Get to know us.
Laura joined LA’s BEST in Spring 2016. She works with the organization’s public partners – including the City of Los Angeles and LAUSD School Board – and on advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal levels. Prior to LA’s BEST, Laura worked at the Partnership for Children & Youth – an advocacy and capacity-building organization championing high-quality learning opportunities for underserved youth, with an emphasis on afterschool, summer learning and community schools. She is also an alumni of the Capital Fellows Program, where she worked on Government Affairs for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson at the California Department of Education. She has a B.A. in Politics from Pomona College and began her career through an AmeriCorps year of service.
Kirby began working at LA’s BEST in April 2008. As a member of the finance team, he works closely with the Operations office to streamline reporting between the two offices. Kirby has over 20 years of experience in the industry. Prior to working for LA’s BEST, Kirby worked for Quezada Godsey & Co. (a local CPA firm) and consulted for a number of nonprofit organizations assisting them with fiscal compliance and audits. Kirby earned his Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles.
Sharon began working at LA’s BEST in February 2015. As a member of the Development Department, she worked with corporate partnerships, was the liaison with the BEST Friends Board and young professionals network, and now drives LA’s BEST external communication. Sharon has more than 20 years experience as a professional in the nonprofit sector. Prior to working at LA’s BEST, Sharon worked for organizations including American Jewish World Service and GO Campaign and has developed fundraising strategies for nonprofit organizations. She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis in nonprofit management and a Master’s degree in International Affairs focusing on human rights, both from Columbia University.
Aretta began working at LA’s BEST in April 2016. As a member of the Development Department, her work includes managing individual, organization and corporate donor relationships. Aretta has several years of experience as a professional in both the profit and nonprofit sectors. This includes successfully directing national branding campaigns in ad tech, government, automotive, consumer packaged goods and education.
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 After School Advisory Committee, and he is a member of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance Steering Committee.
Christine began working at LA’s BEST in November 1998 as an Administrative Associate and transitioned into her current role in 2010. As a member of the administrative team, she manages the President & CEO’s calendar, provides overall office management and is the liaison to the Governing and Advisory Boards. In that role she supports the boards, and develops processes for strong board development and engagement. Christine has more than 19 years of experience as an administrative professional in the nonprofit sector. She earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
Robin joined LA’s BEST in 2011, where she cultivates and manages partnerships with foundations, corporations, and government entities, and writes compelling proposals and reports to secure grants and resources in support of LA’s BEST programs and operations. Following graduation from UCLA in 2000, Robin served as an AmeriCorps VISTA, developing afterschool programs at local middle schools and earning The Grantsmanship Center’s certification. She then worked at UCLA, supporting the creation of college/career centers within under-resourced communities. In 2005, Robin became a grant writer with Venice Family Clinic, raising and reporting on funds that ensured access to medical care for homeless and low-income families.
Amber Martinez joined LA’s BEST as Vice President of Development in 2017. She provides strategic leadership in all aspects of LA’s BEST fundraising and communications as the organization enters a new era of growth and development. Prior to joining LA’s BEST, Amber was the Senior Director at the XPRIZE Foundation, leading the development team. She has previously been Director of Corporate Philanthropy at City of Hope, Interim CEO of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director of Vision To Learn and the National Director of Corporate Development for ALPFA. Amber holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Leadership & Management and a Bachelor of Science in Family & Human Development, both from Arizona State University. She is a native Angeleno, currently living in Highland Park with her husband and daughter.
Lorena joined LA’s BEST in January 2013. She has over 17 years of experience working with various non-profits. Prior to working at LA’s BEST, Lorena worked for various nonprofits including American Jewish University, CASA of Los Angeles, Polytechnic School, Art Center College of Design and the Museum of Contemporary Art.