DR. HARRY GRAMMER
Founder & President, New Earth
Harry founded New Earth in 2004 and has been helping to reform the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles County ever since. He earned his Ph.D. in Community, Liberation, & Eco-Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara and is now the Board Chair of its Alumni Association. In 2017, Harry was honored as a CNN Hero, and in 2018 he was selected as one of 20 inaugural Obama Foundation Fellows from over 20,000 applicants in 191 countries. He brings his leadership and lived experience, with a background in teaching arts and advocacy to systems-impacted youth, to his continuing work as a nationwide activist and educator.
JAYSON MERCURIUS, BOARD CHAIR
TALENT ACQUISITION, JLM STRATEGIC TALENT PARTNERS
Jayson is an entrepreneur who has built a multi-million-dollar community empowerment business, one that was originally created as a staffing firm for the construction industry and has since grown into an impactful business amalgam. His visionary approach has led him to create and lead the Career Excellence Academy, which provides professional training in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity and the City of Los Angeles. Along with these and other partners, he has created a robust training program included in the Mayor’s Green New Deal, with the potential to become a national model. Jayson continues to revolutionize the industry by incorporating technology into recruitment processes, founding a software company that is now developing tech to simplify and streamline processes on large projects.
ACTOR, PRODUCER, DIRECTOR
Casey is an accomplished and respected actor, writer, and director. He has acted in many acclaimed films including Good Will Hunting; Gone, Baby Gone; and the Oceans 11 trilogy. His breakout role as wannabe outlaw Robert Ford opposite Brad Pitt in The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford garnered him Oscar, Golden Globe, and SAG Award nominations. Casey later starred in Manchester by the Sea, which earned him an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and over 40 regional critics’ awards, for Best Actor. In 2017, Casey established Sea Change Media with the aim to develop new works from emerging filmmakers of diverse backgrounds, to tell stories that seek to entertain, inspire, and shift perceptions. He is a dedicated activist and philanthropist, supporting causes across many areas of the nonprofit sector.
DR. ALI ARASTU, MD
Pediatric ICU Physician
Dr. Ali is a pediatric Intensive Care Unit physician, an avid outdoorsman, and an advocate for underserved communities. On a chance detour, while thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Ali had a conversation with a homeless man that would inspire him to live on the streets in Skid Row with the highest concentration of homeless persons in the country. For his first two years of medical school, Ali forged relationships with homeless individuals which deeply planted the seed for the desire to care for the most vulnerable of patients. Ali has since founded the House of Stoked, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses the wilderness as a platform for physicians to empower unprotected youth to care for their own health, as well as the health of the environment.
THERAPIST, REHEARSE FOR LIFE
Bradford has spent 25 years as a working actor in international theatre, film, and television productions. He began working as a Drama Therapist in the 1990s and added his license as a Marriage and Family Therapist shortly thereafter. He calls his work Rehearse For Life, which combines his love and use of the arts with his therapy practice. As an Expressive Arts Therapist, Bradford has delivered creative seminars and workshops around the country including a multiple-year stint in the PTSD ward of a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital doing what he refers to as “Karaoke Therapy” with the participants in the program. He is a Trustee of the Bancroft Family Foundation.
PRESIDENT, JLM STRATEGIC TALENT PARTNERS
LaShondra is the President and Co-founder of JLM Strategic Talent Partners, which specializes in providing professional talent to construction, infrastructure, and transportation industries. She is the Co-founder of the Career Excellence Academy (CEA), a training and consulting firm for individuals interested in starting careers in the aforementioned fields. She serves on the Workforce Development Board for the City of Los Angeles, the WTS National Steering Committee for Women-Owned Small Business Roundtable, and the VICA Scholarship Foundation Board. She is passionate about developing and empowering the Los Angeles workforce and communities to keep raising their socio-economic status by connecting individuals to careers and training opportunities.
MARSHA WATKINS, BOARD SECRETARY
RETIRED REGIONAL DIRECTOR, DSP AT LA COUNTY OFFICE OF EDUCATION
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Marsha began her career with the Los Angeles County Office of Education in 1978. She taught special education for 14 years before becoming an administrator in alternative education and juvenile court schools. Marsha served in a variety of administrative positions with increasing responsibility including Principal, Senior Project Director, Regional Director, and Special Assistant to the Superintendent. She has worked tirelessly to educate and improve the lives of children with special needs, youth in foster care, and the juvenile justice system. After 34 years of public service, she retired and is currently coaching new administrators while continuing to work on behalf of at-promise youth.