The Young Professional Council Members
Melony Bethala is a feminist and researcher, and in her free time, a critic of contemporary poetry. As a Senior Research Analyst for Newmark Knight Frank, she serves as the lead researcher for an industry intelligence team that looks at workforce trends and how technology will change the future of business. Before moving to Los Angeles for this role, Bethala completed my PhD at the University of York in the UK, where she compared women’s rights and writing from Ireland and India. She also holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin and a BA in English from Emory University. “Working on my doctoral project made me realize the incredible struggles that women, and people of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status, face in achieving equality in this world. I want to dedicate my career to supporting women’s human rights abroad, and that starts by making a positive impact in my local community. I love teaching and continue to value education though I no longer work in academia. I welcome the opportunity to support students and their families here in LA.”
Kathleen Ketrick is a sustainability consultant and mechanical engineer, with a passion for social equity through education. Ketrick grew up in a military family that moved across the United States every two years, and feels strongly about the devoted public school teachers and programs that empowered her to become an engineer. “The life-changing opportunity I had should be available to all students in Los Angeles, and I’d like to devote my career to equipping historically marginalized students for the professional opportunities available in a new green deal economy. Beyond the realm of professional careers, I’d also like to help students build the personal resiliency needed to take on the challenges brought on by the 21st century, and help them realize their own potential to direct the City of Los Angeles for more sustainable, equitable outcomes.”
Originally from the Atlanta area, Shakori Fletcher is a vision-oriented professional who is passionate about content, authentic media representation of people of color, and advancement of issues surrounding inequality. She currently works as the Executive Assistant to the CEO at One Community, LLC, a production company and 501c3 that leverages its investments into TV and film projects to create social impact.
Lucas Smolic graduated from Emerson College in 2007 after successfully running numerous non-profit organizations in Boston for under-served youth and is still a proud member of the Big-Brothers-of-Mass-Bay 15 years on-going. In Los Angeles for over 10 years, Smolic has had the pleasure to volunteer through his work with PATH, GirlsCodeLA, AfterSchoolAllstars, and other programs that make the future brighter for everyone. Most recently, he was the VP of Engineering at AwesomenessTV, where he helped create movies and TV that promoted inclusion, diversity, and STEAM topics. When he’s not working, you’ll find him in the garden, painting brightly colored landscapes, or hiking to the top of mountains
Karla Torres serves as the Community Development Specialist for the Microsoft LA region, where she deploys STEM resources to local schools and nonprofits. She has enjoyed a dynamic career in social services agencies and local government– both working to support traditionally marginalized populations. While in grad school she helped develop a nonprofit named Bridget, which helps local teen girls build digital workforce development skills while connecting them to mentors in local corporations. Karla was born and raised in Anaheim, CA, received her M.S. in Social Entrepreneurship from USC and her B.S. in Health Education from Cal State Long Beach. She is a current HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality) fellow and a Clinton Foundation Global Initiative University alum. Karla enjoys building community, traveling, and laughing uncontrollably.
Ricky Vega is an architect at Gensler. He has designed mixed-use projects throughout the US and Canada. He currently leads Gensler’s mentoring program and is a lead mentor for ACE and the USC Hybrid High. He has tutored at various urban middle schools while working with the Neighborhood Partnership Program. Vega received his B.A. in Art History and Visual Arts at Occidental College and his Master of Architecture at Columbia University.
Tiffany Wong is a software developer and consultant with an unconventional background. Before graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric, Wong lead the campus’ premiere competitive hip-hop dance team and co-founded the first college chapter of CoachArt, an arts and athletics community for families impacted by childhood chronic illness. After graduating, Wong worked at an early-stage startup where she learned the enabling power of building software to solve problems and soon made a career out of it. Wong currently works at a renowned product development consultancy called Carbon Five, where she helps startups and enterprise companies alike build meaningful products with effective processes and volunteers with organizations such as Women Who Code and Girl Develop It in her free time.
Alex Zaman is a Director within Citigroup’s Municipal Securities Division, where he works with state and local governments to finance infrastructure projects. He received his degree in Political Economy and City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. Zaman is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR).