Get to know us.
John Paul — “JP” — started working for LA’s BEST in September 2002. He started as a Program Worker at Glenwood Elementary, then moved on to become a Regional Support Worker Assistant. JP later became a Traveling Staff member for the BEST Fit department, and is now the BEST Fit Coordinator. JP graduated from California State University, Northridge, and received a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology.
Edith began working at LA’s BEST in 1989, and has nearly 30 years of experience in the field of education, community building, nutrition education, and afterschool enrichment program development. She earned her degree in Liberal Arts and obtained her teaching certificate in Early Childhood Education. Edith began her career with LA’s BEST as a playground worker and has seen the organization grow from its original 10 sites to the 198 operating today. As the Director of BEST Fit, Edith has helped develop and coordinate a wide variety of nutrition, physical fitness, and gardening programs.
Lynette began working at LA’s BEST in May 2003. As a member of the Leadership Team, she works to bring talented and enthusiastic community members to the LA’s BEST program to share their expertise with students, and assist staff with enrichment activities at all 198 LA’s BEST sites. Lynette also initiates, maintains and develops relationships with major corporations to increase their awareness and involvement with the program. Prior to joining LA’s BEST, Lynette worked for corporations including Hewlett Packard and California Public Utilities Commission. She attended California State University, Los Angeles, majoring in Business Administration with a minor in Finance.
Ronnie began working as the Director of Student Support Services in August 2009 following 10 years as a volunteer on various arts and inclusion projects. Her work as the Director of Student Support Services focuses on the more challenging students at LA’s BEST. It includes training staff, and supporting students and families to be included in all the aspects of the program. Ronnie’s work for the past 30 years has centered on working with different kinds of learners through the arts. Both as a professional dancer with an MFA from UCLA, and as a teacher with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from George Washington University, Ronnie has long worked on developing the “whole child.”
Since December 2007, Regino has worked for LA’s BEST to design and implement formative research for program improvement, internal evaluations, and to monitor external evaluations of our program. Previously, Regino worked to improve educational quality at the preschool, elementary and high school levels. His evaluation projects assessed preschool programs and policy research for investing in early childhood education, girls’ education, and for improving educational quality; he trained educational practitioners worldwide to use research for improving practices. He has a B.A. in Sociology from Pitzer College and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Maria has more than 25 years of experience serving youth. She has assimilated the understanding needed as an afterschool practitioner into her various positions within LA’s BEST. Currently, Maria is responsible for providing support and development to the East Region. Her role includes monitoring program sites to ensure that program values are implemented and that sites are in compliance with terms and conditions of grants. Maria’s is also responsible for creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities, and assisting staff in successfully integrating ideas and strategies towards quality student engagement.
Ulisses has earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Learning and Education, and has 19 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector. His experience includes being a Training & Development Manager, a certified trainer by the California School Age Consortium, and a certified Professional Coach (Goldvarg Consulting Group). In 2017, Ulisses started as a Regional Director at LA’s BEST. He is responsible for providing support and development to the West Region. Ulisses’ role includes monitoring program sites to ensure that program values are implemented and sites are in compliance with terms and conditions of grants. His is also responsible for creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities, and assisting staff in successfully integrating ideas and strategies towards quality student engagement.
Mario Davila has been the Director of the LA’s BEST After School Arts Program (ASAP) since 2004. ASAP provides hands-on visual art, music, dance and drama workshops facilitated by talented teaching artists. Born in Chile, Mario is a longtime Angeleno who enjoys helping people of all ages develop their creativity. He is the founder of LAartlab, an all-volunteer program in which high school students design and produce free public visual and performing art events. He has worked as a program developer, teaching artist and program director for a number of arts organizations including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Getty Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Watts Tower Arts Center, and USC Fisher Museum of Art.
Deanna began working at LA’s BEST in 1994, and has more than 30 years of experience working with youth. She is responsible for providing support and development to the North Region. Her role includes monitoring program sites to ensure that program values are implemented, and that sites are in compliance with terms and conditions of grants. Her role also encompasses being responsible for creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities, and assisting staff in successfully integrating ideas and strategies towards quality student engagement. Deanna earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies from Cal State Northridge, and has committed her career to youth because she loves to work with those working for the future.
Ben Higa began working with LA’s BEST in 2007 as the Traveling Program Supervisor of the After School Arts Program (ASAP). In that position, he oversaw the placement and quality management of hundreds of art residencies in LA’s BEST South Region. In 2015, Ben took on the role of Coordinator. His responsibilities include providing leadership and overall programmatic support in collaboration with the ASAP team. Ben has more than 20 years of experience in urban youth arts and culture. Prior to working with LA’s BEST, Ben worked with at-risk youth at the Homeland Cultural Center in Long Beach, and he has worked as a writer and photographer on the topics of social justice issues and urban arts. Ben has contributed to art- and culture-related exhibits created by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, LACMA, MOCA, and the Smithsonian Institute. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism, Communication Studies from California State University, Los Angeles.
