategist serving leading elected officials, Juan works on a range of campaigns and strategic communications projects.
As former Campaign Manager for Kamala Harris for Senate, Juan helped lead Harris to the largest vote percentage by a non-incumbent Senate candidate in California history, carrying every demographic group, party, and region of the state.
Previously, Juan was Senior Advisor to Attorney General Harris in the California Department of Justice where he served as one of the Attorney General’s principal advisors on issues impacting business, labor, government bodies, regulatory agencies, and community-based and non-profit organizations throughout California and the United States. In this capacity, Juan was part of the Attorney General’s senior staff developing and implementing public policy, litigation, legislation, and outreach strategies for multiple issues. In 2014, Juan served as Interim Chief of Staff, supervising the office’s executive staff and managing communications, scheduling, and advance staff.
Prior to that, Juan was Director of State Relations for the City of Los Angeles under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Juan oversaw an expansive government lobbying effort on issues including energy, education, transportation, public safety, water, economic development, revenue and taxation needs. During his tenure with Mayor Villaraigosa, Juan also served as a Senior Political Advisor, advising on national, statewide and local redistricting, and elections.
While attending college, Juan worked for LA’s BEST as a Program Coach at Monlux Elementary School. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and earned an M.B.A. from Pepperdine Graziaidio School of Business Management.
Teresa Samaniego has helped grow ABC7’s involvement in the community for the past 38 years. As Vice President, she oversees community media initiatives and station partnerships, working closely with nonprofits and companies to develop and implement projects benefiting the communities that ABC7 serves. Teresa has been instrumental in developing campaigns such as the ABC7/Southland Firefighters Spark of Love Toy Drive and PrepareSoCal, an emergency preparedness initiative. Teresa’s commitment to the community extends beyond her career. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Community Coalition and the Glendale Chamber of Commerce Glendale Fire Department Foundation.
Throughout her career, Teresa has received many honors and awards for her dedication to the community. These include: Woman of the Year from The Glendale Chamber of Commerce, the Life Saving Award from the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles, and the Public Service Spirit Award from the Southern California Broadcasters Association. She is the proud mother of two, grown sons and four granddaughters.
David Travers is the President of ZipRecruiter, where he was previously CFO for 6 years. Prior to joining the ZipRecruiter team, Dave spent a decade as a venture capital investor in tech startups during his decade as a partner at Rustic Canyon and Basepoint. Previously, Dave worked in Corporate Strategy at Disney and at the White House. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School.
Efren Vasquez, a director in PwC’s Forensics practice based in Los Angeles, has more than a decade of experience in providing data-driven, technology-enabled solutions to address critical business needs.
Efren has a strong record of accomplishments in leveraging technology to provide clients with actionable insights that empower decision makers. This includes leading cross- competency teams that acquire, review, analyze, and transform large, complex, disparate data sets into meaningful information for use in relation to anti-bribery/anti-corruption matters, disputes, financial reporting, fraud investigations, litigation, M&A transactions, and regulatory matters.
Efren has significant international experience leading and collaborating with teams across Asia, Europe, North America and South America; this includes a Mexico City based assignment leading PwC’s Forensic Technology efforts in Mexico as well as being active in the broader Latin American region. His clients span the energy, financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, technology, and telecommunications industries, among others.
Efren holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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 and serves on the Board of Directors as well.