OUR TEAM

Our team and board are some of the best and brightest minds in LA all working to transform futures for our youth.

THE SHAREFEST TEAM

CHAD MAYER, Executive Director

Chad Mayer is an accomplished leader and founding director of Sharefest. With a unique blend of leadership skills, marketing expertise, networking know-how and a deep commitment to community, Chad has been instrumental in growing Sharefest from a one-day community service event to a thriving youth development organization. Chad's vision and guidance have enabled Sharefest to make a positive impact on underserved communities, earning him recognition from local civic and governmental groups through numerous awards, certificates, and accolades.

GRETCHEN DOWNEY, Vice President, Programs

Gretchen Downey is a 25-year veteran in youth physical, mental and social health services who now serves as Sharefest’s Vice President of Programs. With a strong background in program innovation, Gretchen is passionate about developing programs that enable youth to reach their full potential. She is deeply committed to building partnerships between organizations, schools, government, and volunteers. 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.

BETSY CHOU, Vice President, Finance and Operations

Betsy Chou is the Vice President of Finance and Operations who expertly manages Sharefest’s financial records, human resources and organizational operations. Since 2016, her careful management of funds and resources has enabled Sharefest to invest wisely in programs that transform futures for youth. Betsy brings a solution-finding and team-building approach to her role, empowering the people around her to do their best work.

THOMAS VALENCIA, Director of Education

Thomas Valencia is an educational leader with over 20 years of teaching and administrative experience. As the Director of Education at Sharefest, Thomas uses his experience as a classroom teacher and Principal to train Instructor-Mentors, guide the development of transformational curriculum and build essential relationships within partner schools. Thomas believes in fostering a passion for learning through creativity, collaboration, and real-world applications.

LIBERTY COHEN,  Career & Workforce Development Manager

Liberty Cohen is a driven leader with experience overseeing and facilitating training initiatives from small group facilitation to nationwide onboarding. Liberty’s background in workforce development paired with her passion for the SoCal communities who raised her make her uniquely qualified to serve as the Workforce Development Manager at Sharefest. Her enthusiasm, dedication and passion for learning are all essential as she leads the continued buildout of the Workforce Development Program.

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KOANA LAIMANA, Development Manager

Koana Laimana started her career in education and the entertainment world while earning a BA in Psychology from Vanguard University. As the Development Manager, Koana brings a unique understanding of what Sharefest youth face as she grew up in LAUSD in a low-income area facing some of the same barriers. Koana thrives while working with donors who share her passion for giving back to help stop the cycle for youth.

CARRIE KOMMERS, Communication Manager

Carrie Kommers is a marketing and communications professional with over 20 years in the hospitality and tourism sectors. She has extensive strategic planning, branding, writing, and partnership marketing experience and is passionate about working with and supporting today's youth. As the Communications Manager, Carrie brings her background in spearheading community-based initiatives and designing and implementing comprehensive communications strategies to continue to build awareness, engagement, and expansion for Sharefest's next twenty years.

PHONNYTA SENG, Career Counselor

Phonnyta Seng brings a wide array of experiences to her role as a Sharefest Career Counselor. Art instruction, business ownership, life and health coaching, are just some of the experiences she draws from as she inspires youth to find the right career path. Phonnyta understands each student needs to set individual goals and thrives in guiding them to uncover their potential.

LAURA CASTILLO, Operations Specialist

Laura Castillo brings 20 years of experience in operations and human resources to her role as the Operations Specialist at Sharefest. Skilled at promoting collaboration, improving performance and developing teams, Laura works diligently to help the organization continue to level up. Laura graduated from LAUSD and is committed to helping more youth gain a solid foundation for their occupational development.

DAMEANE DOUGLAS, Instructor Case Manager

Dameane earned both his BA in Sociology and Master’s in Education at Loyola Marymount University where he also played Division 1 basketball as a student-athlete. With a strong background in interpersonal communication and creating genuine, meaningful relationships with others, Dameane is motivated to have a positive impact on youth and help underserved communities and children reach their fullest potential both inside and outside of the classroom. Dameane‘s vision is to create enriching opportunities that will foster profound effects on the futures of our youth.

TIFFANY GUTIERREZ, Job Developer

Tiffany Gutierrez is an education professional with over 10 years of higher education administration, advising, and teaching experience. With a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership, her true passion is collaborating with students to identify, accomplish, and celebrate achievements along their life-long educational journey.  She brings strong skills in mentorship and community building to Sharefest where she will be working as the Job Developer within the Workforce Development Program to guide students through their collegiate and career decisions.

SUANI LOPEZ, Instructor Case Manager

Suani López is a dedicated social work professional with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. With a rich history in community advocacy, she is committed to serving marginalized communities. Through her work, Suani empowers individuals through education and helps equip underserved communities with essential resources and tools for resiliency and prosperity. Her passion lies in ensuring that everyone has access to the tools needed not just to survive, but to thrive, fostering lasting change and empowerment within communities.

THE SHAREFEST BOARD OF DIRECTORS

ERIC RUEHLE, Chair

Prior to founding West Harbor Capital, Eric Ruehle 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.

DAN SIMON, CFO

Dan Simon is the Director of Finance at Wedbush Inc., overseeing daily operations, including finance and accounting, and directly involved with underlying investments, as a Board or Committee Member. He joined in 2006 as CFO of Wedbush Capital Partners, overseeing funds administration and supporting financial due diligence. Dan was previously CFO of early-stage venture capital firm DynaFund Ventures and started his career in the attestation group of Ernst & Young LLP. He is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive).

