OUR TEAM

Our team and board are some of the best and brightest minds in LA all working to make change in our communities.

THE SHAREFEST STAFF

CHAD MAYER, Executive Director

Chad Mayer has years of leadership experience building community relationships, acting as a networking catalyst to mobilize citizens, the faith community, community-based organizations and businesses to get involved in community service and youth development. Chad is the founding director of Sharefest Community Development and is a selfless leader who does what it takes to make programs work. He forges ahead to solve community problems and delights in the successes of the youth who engage in Sharefest programs. His love for youth and for improving their lives and their communities, one person at a time, is inspiring. Chad’s achievements and awards are numerous. Recently, he was awarded The Daily Breeze’s People of Distinction Award in the Volunteer Category.

BETSY CHOU, Vice President, Finance and Operations

Betsy joined Sharefest November 2016 as the Accounting Manager. Her main responsibilities include keeping the financial records, human resources, operations and development support. She graduated from California State University, Long Beach with an Accounting Degree and also has a Special Education teaching credential. She is a full-time mom of three teenagers. In her spare time, she enjoys coaching her girl’s softball team, cheering on the Dodgers, reading and staying fit with friends.

GRETCHEN DOWNEY, Vice President, Programs

Gretchen Downey is a 25-year veteran in youth physical/mental/social health services. In previous roles, her program innovations were responsible for changing unprecedented longitudinal population-based behavioral health outcomes for youth in southern California. At Sharefest, Gretchen is using her holistic approach to update and create programs to guide youth to their full potential. She is passionate about engaging the community and forging partnerships between organizations, schools, government, and volunteers to maximize positive outcomes. Gretchen is also a best-selling author and speaker who has been featured in the LA Times, Parent Magazine and on Los Angeles area news. Her ultimate goal is to help people reinstate the power of their own human potential to live fulfilling, stable and joy-filled lives.

TODD DORAM,  Communications and Community Engagement

Todd graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland Oregon where he majored in Communications with an emphasis in Broadcast Journalism. He’s spent the last 5 years in Television & Film production and using those skills and connections to produce media content that allows Sharefest to convey a clear message for our mission.

KOANA LAIMANA,  Operations Specialist

Growing up within the LA School District herself, Koana knows exactly what our students at Sharefest face daily. She understands the struggles and pains of growing up in a lower-income area, the mistreatment and stereotyping that comes with that, as well as the lack of resources for youth. Koana fought to get into college and wanted to find an area that she knew other children, with similar stories, needed support in. While attending Vanguard University of Southern California she found a passion for Psychology and saw the need for mental health rise in her hometown. While working full-time in education and in the entertainment world, she was able to graduate with her B.A. in Psychology; with an emphasis in Human Development. Working for a non-profit like Sharefest has become such a fulfilling part of her life. Being able to give back to the areas that affected her as a child is her way of stopping the cycle. Outside of Sharefest Koana is still involved in dance. She teaches Polynesian Dance to others and takes pride in her indigenous culture. She is the Artistic Director of Island Inspirations, a Polynesian Dance Group that travels all over the country and teaches others about her culture. She is blessed to be in this chapter of her life surrounded by the support of her friends, chosen family and children Kawai’a’alalehuaopaliuli and Kekoa.

THOMAS VALENCIA, Director of Education

Thomas Valencia is an educational leader and life-long learner with over 20 years of teaching and administrative experience. Thomas has degrees in Psychology, Curriculum development and Education Administration with an Administrative Services credential. Thomas has served as both a classroom teacher and Principal. He believes that all students can succeed by fostering a passion for learning through creativity, collaboration, and real-world applications.

LUIS GUERRERO, Instructor-Mentor

Luis A. Guerrero is a School-Based Instructor for the College-Prep Class at the continuation high schools. Once a continuation student himself, he is passionate in helping students recognize their full potential. He holds a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Chicano/Latino Studies and History and is currently working on his Master's in Education. His hobbies are reading, exercise, and listening to various types of music.

NEIL PANTIG, Case Manager

Neil believes his purpose in life is to serve our youth and from a young age accepted this calling. Through his own personal struggles, he has forged his own path by following the beat of his own drum. Neil earned a BA in Psychology from UC Riverside and an MS in Child Life Specialist from Loma Linda University. He has served the medically fragile as a volunteer and Child Life Assistant at Loma Linda Children’s Hospital; worked as a foster care/adoption social worker for Aspiranet and ChildHelp servicing families and communities throughout the Inland Empire and worked as a case manager for the Gang Reduction Youth Development Program (G.R.Y.D.) in Watts with the LA Conservation Corps. Most recently, he was the Senior Career Counselor at the Long Beach Job Corps Center for almost 10 years. And just before joining the Sharefest Team, he was part of the humanitarian effort assisting unaccompanied minors as part of Team HOPE at the Pomona Fairplex. Outside of work, he is a dedicated husband and a proud #girldad of three beautiful girls – Zoey, Mia, and Teagan. As a family, we love going on food adventures! He is a HUGE Lakers fan and loves the Dodgers and 49ers. If he could, he would dress up in a hoodie, shorts, and flip-flops all day every day and has a simple motto of “I’m happy to be here.”

