Circle Group Leaders

Sylvia Alvarado

URBAN ENVIRONMENT

SylviaAlvarado

Sylvia Alvarado is founder and director of Brian’s Orchard. Created in memory of her son Brian, a tireless advocate for homeless youth, Brian’s Orchard’s mission is to develop a new kind of community gardening effort while helping to alleviate hunger, teaching sustainable heirloom life/job skills, cultivating partnerships and building trust. Brian’s Orchard is intent on partnering homeless youth organizations. Their vision is to help build community by developing 4 programs launched in phases: 1. “1/2 the Harvest”: Offering private individuals free fruit trees, Teaching proper tree care, Encouraging “Half the Harvest” contributions to local food pantries, shelters and homeless teen drop-in centers. 2. “TreeKeeper Alliance”: Distributing fruit trees to clusters of shopkeepers in areas where teen runaways tend to congregate for safety and services. Partnering with local Chambers of Commerce and City Councils. Partnering with fruit gleaning organizations to stock store front bins. Providing fresh fruit within reach of homeless youth drop-in centers. 3. “Reviving Gardens”: Implementing edible garden mentoring programs and fruit tree care programs for homeless youth. 4. “Put up your Peaches”: Developing a fresh from the garden, food preservation mentoring program, teaching canning, dehydrating and on-the-go sprouting which will enable them to always have nutrient dense food available.

Richard A. Matthew

URBAN ENVIRONMENT

Richard Matthew

Richard A. Matthew (BA McGill; PhD Princeton) is a Professor at the University of California at Irvine, and founding Director of the Center for Unconventional Security Affairs (www.cusa.uci.edu). He studies the environmental dimensions of conflict and peacebuilding and has done extensive field work in conflict zones in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. His research is widely diffused beyond academic outlets to support the efforts of practitioners in the conservation and humanitarian communities. He is also a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Geneva and a senior member of the UNEP Expert Group on Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding. He has served on several UN missions, including two that he led to Sierra Leone, and he was the lead author of the UN  policy report, From Conflict to Peacebuilding: The Role of Natural resources and the Environment, and the UN technical report, Sierra Leone: Environment, Conflict and Peacebuilding Assessment. He has over 160 publications.

Jennifer Samson

URBAN ENVIRONMENT

Pic Jennifer Samson

Jennifer Samson has helped develop over 150 transit-oriented, sustainably-minded homes in Los Angeles. She is currently managing Real Estate Development for the LA River Corp, a City-chartered non-profit social enterprise dedicated to changing the course of Los Angeles through responsibly redeveloping the LA River and executing the real estate development vision of the Los Angeles River Master Plan. Jennifer pursued dual graduate degrees at USC’s Marshall School of Business and School of Policy, Planning, and Development. She attended and completed her studies as a full-tuition Consortium for Graduate Study in Management Fellow and was awarded the degrees of Master of Business Administration and Master of Real Estate Development. After graduate school, Jennifer worked as a Project Manager for Thomas Safran & Associates, an affordable housing developer specializing in tax-credit senior and family apartment communities. During her time with Thomas Safran & Associates she secured over $6M in tax credit awards and moved nearly 200 units of housing through various stages of the development process, managing $30M of development projects. She is also a LEED Accredited Professional.

Opal Singleton

EXPLOITATION

Opal Singleton

Opal Singleton is the President and CEO of Million Kids, an organization dedicated to stopping human trafficking in the U.S. and around the world.  She has created a specialized program called “The Love Trap” to educate School Administrators, Parents and Students about child sex trafficking and how the recruitment is taking place in schools, the internet and public places throughout the U.S.  Opal serves as the Training and Outreach Coordinator for the Riverside County Sheriff Anti Human Trafficking Task Force.  In that capacity Opal has trained over 15,000 government officials, civic leaders, social outreach organizations, and faith based organizations about how to recognize and assist in situations where victims may be at risk.

 Opal also serves as the Director of Development for Rapha House International a global organization that operates safe houses for exploited children in Thailand, Cambodia, Mynamar and Haiti.  In 2012 Opal served as the Acting Country Director of one of the largest safe houses for exploited children in Cambodia serving over 1000 at risk and exploited children.

Opal retired from a career of International Marketing.  It is her passion to save as many young people and their families from a life of heartache that results when an innocent child or young person is unsuspectingly exploited by perpetrators of human trafficking.  Human Trafficking is often a crime of psychology.  Education is the key to prevention.  That is the work of Opal Singleton and Million Kids.

Dr. Barbara Hernandez

EXPLOITATION

Barbara Hernandez

Dr. Hernandez currently serves as the Vice President of Community Based Services for Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; earned a Doctor of Psychology from Ryokan College; and has been working with minors in the child welfare system for more than 15 years, ten of which are in administration. Early in her career, Dr. Hernandez worked as a Foster Care Administrator for various agencies, in which she managed 50 to 300 children in out-of-home care placement and in more than 100 foster homes throughout Los Angeles County. In her current role, Dr. Hernandez and her team are at the forefront in providing a variety of intensive therapeutic services to children in residential and group home aftercare programming.  Services include day rehabilitation, drug and mental health treatment to children placed by the Los Angeles County Department of Probation, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement.  One of the most recognized Crittenton programs that Dr. Hernandez is currently heading is that of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC).  Her knowledge of attachment, trauma and the CSEC population have led her team to provide the most comprehensive services available in Southern California to minor victims of human trafficking. In addition, Dr. Hernandez currently serves on the California Statewide Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Action Group where she provides insight on the need for comprehensive mental health services with an emphasis on treating complex traumas.

