Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Recommend us on Google+ Watch us on YouTube Join us on LinkedIn NLC on Reddit
New Leaders Council

Governing Board


Eric DeSobe, President, NLC LA 2010 Fellow

Eric DesobeEric DeSobe currently works Director of Talent at Great Public Schools Now. In his role he supports initiatives that foster improved teacher retention and teacher training. Prior to that Eric was Associate Director for Teaching and Leadership Development for KIPP LA Schools, a network of free, public charter elementary and middle schools in Los Angeles. A former fourth and fifth grade teacher in Compton Unified School District DeSobe now recruits and trains teachers for KIPP while also working closely with Teach For America, a program he completed in 2003. He’s incredibly proud to be involved with several of the highest performing schools in the state serving students in communities that traditionally send low numbers of kids to and through college.

A 2010 New Leaders Council Los Angeles Fellow DeSobe used his NLC training to successfully run for political office that year. He recently completed his second and final term as President of the Del Rey Neighborhood Council. During his tenure DeSobe helped launch several lasting programs including the Del Rey Cup soccer tournament for teen youth, the Del Rey Farmer’s Market, and the Del Rey Community Jazz Band.

DeSobe served as NLC LA Co-Director from 2011-2013 and looks forward to continuing his role managing the NLC LA Governing Board. Originally from Houston DeSobe has a deep passion for progressive rock music and Smoothie King.

Melinda Amato, Vice President

Melinda AmatoMelinda Amato, a returning NLC LA Board Member, is a Training Organizer at NationBuilder where she helps people learn how to best support NationBuilder's customers harness the power of the internet to further their causes. Ever since middle school she has been passionate about helping others obtain equal access to quality education. While at USC, where she majored in Political Science and Sociology, she organized students and parents in the fight for quality education through Chicanos for Progressive Education, The Joint Educational Project, and Teach for Los Angeles.

She spent a semester studying abroad in Chile during the national student education reform movement, where she witnessed the power of social media in movement building. Melinda is an advisory board member of LAtinas where she works with local young latinas to help them achieve a rewarding career of public service. She is looking forward to working with NLC to help progressive leaders best organize their communities.

When she isn't empowering leaders she enjoys cooking and sharing her recipes.

Tamika Butler, Honorary Board Member, NLC LA 2014 Fellow


Tamika Butler is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, a nonprofit organization with over 1,500 members that engages cyclists through advocacy, education and outreach across the county. LACBC builds a better, more bike-able Los Angeles by bringing diverse communities together to improve the bicycling environment and quality of life for the whole county.

Prior to leading LACBC Tamika was the Director of Social Change Strategies at Liberty Hill Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s boys and men of color program and the foundation’s LGBTQ grant strategy.

Before Liberty Hill, Tamika worked at Young Invincibles as the California Director. As the CA Director, she was responsible for the development of all of Young Invincibles’ programs in California. Tamika was responsible for building out Young Invincibles’ operations on the West Coast and grew the office to the largest regional office outside of their DC headquarters. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.

She received her J.D. in 2009 from Stanford Law School, and in 2006 received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Tamika currently serves as the co-chair of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Board of Directors and is also an advisory board member for the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports program.

Marisa Ramirez, Honorary Board Member, NLC LA 2014 Fellow

Marisa Ramirez

Marisa Ramirez is a proud Southern Californian growing up in the South Bay area of Los Angeles and Redlands, CA. She is excited to be the founding Site Director for College Track Watts, College Track’s eighth location nationally. College Track is a national nonprofit whose mission is to empower students from underserved communities to graduate from college. Marisa began at College Track in 2014 as the founding Student Life Director for the College Track team in Boyle Heights. In this role she was the Student Life PLC leader and developed robust Student Life programming at the Boyle Heights site.

Prior to joining College Track, Marisa was a founding member of the KIPP Through College team for KIPP LA Schools where she was instrumental in shaping the vision of the program to ensure KIPP alumni were successful in going to and through college. Through her work in advising KIPP alumni through the college application process and supporting KIPP alumni in college she was able to ensure that over 75% of KIPP LA middle school graduates continued to persist in college. 

