SugarWatch Board Members
Brent Walmsley has a background as an educator and child advocate and seeks to take this experience to develop SugarWatch!
Most recently, he taught as a seventh-grade humanities teacher at Gabriella Charter School, a high-performing charter school that integrates high quality education with dance instruction. Gabriella Charter School has been recognized a leader in the charter school movement and is ranked #2 among all California elementary and middle charter schools by USC's prestigious 2013 School Performance Dashboard. In 2012, GCS scored an Academic Performance Index score of 894 (out of 1,000) and was named Charter School of the Year by the California Charter Schools Association.
Prior to teaching at Gabriella Charter School, Brent was an Outreach Director with Educators 4 Excellence (E4E) in Los Angeles, a teacher-led student-focused organization with the goal of elevating the teaching profession through organizing and facilitating teacher-directed policy recommendations. During his time with E4E, the membership grew from 1,000 to over 2,500 teacher members and worked with teachers to write policy recommendations on teacher career paths, quality teacher recruitment, and highlighting strategies for success from schools that increased API scores of 40 points or more.
Brent continues to advocate for children as a Family Trainer with CFY, an organization that seeks to bridge the digital divide by working with low-income families to utilize technology tools aimed at improving educational outcomes. He also volunteers and directs the youth group at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Long Beach. As a Teach For America corps member, Brent taught at Webster Middle School and in Compton Unified at the Community Day School. In these settings he became aware of the effects of the achievement gap and the school to prison pipeline and dedicates his life to challenging these issues.
Brent holds an M.A. in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University and a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is also an ordained minister. Brent grew up in Mound, Minnesota and enjoys cycling, travel, playing with his dog, Renzo, and spending time with his wife, Desiree.
During his time teaching he noticed the many students struggling with obesity, sickness, and a general lack of productive energy. He observed the direct link between consistent attendance and improvements in academic achievement, and is seeking to help improve schools through healthier students. He made his own health transformation by losing over 75 pounds through making radical changes in diet and exercise. He wants to help improve schools by making healthy food accessible and desirable to kids and their families.
Melinda Amato,SugarWatch Board President
Melinda Amato, President of the SugarWatch Board, is the Program Coordinator at the Children's Burn Foundation where she helps give children who have suffered severe burns, nationally and internationally, the opportunity to reach their full potential, physically, psychologically and socially.
Melinda is also the Vice President of the LA Chapter of New Leader's Council where she helps progressive leaders learn the skills necessary to best organize their communities.
As a daughter of a Mexican immigrant, she is passionate about organizing the latino community. She is passionate about reversing and preventing obesity and disease through diet and exercise.
Melinda teaches others small, incremental changes they can make to their diets with ingredients available to them and is looking forward to doing this on a larger, more sustainable, scale with SugarWatch.
When she isn't improving access to resources she enjoys cooking and sharing healthy plant based recipes.
Brandon Yu, Associate, Crescent Capital Group
Brandon Yu is an Associate with Crescent Capital Group focusing on Mezzanine debt investing in Los Angeles. Prior to, Brandon spent time as an Investment Banking Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Leveraged Finance in New York City. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Operations Research at Columbia University. Born and raised in Orange County, Brandon devoted much of his time volunteering in local communities through his involvement with Kiwanis International.
Rebecca Roundtree Harris, Teacher, Compton Unified School District
Rebecca Roundtree Harris grew up as the youngest of 12 children in Iowa. She holds a BA in African-American Studies and Spanish, as well as an MA in African-American Studies. Rebecca came to work in Compton Unified School District via Teach For America in 2001, where she has taught 4th and 5th grades, served as a district level curriculum specialist, and currently works as an assistant principal. She enjoys practicing yoga in her spare time.
