The heart and soul of LA's BEST comes from our students. And it's our staff who appreciates this most.
We are a diverse team, working together to champion equity for all children in Los Angeles. We support each other, and we strive to meet the needs of every child.
Get to know us.
President and CEO
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. He also brings a nuanced understanding and appreciation for how children learn and develop, and a passion for staff and program development.
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. While at Development Without Limits, Eric created Please Speak Freely, a podcast where he interviewed leading thinkers, artists and others to shed light on key issues and explore different perspectives about youth development and education. To listen to Please Speak Freely, please click here.
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.
Eric has presented keynotes and workshops for dozens of organizations and conferences nationwide. In 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown appointed Eric to the California Department of Education’s Before and After School Advisory Committee, and he is a member of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance Steering Committee
Eric holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of California at Irvine and an M.S. in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from the New School for Social Research in New York.
“I work in afterschool because it is a movement dedicated to putting the needs, hopes, dreams, opportunities and experiences of all children at the center of our culture’s focus. I work at LA’s BEST because it gives me the privilege of being part of a team of creative, kind, brilliant people who care about kids most of all.”
Chief Operating Officer
Debe Loxton, Chief Operating Officer, has been a leader at LA’s BEST since our founding in 1988. First as Program Director, and since 1995 as COO.
Debe created the systems and policies that made it possible for LA’s BEST to grow from our original 10 sites, to the nearly 200 sites we serve today. Debe has shepherded the operational growth of LA’s BEST, and is at the very heart of the youth-centered culture and pedagogy found at LA’s BEST. She has been instrumental to creating new programmatic departments and innovative initiatives to serve the needs of our children and communities. Her passion for excellence and commitment to students has been widely recognized by her peers and the educational community, earning her recognition and awards such as the California Expanded Learning Visionary Leadership Award. Debe is the lead administrator on the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) side of the LA’s BEST partnership, and a key member of the LAUSD Beyond the Bell leadership team.
Debe is a fervent believer in staff development and training, and it is a testament to her leadership that over half of LA’s BEST operations and programming staff has been with the organization for over five years. Prior to joining LA’s BEST, Debe was a Regional Director for LAUSD Youth Services. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Development and Leadership in Education from Pacific Oaks College.
“This work is my vocation because I believe that we have the opportunity and responsibility to help prepare children to engage in the conversation the world is asking them to participate in with courageous and bold hearts, and to help prepare them for a future of choices and possibilities.”