Executive Director Dr. Laurel Felt brings 15 years of youth media and education experience to her role as Executive Director of the Student Voice Project. She has designed, implemented, and/or evaluated innovative curricula and instruction for several academic institutions and non-profit organizations, including the USC Joint Educational Project, USC Shoah Foundation, USC Annenberg Innovation Lab, Eliot-Pearson Children’s School, and the African Network for Health Education. Dr. Felt is a strong advocate for media literacy, having published extensively on that subject and served on the Advisory Board for the National Association for Media Literacy Education. In her capacity as Lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Dr. Felt teaches communication best practices by leveraging rich media and hands-on applications,such as service-learning. Dr. Felt earned a PhD in Communication from USC Annenberg, examining the cultural characteristics, learning processes, versatile skills related to effective 21st century learning. She received a Master’s degree in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University and a Bachelor’s degree in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University.
Contact Laurel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Fager is co-founder and principal of Zester Media, an Internet content creation company that operates ZesterDaily.com. An experienced media professional, Chris spent a decade at Univision Communication, serving as president of TuTv, a joint venture with Mexican media company Televisa, and later as a senior distribution executive. Prior to Univision, Chris spent 12 years as a member of the senior management team that created the national network E! Entertainment Television. He was responsible for the creation of E!’s international business. Chris also served as E!’s first chief legal officer.
Chris’ professional experience includes practicing communications and media law in Washington, D.C., and serving as a Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow, in which capacity he started the Student Press Law Center. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Boston University School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University.
Roger was a student journalist in high school, at the University of Michigan, and at Harvard Law School. As a practicing attorney, Roger litigated First Amendment issues for media clients. As a law professor at Seton Hall Law School, he created the Media Law program. For ten years he interrupted his law career to write one-hour dramas for television. As founder of Los Angeles Leadership Academy, a charter middle school and high school serving over 450 inner city students at two campuses, Roger is committed to expanding literacy across the entire secondary school curriculum.
Gabriel Sanchez is one of California’s leading communications strategists with more than 15 years of strategic messaging, coalition-building and public policy expertise at the national, state and local levels.
As communication director for Green Dot Public Schools, he founded the in-house marketing and communications department for one of the nation’s largest non-profit charter school management organizations. He also has created student and teacher recruitment campaigns, furthered branding strategies and improved internal and external communications across a network of 19 schools in the Los Angeles Area.
In 2012, he led the earned media and coalition building effort for Californians for a Fresh Start, the first successful initiative to reform legislative term limits, winning 61.4% of the vote with strong majorities across every county in the state. He also created direct mail programs and outreach strategies to mobilize bilingual voters in low-turnout, off-year elections, resulting in wins for several City Council candidates in Southern California.
Gabriel earlier was a senior strategist with The Strategy Group, a leading political consulting and direct-mail firm based in Pasadena. His clients included the Courage Campaign, the Assembly Democratic Caucus along with several candidates at the local and legislative level. He created and directed comprehensive communication plans for several clients, including Speaker John A. Pérez, the California Labor Federation, SEIU State Council and the Courage Campaign.
Gabriel also collaborated with pollsters to develop persuasive messaging for local, legislative and statewide campaigns; managed and implemented direct mail campaigns for several local and legislative races, including directing photography and design for mail pieces.
For the 2010 election cycle, Gabriel used micro-targeting to identify economically progressive, but socially conservative voters in swing areas of California to support Democratic candidates, including Jerry Brown. He combined individual-level data analysis and polling results to tailor messaging to persuade these voters.
In 2008, Gabriel was part of the communications team for Obama’s successful run for the White House, engaging with several local community groups and leading the earned media effort in California, and helping in the final stages of the race to win Colorado.
From 2003 to 2008 Gabriel was Communications Director for Speaker Fabian Núñez. In this role he developed expertise in several public policy areas, including education, higher education, health care, energy and the environment. He created the Speaker’s brand of fiscal and social responsibility, which included developing strategies to keep higher education affordable for California families and delivering the state’s first on-time budget in four years. He worked with mainstream and ethnic media to publicize several “cash for college” event s and worked with the Campaign for College Opportunity on the KnowHow2Go campaign.
He also was tasked with training the staffs of several Southern California Assemblymembers in communications strategies and operations.
Prior to working with the Speaker, Gabriel served two stints with Governor Gray Davis’ Administration where he oversaw the media and community outreach operations of several state agencies and departments, including CalEPA, the Department of Resources and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Gabriel is currently communications director for Green Dot Public Schools, one of the largest non-profit, unionized charter school organizations in the country. He lives in Yorba Linda and is active within his church community.
