Housing and Houselessness Leadership Network
2024 Cohort

Ashley McKay
Senior Program Associate
Impact Justice

Ashley is the Senior Program Associate of Housing and Partnerships for The Homecoming Project in Los Angeles. Where she connects formerly incarcerated individuals to homes in the community and is pushing to change expectations about what we can accomplish together. Ashley transitioned into homeless services over 10 years ago, most recently being in East Los Angeles. While there, she developed and directed city and regional homeless prevention programs where she led efforts to combat client housing barriers. Ashley piloted and executed an Older Adult Program in East Los Angeles which allowed seniors to age in place. Her professional goal is to continue to develop programs that are more inclusive and accessible to the people they serve. Ashley McKay hopes to sharpen her skills around public narrative and adaptive leadership.

Audrey Pearson
Team Lead/Case Manager

Audrey Pearson is currently serving as Team Lead/Case Manager at a South LA Homeless Outreach Agency located in Spa 6. In her 6-year tenure, Audrey is a trailblazer and innovative outreach worker who utilizes her lived experiences, gifts, and tools of techniques to approach her daily tasks as a beacon of light for the unhoused population, a Mental Health Advocate, LGBTQIA++ Leader, Community Activist, Poet, and Writer.

Throughout her Social Work career, Audrey has worked to help an array of demographics in her 30 professional years serving the community, low-income families, Missouri Div. of Youth Services-Juvenile Detention Centers, Children & Family Services, Adults with Persistent & Severe Mental Illness, Children’s Psychiatric Hospital.

Audrey is a woman of many hats and is humbled by the opportunities she has been afforded. She began her work in the LGBTQIA++ community 25 years ago. Audrey began to evolve in the LGBTQ community and became the 1st recognized Female President of St. Louis Black Pride in 2010. Audrey’s networking and bridge building approach has been an enjoyable journey. After serving on the Black Pride Board, Audrey briefly became a member of the Pride St. Louis Board.

Audrey is a multi-dimensional thinker, community organizer who in 2011 founded a small community service organization who helped the homeless on the streets of St. Louis, Mo. called, InTheLyfe St. Louis. The 100-volunteer led organization cooked homemade hot foods, collected clothing, and provided unhoused individuals and families with entertainment from Friends, church members & other community organizations in collaboration. Audrey is a strong believer in community involvement from everyone to combat the Mental Health and Housing Crisis.

Audrey’s work with various business owners and performers led her to host various fundraisers for the homeless, rallies and community panel discussions. In her pursuit for a bigger fish, Audrey later made an important move to Los Angeles, Ca. on September 9, 2017. Since moving to Los Angeles, Audrey has been working to pursue her dreams as a Screenwriter, Activism and working on the frontlines with LA’s unhoused population.

Audrey has made several accomplishments since moving to LA and pride’s herself in helping to end homelessness thru housing vulnerable populations such as, the elderly, veterans, young adults, and so many others who have come across Audrey’s zeal and great intentions to help heal, be a catalyst for change and support those experiencing a lack of resources as they navigate thru systemic hurdles.

Audrey received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri, St. Louis. In Psychology, minor in Sociology & Certificate in Women’s Studies. During the Pandemic, Audrey attended film school at UCLA Extension Program to harness her craft. Audrey is currently working on a few projects and is looking forward to some day having her scripts & documentaries shared with movie goers.

Ben Cassorla
Urban Environmentalists

Ben Cassorla, a Lead Organizer at Urban Environmentalists, has been working on Housing and Houselessness issues for the better part of the past decade, whether it be organizing a Community Sourced Housing Campaign for LA Forward or founding a pandemic direct aid organization called HEY NEIGHBOR that marshaled Neighborhood Council budgets in service of low income elementary school students and their families.

Though the challenges Angelenos face are complex, he remains convinced that effective solutions are possible, especially after experiencing the devotion of his colleagues at the Midnight Mission, LA Forward, HEY NEIGHBOR, and Urban Environmentalists. In his spare time, he hosts a Housing Policy Book Club, produces music, and watches Spanish soap operas. With his Coro Cohort, he hopes to learn how to effectively lead and support Housing coalitions to bridge ideological divides in the name of progress.

Brian Younessi
Vice President of Development and Acquisitions
Highland Park Developments

Brian is the Vice President of Development and Acquisitions at Highland Park Developments based in Los Angeles. He leads the sourcing, underwriting, and execution of all investments across retail, industrial, multi-family projects. Brian’s passion for affordable housing began in New York, where he worked in real estate private equity investing in self-storage opportunities and section 8 housing in the tri-state area. As affordable housing becomes more prevalent in Los Angeles, Brian looks forward to collaborating with fellow leaders to facilitate efficient and innovative strategies geared towards the long term benefit of our communities.