Claudia Yefremian, Investment Manager
Claudia started her professional life in the Global Investment Management industry in Europe two decades ago and during this time she lived in several countries, and worked and travelled across 46 countries globally (and still counting). Claudia has extensive experience working in fast-paced environments and with teams located in various countries and governed by different laws. She is also a lecturer in Leadership and Sustainability and a Certified Business Coach. Claudia sees herself as a citizen of the world and a permanent student of life. Understanding human behavior and social interactions interest her deeply and she is also passionate about healthy food, healthy living, Pilates and finding ways to contribute to a better world. Claudia holds a MS in Consulting and Coaching for Change from HEC Paris, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, a BS in Management from the Technical University of Lisbon and a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business from the University of Cambridge.
KC Chohan, CFO, The Reconnection
KC Chohan, CFO, Born and raised in England moved out to LA in 2012. KC went to school at Macmillan College and then attended the University of Durham which is ranked 5th in The Times good University guide. KC then went on to study towards the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants).
KC has several years of experience in running manufacturing facilities ranging from fossil fuel power to nuclear power. As well as running several manufacturing sites KC loves to keep an healthy active lifestyle, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, soccer, golf as well as working out.
KC is also frequently attends at the LA food bank as well as many other charity events.
Chuck Harold, Founder and Host, Security Guy Radio
Chuck Harold has been working in the law enforcement & private security fields for over 33 years. During that time he has worked for three police agencies, three movie studios, three guard companies, numerous celebrities & Fortune 50 executives. In his most recent assignment as VP, he provided and managed over 500 guards a year for five years at the Academy Awards. To Chuck, “Guard” is a verb not a noun!
Chuck has published articles for major security magazines & contributes to online security publications such as SecuritySolutionsWatch.com and JusticeJournals.com. He attends several trade shows a year recording interviews at conferences like ISC West, ASIS International and Secure World. He also manages 9 social media sites for Security Guy Radio.
Deepa Ramdas, Human Capital Consultant, Deloitte
Prior to joining Deloitte's Consulting firm, Deepa served the Strategic Partnerships Team and the Research & Support team at Leadership for Educational Equity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that empowers individuals to grow as policy & advocacy leaders and help move the country towards educational equity. In addition, Deepa served as an Education Technology Consultant and Science Curriculum Developer for Knewton, a global adaptive learning company that works to personalize educational content. Prior to joining these two organizations, Deepa received her Master’s in Urban Education and Policy & Administration from Loyola Marymount University, while simultaneously teaching as an active member of Teach for America and serving as a curator for TEDxLoyolaMarymountU. During her time at Case Western Reserve University, Deepa worked with the Foundation for International Medical Relief for Children to make health education and vital medical treatments more accessible to poverty stricken families, communities, and hospitals of Kodaikanal, India .
Brent Tercero, Council Member, Pico Rivera
Brent Tercero is a City Councilmember in Pico Rivera and as works as the Regional Director for Leadership for Educational Equity in the Los Angeles region. Brent Tercero grew up in Pico Rivera and attended St. Marianne’s Parish School. He then attended Loyola High School of Los Angeles where he learned the value of “being a man for others.” After graduating, he attended Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, where he earned his bachelor’s in History and Political Science. Immediately after graduation, he was recruited by Teach for America and taught at Los Angeles Academy Middle School in south Los Angeles while earning a Master’s of Arts in Education from Loyola Marymount University.
While teaching, he gained an appreciation of the importance of public schools and the hardships that many of our nation’s children endure everyday that keep them from attaining a quality education. When Brent was laid off after the 2009 school year due to budget cuts, he realized policy and political decisions could hurt the everyday American. He decided to switch professions and went back to school at the University of Southern California where he earned his Master’s of Public Policy in 2012.
