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New Leaders Council

Governing Board


Eric DeSobe, President, NLC LA 2010 Fellow

Eric Desobe

Eric 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 and a Teach For America alum, 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 in 2016. He 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 Amato

Melinda Amato, a returning NLC LA Board Member, engages in activism around social justice issues - particularly educational access and immigrant rights. She serves as an Assembly District Delegate for the 59th Assembly District, volunteers with Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project, and works to keep her Huntington Park neighborhood a safe place for immigrants and their allies. She is President of the newly formed USC College Democrats Alumni Club and works to engage alumni across the country in democratic causes and campaigns.

She previously worked at the Children's Burn Foundation helping child burn survivors from around the globe access life saving resources. Before that she was a Trainer and Organizer at NationBuilder where she helped NationBuilder's customers harness the power of the internet to further their causes and movements.

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 looks forward to continue 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, Advisory Board Member, NLC LA 2014 Fellow


Tamika Butler serves as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a non-profit organization that addresses social and racial equity, and wellness, by building parks and gardens in park-poor communities across Greater Los Angeles.

Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. Recently she was the Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Prior to leading LACBC, Tamika was the Director
of Social Change Strategies at Liberty Hill Foundation, and worked at Young Invincibles as the California Director. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center.

Tamika previously served as the co-chair of the National Center for Lesbian Rights Board of Directors, serves as the Institute Co-Director of the New Leaders Council - Los Angeles, is a board member of both Lambda Literary Foundation and T.R.U.S.T. South LA, and is an advisory board member for the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports program.

Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.


Marisa Ramirez, Advisory 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 brings to the NLC Board policymaking, project management, and community organizing experience, all gained from a fierce dedication to turning progressive talk into meaningful action.

As a senior campaign and advocacy specialist with AARP California, he is fighting in the trenches to defend the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, and other vital health protections for older adults, people with disabilities, and their families. As part of AARP’s Livability Community work, David manages campaigns in Los Angeles County—most recently, AARP’s full-scale support campaign for Measure M in November 2016—that educate and motivate residents to reconsider their “cities of cars” and make our streets, sidewalks, transit options, and public spaces more age and ability-friendly.

Prior to AARP, he spent four years in the public sector, with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the City of Los Angeles, and Metro. At LAUSD, he managed a critical modernization project for the country’s largest student information system, shepherded a districtwide initiative expanding access to computer science education, and organized parent/school leader coalitions to secure millions of dollars in long-overdue classroom technology, school renovation, and ADA-accessibility upgrades. While obtaining his graduate degree in public administration, he spent time deep in the bureaucratic weeds in the LA’s City Administrative Office, and Metro’s Inspector General Office, gaining invaluable budget and oversight experience.

Active and passionate about improving the quality of life in his Pasadena community, David serves on the steering committee of the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, and in July 2017, was appointed to serve as his council district’s representative on the city’s Accessibility and Disability Commission.


Aixle AmanAdvisory Board MemberNLC LA 2013 Fellow

Aixle Aman

Aixle Aman currently works at the Los Angeles Unified School District as the Chief of Staff for L.A. Unified Board President 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.

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 a private independent school on the West side of Los Angeles. 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 recently received her doctorate in educational leadership for social justice at Loyola Marymount University. Her dissertation focused on two L.A. Unified schools and the impact of their community schools strategy on student learning and school effectiveness. She finds pleasure in being physically active, watching Netflix, and having meaningful conversations over a soy chai tea latte.


Neil SpearsAdvisory 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, Advisory Board Member, NLC LA 2011 Fellow 

Jaya Bhumitra

Jaya Bhumitra has 10 years of campaigns, public affairs, and public relations experience in both the private and nonprofit sectors. She earned bachelor’s degrees in international business and marketing from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in psychology from Pepperdine University.

Jaya currently serves as International Director of Corporate Outreach for Animal Equality, overseeing teams in Mexico, Brazil, Italy, Spain, India, Germany, the UK, and the U.S. working to effect policy changes that reduce the suffering of animals raised and killed for food. Previously, she served as Director of Corporate Outreach for Mercy For Animals and Campaigns Director for Compassion Over Killing.

Jaya also serves on the board of Food Empowerment Project, a national nonprofit seeking to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices, and the advisory council of Encompass, an organization seeking to increase effectiveness in the animal protection movement by fostering greater racial diversity, equity, and inclusion while empowering advocates of color.

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. She is also developing her own work, a bold and spirited handbook on feminism in the workplace.


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 Director of Strategic Projects and Partnerships at Represent.Us, a grassroots anti-corruption organization that brings together Americans from across the political spectrum to pass anti-corruption laws. Before joining Represent.Us, Nora focused on food and agriculture policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and as the Director of Special Projects for journalist Mark Bittman, in addition to positions at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, PolicyLink, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Nora received dual Master's degrees in City and Regional Planning and Public Health from UC Berkeley, and her B.A. in Sociology from Wesleyan University.

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 spends 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.