Ronald began working at LA’s BEST in October 2002. Ronald has held a variety of positions at LA’s BEST including Traveling Program Supervisor, Site Director, and Project Coordinator, and Director of Digital Learning. Ronald has 20 years of experience as a professional in the Expanded Learning field. Prior to his time at LA’s BEST, Ronald worked for organizations including the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, where he served as an AmeriCorps member providing expanded learning opportunities. Ronald has also worked as a Regional Supervisor and Program Director providing support for expanded learning programs throughout the city of Los Angeles.
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.
Justine began working at LA’s BEST in April 2001. As a member of the Human Resources Department, she supports the staffing needs within the organization. Justine started her career in LA’s BEST working with children and has held various positions. She has more than 17 years working with LA’s BEST and has earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge.
Oscar began working full-time at LA’s BEST in November 2001. However, he has been providing technology support to the organization since 1988. As a member of the Technology Department, he is responsible for designing and managing the systems necessary to support LA’s BEST mission. Oscar has more than 30 years of experience in the technology sector. Prior to working at LA’s BEST, Oscar co-founded a technology startup, and worked at several other technology startups and at the Anderson School at UCLA. He studied mathematics with an emphasis in computing at UCLA.
Daniel began working at LA’s BEST in January 2008. As a member of the Staff Development Department, he works with the learning facilitator team as well as various stakeholders to develop and deliver trainings to staff. In addition, he works with the Director of Staff Development to develop and maintain systems that support all staff development efforts. Daniel began his work with LA’s BEST as a Program Worker and continued his growth as Program Supervisor, Site Coordinator and Learning Facilitator. In addition to working with LA’s BEST, Daniel has worked as a teacher assistant, a staff development consultant, and has worked with the Los Angeles County Office of Education.
Steven began working at LA’s BEST in March 2017. As a member of the operations staff, he is responsible for the development and management of finances, budgets, and procurement, and serves as a liaison between LA’s BEST and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Steven has worked in numerous roles in the public sector over the past 10 years, including finance, accounting, human resources, technology support, and school operations. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from CSU Northridge, and has a strong passion for the success and future of our students.
Nineth has worked for the Los Angeles Unified District since 1996. She worked directly with Title 1 School Coordinators providing California English Language Development Tests (CELDT) to students, and following their English language acquisition. Nineth’s career with LA’s BEST began in June 2002. She has held various field positions within the organization. Currently, Nineth is responsible for providing support and development to seven teams of Traveling Staff supporting one cluster of schools. Nineth’s role includes monitoring of program sites to ensure that program values are implemented, and that sites are in compliance with terms and conditions of grants. Nineth is passionate about building workforce capacity through intentional staff development.
Stela began working at LA’s BEST in October 2007. The Education Department offers many research-based, innovative, hands-on programming opportunities to our students, supporting their cognitive development. Stela has more than 30 years of experience as an educator and serves as a resourceful educational advisor to LA’s BEST. Prior to working at LA’s BEST, Stela was a teacher, mentor, and advisor. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from CSU, Northridge and a Master’s in Education Administration from CSU, Long Beach. Additionally, she has a bi-lingual, bi-cultural Teaching and Administrative Services Credential.
Christine is the Literacy Program Coordinator for an intergenerational partnership with AARP Foundation Experience Corps. This program brings older adults together with LA’s BEST students to help them become proficient readers. She started working for LA’s BEST in 2009 as a Program Worker, and has also held positions as Program Supervisor, Site Coordinator and Program Coach. Christine has also been an active volunteer with several other non-profit organizations over the last 14 years. She is graduating from Pacific Oaks College in May 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development with a concentration in Social Change.
The key to Dee Ann’s position is to have an understanding of processes and putting systems in place that enable the Operations Office to be the most productive in improving logistics for all those systems. Dee Ann has been with LAUSD for over three decades working on school campuses; supervisory roles; administrative leadership; advocating legislation; and currently program infrastructure. Her contributions to LA’s BEST began in 1994, a few years after obtaining her degree. This 23-year journey with LA’s BEST started as a site coordinator, eventually events coordinator and current director. During this time she has obtained countless relationships, collaboration partners, program insights, support networks, resources and experience that she uses daily for the benefit of our children.
Michael began working at LA’s BEST in September 2003. As a member of the City Wide Events Department, he is responsible for departmental grant and payroll management, quality seasonal sports programming (flag football, basketball, softball, and soccer), organizing and coordinating events and trainings (Dance and Drill Team Showcase, Community Jam, City Wide Science Fair, Health Fair), and supervision of warehouse supply inventory and distribution to sites. Michael has more than 10 years of experience in the afterschool field. Prior to serving as the City Wide Events Director at LA’s BEST, he served as a Program Worker, Program Supervisor, and Traveling Program Supervisor. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Zach began working at LA’s BEST in May 2015. He works collaboratively, across the organization, to ensure relevant and responsive staff development resources such as training and site-based coaching are available to all field staff. Zach has 20 years of experience as a professional in the field of Expanded Learning. This includes over 10 years working directly with young people in afterschool and summer day camp settings for children ages 5-14. For seven years he also served in a leadership capacity in multiple roles with School’s Out Washington, a well-established, statewide, intermediary non-profit organization. Zach earned his B.A. in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing through the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.