Her passion for service and social justice was inspired by her Jesuit education at Boston College where she studied Sociology and Latin American Studies. It was through tutoring and mentoring Boston area high school students, and reflecting on her own educational experience that lead to her interest in working to eradicate inequity in historically marginalized communities. After graduating, Marisa joined Teach for America where she spent two years teaching 7th and 8th grade Language Arts in Phoenix, AZ while pursuing her Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Arizona State University. After TFA, Marisa worked for the Talented and Gifted Latino Youth program at UMass-Boston as a counselor and teacher, and served as Residential Advisor for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth summer program in Santa Cruz, CA.

Outside of work, Marisa is a member of the New Leaders Council (NLC) Governing Board. NLC is a national organization committed to supporting the next generation of progressive leaders. She was a fellow of the program in 2014 and served as the Instituted Co-Director in 2015. Marisa also loves to practice Muy Thai kick-boxing and traditional Western boxing to stay active, she loves to read, travel, and try new restaurants.

David Azevedo, Vice President of Special Projects, NLC LA 2014 Fellow

David Azevedo

A native Californian, with roots in the Central Valley and Los Angeles, David Azevedo (NLC Fellow ’14) is very excited to join NLC’s 2015 Governing Board.

David brings to the board five years of progressive public service experience in education and local government. With a career focus in energizing the relationship between people and their government, he has served in community organizing, constituent advocacy, policymaking, and policy-implementing roles.

David Azevedo knew he was a progressive after a week spent working alongside farmworker rights’ legend Dolores Huerta. He was inspired by her ability to empower and give voice to the voiceless, her pragmatic approach to political change, and her unshakeable commitment to “bettering her own backyard”.

With this orientation, David has worked on several quality of life issues around Los Angeles, from increasing funding for marginalized public schools to expanding access to computer science education for high school students. He has in-the-weeds budget and oversight experience at the City of Los Angeles and Metro. On the political side, he has managed a mayoral campaign in Pasadena, and is an active member of the Los Angeles County Young Democrats. He recently joined Los Angeles Unified’s Information Technology division to serve as a project manager, working to modernize the school district’s ability to maintain student data records in critical areas like attendance, grades, and special education.

David holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and a B.A. from Loyola Marymount University. He lives in Pasadena with his girlfriend and cocker spaniel, Fiona. He is an avid cyclist, swimmer, vinyl collector, and real estate novelist.

Joel Frost-Tift, Board Member, NLC LA 2013 Fellow

Joel Frost-Tift

Joel Frost-Tift is a public interest lawyer who just finished up a fellowship with UNESCO's Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs in Paris and is looking forward to jumping into progressive legal work in LA. He is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California Law School and received his Bachelor’s degree in Government and History at Cornell University.

At USC Law Joel was a member of the International Human Rights Clinic where he did research for international criminal courts and helped human trafficking victims obtain visas. He was also a scholar at the Saks Institute of Law, Mental Law Policy and Ethics where he published a paper advocating for more specialized courts for juveniles with mental illness.

In his spare time Joel is a competitive marathon and ultramarathon runner. He enjoys climbing mountains and trying delicious vegan food.


Charlie Gillig, Board Member, NLC San Diego 2013 Fellow

Charlie Gillig

Charlie Gillig is Co-Founder and CEO of RemitRight, a comparison platform for international money transfers. Previously he was a Skadden Fellow in San Diego, where he founded and directed a legal services clinic for indigent immigrant victims of human and civil rights abuses.

Outside of RemitRight, Charlie is a Commissioner on the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission and serves on the Boards of Directors of several non-profits. He also writes for the Economic Intelligence Unit on politics and economics in Africa and recently acted as a NGO legal observer to the Military Commission Hearings at Guantanamo Bay. 

A Los Angeles native, he is a proud graduate of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and Georgetown University Law Center, where he received the Jeffrey Crandall Award for commitment to legal aid. Prior to graduate school, he served in the United States Peace Corps in Togo, West Africa.


Aixle AmanHonorary Board MemberNLC LA 2013 Fellow

Aixle Aman

Aixle Aman currently works at the Los Angeles Unified School District as the Chief of Staff for newly elected Board Member Ref Rodriguez. Aixle (pronounced ACE-EL) personally acts as a liaison between Board Member Rodriguez and schools in the Northeast and Southeast cities of Los Angeles.  She previously worked with Board Member Tamar Galatzan’s office for almost three years.

Aixle started her career in education in 2006, as a third and fifth grade teacher at a public school in Brooklyn through Teach For America. In 2008, she returned to California to teach middle school math and English at the Westside Neighborhood School, a private/independent school. After witnessing the differences in the resources, supports, and parent engagement at each school, Aixle began to question the policies and systemic issues that served as the root causes of these inequities.

She ultimately left the classroom to pursue her Master of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.  During her graduate experience, she analyzed how a high school career academy's goals aligned with those of the City of Oakland, the Oakland Unified School District, and the California Endowment. Her experience serving as a Graduate Student Instructor for Professor Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, deepened her understanding of some of the political and public policy debates around the distribution of wealth and opportunity in the U.S.

Aixle has a B.A. in Political Science from UC San Diego and a Master of Science in Teaching from Pace University in New York City.  She is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership for social justice at Loyola Marymount University and is researching the impact of “community schools” in Los Angeles. She finds pleasure in being physically active, watching Netflix, and having meaningful conversations over a healthy meal or a soy chai tea latte.

Neil SpearsHonorary Board MemberNLC LA 2013 Fellow

Neil Spears

Neil Spears is the Executive Director of CFY in Los Angeles, a national education nonprofit that helps students, teachers, and families in low- income communities harness the power of digital learning to improve educational outcomes. Neil helped guide CFY-Los Angeles during a period of transformative growth sparked by a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant.

Prior to CFY, Neil was a sixth grade teacher and Teach For America corps member at El Sereno Middle School in east Los Angeles. As a teacher, Neil was struck by the unequal education students receive based on where they live and he has since dedicated his career to ensuring that all students receive high-quality educations so they can succeed in school, college, and life. In addition to teaching English and social studies, Neil also took his students to overnight science camp, he played percussion in the school's faculty band, and he helped launch CFY's partnership with the school (the organization's first partner school in Southern California).

Neil is active in the Jewish community and is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Schusterman Fellowship, a highly selective executive leadership training program. He is on the board of JQ International, a nonprofit that promotes community and provides services for LGBTQ Jews and our allies. Neil previously served as a fellow and board member of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life. 

Neil holds an Ed.M. in education policy and management from Harvard University and a B.S. in psychology with a minor in political science from the University of California, San Diego. While at Harvard, Neil won the annual case competition held by the Public Education Leadership Project. Neil also maintains a multiple subject California teaching credential. Neil grew up in San Bernardino, California and enjoys riding his road bike along the Pacific Ocean.

Jaya Bhumitra, Honorary Board Member, NLC LA 2011 Fellow 


Jaya Bhumitra is the International Director of Corporate Outreach for Animal Equality, an international animal protection organization. She oversees a team of nine people in five countries working to effect meaningful policy changes for animals raised and killed for food. She also serves on the board of Food Empowerment Project and participates as a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council's Good Food Purchasing Program working group. In addition, Jaya is the editor of Persimmon Takes on Humanity, the acclaimed first novel in The Enlightenment Adventures trilogy authored by Christopher Locke, her partner in life and advocacy. Jaya lives in Los Angeles and enjoys dancing, cooking, and traveling.


Chris Alves, Board Member, NLC LA 2016 Fellow


Chris Alves is co-founder of WeAreGiants, a creative agency born in 2009 and based in Downtown Los Angeles. WeAreGiants’ highest priority is to identify the essence of a brand and to expose it in a clever, effective, and comprehendible way, and they do so by working with companies who are interested in brand building, digital marketing, and killer websites. While wearing the many hats required to run a small creative shop, Chris heads up creative strategy, general operations, and client relations at WeAreGiants. The team keeps things fun with jumping hi-fives, weekly BBQs, and ping-pong pick-ups.