Conor Tucker, Board Member

Conor Tucker

Conor Tucker graduated from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in May of 2017. He is currently an associate at a law firm based in Century City.

Although new to Los Angeles, Conor has been involved in the progressive movement for most of the last decade. While abroad working on his masters degree in the U.K., Conor co-founded a charity to provide under-served students financial support for after school activities. Conor returned to the U.S. in 2012 and worked in the field for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. Conor then joined Organizing for Action as the New Jersey State Coordinator.

While in law school, Conor helped lead the campus chapter of the American Constitution Society and founded the Speakers Union to encourage free speech and debate on campus. Conor spent his last year of law school in Northwestern's Federal Criminal Appellate Clinic, where he represented two clients in their criminal appeals. Off campus, Conor served on the Associate Board of Chicago Scholars (a Chicago non-profit helping talented and ambitious students from under-resourced neighborhoods get to and through college), continued organizing, and fundraised for a political campaign.

Conor is married and has two daughters.


Rabiah Rahman, Board Member, NLC LA 2017 Fellow

Rabiah Rahman

Rabiah Rahman is a Labor and Employment Law attorney with Strauss & Strauss, APC., defending workers’ rights throughout the State of California. Rabiah is a proud Californian, raised in the Central Valley and currently lives in Ventura County. A voice for social justice since college, she revamped the UCLA Incarcerated Youth Tutorial Project, and has continued to work with incarcerated youth throughout law school and currently through Girls, Inc.

Rabiah holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA and received her law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law. While at Berkeley Law, Rabiah represented her fellow law students as the Boalt Hall Student Association Vice President, and served as the Managing Editor of the Berkeley Journal of African American Law and Policy. During law school, Rabiah represented refugees from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia who were claiming asylum in Egypt. She also worked for a human rights consulting NGO in The Netherlands, helping Baltic Nations implement international criminal law standards into their domestic prosecution of war crimes. Rabiah remains committed to using her voice to champion social justice and progressive values on the various boards she sits on locally and throughout California.

When Rabiah isn’t fighting for workers’ rights, she enjoys doing improv, hiking, going for long distance bike rides, and karaoke.


Juan Gavida, Board Member, NLC LA 2017 Fellow

Juan Gavida

Juan Gavidia is excited to join the NLC Los Angeles fellowship and plans to combine his passion for the mental health, behavioral health, and substance abuse fields with an innovative and fresh perspective. He believes that becoming a change agent starts with knowledge, understanding, self-awareness and empathy for the experiences of people from marginalized communities.

After emigrating to the U.S. from El Salvador as a child, Juan grew up dreaming of obtaining the highest levels of education and work in a career that takes advantage his natural talents. Over the past six years, Juan has worked his way up in the field of mental health from counselor to a clinical therapist. He understands that success has as much to do with his own hard work as with the sacrifice of his family, and the people that have put their heart and soul into the progressive movement. He wants to honor those that have made this country great, continue their work, and inspire the next generation to create positive change.

Juan earned his BA in Psychology from Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB), MA in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) and is currently a doctoral candidate at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles. In addition, Juan completed master’s level specialization training focusing on Applied Community Psychology (e.g., program development, program evaluation) at AULA. Over the past six years, he has provided mental health services to low-income children, families and people suffering from severe mental health conditions (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, prodromal psychosis). Furthermore, Juan hopes to advocate for access to quality mental health services for people from marginalized communities.


Lucerito Ortiz, Board Member, NLC LA 2016 Fellow 

Lucerito Ortiz

Lucerito Ortiz, daughter of immigrant parents from Guatemala and Mexico, has always been passionate about issues of educational access and equity. She currently serves as the Data and Impact Manager of Education for UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza), developing data collection and management strategies to better measure and communicate UnidosUS’s work and impact. Lucerito previously served as UnidosUS’s Escalera Manager, overseeing Escalera: Taking Steps to Success, a national college and career readiness program supporting Latino students across the country. Prior to joining UnidosUS, Lucerito was a Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard College, where she Co-Directed the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program and the Tour Guide Program. She also served as an Education Pioneers Fellow and Consultant at The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems, conducting research and analysis on leadership development and human capital strategy. Lucerito holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Studies with a minor in Psychology from Harvard College, and a master’s in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.


Clint Schaff, Board Member, NLC LA 2014 Fellow

Clint Schaff

Clint Schaff is an executive, educator and entrepreneur that builds community through marketing communications and advertising content. In 2016, Clint joined The Los Angeles Times as its VP of Strategy and Development, and is developing innovative content platforms and utilities in areas including premium branded entertainment. Prior to that, he had built and led agency teams for The Wonderful Company, GroupM, Golin, Edelman and Vision7. His work at Edelman with Activision's Call of Duty won a Grand Effie, a Gold Effie and a Gold Sabre.

Early in his career, Clint took on leadership roles within labor unions and for political campaigns, and served as a White House intern. Clint also serves as an adjunct professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

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