ENCOMPASS 2021
SPEAKER BIOS

Aaron Greene
Assistant Professor of Architecture, California Baptist University

Aaron S. W. Greene has approximately seventeen years of experience in the field of Architecture. His primary interests are concerned with the ability of design to improve the quality of life for its end-users through proper integration of innovative technology, appropriate material manipulation, and planned adaptability. Aaron’s past experiences have allowed him to engage in the design, documentation, and contract administration of a plethora of building typologies in the areas of retail, healthcare, hospitality, residential, cultural, faith-based, and educational institutions, as well as master planning. He has been fully engaged in all aspects of the design processes, but is usually requested for matters of conceptual design, programming, and contract administration. Along with his growing experience and achievements in the field of architecture, Aaron has produced high quality graphic design in the form of branding concepts, multi-media productions, and various promotional elements. He deeply believes in the power of design and its ability to have a positive impact on people and culture and vice-versa. To that end, he is fully immersed in teaching and designing in a manner that encourages and engages empathy, equity, experimentation, exploration, research, and excellence in physical manifestation. Aaron currently serves in the capacity of an Assistant Professor of Architecture in the College of Architecture Visual Arts and Design at California Baptist University (CBU), the Faculty Adviser for CBU’s NOMAS (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students) organization, and as a board Member of the Katie Hall Educational Foundation.

 

Anthony Jolly
Owner, Hot + Cool Cafe

Currently, Anthony owns Hot & Cool Café in Leimert Park, Los Angeles and Hot & Cool North in Woodland Hills, CA. Through Hot and Cool (HC) Café, Anthony uses the retail outlet as a community hub offering a venue for the community to engage in issues impacting their daily lives. HC customers utilize the venue to share their music, tackle social justice issues, and discuss ways to improve their quality of life. Anthony has been instrumental oftentimes serving as the “tie that binds”. He and HC have been recognized by Governor Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Jolly worked hard to have Hot and Cool serve as a 2020 voting location. When COVID-19 impacted his community, Anthony joined forces with world-renowned chef, Jose Andres’ World Kitchen program. He turned Hot and Cool into a community kitchen providing thousands of meals to senior citizens and those negatively economically impacted by COVID-19. Anthony is always looking for ways to better his community. One such challenge he tackled head-on was food inequalities. Jolly knew that through Hot and Cool he could change the way the community thought about food and provide healthy food options. He changed his menu offering a Vegan-focused diet. He created innovative vegan food options that the community has lauded. Anthony is the pulse of his community and Hot and Cool is the local mecca highlighting the best of LA.

 

Brandon “Stix” Salaam-Bailey
Founder, THINKWATTS FOUNDATION

THINKWATTS FOUNDATION is a 501c3 organization founded by Brandon “Stix” Salaam-Bailey, with a primary focus on community grassroots activations along with developing financial literacy programs, custom container housing solutions, and charitable fundraising through entertainment industry efforts. Born and raised in Watts, California, Stix has worked his way to become a rapper, record producer, songwriter, and entrepreneur over the last 16 years. However, his involvement with music is a jumping off point to his advocacy to giving back to his community through his THINK WATTS Foundation. As a staple in the community, Stix has formed deep rooted community relationships building bridges from the community to some of its professional residents such as LAFC, LA Clippers, and the LA Rams.

 

Carmen Suero
Principal, Good Project Company

Carmen Suero is a Principal at Good Project Company with over 20 years of expansive experience in the industry. Having worked for award-winning architecture firms, local and national construction firms, boutique interior design offices and provided client representation on multi-stakeholder projects allows Carmen to uniquely guide projects from a broad knowledge base. With a focus on Southern California, Carmen has been involved with projects across various sectors that include rail and aviation projects for MTA and LAWA, civic projects for the City of Long Beach and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, as well as residential projects. Carmen holds active membership in the local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), where she is currently leading the Latinx in Architecture (LiA) task force. In addition to her experience in practice, Carmen is currently building upon her Master’s in Research and Design from Southern California Institute of Architecture by pursuing a Doctor of Education degree at Southern California University with a focus on processes of practice within architecture and their relationships to issues of representation in the industry.

 

Demar Matthews
Founder/Principal, OffTOP Design

Demar Matthews is a Los Angeles based architectural designer, and founder/ Principal of OffTop Design. Born in Moreno Valley, CA, Demar received his Bachelor’s from HBCU Lincoln University in PA, and completed his Master’s of architecture at Woodbury University, where he was awarded the Graduate Thesis Prize for his project Black Architecture: Unearth-ing the Black Aesthetic. His introduction to the field was through his article “A Black Architecture Education Experience” on Archinect.
Demar believes architecture and good design should not only be for the privileged. Every community deserves to be proud of the built environment around them, and the built environment around them should be based on the cultures of the people who live there; regardless of income, race and gender.

