In 1989, more than 200 people met to found People for Parks and the People for Parks Charitable Fund. Since then many more individuals, associations, corporations and foundations have joined the effort to preserve our public parks, natural areas and open spaces, while expanding recreational opportunities in communities across Los Angeles County. PFP has recently been working with the Los Angeles City Council, L.A. Unified School District, the Mayor's office, and grassroots organizations to green school playgrounds and open them to the public when classes are not in session.
People For Parks Los Angeles Staff
Jessica Ellis has more than 15 years experience in youth development, education and non-profit management. Most recently with the Josephson Institute of Ethics, Ellis consulted with schools and other community organizations on building ethical organizational culture as well as effective youth development strategies. Major clients included the US Army, State Departments of Education, LA County Probation Department, and Rotary International. Previously, with Centinela Youth Services, Ellis received recognition from the California State Senate for "visionary leadership" in building an LA-county wide juvenile offender program from its infancy to being the second largest program of its kind in the country, reducing recidivism of offenders served by over 70%. As an advisor to other non-profits, Ellis has helped organizations improve program effectiveness, board engagement and funding levels. During her career, she has had a hand in securing millions of dollars in increased funding for the programs in which she worked. As an active volunteer in her community, Ellis is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected foster youth, serves with Habitat for Humanity and assists victims of Human Trafficking. Ellis has also been a long time advocate and activist on social justice and environmental issues.
Maria Dante Brown, PFP's Director for Community-School Parks, has worked for more than a decade as a community activist, grant writer and fundraiser dedicated to greening and opening public schools in Los Angeles for recreational and gardening purposes by local communities. Brown is a founding member of Brentwood Green at Brentwood Science Magnet School, the first Community-School Park in the LAUSD. After earning her law degree at Stanford, she worked as an environmental attorney for the state Attorney General and in private practice. She has also served as a community representative for Assemblyman Mike Feuer and on the Brentwood Community Council. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from California State University, Northridge and did graduate work in tropical ecology at the University of Miami, Florida.
Communications Director Steve Weingarten is an award-winning journalist whose writing has been featured in publications across the Americas, from Canada's Maclean's to Jornal do Brasil, and from the Los Angeles Times to the New York Times News Service. Weingarten has directed the Mexico City bureau of a chain of American newspapers; raised the public profile of Latin American Studies at the University of California; helped shape media relations for a Fortune 100 telecom giant; and developed communications strategy for major Southern California labor unions. Since 1999, he has helped clients ranging from unions and non-profits to legal and banking firms to develop and deliver effective messages. He currently provides public relations and communications services to People for Parks as a consultant.
Jim Sedgwick Jim Sedgwick is a designer, marketer, web-master and high-fiver; he is the creative principal of the award winning marketing and design firm, The Hamilton Agency. Mr. Sedgwick’s client experience ranges from cutting edge fashion accounts to financial service firms, and from meeting start-ups in living rooms to presenting in Fortune 1000 company boardrooms. Jim ultimately judges his work the same place as his clients, at the cash register.
In his spare time, Jim organizes and leads building teams to Northern Mexico where over the last seven years he has helped build homes for 20 poor families living in terrible conditions. Jim is currently in the planning stages of building an orphanage in Rosarito, Mexico.
People for Parks Administrator Sharyn Starr has extensive experience as an accountant and business manager for nonprofits and for-profit businesses. Starr also heads a boutique accounting firm serving clients from many industries.