Brittany Jones
Homeless Services Consultant

Brittany is an LA Native who is passionate about equity. She is currently a Non-Profit Public Affairs consultant. Brittany received her Masters of Urban and Public Policy from The New School and her Bachelors degree in Political Communication. Outside of her work in Public Affairs Brittany enjoys grassroots organizing. Brittany believes that housing is one of the greatest indicators of inequity and is eager to join Coro build community with other Angelinos who are passionate about change making.

Brittany Mullins
LA Metro, HOME

My name is Brittany Mullins. I’m the Director of LA Metro’s HOME Department. I oversee all contracts and operations of Metro’s homeless outreach initiatives while working with internal and external stakeholders on collaborative strategies to mitigate homelessness on the transit system. I enjoy having intellectual debates on complex issues and I absolutely love to travel. I hope to gain insight and strengthen my perspective on the challenges, opportunities and solutions of our societal institution as it relates to homelessness.

Carielle Escalante
Director of Community Housing
Rainbow Services, Ltd

Since 2015 Carielle has worked in different capacities at Rainbow Services. Previously she served as the Domestic Violence Regional Coordinator (DVRC) for Service Planning Area 8 in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (CoC). In the DVRC role she worked towards building and strengthening relationships between domestic violence service providers and homeless service providers with the goal of providing equitable access to resources to survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault. Recently Carielle has transitioned into the role of Director of Community Housing, where she oversees several grants that support domestic violence survivor’s housing needs. Additionally, Carielle co-leads the Domestic Violence Homeless Service Coalition (DVHSC), where she supports with the collaboration and networking of victim service providers and homeless providers. Carielle also participates as a member of the Los Angeles County Coordinated Entry System (CES) Policy Council, where she oversees the development of policy and implementation procedures that supports the alignment and efficiency of the homeless system and sits on City of Los Angeles Domestic Violence Alliance Executive Board as treasurer. Joining the Housing & Houselessness Leadership Network presents a unique opportunity for me to learn from experienced professionals, share experiences, and gain exposure to a diverse range of perspectives and approaches. Through this network, I aim to establish a support system that extends beyond traditional boundaries, creating a space for shared learning, mentorship, and collaborative problem-solving.

Carlos Aguilar
Director of Organizing
Coalition for Economic Survival

Carlos Aguilar is the Director of Organizing for the Coalition for Economic Survival (CES), where he works with staff to ensure they have the support and tools necessary to advocate for the right of all tenants to have safe, healthy and affordable housing. He works on program management and implementation for eviction prevention programs such as Emergency Rental Assistance and Stay Housed LA Tenant Education Workshops as well as outreach and education efforts for healthy housing initiatives like Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention and tenant empowerment to combat slum housing and displacement.

Carlos has over 20 years of community and labor organizing experience and hopes to continue learning and connecting with others as part of the Housing and Houselessness Leadership Network because he believes we need to dig deeper across sectors and build trust so we can collaborate to find better solutions to our current housing issues.

Courtney Miles
Field Organizer
Abundant Housing LA

Courtney Alicia Miles, a native of Gardena, is a Field Organizer with Abundant Housing LA. She offers support and coalition building for various chapters within Los Angeles County, advocating for justice, equity, affordability, and accessibility in the Housing space. Since middle school, Courtney has been involved with political campaigns on the local, state, and federal level. Creating bonds with people and educating the public has always been a priority for her when volunteering. She has also been involved with operations for the 2020 Census, poll working for local and general elections, being a member of her university’s student Board of Directors, and interned for the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Budget and Innovation. In her spare time, Courtney enjoys cooking, vintage shopping, collecting Stevie Wonder records, and playing dominoes with family. She hopes to strengthen her skill set of advocacy and amplify more voices from her Coro participation.

David Eisenman
Senior Acquisitions Manager
Merritt Community Capital

David Eisenman is the Senior Acquisitions Manager at Merritt Community Capital, a California-based non-profit affordable housing investor. Since joining Merritt he has underwritten and deployed over $400MM in investments in 100%-affordable housing projects throughout California. David joined Merritt in 2020, bringing over twelve years of experience at the intersection of public and private real estate and finance in both California and New York. He began his career in the public sector, working on public-private real estate transactions for the City of New York, including a variety of mixed-income, mixed-use projects totaling over $1B in public and private investment. David also managed high-rise residential development projects in San Francisco and Manhattan. He earned his MBA from UC Berkeley and his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Urban Studies from Yale University. He is new to Los Angeles and excited to meet other passionate SoCal housers by participating in Coro!