PHONNYTA SENG, Career Counselor

Phonnyta Seng is a school-based Instructor for the College-Prep Class at the continuation high schools for LAUSD. She's also a Mentor to her students, and the lessons and values that she strives for are to prepare and inspire her students to address "what is next?" after they graduate high school. Will they continue on with their education? Either in trade school or in college settings. If so, how? If they already have a career in mind, what kind of steps and plans would the student need to make, so it becomes a reality? Are the students lacking motivation or self-esteem? Those are just some questions that come up in the mentoring sessions and classrooms. Phonnyta understands that every student is different with different goals and backgrounds. She used her experience from being an Art Instructor in Santa Ana Unified School District and owning and operating her own Real Estate Business as tools to help understand her students better and provide knowledge. Phonnyta holds her Bachelor in Art from the University of California, Irvine. She is currently getting her Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and finishing her Life and Health Coach Certificate from Health Coach Institute. Outside of work and school, Phonnyta enjoys going to art museums and shows, attending symphonies, taking care of her mind, body, and spirits, and spending time with her grandparents, dogs, family, and close ones. She also loves to eat fruits and good food.

JENNIFER PARIS, Director of Development

Jennifer has served as a nonprofit development professional for various organizations, such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association and People Acting in Community Together (PACT). As a past foster youth in Los Angeles County, she understands the critical need for resources and mentorship for at-risk youth. She is a passionate supporter of our future leaders and believes it is her life purpose to offer her talents for the greater good of the community. Serving in the capacity of Director of Development, she is thrilled to raise funds and bring awareness to the mission of Sharefest.

THE SHAREFEST BOARD OF DIRECTORS

LINDA BRADEN

Linda studied Business Administration at Mt. San Antonio College in Los Angeles County, after which she worked with the President of Wells Fargo Realty Advisors, Property Management Division. In 1985, she co-founded Cornerstone Construction Group, Inc. where her business and project management skills were a perfect foil to the entrepreneurial skills of her husband. Her attention to and understanding of the needs of their clients are legendary, and she has developed over the past 30 years an innate ability to turn their clients’ dreams into firm reality. Linda is a conduit of energy; she often speaks of her faith. Her optimistic and visionary approach to both the business and her family life maintains an infectious support mechanism, which keeps the team spirit and momentum going. She is a most gracious and observant individual who is very sensitive to Client needs.

TIM SEIDEL

Tim Seidel is the Refinery Manager of the Los Angeles Refinery for Phillips 66. The refinery has operating sites in Wilmington, Carson and the Port of Los Angeles. In his role, Tim is responsible for managing the 600+ employee operation to safely refine oil into transportation fuels. Tim and his family moved from Oklahoma in July of 2018 from Ponca City where he served as the refinery manager.

A graduate of Montana State University, Tim began his career with the company in 1997 and has worked at multiple sites in both California and Texas as well as at the company’s Billings Refinery in his home state of Montana. In the different cities where Tim has lived, he has served on a variety of boards ranging from the Billings Food Bank to a Board of Reagents position for the University Center at Ponca City. Tim and his wife, Kim, both chemical engineers, live in Palos Verdes Estates with their two sons.

MARK LIMPERT

Mark Limpert is a Principal at ColdWater Partners, a privately held Real Estate Investment firm focusing on opportunities in the Western United States. Prior to joining CWP, Mark served as Vice President at two large institutional real estate private equity firms where he focused on asset management responsibilities. Mark holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Dartmouth College and resides in Hermosa Beach with his Wife, son, and golden retriever.

CINDI KRIPPENDORF

Cindi Krippendorf and her husband, Michael, have been residents of the South Bay for 30 years. They’ve owned and operated Fielding Electric, Inc., an electrical contracting company headquartered in Torrance, since 2000. They enjoy active participation in their church and community and are proud supporters of the Sharefest Workday, both as volunteers and corporate sponsors.

CHAD MAYER

Chad Mayer has years of leadership experience building community relationships, acting as a networking catalyst to mobilize citizens, the faith community, community-based organizations and businesses to get involved in community service and youth development. Chad is the founding director of Sharefest Community Development and is a selfless leader who does what it takes to make programs work. He forges ahead to solve community problems and delights in the successes of the youth who engage in Sharefest programs. His love for youth and for improving their lives and their communities, one person at a time, is inspiring. Chad’s achievements and awards are numerous. Recently, he was awarded The Daily Breeze’s People of Distinction Award in the Volunteer Category.

ERIC RUEHLE

Prior to founding West Harbor Capital, Eric was a Senior Vice President at Sitex Group, a national industrial real estate private equity firm where he led the firm's expansion into Southern California. Eric has also held key roles at CenterPoint Properties, First Industrial Realty Trust and AEW Capital Management. Eric currently serves on the board of directors for the NAIOP Inland Empire chapter and the SIOR Los Angeles chapter. Eric lives in Manhattan Beach with his wife and two children.