 

Genelle Brooks-Petty
Principal Interior Designer, BPC Interior Design

Genelle Brooks-Petty is the principal designer of BPC Interior Design, a Los Angeles-based design firm servicing contract and residential clients. After years in the fashion industry her clients in that realm pushed her into interior design. While studying interior architecture at UCLA, she honed skills under a famed designer, and serviced residential and boutique scale commercial clients of her own, developing a unique perspective. Her work bridges gaps as she aims to foster community development through design. Genelle is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Business, and she holds a Master of Interior Architecture from the UCLA Extension/ California State Polytechnic University, Pomona joint study program. She is an associate member of AIA (American Institute of Architects), and an Executive Board member of SoCal NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects) as well as SCOPE-LA (Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education).

 

Ivory Rose Chambeshi
Community Development Program Manager/City Planner, City of Los Angeles

Ivory Rose Chambeshi is a social justice-centered urban planner and cultivator of sustainable communities. She currently serves in the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti as Program Manager for the Watts Rising Collaborative, a multimillion dollar, community-guided and cross-sectoral community development and climate resilience place-based initiative in Watts. She co-manages Watts Rising’s California Strategic Growth Council Transformative Climate Communities and HUD Choice Neighborhood Implement grants, in partnership with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. Additionally, she serves as the Mayor’s Office liaison to support implementation of the Jordan Downs Urban Village Specific Plan, a billion+ dollar, 70-acre housing, commercial and open space redevelopment initiative. She completed her undergraduate education at UC Riverside, and earned master’s degrees in urban planning and public administration from the University of Southern California. She is most proud of being ‘mommy’ to two spunky daughters and a South Central L.A. native, core identities that inspire her commitment to sustainability, barrier-breaking, and equitable opportunity for the ‘least of these’ among us.

 

Jason Foster
President and COO, Destination Crenshaw

Prior to joining Destination Crenshaw, Jason served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at River LA, the organization charged with improving and revitalizing communities adjacent to the 51-mile stretch of the LA River. Jason helped to build the non-profit organization from its inception. He developed the organization’s partnerships philosophy and spearheaded programming for River LA’s strategic partnerships. Jason worked closely with community partners, corporate representatives, and residents to grow the civic pride and social responsibility surrounding the LA River. Before moving to Los Angeles, Jason worked as a Project Manager for Impacct Brooklyn (previously Pratt Area Community Council) in Brooklyn, New York. He managed multiple multi unit affordable housing projects through construction, including tenant relocations, construction project management, and property management services. Prior to construction management, Jason worked as a community organizer and was involved in campaign policy strategy and coordination. Jason holds a B.A. in Business Administration, Finance from Howard University, and is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. (Beta Chapter), a founding member of Beta Chapter Alumni Association (501(c)3) and the Beta Chapter Investment Club. Jason also holds an MBA from the Metropolitan College of New York where he focused his studies on community redevelopment and small business incubation. He currently lives in South Los Angeles with his wife and two children, who are all native to Los Angeles. Jason is proud to have grown up in Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

Kandee Lewis
CEO, Positive Results Center

Kandee Rochelle Lewis, executive director of Positive Results Center (PRC) and Founder of Black Women Leaders of Los Angeles, is a certified domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicide awareness prevention advocate, addressing trauma from a cultural and age perspective. Through training for youth and parents, facilitated events, and the creation of youth peer advocacy programs, Lewis provides tools and strategies to form and maintain healthy, productive relationships. While Lewis focused PRC’s work on Southern California’s youth, she also led PRC to create a broader support system across the Nation for youth wellness and relationship success. Through partnerships with K-12 schools, colleges, health care, law enforcement, judicial, government, community & faith-based organizations, training them to recognize and deal effectively with trauma BIPOC youth and young adult experience, developing a culture of inclusion, social justice, and equity. Lewis’ work is well recognized. The LA County Board of Supervisors named Kandee its Women of the Year in 2017. Vanguard recognized her as a Most Influential African American in Los Angeles in 2018. In 2019 she received the Champion of Peace & Non-Violence Award, the Trailblazers Award, and Community Plus Award. Other awards include the Johnnie L. Cochran Award for Youth Violence Prevention and the 2015 Woman of the Year. Kandee has trained with the National Association of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the Women of Color Network. She has been a member of the Los Angeles City Council’s Domestic Violence Roundtable and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Human Trafficking Portal. Born & raised in Los Angeles and married for 38 1/2 years, Kandee and her husband Carl have three adult children and a Pit Bull/Boxer!

