the board

The Board

Daniel Tellalian (Chair)

Daniel Tellalian is a principal at Emerging Markets, Inc., an economic development consulting firm that helps private sector corporations (mainly financial institutions and food retailers) pursue business opportunities in low-income areas of Los Angeles.  Daniel has also practiced as a land use and real estate attorney at the Santa Monica law firm of Harding Lamore.  He has founded his own real estate technical assistance nonprofit, and contributed to a number of well-recognized regional economic development efforts.  A licensed California attorney, Daniel is also a CPA with audit experience among middle-market companies in the region.  He holds a degree in economics from the Wharton School, and a JD/MBA from UC Berkeley.

Harry B. Chandler (Vice-chair)

After nearly thirty years as a media executive at 20th Century Fox, Showtime, Hearst Entertainment, the Los Angeles Times and Overture Services (now Yahoo Search), Harry Chandler now devotes much of his time to the RRC board and other non-profit pursuits. He is a graduate of Stanford University, and attended UCLA's Graduate School of Film and Television, and the Anderson School of Management.  He has also become a writer and photographer with his first book, “Dreamers in Dream City”, having been published in 2009 by Angel City Press.

Bruce Saito (Treasurer)

Bruce Saito is currently the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. He started at the California Conservation Corps in 1976, working with youth at various locations throughout the state. In 1985, he opened the Los Angeles office of the Corps. He serves on the boards of the California Board of Forestry, the Los Angeles Community Gardening Council, the Little Tokyo Senior Nutrition Program, the Infrastructure Academy, and the LA Neighborhood Land Trust. He is a graduate of San Francisco State University.

Barbara Romero (Secretary)

Barbara Romero serves as the Director of Urban Projects for the Natural Resources and Planning Division of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, responsible for identifying, developing and implementing multiple park development in urban areas. Romero previously served as Special Projects Manager for the Natural Resources and Planning Division of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority. Romero has also served as a Field Deputy for State Senator Richard Polanco. As Cluster Supervisor, Trainer and Team Leader for Building Up Los Angeles-Americorps, Romero managed job employment program for high school/college students, out of school youth and seniors. Romero also served as a Community Organizer for the Roosevelt High School Healthy Start Programs. She is a former Advisory Board Member for Building Up Los Angeles, the Founder of Girls Today Women Tomorrow Leadership Mentoring Program, and a member of the Youth Service California Board.

Allan Abshez

Allan J. Abshez concentrates his practice on land use development law and related litigation. Abshez has represented private and public clients in connection with major real estate development projects across every sector, including housing, shopping centers and retailing, office/commercial, entertainment centers, motion picture studios, hospitals, sports stadiums, educational facilities at all levels, redevelopment projects and public infrastructure. Abshez formerly served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Kaufman and Broad Home Corporation. He also was a legal extern for California Supreme Court Justice Allen E. Broussard. Abshez was part of the Law360 2011 Real Estate Practice Group of the Year and the team that received the 2010 Chambers and Partners USA Award for Excellence in Real Estate. He has been recognized as a California Super Lawyer (2006) and has received an AV Preeminent 5 out of 5 rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Monica Dodi

Currently Managing Director of The Women’s Venture Capital Fund, focused on early stage women led new ventures, Monica Dodi has over 20 years experience as a new media pioneer. After graduating from Georgetown in International Economics, she was one of the founders of a new technology company focused on military and government databases which was subsequently sold to a German conglomerate. After earning her MBA at Harvard Business School, Dodi joined MTV Europe in London as one of three founders and negotiated major satellite, cable and advertising sales agreements, built the regional offices across 16 countries, and created innovative marketing campaigns, making MTV the fastest growing TV channel in Europe and profitable within 18 months. As head of European Licensing for Disney in Paris, she negotiated major multinational licensing deals across a wide array of product sectors, and created new revenue streams for classic and newly released brands. Seeing an opportunity in creating a business in paper products with a Disney license, she launched CD Productions which was acquired by American Greetings. Returning to the US to help Warner Bros launch television channels worldwide, she was recruited by Brandon Tartikoff as CEO to launch AOL's Entertainment Asylum which became the fastest growing entertainment destination on the Web and hit profitability in less than a year with over 4 million visitors per day. Subsequently, Dodi worked with Softbank Technology Ventures in their investment strategies, deal flow and due diligence in the convergence of new media. Always on the cutting edge of the new media landscape, Dodi has since been working with new ventures in virtual worlds, music technologies and social media as an advisor and angel investor.