DAN SIMON

Dan is the Director of Finance at Wedbush Inc., an investment firm headquartered in Los Angeles that includes among its holdings broker-dealers, registered investment advisors, and private and public equity funds. Dan is responsible for oversight of daily operations, including finance and accounting and is also directly involved with the underlying investments, including serving as a Board Member or Committee Member. Dan joined Wedbush in 2006 as the CFO of Wedbush Capital Partners, where he oversees the funds administration, interacts with portfolio companies, and supports the financial due diligence process. Prior to joining Wedbush, Dan was the CFO of DynaFund Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. Dan began his career in the attestation group of Ernst & Young LLP and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive). An avid ice hockey and University of Washington Huskies fan, Dan often can be found yelling at the television during football season. He spends the rest of his free time with his family, coaching Little League baseball, enjoying sports and traveling.

FRANK SCHULZ - BOARD OF DIRECTORS CHAIR

Frank is a born leader who spends his days serving his corporate clients at The Klabin Company and helping them solve their commercial real estate needs. Frank has served his professional association SIOR (Society of Industrial & Office Realtors) in Los Angeles as its Chapter President and at a national level as Leader of its Young Professional Group. Collaboration, hard work, and building relationships are what makes Frank tick. His leadership extends to Sharefest in serving as the Chairman to the Fundraiser Dinner Committee. Frank's hobbies include swimming, tennis, and chasing his young twins.

JESSICA IBARRA

With over 15 years of experience in creating iconic destinations, Jessica's guiding principles are of hospitality as an entire experience, one that is woven together with place, service, food and art. Born and raised in Canada to Hong Kong immigrants, after getting her degree in illustration at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, she worked for various notable design firms and MGM Resorts in design, management and marketing. Career highlights include design management of all the signage, water features and Fine Art Collection at CityCenter in Las Vegas and traveling to China with Mayor Eric Garcetti to support development investment in Los Angeles. She currently oversees a portfolio of 5 small family businesses with 65 team members across 6 cities in Asia/North America.

GABRIELA MEDINA

Gabriela Medina is the District Director to Councilman Joe Buscaino. In this capacity, she works to grow partnerships and ensures the communities of Watts, Harbor Gateway, Harbor City, Wilmington, and San Pedro have access to city resources, directly advancing the opportunities of residents. She oversees initiatives addressing homelessness in the District, specifically A Bridge Home. Gabriela started as Councilmember Buscaino's Field Deputy representing Wilmington and Harbor City. She was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and majored in Sociology. She is a member of Lambda Theta Nu, Sorority, Incorporated. Gabriela is a proud daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico and El Salvador.

MOISES FIGUEROA

Moises Figueroa is the Regional General Manager of SA Recycling Ports/Anaheim region. His region includes two locations in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. Mr. Figueroa has been in the scrap metal business since 1990 and has held key positions in equipment, operational, production and service management on a large scale. Presently, he oversees the operation of 300 individuals in five facilities, collectively loading 1.5 million tons of scrap per year. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering at Lima University and obtained his Associate degree in Hydraulics and Fluid Power Technology at the University of Washington. Mr. Figueroa is very active in the communities SA Recycling serves. He is currently on the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board. He is dedicated to educating the community of the importance and benefits of recycling. Mr. Figueroa was born in Lima, Peru and moved to the United States in 1989. Moises is married to his lovely wife, Fabiola Figueroa and they have two children, Nicholas and Karina.

VINCENT VANACORE

Vincent Vanacore serves as Senior Vice President, Market Manager in the South Bay Market and is focused on supporting privately held businesses and their owners in Southern California. He joins CalPrivate Bank after serving as Vice President, Commercial Lender at Boston Private and prior to that was a Relationship Manager at Bank of Manhattan which then merged with Plaza Bank. Vincent is a native of Southern California and grew up in the South Bay where he still resides with his wife and son. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University, Long Beach and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University.

JEFF ETHERINGTON

Jeff Etherington is Alaska Airlines’ Director of Sales for California/Arizona/Mid-West/ East Coast /Mexico. Jeff began his airline career with Delta Air Lines in Dallas, Texas and transferred to Los Angeles following the Delta/Western merger. While at Delta, Jeff was Regional Director of Sales for the West Region and General Manager Corporate Sales - West Region. Jeff joined Alaska Airlines in January of 2005. A resident of the greater Los Angeles area, Jeff serves on the board for Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, past Board member for Junior Achievement of San Diego County, former Chairperson for the March of Dimes Annual Health Walk. Jeff was formerly on the Torrance Unified School District West High Site Council as Chair and was a board member with the California Travel Association. A native of Tucson, Arizona, Jeff graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and minor in International Relations. He resides in Torrance, with his wife Courtney, a Torrance Unified School Teacher. Jeff and Courtney have 2 recently graduated children, Matt from the University of Arizona and Sydney from West High School.