 

Lance Collins
Director, Partner Energy

Lance Collins is a Director at Partner Energy with experience in sustainable design and construction practices including whole-building analysis/benchmarking, energy conservation measures, resource consumption reduction strategies, LEED certification administration, building commissioning, solar project development, and project/construction management. As a licensed architect in the state of California, a LEED Accredited Professional, a Green Globes Assessor, and a Certified Sustainable Building Advisor, Lance holds over 15 years of professional experience in the fields of sustainable design, architecture, and urban design. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). In addition to his professional experience, Mr. Collins has also been an adjunct professor at Long Beach City College and has guest lectured at the University of Southern California, Santa Monica College, California State University at Long Beach, and Mt. San Antonio College, teaching Green Building Principles and sustainable design strategies to students and industry professionals.

 

Leslie Sydnor, AIA
Director, Cumming Corporation

Leslie is a director at Cumming. Currently an owner’s rep at Hacienda La Puente School District she has over 25 years of experience in the design of education, aviation, industrial and low income housing projects. Leslie has been a member of the Design Awards committee and is on the Board Nominating Committee and the Long Range Strategic Planning Committee. She was a panel moderator at the 2019 Encompass conference on equity and diversity. Leslie was interviewed on Audrey Sato’s XXLA podcast which features LA women in architecture and was a guest interviewer on the podcast as well. Realizing the importance of representation in the profession she has served as a juror at Woodbury University, Cal Poly Pomona and USC. Leslie is one of the fewer than 500 Black women licensed architects in the U.S. She is a LEED A.P. and has a B.A. in Architecture from Yale and an M.Arch from UCLA. She believes mentorship and visibility are the keys to the diversification and future of the profession.

 

Marco Ramirez
Senior Manager, Community Development at Jordan Downs, BRIDGE Housing Corporation

Marco Ramirez is a seasoned Community Development practitioner who partners with affordable housing developers, policymakers, residents, and service providers to create supportive, inclusive residential communities. After more than 20 years in the nonprofit housing sector, Marco knows how to build and manage action-oriented coalitions and what it takes to build trust among diverse groups of people. For Marco, it’s about finding meaning in work and how well groups align under a unifying vision. Marco has worked and volunteered for a variety of nonprofit affordable housing developers as either management staff or a member of their boards of directors, including BRIDGE Housing, Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation, LINC Housing, City of Pomona Housing Department, and Northtown Housing Development Corporation. In addition to his work in housing, Marco has extensive experience in organizational development and public-sector management. He has taught university courses in Urban Studies, Public Administration, Urban Planning, and Political Science. Marco holds a doctorate in Policy, Planning, and Development from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.

 

Mark Horvath
Founder, Invisible People

Mark has more than 30 years of leadership and marketing experience and a vast knowledge of homelessness, including lived experience. As an award-winning television and multimedia producer, Mark’s original expertise was in response television. Today, Mark is known for his work in transmedia storytelling, social media, cause marketing, and content marketing. Mark is the founder of Invisible People, a unique digital storytelling organization that uses video, social media, and journalism to change the story of homelessness and gives a voice to those who are too often overlooked. He is an internationally recognized activist and ambassador for the millions of individuals and families who reside in shelters, motels, tents along the streets and under highway bridges across the country.

 

Miguel Cabral
Executive Officer, Diversity & Economic Opportunity, Los Angeles Metro

Miguel Cabral possesses 20+ years of experience in providing public agency Diversity & Inclusion, workforce development and regulatory compliance services, particularly in the areas of Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Programs, Labor Compliance, Project Labor Agreements, Local Hire/Economic Development Initiatives, and the related public agency procurement process. As the current Executive Officer, and former Deputy Executive Officer and Director within Metro’s Diversity & Economic Opportunity Department (DEOD), Miguel and his team have worked to ensure that historically underserved businesses and workers have access to the opportunities created by Metro’s significant infrastructure development program. As a Senior Project Manager in the private sector, Mr. Cabral lead similar efforts as a consultant to numerous public agencies throughout the State. Miguel is first generation LatinX, his parents having immigrated from Mexico with his older siblings. He received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and a Masters in Transportation Management from the Mineta Transporation Institute at San Jose State.