Johnny Duda brings entrepreneurial non-profit and education experience to SVP. Since graduating from Harvard in 1999, Johnny has been actively involved in the non-profit community as a board member, advisor, and founder of several non-profits. Johnny has taught humanities and creative writing in public and private school settings, and recently finished his doctorate in Education Leadership at UCLA, studying the positive effect of journalism studies on overall academic achievement, specifically in relation to students of poverty. In 2006, Johnny co-founded the CASA Foundation (with Bill Bryan, the father of a former student) in an effort to leverage his research in the creation of new programs that address the widening “achievement gap” in inner city public schools. Under the banner of the CASA Foundation, Johnny spent several years doing primary research on the “prime movers” of effective education reform from the perspective of theory and the latest “best practices;” the Student Voice Project is a product of that research.
Lawrence (Larry) A. Lyttle brings nearly three decades of experience as a television executive and producer to his current work as a communications consultant and advisor. Since 2003, Larry has run his own company, assisting political candidates and business executives on media strategy and communication, message framing, message delivery, speech presentation and image packaging.
Larry founded and served as President of Big Ticket Television, Inc., a Paramount/Viacom company, from 1994 until 2003. Under Larry’s leadership, Big Ticket Television produced 11 series over eight years, including the syndicated courtroom hits Judge Judy and Judge Joe Brown and the UPN comedy hits Moesha and The Parkers. Simultaneously, from 1995 until 2001, Larry was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts’s Peter Stark Producing Program.
Before starting Big Ticket, Larry served as President of Spelling Television. Prior to that, Larry was Senior Vice President, Creative Affairs at Warner Bros. Television from 1982 until 1990. He was responsible for developing such successful network series as Night Court, Growing Pains, Head of the Class, Spencer for Hire, China Beach, Life Goes On, and Murphy Brown.
Larry has served on the Board of Directors of the Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles (The Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre) and University Access, a provider of distance learning education. He also served on the Board of Directors of the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association. Mr. Lyttle is a Partner and Board Director in Mandalay Baseball Properties, a leading owner of minor league baseball teams across the country, and is a Board of Trustee of the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
Larry holds a Masters of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin. He resides in Pacific Palisades, California. He has two children, son Charlie, 18, and daughter Zoey, 16.
James (Jim) R. Stein got his first professional television-writing job, while still in college, by winning a monologue-writing contest, conducted by a guest lecturer at USC who was also producing an NBC network special. Since that time, Mr. Stein has gone on to win two Emmy awards for his comedy writing on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Lily”, a Lily Tomlin special that guest starred Alan Alda and Richard Pryor. He has also been nominated for two Emmys for his work on a Dick Van Dyke special and the now classic, “Fernwood 2Nite”. In the course of his long career, Mr. Stein has written and produced for such comedy legends as The Smothers Brothers, Mary Tyler Moore, David Letterman, Steve Martin, Betty White, Steve Allen, Bill Cosby (at least that’s what he was told when he woke up naked), Sherman Hemsley, and Redd Foxx, to name a few. He has also produced alongside such greats as Norman Lear, Barry Gordy and Motown, Dick Clark, George Schlatter, and Howard Stern (with whom he executive produced the hit FX series “Son Of The Beach”). Among his other credits as a writer and/or producer are “Sanford & Son”, “Silver Spoons”, “One Day at a Time”, “What’s Happening!”, “Private Benjamin”, “Amen”, “The Smothers Brothers Show”, “The Motown Revue starring Smokey Robinson”, “Night Stand with Dick Dietrick”, and many, many more. Mr. Stein was the editor of his junior high school newspaper and currently resides in Malibu, California.
Tammara (Tammy) Seabrook Anderson is a double alum of the University of Southern California, having received her Bachelor of Science degree from the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and a Master of Science degree from the Rossier School of Education.
In 1981, Tammy began her professional career with the Joint Educational Project (JEP) at the University of Southern California. JEP is one of the oldest and largest service-learning programs in the country. Tammy was hired to use her gerontology expertise to design and coordinate an intergenerational service-learning program.
Over the years, Tammy has held several positions at JEP and in 2002 became its Executive Director with responsibility for the supervision of seven full time staff as well as 48 part-time grad/undergrad student employees, each of whom contribute each semester to the successful training and placement of approximately 1000 USC students in 50 local sites. These sites include elementary, secondary, charter and parochial schools, governmental, social service agencies, and hospitals/clinics. Through their community assignments, JEP participants connect their university courses with field experience that enriches their education and fosters a strong sense of civic responsibility.