Chris has worked with a range of reputable businesses such as Red Bull, Sidecar, Umami Burger as well as more civically-minded projects like the community outreach campaign for the L.A. Streetcar, marketing engagements for Jose Huizar’s Bringing Back Broadway, Pershing Square Renew, and the Los Angeles Public Library. Prior to founding WeAreGiants, Chris graduated from the Art Institute of Los Angeles in 2003 and was an art director at TBWA Chiat/Day with a focus on print, branding, and strategy. In that role he worked with many highly regarded clients like Nissan, Infiniti, Lucky Brand Jeans, and Playstation.

Chris has a deep love for community building and playing dodgeball so in 2008, he fused the two when he co-founded The Eagle Rock Yacht Club. ERYC is a non-profit adult dodgeball league with chapters in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Detroit. Through dodgeball, The Yacht Club hopes to inspire its members to pursue the common good via civic service, relationships with rec centers, and our youth.

Nora Gilbert, Board Member, NLC LA 2016 Fellow


Nora Gilbert is the Food System Policy Researcher for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit science advocacy organization. In addition to her role at UCS, she currently coordinates special projects for former New York Times columnist, Mark Bittman. Most recently, Nora served as the researcher for California Matters, a short film series for the New York Times highlighting innovative food and agriculture research across the state. During graduate school at UC Berkeley, she worked at the Berkeley Food Institute in addition to holding positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she worked on President Obama’s Promise Zones Initiative, and at PolicyLink, where she worked on healthy food access projects. Prior to graduate school, Nora worked at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she coordinated healthy food access programming and evaluation in various food retail settings across the city.

Nora received dual Master's degrees in Public Health and City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley, with a specialty in Public Health Nutrition. She earned her B.A. in Sociology from Wesleyan University in 2010. Nora is a native Angeleno and is excited to spend her free time exploring LA after too many years (and winters) away.

David Radcliff, Board Member, NLC LA 2016 Fellow


A native of Omaha, Nebraska, David Radcliff holds a B.A. from USC and an M.F.A. from UCLA. Born with cerebral palsy, he seeks to illuminate disability as an often overlooked or undervalued aspect of diversity in popular culture and in professional life. He has spoken on subjects concerning disability, diversity, and inclusion for audiences at the Kennedy Center, AFI SilverDocs, the Annenberg Innovation Lab, and the Writers Guild of America, among others.

David is a member of the Committee for Writers with Disabilities at the Writers Guild of America, West, where he joins in efforts to promote and celebrate diversity in film and television. For three years, he served as Production Coordinator for the Media Access Awards, a multi-guild industry event recognizing authentic and powerful depictions of disability in media. He is also an expert judge for the Sentinel Awards, a yearly program of the Norman Lear Center that honors innovative and accurate depictions of health, science, and climate change topics.

In addition to teaching writing to students ranging in age from 6 to 68, David has developed creative work and copy for a wide variety of businesses and causes, including the Walt Disney Company, Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles, the It’s Our Story Initiative, and the Milken Foundation’s Celebration of Science. He also proudly volunteers with Reading to Kids and with Minds Matter of Los Angeles.

David has been a finalist for the Disney Writing Program and for the Sundance Episodic Story Lab. He received the Lloyd Greif Entrepreneurial Prize at USC, the George Burns & Gracie Allen Writing Fellowship at UCLA, and top honors at the Austin Film Festival.

Atlanta - Augusta - Boston - Broward - Capital District NY - Chicago - Cincinnati - Cleveland - Connecticut - Des Moines
Detroit - Houston - Jacksonville - Kentucky - Los Angeles - Louisiana - Madison - Maine - Maryland - Miami - Montana - Nashville - New Jersey - New York City
North Carolina - Oakland - Omaha - Orange County - Orlando - Palm Beach - Philadelphia - Pittsburgh - Rhode Island - Sacramento - San Francisco - Silicon Valley