 

Mitra Memari, AIA
Partner, ZGF Architects

Born in Iran, Mitra emigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. With the last name Memari, which means architect in Farsi, one thing is clear: Mitra was born to be an architect. Through adapting to a new culture and language at a young age, she developed a passion for diversity, inclusion, and equity. In her practice and in her role as a partner, Mitra has made it her mission to create a more equitable profession that represents the communities where we live and work. Mitra’s ethics-driven approach also leverages a passion for sustainable design to create seamless, collaborative, lasting relationships across client and project teams.

 

Rene Rodriguez
Director, Egan|Simon Architecture

Rene Rodriguez, as an Associate for Abode Communities|Architecture, was responsible for the design oversight and staff management for new construction and the rehabilitation of affordable multifamily residential developments with substantial sustainable requirements. During his 19-year tenure in the studio, he successfully steered the design of over 25 affordable housing developments, all of which were subject to regulatory design standards such as Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and HUD. Having achieved the following certification levels, Seven LEED for Homes Platinum, Two LEED for Homes Gold and one LEED BD&C Gold. His work and commitment in the field of sustainable affordable housing helped propel Abode Communities, Architecture to a leading designer of Platinum LEED® for Homes in the State of California. Director of Operations for Egan Simon Architecture since 2019, he continues to push the possibilities of sustainability on the built environment with a focus in pragmatic and affordable methodologies to address a truly holistic environmental approach addressing the natural, social and economic environments. Received a Master of Architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts from The University of Puerto Rico. His studies focused on the intersection between sustainable and social architecture within the exiting urban fabric. Rene is often sought after as a technical design resource from organizations such as the Southern California Association for Nonprofit Housing, U.S. Green Building Council, U.S. Green Building Los Angeles Chapter and Enterprise Community Partners. Through these organizations, he has participated on numerous panels and workshops within to promote socially responsible architecture and the benefits of sustainable design and construction.

 

Rita Cofield
Lead Organizer, Mafundi Institute/Friends at Mafundi (FAM)

Rita was raised and currently lives in the Florence-Graham area of Southeast Los Angeles. She received her BA in Architecture and Planning from Howard University and has just recently graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master in Heritage Conservation. Since the pandemic she has been substitute teaching and consulting on issues of heritage conservation for her community. Her experience in community-based projects is supported by a moral responsibility to expose the youth in her community to preservation education, hands-on training in building conservation, and its rich history as a means to community engagement and pride. She is on the board of Trustees with the California Preservation Foundation and serves on the General Education Committee. She is usually busy with numerous theater gigs but is currently focused on leading the charge, with the help of other community stakeholders, to nominate and revive the Watts Happening Cultural Center – a beloved cultural landmark in the Watts neighborhood.

 

Tony Gonzales, AIA
Vice President, Architecture Practice Leader, West Division, HNTB

Tony Gonzales is a native Angelino, growing up in Los Angeles’s eastside. With over forty-years of professional practice he spent 20 years as President of ACG Environments, an architecture, engineering, and construction management firm serving private and public clients. As an MBE/DBE firm his public work included projects for the City and County of LA, LA Metro and LAWA, including the LA City Hall Retrofit and Restoration, the LACMTA Headquarters, a number of Metro transit stations and LAX terminals and facilities. As a DBE partner, his 50+ person firm served as a prime joint venture partner on the LA Metro North Hollywood Extension. In 2003, his firm was acquired by HNTB, a 100-year-old national engineering, architecture, and planning firm where he currently serves as Vice President and Los Angeles Architecture Studio Leader. The local and national award-winning architecture practice include aviation, sports, transit, and civic markets. Current HNTB, LA Architecture Studio projects include Allegiant Stadium for the Las Vegas Raiders, LA Metro’s Crenshaw and Eastside LRT Extensions, 6th Street Viaduct and the LAX Automated People Mover Project where he serves as Lead Architect and AOR for developer LINXS. Throughout his career he has either led or participated as both an SBE/MBE sub-consultant and a large-firm prime consultant on A/E/C procurements.

 

Vijay Sehgal, FAIA
Founding Partner, FSY Architects, Inc.