David Robinson
Director of Field Based Services, Community Based Housing
Downtown Women’s Center

David Robinson serves as the Director of Field-Based Services at Downtown Women’s Center, where he oversees inclusive and responsive housing programs: Housing for Health and Housing Navigation. He has aided in the development and implementation of Project 100, an innovative housing measure intended to rapidly focus efforts on stabilizing 100 women in Skid Row. Ultimately, the success of the program has expanded to the now, Housing Justice program, which now serves hundreds of women a year. Beyond his professional endeavors, David finds solace in the world of music and live concerts. Rooted in the values of compassion and intergenerational healing, he prioritizes quality time with his family, cherishing moments that strengthen his close relationships. David is continuously seeking to expand his knowledge of innovative and transformative social justice theories and learn new ideas centered in housing justice, and he anticipates this cohort will expand his knowledge and community connections.

Desarae Jones
Senior Director, Special Projects, Office of the Chief Executive Officer
LA Metro

In her current tenure with LA Metro, Desarae Jones serves as the Senior Director, Special Projects in the Office of the CEO. Notably, she most recently oversaw the $65 million program expansion and strategic partnerships for Metro’s Homeless Outreach, Management and Engagement (HOME) unit; prioritizing services and housing for unhoused transit riders. She also lead the Transit Ambassador program development, which launched in 2022 as the largest of its kind in the US. She’s also worked as a key state legislative policy staffer in the Government Relations unit at Metro, for over 5 years, advocating for legislative changes and funding for Los Angeles transportation priorities in Sacramento. In her free time, Desarae advocates for people experiencing homelessness in LA County through her work as a volunteer and member of Union Station Homeless Services Board of Directors. Ms. Jones holds a BA in Political Science from HBCU Spelman College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia State University.

Emily Goodburn
Director of Domestic Violence Housing
Downtown Women’s Center

Emily Goodburn is the Director of Domestic Violence Housing at the Downtown Women’s Center. She oversees multiple Time Limited Subsidy programs, focused on meeting the needs of Domestic Violence Survivors in Los Angeles County using a housing first model. She has been working in the field of Social Work for over a decade, with a focus on Violence Prevention.

Hakeem Parke-Davis

Driven by a deep love for Los Angeles, Hakeem Parke-Davis has dedicated over a decade to shaping its future as a City Planner. With a focus on housing, transportation, recreation, and economic development, he has played a key role in planning over 100 high-density housing projects, including permanent supportive housing, mixed-income developments, and transit-oriented communities. Hakeem’s passion for equitable land use planning extends beyond projects. As Deputy of Planning and Land-Use in Council District 10, he tackled high-visibility initiatives like economic development programs, oil drilling obsolescence, and fair housing policies, all while ensuring service delivery and equitable planning throughout the district. A third-generation civil servant, Hakeem takes immense pride in serving his city and remains committed to creating a Los Angeles with abundant opportunities for all. He mentors youth as an extracurricular activity.

James Johnson
General Counsel
Housing Authority of the City of L.A.

James serves as the General Counsel to the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA), one of the largest housing authorities in America and the biggest provider of affordable housing in Los Angeles. At HACLA, James provides oversight over all legal services and manages the work of HACLA’s internal legal team and outside counsel.

James previously served as Deputy County Counsel/Team Leader for the “Housing for Health” Team dedicated to helping house the houseless in Los Angeles County as well as General Counsel for Rancho Los Amigos Hospital.

James has also served as an elected official representing the 7th Council District of Long Beach, the most diverse district of America’s most diverse mid-size city. Additionally, James has taught Business Law and Criminal Law at CSULB, served as Assistant City Auditor of Long Beach, and practiced law as an associate at law firm Morrison & Foerster.

Jennifer Smith
Program Manager

Jennifer Smith is the program manager at Southern California Health and Rehabilitation Program (SCHARP). In the capacity as a program manager, Jennifer oversees a total of 13 staff who support over 120 clients living in the greater Los Angeles area struggling with mental health and receiving support with being permanently housed. Jennifer enjoys watching murder mysteries, shopping and engaging in self-care activities (massages, manicures, pedicures) loves meditation and journaling. Being given this opportunity will support Jennifer in broadening her scope of practice, understanding the root of the homeless epidemic as well as networking and forming bonds with those who may have the same drive, passion and motivation to help.