Jodi Wing

BULLYING & MISREPRESENTATION

JodiWing

Jodi Wing is a former New Yorker and strategic marketing consultant who relocated to Los Angeles ten years ago. Jodi’s debut novel, The Art of Social War (HarperCollins) is based on the Art of War by Sun Tzu and is a satire about Very Bad Behavior and Social Warfare, two subjects on which she has become quite expert. The novel’s content resonated with readers in a decidedly non-fictional manner (employing the Art of War as a successful life strategy), and she is currently working on her second book, a field-guide for girls and women entitled The Art of Peace: Prepare to Triumph & Become Invincible! This second book focuses on developing the strategic and critical thinking skills needed to overcome Very Bad Behavior and Social Crime. To activate this philosophy, three years ago Jodi created and piloted ‘The Art of Peace Club,’ within LAUSD/LA’s BEST after-school enrichment program.  The mission of the Art of Peace Club is to help girls develop solution-based, winning life strategies for managing social conflict and competition through the prism of “The Art of War”. The results to date have been impressive, and have garnered Jodi and her work the attention of various media outlets, Parents’ Leagues, and the TED Youth committee, where she was honored to speak about The Art of Peace doctrine at their September 2011 conference in Santa Monica. CA.

Leila Steinberg

BULLYING & MISREPRESENTATION

Leila Steinberg

Leila Steinberg is an educator, writer, poet, singer, dancer and manager. Steinberg grew up in Watts and is herself an artist who once performed with world music greats OJ Ekemode and the Nigerian Allstars. She is the founder of Assemblies in Motion, a Los Angeles-based non-profit dedicated to helping at-risk youth find their voice using the arts and athletics. AIM is a collection of hip-hop artists who perform at socially minded assemblies for high schools, detention centers and foster homes. While conducting poetry workshops in Northern California, she met Tupac Shakur and he became a regular participant in her class. She started working with Tupac in 1989 and was his first manager. Their collaboration influenced the development of “The Microphone Sessions”, a weekly workshop where young musicians and hip-hop artists write and perform new material, get feedback and launch discussions about pressing issues in their lives and in their communities.

Hasmik Arakelyan

BULLYING & MISREPRESENTATION

HasmikArakely

My name is Hasmik Arakelyan, I am from Armenia, Yerevan. I have my BA in International Journalism and my MA in Communication from Yerevan State University. After moving to US I have earned my MA in Psychology at Pepperdine University and JD (Law Degree). I am also a Ph.D candidate in Psychology. I was the producer, creator and the host of a Radioshow dedicated to discussing various psychological topics from intimacy to self empowerment and self actualization. I am a member of PSI CHI the National Honor society in psychology and in 2012 was honored by WILA (Women’s International Leadership Association) as a Woman of Outstanding Leadership. My area of interests are Diversity issues, Human Rights, LGBT rights, Women’s Rights, Women’s Empowerment issues. I have been a volunteer, speaker/educator in various workshops. Some of the topics were women’s empowerment, teenagers and parents relationships, Young LGBT issues, Elimination of Bias and homophobia, Proposition 8 and Legalization of Gay marriage, Therapeutic relationship and gay client, Women sexuality and sexual fluidity, Psychological Androgyny and Fulfilling Intimate relationships (straight, as well as gay and Lesbian) and much more.

Lydia Grant

BULLYING & MISREPRESENTATION

Pic Lydia Grant

Lydia Grant has been active on land use and educational issues citywide, countywide, and even statewide.  Lydia has fought for safety issues, including bullying, to create safer school campuses and has worked to organize communities and to empower them with information and training on how to advocate on behalf of their children and their schools.  Lydia has worked to change LA Municipal Code 45.04 so children are no longer being pushed out of our local schools for truancy tickets which has also changed LAUSD’s policy on how they handle truancy.  Lydia has helped parents work to improve relationships with their schools locally and at the district level.  Lydia is one of the few community members in the City knowledgeable on addressing land use issues in relation to the schools when it comes to student safety including working with the LAUSD Office of Environmental Health Services to make sure our children are protected before projects are approved.  This includes safe routes to school, air quality, haul routes, noise to name a few.

Njambi Gibson

HEALTH & WELLBEING

NjambiGibson

Njambi Gibson (Brocollete) is a young entrepreneur whose mission is to educate, inspire and empower women to live cleaner, healthier lives.  She holds workshops, does independent and group consultations, provides online resources and partners with artists to spread her message.

Njambi is an LA native with a B.S. from the University of Southern California in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  She helped grow Revolution Foods, the largest provider of healthy meals for schools in the country.  Njambi has taught wellness and nutrition both privately and to groups for a number of years.  After earning her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, she was impassioned to build a lifestyle brand that uplifts women and enables them to make healthy decisions.