René Jones

René Jones is the founding Director of the UTA Foundation at United Talent Agency.  As Director, Jones provides strategic guidance for UTA's clients and executives in their pursuit of meaningful philanthropy and oversees charitable, volunteer and enrichment programming for the agency.  She began her career in the U.S. Senate and went on to become Finance Director for many high-profile campaigns and national non-profit organizations.  Her community involvement includes: board chair of Healthy Child Healthy World, Global Ambassador for Vital Voices, and USC Marshall Society and Business Lab Senior Fellow.  Jones is an avid world traveler and resides in Los Angeles with her family.

Howard Katz

Howard Katz is a VP of Community Development at Casden Properties, responsible for coordinating and obtaining entitlements, as well as the coordination of design development/construction drawings. Prior to joining Casden in 2001, he practiced law in the field of land use entitlements, construction, and environmental law, and served with several nonprofits as a housing consultant, concentrating on development entitlements for affordable senior and disabled housing projects, (for numerous non-profit agencies), as well as major (for profit) regional commercial projects. Howard was the primary person responsible for the development of over 1,000 housing units varying in project size from 6 to 151 units including the processing of one of the first mixed use / air rights projects to be built utilizing a city off street parking lot and HUD financing. In addition, he was the lead land use attorney and part of the construction management team for numerous regional shopping centers including the Westside Pavilion, Pavilion II, Beverly Connection, the renovations of the Century City Shopping Center, The Brown Center, Marina Pacifica, the Beverly Center, and numerous other smaller local retail facilities in the Los Angeles area. He graduated from California State University Los Angeles with a B.A. in mathematics, minored in industrial arts (woodworking) and went on to receive a J.D. from Whittier Law School.

Jordan Kerner

Jordan Kerner’s most recent film, The Smurfs, grossed over $500 million. In addition to his numerous awards, Kerner was named the Producer of the Year by the Hollywood Entertainment Museum in 2006. Kerner’s other feature film credits include: Charlotte’s Web, Snow Dogs, Inspector Gadget, George Of The Jungle, Up Close & Personal, When A Man Loves A Woman, The Three Musketeers, The Mighty Ducks Trilogy, Fried Green Tomatoes and many others. As President of Kerner Entertainment and previously a founding partner in The Avnet/Kerner Company, Kerner began his career in the entertainment industry working in various capacities for San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX-TV.  He relocated to Los Angeles and worked in the Motion Picture Department of Ball, Hunt, Brown and Baerwitz, a Beverly Hills law firm.  Two years later, Kerner joined CBS as a Talent and Program Negotiator in the network’s Business Affairs Department.  From 1978 to 1981 he held positions in development at Universal and QM Productions, until moving to ABC Entertainment as Director of Dramatic Series Development.  He became Vice President of that division in 1983.  While at ABC, Kerner was responsible for developing shows such as “Moonlighting,” “MacGyver,” “Dynasty,” “Spenser: For Hire” and “Call to Glory.” Kerner is a former Governor of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Beverly Hills Bar Association Barristers.  He is the Founder and former Co-chairman of the Committee for the Arts of the Beverly Hills Bar Association. He currently is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Producers Guild and the American Film Institute. A 1972 graduate from Stanford University, Kerner received a degree with distinction, and honors in Political Science and Communications.  He then earned a JD-MBA degree from the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco in 1976, serving on the Law Review and founding COMM/ENT, the Journal of Communications and Entertainment Law.