Desiree, Gutierrez, Co-Founder, Impact Media Partners
Working across commercial and non-profit sectors, Desiree has spent the last 15 years honing her skills as an organizational communicator. As a sole-proprietor since 2007, Desiree specialized in developing impact and engagement campaigns for public media entities, which have included partnership development, public relations, marketing and fundraising strategy, event production, and audience expansion for clients such as ITVS, Kartemquin Films, Participant Media, and the Social Justice Learning Institute. Preceding her work as a consultant, Gutierrez was an in-house publicist with ITVS, public media’s largest documentary showcase. She managed the publicity efforts of the Independent Lens television series, with a weekly viewership averaging 1.2 million, and helped to earn an annual ad value equivalent of $125 million. Previously, Desiree worked at the Los Angeles public television station, KCET, coordinating media efforts for the organization, the broadcast line-up, and five original productions, including: Tavis Smiley, California Connected, and A Place of Our Own. Additionally, Desiree's experience includes extensive work with Amnesty International USA, TNT and TBS Broadcasting, American Express, The Craigslist Foundation, The Ginetta Sagan Fund, Outdoor Gear, Oxfam International, and The Pasadena Pops Orchestra.
Joy Turner, Dean of Students, KIPP Philosopher's Academy
Joy Turner is the Dean of students at KIPP Philosophers Academy. She provides academic coaching to the ELA and Humanities teams and leads whole staff professional and curriculum development. Joy taught 6th grade ELA last year and for the 5 years before making the jump to middle school, she taught 3rd grade, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten. Joy is has also served as the Early Childhood Education Learning Team Leader for Teach for America Los Angeles, where she lead professional development and workshops for first and second year early childhood education teachers. Joy earned her Master’s Degree in Child Development from Loyola Marymount University where she has since guest lectured in the program. She holds dual bachelor’s degrees in African American Studies and Social Welfare as well as an Education minor from the University of California at Berkeley. Joy is an avid runner and shares this love with students by coaching the running team at her school. When she isn’t teaching or running, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Branden, and two children, Jordan and Sean.
David Govea, Teacher, PUC Schools
David is a life-long resident of the San Fernando Valley and current resident of city of San Fernando. He has nearly a decade of experience in education, most while serving as a High School Social Science teacher. He has also served several terms as the Mid-Town North Hollywood Neighborhood Council schools representative, and was twice appointed as Vice-President, as well as serving as chair for the Elections, Outreach and Planning and Land Use committees. His personal and professional interest includes, environmental justice, arts and humanities, and transportation and ensuring equitable access to all social resources.
Kelli Johnson, Co-Founder, Long Beach Farms
Kelli is the co-founder of Long Beach farms. She has been an urban farmer in the Long Beach area for over a decade and has been a lifelong resident of Long Beach. She is the mother of two children in Long Beach Unified Schools and is a tireless advocate for improved urban farming opportunities.
Shawna Stephens, Chief of Staff, Long Beach Council Member Rex Richardson
Shawna is the chief of staff for Long Beach City Council Member, Rex Richardson. Prior to that she was the Miller Family Health Education Center Coordinator and studied at UCLA. She is a lifelong Long Beach resident and is the mother of two children in Long Beach Unified Schools.
Michael Gearin, LAUSD Teacher
Michael has been a public school teacher in Los Angeles for more than 15 years. He currently teaches 8th grade U.S. history and social-justice elective classes at Harry Bridges Span School in Wilmington, CA.
Michael moved to Los Angeles in 2001 after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where he earned two B.A. degrees in history and social-thought & political economy. He later earned a master's degree in multi-cultural education from Cal. State Dominguez Hills.
As an insulin-dependent type 1 diabetic, Michael has had to pay close attention to the nutritional content of the food he eats for over 20 years. This has led him to confront the alarming amount of refined sugar found in the packaged foods we all eat.
He is passionate about his own personal health and enjoys cooking healthy, plant-based meals for himself and others. He grows his own organic veggies at home and sponsors an urban agriculture club at his school.
Michael consistently advocates for issues relating to clean air, organic agriculture, and educational justice, making him a perfect match for the Sugarwatch team.
Erik Winston, LAUSD Teacher
Erik grew up in Los Angeles and has been a special education teacher in Los Angeles Unified School district since 1999. He currently teaches at Community Health Advocates school, a pilot school located at Augustus Hawkins High School. He is a graduate of University of California: Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount University. Prior to teaching, he was a promoter for EMI music and has been a lifelong advocate for children in Los Angeles.