For just over three decades, Tammy has been a leader in experiential/service-learning education, developing university/community programs that prove that “service is education.” In 1987, Tammy was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Society of Internships and Experiential Education, making her one of the youngest and the first African American to join the board.
Tammy has raised over 2.5 million dollars for the Joint Educational Project, including two endowments of one million dollars, respectively. This achievement made JEP one of the few service-learning programs in the country to be endowed.
In 2002, Tammy co-founded the Los Angeles Higher Education Partnership (LAHEP), a consortium of 12 colleges and universities in the city. Member institutions share the common purpose of increasing opportunities for college and university students to actively engage in service projects that enhance quality of life for all citizens of Los Angeles. Additionally, LAHEP institutions utilize curriculum-related initiatives such as volunteer experiences, community service-learning, practica, and internships in order to realize their civic goals.
In 2004, Tammy was honored with the USC President’s Award for Staff Achievement followed by the Dornsife College’s Outstanding Staff Achievement Award in 2007. In 2010, USC’s Black Alumni Organization presented her with the Barbara Solomon Faculty/Staff Award.
Service is an integral part of Tammy’s life as she has served on various non-profit boards that seek to make a positive impact in our local communities, and educate and empower young people. In 2013, she joined California Hospital Medical Center’s Board of Directors.
Tammy lives in Los Angeles with her two sons, David (Annenberg ’08) and Ross.
Corie Brown is a journalist. Previously, she was an editor and a writer at the Los Angeles Times; the West Coast entertainment correspondent for Newsweek; the author of the “California Suite” column in Premiere; and served on the editorial staffs of BusinessWeek and other McGraw-Hill publications in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Brown is a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas.
Laura Castañeda is an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. She has been a writer and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Dallas Morning News, an editor for the Associated Press in San Francisco, New York and Mexico; and a freelance journalist for numerous publications. Castañeda’s scholarly articles have appeared in Journalism and Mass Communication Educator and Media Studies. She is co-editor of “News and Sexuality: Media Portraits of Diversity,” and the co-author of “The Latino Guide to Personal Money Management.” Castañeda earned a B.A. in journalism from USC, and an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University.
Dr. Dvorak is a Professor at the Indiana University School of Journalism and the Director of the High School Journalism Institute. He is a leading researcher in the field of scholastic journalism, and co-author of the book Journalism Kids Do Better. Dr. Dvorak did his master’s study at the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Linda Johannesen is a national expert in writing instruction, and a leader in arts education and non-profit management. She serves as the Director of Broad Reach Advisors; Advisor to Art Works for Kids, and board member of the Los Feliz Arts Charter School and the Los Angeles Art Association. Johannesen was formerly president of the Galef Institute, and co-founded Art Worlds, Inc., a foundation focused on national museum exhibitions of emerging artists; and Acamedia, Inc., which develops multi-media school programs in collaboration with television networks, newspapers and universities.
Turner’s journalism career began at the Cincinnati Enquirer, writing breaking news and features for the Kentucky bureau. From there she moved into sports, becoming the first black female sportswriter in the state of Virginia. In 1989, after having served as PR director for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Turner became the first regularly featured black female sports columnist in the country at the Oakland Tribune in Oakland, Calif. She moved to Southern California in 1992, covering the NBA and pro tennis for the Orange County Register; and entertainment for Satellite Orbit/Satellite Direct magazines.
At the turn of the century, Turner accepted a position as the L.A-based pop culture critic for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, covering the film, television and music industries. After three years, Turner was recruited to help launch ESPN.com’s Page 3, which focused on the correlation between entertainment and sports. Three years later she was hired as a producer for a new ESPN TV series called ESPN Hollywood hosted by Mario Lopez and Thea Andrews.
In 2006 Turner began focusing her efforts on new media as an on-air host and producer for AOL Black Voices, covering the entertainment industry. She held similar positions at MSNBC.com, BET.com, the Chicago Tribune RedEye and Jet magazine. Her bestselling book, journey to the woman i’ve come to love, features portraits of celebrities and other women from all walks of life; and their responses to the question: at what point did you fall in love with yourself? She currently freelances for theroot.com, Upscale and Arise magazines.