Dennis Martinez

Dennis Martinez is a principal with RMA Construction Services, Inc., a project and construction management firm. He has over 33 years of experience in overseeing the construction of public and private sector projects, including the start-up phase of the LAUSD's $2.4 billion School and Construction Bond Program, and the University of California, Merced campus.  Martinez holds a BS in civil engineering from San Francisco State University, and an MBA in project and construction management from Golden Gate University.

Brian Moore

Brian Moore is a seasoned manager and engineer who has planned, designed, and constructed some of the largest public works and military construction projects in the United States in Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada.  In his role as the Deputy District Engineer he served as a Deputy to the Commander, was the Senior Civilian over the 700 plus workforce in the District, and managed projects and programs with an annual budget of nearly $1 billion. He received his undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters Degree in Water Resources Systems from Cornell University. Upon his retirement, in recognition of his significant contributions to the Nation over his 44 year career, the Secretary of the Army awarded him the medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest award the Army can bestow upon a civilian. His wife, Nancy, holds a PhD in Water Resources Systems Engineering and is a Senior Management Scientist at RAND. They divide their time between homes in Pacific Palisades and Mammoth Lakes. 

Daphne Zuniga

In addition to her successful career in film and television, which includes starring roles in Mel Brooks' Spaceballs, Melrose Place and One Tree Hill, Daphne Zuniga was a founding board member of Earth Communications Office, and has worked with such organizations as the Natural Resource Defense Council and Waterkeeper Alliance. She produced a short film for the nonprofit, Communities for a Better Environment, highlighting the environmental justice problems in Los Angeles’ Hispanic communities, where childhood asthma is an epidemic. Zuniga has also written for Oprah's O Magazine on environmental mercury poisoning.

Advisory Board

Kafi Blumenfeld

Kafi D. Blumenfield is the President and CEO of Liberty Hill Foundation, one of the nation's most admired social change foundations. Since joining Liberty Hill in 2004, she has focused on expanding Liberty Hill's impact by strengthening the Foundation's investment in community leaders on the frontlines of change. During her tenure, Blumenfield has overseen several critical aspects of the Foundation's work in Los Angeles including the launch of the Wally Marks Leadership Institute for Change, an intensive on-the-job training for local community organizers; initiatives to increase donor diversity in social justice philanthropy including Change L.A., which is building millennial-generation giving; and a strategic refocusing of Liberty Hill's nearly $5 million annual grant investments. Blumenfield has direct experience working on an array of issues with which Liberty Hill is associated, including civic engagement, environmental justice, human rights and housing. Prior to joining Liberty Hill, she was Deputy Director of Neighbor to Neighbor, a national organization dedicated to grassroots political empowerment of working families. She also served as Director of Programs for the Fair Housing Council of San Gabriel Valley and worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council on urban air issues. Blumenfield is a board member of the Southern California Grantmakers and an advisory board member of Mayor Antonio Villariagosa’s Office of Strategic Partnerships and the Draper Center for Community Partnerships at Pomona College. Blumenfield is a member of the selection committee for the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards. Her opinions have been featured in national and local media outlets including The Tavis Smiley Show, The Los Angeles Times and Which Way L.A. She holds a law degree from UCLA and a B.A. from Pomona College. Blumenfield is married to Bob Blumenfield, the state representative from the 40th Assembly District in California. They live in Woodland Hills with their two young children.

Ben Goldhirsh

Benjamin Goldhirsh is the co-founder and CEO of GOOD, an editorially led, member driven community of people, NGOs, and corporations pushing our world forward. Active in both regional and international philanthropic endeavors, Ben is one of the Directors of The Goldhirsh Foundation, which supports dynamic social programs, environmental initiatives, innovative medical research, and leading cultural institutions. Ben serves on the Board of Millennium Promise, an organization guided by the UN’s Millennium Development goals to end extreme global poverty by 2025, as well as the Los Angeles Board of the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship and the board of City Year Los Angeles.