Christine Jordt, Underwriter Anthem Blue Cross
Born with a passion for knowledge, activism, and creativity Christine completed her Undergraduate degree at Loyola Marymount University in Television Production with a minor in Sociology. Dreaming she could change the world through television and film she set off into the wide world of reality television. After years behind the scenes in reality television, countless indie films, shorts, and web series the drive to dive deeper into education, research, and culture she return to school at Cal State Los Angeles earning a MA in Communication Studies: Telecommunication and Film. With a strong background in production management, event coordinating, and social media marketing, she continues to work on independent film/web series projects to help current and future storytellers reach a larger audience. When she is not working by day as a Large Group Senior Underwriter for Anthem Blue Cross, she has become a novice urban farmer and upcycler of furniture and anything else she can to help create zero waste.
Vadym Budilovskyy, Investment Associate, Crescent Capital Group LP
Vadym Budilovskyy is an investment associate at Crescent Capital Group LP. Crescent Capital Group is a Los Angeles-based alternative investment manager with approximately $24 billion of assets under management investing in securities at all levels of a company’s capital structure, focusing on distressed debt, mezzanine and special situations investments.
Prior to Crescent, Vadym was as an Investment Banking analyst at Morgan Stanley, focusing on Mergers and Acquisitions. His other previous experience includes interning with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networking Sensing. In addition to SugarWatch, Vadym is a member of The Recording Academy and serves on the Board of the Los Angeles Music and Art School, a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to provide the community of East Los Angeles with equitable and affordable access to multidisciplinary arts education programs.
Vadym received a B.S. in Economics from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he remains an active alumnus.
Outside of work, Vadym spends time traveling and snow boarding.
Jacqueline Ivy, Executive Team Leader – Human Resources, Target Corporation
Jacqueline is an Executive Team Leader - Human Resources with Target Corporation. Prior to her joining Target, she spent 10 years working with non-profit organizations and government agencies administering college access programming and workforce development training for under-resourced communities in Indiana, Florida, and California. Jacqueline received her Master of Public Administration degree from Baruch College in New York through their National Urban Fellows program. Jacqueline, an Indianapolis native, is also a graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), where she received her B.A. in Anthropology. She is a proud alumna of the McNair Scholars research program and AmeriCorps, a national service program that places members at nonprofits, schools, and public agencies to address critical community needs in education, public safety, and health.
Nella McOskar, Associate- High Lantern Group
Nella McOsker earned her B.A. at the University of Notre Dame, studying the intersection of politics, philosophy, and economics. She was the ED of an after-school program run by college students in the low-income school district of South Bend, IN. Nella joined Teach For America in Chicago, teaching 10th grade geometry for two years before moving to New York where she taught 8th grade English at KIPP Academy in the South Bronx for two more years. In addition to loving “light bulb” moments with her students, she particularly enjoyed coaching soccer, basketball, and girl’s rugby over the course of her teaching experience. In New York, she became a school captain through Educators 4 Excellence – an education policy organization dedicated to giving classroom teachers the tools for political action. Nella returned to her hometown as a public affairs Coro Fellow in Los Angeles, working in nonprofit, business, labor, government, and on a political campaign – simultaneously executing projects in various policy areas including transportation, water conservation, and the shared economy. She now works in communications consulting which allows her to practice her love of “finding the right words.” She’s passionate about issues facing public education, one of which is the relationship between health and educational outcomes for students.
Manolo Maddela III, Corporate Cousel, Farmers Insurance
Manolo is an in-house attorney with Farmers Insurance Group, practicing primarily in Mergers and Acquisitions, Regulatory Compliance, and Securities Regulation. He obtained his J.D. from Southwestern Law School, where he was a member of the Journal of International Law (Law Journal). Manolo also holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology.