John Ma
Director of Product
Miracle Messages

John is Director of Product at Miracle Messages, overseeing how the organization’s unhoused program participants, volunteers, and donors discover, experience, and support its programs, both in-person and virtually. He works on the ground in Los Angeles County with unhoused individuals, service providers, government agencies, and community groups, while managing broader communication and growth strategies. As an LA resident of 16 years, he is President of the West Adams Neighborhood Council where he has rented for 11 years, and board member of the City and County electoral and community organizing group Ground Game LA. In his personal time, he enjoys weightlifting and recreational circus arts, year-round ocean swims, and spending quality time with family and friends.

Lilit Bagdzhyan
Manager, Grants Management and Compliance Department

As a Manager in the Grants Management and Compliance Department, my responsibilities include managing daily operations of Grants Management small unit comprised of eight Grants Specialists. Business critical operations include efficient management of LAHSA service provider contract spenddown, financial reporting and compliance with the contractual terms and conditions, and other requirements associated with LAHSA’s various Funder and Grants Agreements. Supervise and mentor Grants Specialists to ensure continued professional development and timely and efficient completion of assigned tasks. Evaluate existing policies and procedures and recommend changes and work on updates or creation of new policies and procedures as needed. Serving as the primary liaison for LAHSA with its Funder and Grantors and service providers regarding the recapture and reprogramming of funds, budgets, and budget modifications. Review and approve reimbursement requests, manage spenddown and review, analyze data creating recommendations to help inform decision. Track and review team progress, identify and develop knowledge gaps based on observations to provide regular training and feedback through weekly one-on-ones and develop succession planning. Extracurricular activities include creating pieces of art using needle point canvas, playing piano and volunteer work in support of local board and care facility cooking for residents. What I hope to gain from my participation in Coro, is to gain a deeper understanding of the housing and homelessness issue and through network and collaboration develop skills and strengthen my knowledge to enhance my abilities for creating better solutions.

Louis Abramson
Adjunct Staff Member, Department of Engineering & Applied Sciences
RAND Corporation

Louis Abramson is an Adjunct Staff Member at the RAND Corporation where he works on quantitative and qualitative homelessness policy analyses. Outside of his professional studies, Louis supports his community’s most vulnerable members through direct service and system reform work. He actively serves on the boards of the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition and Hollywood4WRD—nonprofits committed to ending homelessness in Los Angeles—and formerly led LA Times-recognized food relief and homeless count efforts as an elected member of the Central Hollywood Neighborhood Council. These experiences catalyzed his State Assembly candidacy in 2022 to represent central LA, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica. Louis earned his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Chicago in 2015, and is excited to add his skills and experiences to Coro’s network of diverse leaders ready to confront our housing and homelessness crises with the honesty progress requires.

Maricruz Arzate
Critical Response Program Manager

Maricruz Arzate, a University of California Irvine graduate with a degree in Social Ecology, is dedicated to tackling social inequality through interdisciplinary approaches. As the Critical Response Program Manager at NCJW|LA, she excels in trauma-informed services and oversees rental assistance initiatives. Maricruz also manages the Guaranteed Income Department and oversees one of the seven California Department of Social Services Guaranteed Income Pilot Programs and an aging-in-place pilot program focused on housing stability. Drawing from personal experiences of homelessness, she is committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness. She believes in the transformative power of kindness and strives to strengthen the ripple effect from the acts of kindness she has received. Eager to enhance her leadership skills, Maricruz looks forward to contributing to innovative solutions for housing and homelessness challenges through the Coro program. Beyond work, she enjoys soccer activities with her children.

Marylou McLeod
Senior Director of Mental Health
The People Concern

Marylou McLeod, LCSW is the Senior Director of Mental Health for The People Concern. Marylou obtained her master’s degree in Social Work in 2018 from California State University, Long Beach. She has worked in community mental health, specifically in the Skid Row area since 2013. She started as a housing case manager and advanced through the ranks, eventually achieving the position of Senior Director. Currently, Marylou oversees three mental health teams including the Full Service Partnership (FSP) teams based in Skid Row and Santa Monica, and the Wellness Center which provides community based outpatient services to the Skid Row community. Marylou has also served as a field instructor to clinical interns from various MSW graduate programs since 2020. The focus of her role as a field instructor was to teach future clinicians how to provide clinical support to the unhoused population utilizing trauma informed care and harm reduction. Through Coro, Marylou hopes to build partnerships with other leaders across homeless services, and strengthen her leadership skills to continue supporting teams in this field.