Turner donates her time to various causes and enjoys working with at-risk children and abused women. This year she was honored at Wiley College with the Women of Excellence in Journalism Award. Additionally, she received Hampton University’s Legacy Award in 2012, has won numerous journalism and photography awards, and in 1991, one very special award for her commitment to mentoring children when she was honored with the U.S. Girl Scouts DAISY Award (Distinguished Achievement in Inspiring and Serving Youth). She has also helped raise money for the Jenesse Center, an organization that works to rehabilitate abused women and children; and Turner and her friend, actress Laurel Holloman, raised nearly $50,000 for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. The funds went toward education and health care for women. She is currently raising money for several charitable organizations by donating partial proceeds from her latest book, tomorrow.
Turner, who has lived in Oakland, Calif., Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Hampton, Va., was born and reared in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Wyoming High School, where she was a marginally talented musician before getting kicked out of band camp; and played basketball, softball, field hockey and ran track. Turner received her B.A. degree in mass media arts from Hampton University and studied photojournalism at Boston University. In 1989, she was selected as one of 16 fellows at the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education at UC-Berkeley.
In her spare time Turner, who resides in Los Angeles, enjoys traveling, photographing lively children, teaching photography classes at the Lucie Foundation, watching classic movies, spa days, fine red wines and playing tennis and golf.
Judy Burton is President and CEO of the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools. She has extensive expertise in successfully leading and operating public schools, with an emphasis on improving student achievement in impoverished communities. Ms. Burton has successfully impacted students at risk through best practices in leadership development, teacher professional development, and parent community engagement. Under her leadership over the past four years, the Alliance has created and is successfully operating ten secondary charter schools in Los Angeles, all of which are performing significantly better than neighboring schools in student achievement.
Janet Clayton, an award-winning journalist and newspaper executive, is the President of ThinkCure, a partnership of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, the City of Hope, and the Los Angeles Dodgers. A native of LA, Clayton had a distinguished 30-year career at the Los Angeles Times, serving as a reporter; Editor of the Editorial Pages; California Editor; and as a key member of the paper’s leadership team. Clayton won numerous accolades for excellence in her profession, including recognition as the editor of two Pulitzer-prize winning series. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of USC.
Christina A. Christie is Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Institute of Organizational and Program Evaluation Research in the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at Claremont Graduate University. She co-founded the Southern California Evaluation Association, a local affiliate of the American Evaluation Association, and is the Chair of its Research on Evaluation Division. In 2004, Dr. Christie received the AEA’s Marcia Guttentag Early Career Achievement Award. She is the editor of two recent books, What Counts as Credible Evidence in Evaluation and Evidence-based Practice? and Exemplars of Evaluation Practice.
Patricia Gándara is a Professor in the Graduate School of Education and Information Sciences at UCLA; Co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles; Associate Director of the UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute; and Director of its Education Policy Center. She previously served as Commissioner for Post-secondary Education for the state of California, and Director of Education Research for the California State Assembly. Prof. Gándara’s work focuses on educational equity and access for low income and ethnic minority students, language policy, and the education of Mexican origin youth. She is the author of numerous articles and books, including the forthcoming Understanding the Latino Education Gap: Why Latinos Don’t Go to College. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UCLA.
Patrick McCabe is a founding Board Member of the Student Voice Project. He has served on 20 non-profit boards in the last 25 years, including The Music Center, Santa Monica College Foundation, Inner City Education Foundation, Shane’s Inspiration, New Visions Foundation, and New Roads School, where he was the Founder of New Roads Elementary School. He served as Head of School for New Roads Elementary for 12 years. He also was CEO/Executive Director of Covenant House, the largest provider of services to homeless youth in California. Before New Roads, Pat spent 23 years in sports marketing and television, mostly at Cablevision Networks (13 years) and Home Box Office (5 years). He lives in Santa Monica with his wife and two children.
Program director Beatrice Y. Motamedi joined SVP in 2011. She is a Dow Jones News Fund Distinguished Adviser, and California state director for the Journalism Education Association. She was named Journalism Educator of the Year by the California Journalism Education Coalition in 2012. Beatrice has worked as a public school teacher and a staff writer for United Press International, the San Francisco Chronicle and WebMD. She received her B.A. from Northwestern University and her M.A. from Stanford University, where she was a Stegner Fellow and a Kovas Teaching Fellow.
Beatrice’s work has been published in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, The International Herald-Tribune, Newsweek, Parenting, Salon, AlterNet, Wired, Health and Hippocrates as well as in two literary anthologies. She also served as associate editor for 24 Hours In Cyberspace: Painting on the Walls of the Digital Cave, the landmark book on one day in the life of the Internet. Currently, Beatrice teaches journalism at The Urban School of San Francisco, where her students have won the National Scholastic Press Association’s Pacemaker Award, also known as the high school Pulitzer, as well as top honors for design, multimedia story of the year and editorial leadership. She co-directs Newsroom by the Bay at Stanford University, a summer digital journalism program for high school students. She also serves on the advisory board of America’s Wire, produced by the Maynard Media Center on Structural Racism.