On the personal side, Manolo and his wife, Linda, live in Pasadena, CA. Linda runs a marketing team for a global restaurant firm. They have one daughter, Philippa, who loves to play with the family dog, Paris. As a family they like to go on hikes and try different restaurants.
Linda, who has always been health conscious, first made Manolo aware of how to read labels and understand how much sugar is in what we eat. With a family history of diabetes, Manolo is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. When Brent reached out to Manolo about serving on the Board, he immediately agreed because SugarWatch was completely in line with his own personal views.
Pegah FaedFirst 5 LA, Healthy Strategy Lead
Pegah is the Healthy Strategy Lead for First 5 LA and has a DrPh from Loma Linda University. Full bio coming soon!
Michael Chernauskas, Associate, Brentwood Associates
Michael is an Associate with Brentwood Associates focusing on leveraged buyout and minority investments in Los Angeles. Prior to, Michael spent time as an Investment Banking Analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the Consumer & Retail Group in New York City. He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance at the University of Notre Dame. Michael grew up in Memphis, TN, and has dedicated significant time to volunteer work with organizations focused on providing support to disadvantaged youths.
Serina So, Health Educator
Serina is a health educator in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Receiving her undergraduate degree in Human Biology from the University of Southern California (USC), she is currently a graduate student at Western University of Health Sciences majoring in Community Health Education. With a passion for working with non-profits of all health focuses, Serina has always focused on the health of the community. Starting her non-profit career with Special Olympics, she has worked with other organizations such as the Coachella Valley Autism Society of America, the Regional Center for Orange County (RCOC), and even SugarWatch. She enjoys volunteering for Special Olympics and other organizations such as School on Wheels, tutoring children and young adults who are homeless in LA. Given her passion with working with intellectual disabilities, she was also a direct interventionist for families with children with Autism. As a graduate student, she focuses on her role as a community health educator and strives to bring public health into the healthcare field. Though her work consists of many different disciplines, her main focus is on improving the health of people of all ages in the community. She spends her free time teaching yoga and bouldering indoors and outdoors. She is hoping to start her Doctorate in Physical Therapy starting 2019.
Advisory Board Members
Tamika Butler, Executive Director, LACBC
Tamika joined the LACBC staff as the Executive Director in December 2014. 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, serves as the Institute Co-Director of the New Leaders Council - Los Angeles, and is an advisory board member for the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center’s Fair Play for Girls in Sports program.
Rex Richardson, Council Member, Long Beach
In 2014, Rex Richardson, 30, was elected to the Long Beach City Council to represent the neighborhoods of North Long Beach, becoming the youngest councilmember in the City's history and the youngest African American elected official in the region. He is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Iota Zeta Lambda Chapter.
Prior to his election to the Long Beach City Council, he spent four years serving the people of Long Beach's 9th Council District as Chief-of-Staff to the former Long Beach City Councilmember Steven Neal, where he helped navigate and push through some of the 9th District's most impressive accomplishments, including the formation of the Uptown Property and Business improvement District, the Liquor Store Modernization Program, and the annual "Getting Back to Work" regional jobs summit.
Before his service to the City of Long Beach, Richardson was the Political and Community Coordinator for Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 721, a community organizer in South Los Angeles County, and a leader for numerous Democratic and community campaigns. He attended college and served as Student Body President at CSU-Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), and is a graduate of Leadership Long Beach, and the Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy Leadership at CSU-Monterey Bay.
Councilmember Richardson is currently chair of the City of Long Beach's Federal Legislative Committee, Vice-Chair of the 710 Oversight Committee and member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Richardson is an elected Regional Board Member of the Southern California Association of Governments, where he works with leaders from other cities across the region to develop collective approaches to solving the problems that affect transportation and mobility across Southern California.
In his spare time, he has given back by serving on numerous boards and associations, including California Pools for Hope, and the Fairfield Family YMCA.
Rex, his wife Nina, and daughter Alina, are proud homeowners in the Coolidge Triangle neighborhood of Long Beach. He lives by the motto, "The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them." -Albert Einstein