Sandi Cook

HEALTH & WELLBEING

Pic Sandi Cook

Sandi serves as Program Manager for Black Women for Wellness’ Sisters with Options Outreach and Education Program and as a Covered California Certified Educator. Since June 2013, Sandi has engaged with community members, leaders and advocates who are committed to increasing the African American and Black community access to health care by raising public awareness about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sandi’s career is highlighted by her personal commitment to community service and empowering others to lead. She currently participates on the advisory board for Medi-Cure Health Services, Inc. Prior to joining the Black Women for Wellness team, Sandi served as Southern California Regional Field Director for Organizing for America (OFA), President Obama’s Grassroots Field Team and a project of the DNC. During her time with OFA she advocated for health care, education, immigration and energy reform. Sandi continues her commitment to these important issues.

Sande Hart

CREATIVE EXPRESSION & EMOTIONAL SAFETY

Sande Hart

Sande Hart is the Founder and President of SARAH (Spiritual And Religious Alliance for Hope), created in an effort to bring together the women of her community to dialogue in a safe environment. With an Advisory Council of 12 women and more than 400 members world wide, SARAH is focused on community building and women’s empowerment. Ms. Hart is also the Chief Compassion Officer for the California State of Compassion initiative, Chair for the North American region of the United Religions Initiative, Co-founder of I Am Jerusalem, Board member of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Ethics, and the Central OC Interfaith Council. Sande is the recipient of the Orange County Human Relations Commissions Annual Community Leadership

Award, the BaHai Community’s Model of Unity Award and the Newport/Mesa Interfaith Council Community Builder Award, The Southern California Committee for the Parliament of the World’s

Religion’s Community Builder Award, Peace X Peace Women Power and Peace Award, and the Bowe’s Award Sande is also the author of Make a Difference 101, Community Service; A Practical Step-by- Step Guide for Kids and speaks to teens about realizing their personal power and impact on their community. Sande is also a speaker, event programmer and workshop facilitator.

Taryn Hipwell

CREATIVE EXPRESSION & EMOTIONAL SAFETY

Taryn Hipwell

Taryn Hipwell is from Pittsburgh. She studied Fashion Design and Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and screenwriting through the UCLA Extension Program. She has worked for designer Anna Sui in New York and styled films and celebrities, while assisting Writer, Director, Producer David Zucker in Los Angeles.

Taryn is an enthusiastic and empowering Writer, Producer, and Speaker. She is committed to creating fun, authentic, and bold shows that shatters stereotypes, shifts perceptions, and change lives. CEO of EcoDivas LLC. She promotes Eco Fashion, social responsibility, and getting in touch with your “Inner Nerd”. Taryn wrote, directed, and produced PSAs for Warner Bros. about what they do as a company to be green. She began teaching Recycled Fashion at Hollywood Media Arts to inspire and transform at-risk and homeless young adults. Presently she teaches Sustainable Fashion at FIDM. She created a recycled fashion exchange camp called Designers Make a Difference to connect “Sister Cities” Los Angeles, California and Lusaka, Zambia. Taryn has been recognized as a Los Angeles Business Journal – Women Making a Difference Awards Nominee 2012 & 2013.

Eric V. Ibarra

EMOTIONAL SAFETY & CREATIVE EXPRESSION

Eric Ibarra

Founded in 2010 by Los Angeles-based photographer Eric Ibarra, the Las Fotos Project has expanded from a photography project into an a community mapping and empowerment project for Latina youth. Las Fotos Project students are girls between the ages of 12-17, from low to middle-income households in high-Latino populated communities, who do not have access to photography equipment or art-based programs. By working with local partners and offering workshops and exhibitions, the Las Fotos Project gives the students an opportunity to use photography as a vehicle for self-expression, building confidence and self-esteem. A self-taught artist, Ibarra’s inspiration behind Las Fotos came from both his time volunteering locally in a Los Angeles based non-profit agency and teaching 5 orphan girls about photography and creative writing in Guanajuato, Mexico as part of an international project.

Holly Mosher

CREATIVE EXPRESSION & EMOTIONAL SAFETY

HollyMosher

Holly Mosher, aka Filmmaker For Change, is an award winning filmmaker and honors graduate from NYU.  She produced commercials and features before deciding to work exclusively on projects inspiring positive change.  In 2001, The Hollywood Reporter recognized her as an up-and-coming indie producer.  In 2004 Holly had her directorial debut with the award-winning Hummingbird, an emotionally compelling, award-winning documentary about two non-profits in Brazil that work with street children and women who suffer domestic violence.   She then produced two films on the healthcare industry – Money Talks: Profits Before Patient Safety and Side Effects, starring Katherine Heigl.  She co-produced Maybe Baby, about single women trying to get pregnant.  She executive produced Vanishing of the Bees, narrated by Ellen Page andFree For All, about election issues.  She is currently executive producing Pay 2 Play, a film about the influence of money in politics. Her latest directorial project Bonsai People – The Vision of Muhammad Yunus, which follows the work of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Muhammad Yunus from microcredit to social business aired on American Public Television.

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