Timothy Karsten

Timothy Karsten works with business and non-profit leaders, wealthy individuals, and wealthy families who are curious about possibilities they hadn’t previously imagined for themselves. Karsten guides his clients to challenge inhibiting beliefs in their roles as cultural and civic leaders and stewards of wealth, especially related to business, philanthropy, economic, and environmental sustainability. For over 20 years, Karsten has overseen family trusts, investment strategies, and asset managers. Since 2000, he has managed the investment portfolio of the Karsten Family Foundation and driven its mission through grant making focused on the environment, education, housing, and empowering girls and women. Karsten has pursued diverse paths of formal and informal study and exploration. Beyond graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Economics and International Relations and earning a law degree from USC Law Center, Karsten's travels and interest in diversity of culture and customs have taken him around the world. He has immersed himself in the study of philosophy as well as the most recent advances in physics and brain science to better understand the complex interaction of human potential. He happily shares his home in Pacific Palisades, California with his wife, Karinna, and their Jack Russell Terrier, Sparky. When Karsten is not busy raising the bar of expectation and performance for his clients, you can find him entertaining friends and family, playing music, discovering unknown roads and mountain trails around the world, and bringing magic to his organic gardens.

Morton La Kretz

Morton La Kretz, a real estate developer, grew up in the Los Angeles community of Boyle Heights. Morton began his career in the early 1950s, first working for contractors but quickly striking out on his own. He is the founder of Crossroads Management, a property management company. He owns and manages multiple properties in the LA area, including Hollywood's landmark Cross Roads of the World office and shopping complex, which he purchased in May 1977. The Cross Roads project was perfectly suited for La Kretz, as he had a passion for historic preservation, architectural details and Los Angeles history. Once the sale was complete, he spent the next several years restoring Crossroads of the World, closely following the architect's original plans. He worked closely with the National Register of Historic Places to have Crossroads placed on this organization's prestigious list. La Kretz’s philanthropic work focuses on education, the environment and conservation. Among those works of which he is most proud are: UCLA's La Kretz Hall, which is the first building at UCLA to receive LEED accreditation; Cal State LA's La Kretz Hall of Sciences; and the La Kretz Watershed Garden at TreePeople headquarters, providing a visual environment in which children can learn about water conservation. In July 1992, La Kretz donated the 22-room Sky Terrace Motel to the Mental Health Assn. in Los Angeles County, a non-profit organization that plans to renovate the rooms and turn them into apartments for homeless people who are disabled by mental illness. La Kretz is also a major donor to the Southern California Easter Seals organization, which provides exceptional services, education, outreach, and advocacy to people living with autism and other disabilities so that they can live, learn, work and play in their communities.

Richard Thompson

An experienced engineer-executive who has managed a wide variety of planning, engineering and construction projects, Dick is currently Vice president of facilities management at City of Hope where he oversees the operation of current facilities, construction of new developments and provides oversight of corporate real estate. Thompson served for 29 years as an active duty military officer in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, retiring with the rank of colonel. His last military assignment was as the deputy commander of the South Pacific Division of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, where he oversaw projects in 10 states. From 2004 to 2005, he served as the Army Corps of Engineers' district engineer in central Iraq where he directed a $2 billion reconstruction effort, which included 2,000 projects performed by U.S. and Iraqi contractors in a combat environment. His military assignments included command of the Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles, a 700-person organization with annual budget of $400 million that provided planning, engineering and construction support to 11 major military installations and oversaw maintenance of harbors, flood control dams and water control channels. He also served as director of public works for all U.S. Army facilities in Alaska, with responsibility for a 650-person workforce, a hospital, three airfields and 1.6 million acres of land. He held similar positions in San Francisco, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras. A professional engineer registered in North Carolina and Virginia, Thompson received his undergraduate degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds a Master of Engineering degree from UC Berkeley and a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the U.S. Army War College.