FRANK SCHULZ, Secretary

Frank Schulz 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.

CHAD MAYER, President & Executive Director

Chad Mayer is an accomplished leader and founding director of Sharefest. With a unique blend of leadership skills, marketing expertise, networking know-how and a deep commitment to community, Chad has been instrumental in growing Sharefest from a one-day community service event to a thriving youth development organization. Chad's vision and guidance have enabled Sharefest to make a positive impact on underserved communities, earning him recognition from local civic and governmental groups through numerous awards, certificates, and accolades.

CASEY ABE

Casey has over 20 years of real estate experience. Prior to joining Rich Development, he served as Director of Leasing and Asset Management for CommPros, Inc., a Newport Beach shopping center owner and manager of twenty-five (25) assets with approximately 2.5M sf of gla. Prior to joining CommPros, Inc. he served as an Acquisitions Analyst and Asset Manager for Center Trust, a Manhattan Beach Retail REIT. Casey graduated from the University of Southern California and has a BS degree in Business with a concentration in Real Estate.

JAMIE BEDNER

Jamie Bedner is Wedgewood’s Chief Operating Officer overseeing Wedgewood’s operations nationwide and brings over 20 years of real estate experience and expertise to the company. Most recently, Jamie served as Senior Vice President of Wedgewood Homes, where she managed the acquisition, renovation, and sales for the West Coast and Midwest Regions of the United States. Jamie also spearheaded the development of Maverick Design, which was established to enhance Wedgewood’s renovation program as the company expanded nationally. Maverick Design has evolved to become an award-winning, multi-faceted creative design group. Jamie holds a degree in Business Administration and Management from UC Berkeley.

ADAM BETTINO

Adam Bettino began his civil service career with the Los Angeles County Probation Department in 2009 and held several leadership positions during his 14 years there. In his most recent position as the Chief Deputy Probation Officer, he oversaw Administration and Operational Support where he served alongside 5000 sworn and non-sworn staff who provide services to justice-involved individuals. Adam recently joined the Justice, Care and Opportunities Department (JCOD) as a member of the executive team. It is JCOD’s mission to provide prevention, diversion, and reentry services to justice-involved individuals throughout Los Angeles County. During his years serving the County, Adam has managed several operations dedicated to providing community-based services for youth, adults, and their families. He has led strategic planning efforts and managed the implementation of several countywide initiatives aimed to enhance community safety. Adam believes that building strong relationships is essential to solving difficult problems. Adam received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California, Irvine.

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.

MOISES FIGUEROA

Moises Figueroa is the Regional General Manager of SA Recycling Ports/Anaheim region, responsible for overseeing five facilities and 300 employees, collectively loading 1.5 million tons of scrap per year. With over three decades of experience in scrap metal business, Mr. Figueroa has held key positions in equipment, operational, production, and service management on a large scale. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering at Lima University and his Associate degree in Hydraulics and Fluid Power Technology at the University of Washington. Mr. Figueroa is an active member of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board, dedicated to educating the community on the importance and benefits of recycling.

JESSICA IBARRA

Jessica Ibarra is a seasoned professional with 15+ years of experience in creating iconic destinations, with guiding principles rooted in hospitality, place, service, food, and art. With a degree in illustration from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, she has worked for notable design firms and MGM Resorts in design, management, and marketing. Jessica's career highlights include designing all the signage, water features, and Fine Art Collection at CityCenter in Las Vegas and supporting development investment in Los Angeles with Mayor Eric Garcetti during a trip to China. Currently, she oversees a portfolio of 5 small family businesses with 65 team members across 6 cities in Asia/North America.

REBEKAH KIM

Rebekah Kim is a seasoned public affairs and government relations expert with nearly 20 years of political experience at the federal, state, and local levels. As the former Chief of Staff to the Southern California executive for AECOM, she oversaw the Harbor and Palos Verdes Peninsula region. Rebekah also served as Deputy to U.S. Congresswoman Jane Harman, focusing on the South Bay and Beach Cities in addition to labor, aerospace/defense, port, and transportation issues. Her public sector career also includes positions with the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors and the office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Rebekah's expertise in engaging with elected officials, department heads, and key staff at the County and City of Los Angeles makes her a valuable asset to any organization.

MARK LIMPERT

Mark Limpert is Co-Founder of Orion Real Estate Partners, a privately held Real Estate Investment firm focusing on investment opportunities in the Western United States. Prior to forming Orion, 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.

GABRIELA MEDINA

Gabriela Medina is part of the Los Angeles Regional Public Affairs team at SoCalGas, the nation's largest natural gas distribution utility, delivering increasingly clean, safe, and reliable energy to 21.1 million consumers. Gaby covers the cities of Inglewood, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Gardena, Carson, Compton, Long Beach, Signal Hill, and Council District 8, 9, 10, and 15 within the City of Los Angeles. Gabriela has 15+ years experience as a strategic manager and leader in government and public sectors. Prior to her role with SoCalGas, she served as the District Director to Councilwoman Traci Park, representing the Westside communities of Los Angeles. Gaby also served as the District Director to Councilman Joe Buscaino in Council District 15. Gabriela is a native of South Los Angeles, attended UCLA, and currently lives in San Pedro with her fur son, Louie.

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. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from California State University, Long Beach and an MBA from Loyola Marymount University.