Max Sherman
M. Sherman Consulting

Max is a fourth-generation Angeleno who specializes in public policy, government affairs and land use consulting. Most recently, he was the Associate Director of Government Affairs for the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles, the largest rental housing provider association in Southern California, where he oversaw advocacy and stakeholder relationships. Additionally, Max previously served as the Policy Manager for AvantStay, a tech-enabled hospitality company, where he built and led a Public Policy team that secured and maintained compliance in over 100 domestic markets. Outside of his professional work, Max is an avid USC and LAFC supporter, an attempted cook, and a decent tennis player. He is looking forward to working closely with his Coro cohort to find innovative solutions to help tackle housing and houselessness issues in Los Angeles.

Noelle Stanfield
Senior Director of Clinical and Housing Services
Safe Place for Youth

Noelle Stanfield, LCSW currently serves as the Senior Director of Clinical and Housing Services at Safe Place for Youth in Venice CA., and has over a decade of experience in community mental health and homeless services. Noelles impactful journey began with a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of Southern California. In her career, Noelle has worked with diverse vulnerable populations, including Veterans, transitional age youth, trauma survivors, and individuals managing chronic mental health disorders.

In her current role, Noelle provides clinical programming, training, and administrative oversight to case managers, therapists, interns, and residential housing programs. Her breadth of expertise spans crisis intervention, therapy, research, program/contract compliance, supporting grant writing, budget creation, and clinical supervision. Noelle also serves as a Senior Leadership Advisor for the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, and owns a small private practice. Through Coro participation, Noelle hopes to gain valuable knowledge and tools to enhance service delivery and collaborate with other leaders in homeless services.

Pamela Leo
Assistant Deputy
County of Los Angeles, Supervisor Mitchell

Pamela is Assistant Deputy of Economic and Community Development for Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. In her capacity she supports the Supervisor in policymaking across Housing, Planning, Economic and Workforce Development portfolios. In her spare time, Pamela loves to hike and listen to audiobooks on Libby. During her time with Coro, she hopes to deepen her project management and leadership skills, public speaking capabilities, and build confidence in herself.

Shakoya Green Long
Thomas House Family Shelter

Shakoya Green Long is a highly accomplished professional in the field of behavioral health and social services, boasting an impressive 23 years of experience. Originally from Southern California, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development from San Diego State University, followed by a Master of Human Behavior from National University. Not content with just one master’s degree, she went on to obtain a second master’s degree in Social Work from California State University Dominguez Hills.

What truly sets Mrs. Green Long apart is her personal connection to social services and the profound impact it has on individuals. Growing up in a household with parents struggling with addiction, she was raised by her maternal grandmother. These challenging circumstances have shaped her perspective and ignited her passion for making a difference. As an experienced Social Worker, she skillfully combines her own lived experiences with her exceptional management acumen to foster awareness of program goals, objectives, and desired outcomes among her staff. Her unwavering dedication to human development and community awareness has consistently propelled her professional growth and success.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Shakoya also values her personal life. She cherishes spending quality time with her loved ones, whether it’s her friends or family. She has a thirst for knowledge and finds joy in reading books and expanding her understanding of the world. Helping others is a core part of who she is, which led her and a friend to establish a non-profit organization called B2B Support Services Inc (Blessed to Be a Blessing). This organization is dedicated to assisting individuals from Compton and South Los Angeles, providing them with the support they need to thrive.

Currently, Mrs. Green Long holds the position of Chief Executive Officer at Thomas House Family Shelter in Garden Grove, California. At Thomas House, the focus is on empowering families experiencing homelessness, particularly those with children, to regain their independence and become self-sufficient.

Looking ahead, Shakoya hope to further develop her leadership skills and forge strategic partnerships. She believes that by doing so, she can continue to empower her teams and make a lasting impact on under-resourced communities. Her drive to create positive change remains unwavering, and she is committed to making a difference wherever she goes.

Sophia Rodriguez Homelessness Deputy, District 4
City of Los Angeles

Sophia Rodriguez currently serves as one of the Homelessness Deputies for the 4th District of the City of Los Angeles, where she oversees district-wide outreach teams and helps to coordinate with existing service providers. She strives to ensure that all unhoused residents in the district are connected with the resources they need, and hopes that Coro will help her create new pathways for bringing services to her constituents.

Zeke Sandoval
Public Policy Manager

Zeke is the Public Policy Manager for PATH, one of California’s largest and most impactful nonprofit homeless service providers and affordable housing developers. As policy manager, Zeke advocates for the hundreds of dedicated social workers and the thousands of people they serve on Los Angeles’ streets and sidewalks. Off the clock, Zeke volunteers for local campaigns and mutual aid groups, and enjoys finding the hidden vegetarian gems in LA’s world-class food scene. He is determined to make the most of the opportunities Coro offers to strengthen the network of Angelenos involved in ending homelessness.