Thakkar is the founder and principal of Thakkar Strategic Relations, an independent public affairs and political consulting firm. He executes coalition building, media relations and strategic messaging campaigns to earn support for his client’s large-scale public endeavors. His practice currently concentrates on the environmental, technology and financial sectors. Previously, Thakkar worked as a political campaign consultant and lobbyist for Cerrell Associates in Los Angeles, focusing on local government relations and statewide initiative campaigns. Prior to his years as a consultant, Thakkar served as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs.
Thakkar found his passion for politics and news media as a student journalist in high school and college, and later as a columnist for the Irvine World News. He credits much of his career to his involvement with journalism.
Thakkar earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Pomona College where he was Editor-in-Chief of the weekly campus newspaper. He earned an M.B.A. from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.
Executive director Johnny Duda brings over a decade of non-profit management and education experience to SVP, including five years of teaching at the middle and high school levels. In 2006, Johnny co-founded the CASA Foundation (with Bill Bryan, the father of a former student) in an effort to leverage his graduate research in the creation of new education programs that address the widening achievement gap in inner city public schools. Under the banner of the CASA Foundation, Johnny spent several years doing secondary research on the prime movers of effective education reform. During that time Johnny developed a theory of change linking journalism study and teacher professional learning communities with improved student writing outcomes and increased engagement in high need schools.Johnny co-founded Student Voice Project with Chris Fager in 2008 in an effort to bring high quality journalism instruction to all students, not just the self-selecting few who elect for journalism study. Johnny graduated from Harvard University in 1999, and received his doctorate in Education Leadership from UCLA in 2011.
Gardner is a Senior Advisor with Oaktree Capital Management, the Los Angeles-based buyout firm, where he focuses on acquisition opportunities in the Technology, Media and Telecom sectors. Before 2007, Gardner was President of Sales and Marketing for Fox Cable Networks, leading the organization that markets and distributes Fox’s 31 cable networks, 35 local television stations, plus HD and VOD content.
Gardner oversaw distribution, negotiations, marketing, technology adoption and deployment strategies for many of the US’ most successful networks, including: FX, Fox Sports, National Geographic Channel and Speed Channel.
Gardner joined Fox in 1999 after six years at Atlanta-based Cox Communications, the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator, where he was Executive Director of Programming Ventures. He has been named to the annual “CableFAX 100” list of most influential industry executives seven times. In May 2007 he was inducted into the Cable Pioneers Society.
Gardner holds leadership roles in numerous industry associations; among them, he Chaired the T. Howard Foundation, an organization developed to promote diversity in media and entertainment companies. Gardner earned his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts in 1982. At Brandeis, he was Editor of the weekly campus newspaper. In 1989 Gardner earned an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Matt Miller is an author, columnist, radio host and consultant. He is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress; a columnist for Fortune; a Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company; and the host of the popular NPR show Left, Right & Center. Miller’s first book, The Two Percent Solution: Fixing America’s Problems In Ways Liberals And Conservatives Can Love, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. From 1993 to 1995, Miller served as Senior Advisor to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and prior to that was a White House Fellow. He received a B.A. in economics from Brown University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. He lives with his family in Los Angeles.
Richard Siklos is the Los Angeles-based editor-at-large at Fortune magazine. Previously, he was a corporate media correspondent and columnist for the New York Times; the U.S. business columnist for Canada’s Globe and Mail and the London Sunday Telegraph. Siklos is the author of Shades of Black: Conrad Black and the World’s Fastest Growing Press Empire (1995) and its sequel, Conrad Black, His Rise and Fall (2004). He served from 2001 to 2007 as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. Siklos is a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson University in his native Toronto, where he co-edited the school newspaper and, before that, helped start a newspaper at his high school.
Dr. Cornel West is a Professor of Religion at Princeton University, and one of America’s most gifted and provocative public intellectuals. Dr. West’s writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the American traditions of the Baptist Church, transcendentalism, socialism, and pragmatism. His best-selling book Race Matters changed the course of America’s dialogue on race, justice and democracy. Other influential works include Restoring Hope, Race and Democracy, and Democracy Matters. He is the recipient of the American Book Award, and more than twenty honorary degrees. He received his B.A. from Harvard University, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University.