Vijay Sehgal is a California registered architect and has been involved in the profession of architecture for more than 30 years. He has extensive national and international design and construction experience in housing, educational, cultural, and arts and entertainment projects. Vijay is a consensus builder with great success in bringing complex projects to fruition from the entitlements phase through planning and the design phase. His extensive experience in project development, most importantly during the initial stages of conceptualization has brought great success on numerous projects. His ability to diagnose an existing site for its best potential use together with pragmatic and physical planning has created invaluable client and public benefit. He is expert in facilitating the process through jurisdictional agencies and interest groups, including local governing boards, commissions, neighborhood councils, user groups and the community at large. Over the past 26 years, FSY Architects, under the leadership of Vijay, has provided architectural services for affordable housing projects ranging in scope from 20 to 200 units for various populations including seniors, families, the developmentally disabled, survivors of domestic violence, at-risk youth, supportive housing for homeless individuals, mixed income housing, and housing for homeless veterans, the majority of which have been in the City of Los Angeles. FSY has designed over 5,500 units of multifamily housing, over 3,500 of which have been affordable units for various non-profit clients. Currently, Vijay is overseeing the construction of eight affordable housing projects, totaling 550 units. More than half the units, in four projects, are located in South Los Angeles; two are at Jordan Downs in Watts. Vijay received his Master of Architecture Degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

Vincent Jones
Lawyer, Inclusive Policy Advocate

Vincent Jones is an innovative connector with a passion for building dynamic communities around common purpose and finding creative solutions to advance progressive change. Currently he is Founding CEO of The Citizen Jones Companies, a collection of socially-minded businesses created with the spirit of doing good, having fun, and helping others do the same, consisting of Citizen Jones Travel, Proud Photobooth, Citizen Jones Consulting, and CTZN JNS. His career spans the worlds of philanthropy, non-profits, politics, government, communications, travel, and social entrepreneurship. Vincent served as Deputy Director of Campaigns and Senior Program Officer at Liberty Hill where he led the foundation’s work to advance equality for LGBTQ communities. In this capacity, Vincent helped California’s LGBT movement decide its next steps after voters passed Proposition 8 and created programs at Liberty Hill that helped grassroots organizations led by LGBTQ people of color to have a larger voice in that conversation. Working with The California Endowment on behalf of Liberty Hill, Vincent co-created and launched a groundbreaking campaign to improve outcomes for boys and men of color in California that contributed to the formation of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and was inclusive of all expressions of masculinity. He advocated for people affected by incarceration and HIV/AIDS as Executive Director of the Center for Health Justice, organized to pass Proposition 11 which created a citizens redistricting commission and led a youth civic engagement project for California Common Cause, and was Associate Director of the National Teen Leadership Program. He also was the LA County Field Representative for Sen. Barbara Boxer and worked in senior positions on her 2004 and 2010 campaigns as well as those of other statewide, federal, and local campaigns. Vincent believes strongly in serving on non-profit boards and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Political Education (SCOPE) where he is Co-Chair, Tides Advocacy, and Freedom for All Americans. He has also been a national Board Member of Lambda Legal, American Red Cross of Southern California and on the Swarthmore College Board of Managers. Vincent is a member of Southern California Blacks in Philanthropy, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Southern California Grantmakers, and Association of Black Foundation Executives. He has a B.A. in History from Swarthmore College, where he was a Eugene M. Lang Scholar for Social Action and honored with a Dean’s Award for his contributions to the campus community. He was a recipient of the prestigious Public Policy & International Affairs Fellowship and was a Semi-finalist for the Harry Truman Fellowship. Grantmakers for Children, Youth & Families honored Vincent with their first ever “Emerging Leader in Philanthropy” award and the Inland Valley News with their “Excellence in Philanthropy” honor. He was also recognized by the Advocate magazine as one of their 40 Leaders Under 40, honored by the National LGBTQ Task Force with their inaugural Community Excellence award, received the “Wellness for Life” award from In the Meantime Men’s group, named one of the Hot 25 Leaders to watch by Frontiers magazine and one the leaders changing the face of LGBT leadership by the City of Los Angeles, as well as included in the Out 100. Vincent lives in Los Angeles but considers himself a global citizen.

 

Wade Killefer, FAIA
Founder, KFA

Wade started KFA in 1975 and it has been his only job since he quit framing houses to attend architecture school. Wade was born in San Francisco and grew up in Washington, D.C., before receiving his B.A. in English from Stanford. He attended UCLA’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he met Barbara Flammang, his partner for 40 years; they were married in 1977 and have two adult children. Barbara and Wade received a special City Re-Builder of the year from the AIA/LA in 2004 for their work igniting adaptive reuse in DTLA: Wade was elected to the College of Fellows in 2006.