Safe Parking LA Leadership Team

leadership

Silvia M. Gutierrez

Executive Director

silviag@safeparkingla.org

full bio →

Silvia M Gutierrez has worked in the social service sector for over 20 years working to end homelessness with a personal mission to “make a difference every single day.” She joined Safe Parking LA as Executive Director in May 2020. Silvia has extensive experience and expertise leading organizations strategically towards sustainability and growth.

Silvia’s leadership experience includes serving as executive director of Bridge to Home in Santa Clarita and the Immaculate Heart Community in Los Angeles. She also served as Associate Director for Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women and Children for six years. She has experience leading an array of programs for men, women, and families within the continuum of care for our unhoused community.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Union Institute and University and a Masters in Executive Leadership from the University of Southern California. She was born in Mexico and raised in Los Angeles, California. She loves spending time with her grandchildren and is an avid reader. As a leader she believes in continually investing in the development of her team and herself.

Andrew Morales

Deputy Executive Director

andrewm@safeparkingla.org

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Andrew Morales has been as an administrator for nonprofits with twelve years of experience working alongside the residential team addressing the need for domestic violence services with-in Southern California. During his career, Andrew successfully led a team that secured federal funds for capital repairs needed to sustain the habitably of the emergency shelter. Andrew has created and maintained the residential programs policy and procedures that is rooted in being client centered, which aided in removing barriers to those seeking haven, and embolden policy around keeping clients safe while participating in residential services.

Early in his social work career, Andrew led a team of children advocates where he was responsible for training employees on the effects of trauma on children, facilitating adult and children’s groups, and led on boarding training for all new residential staff. This training would go on to be implemented in the state approved 40 Hour Domestic Violence Training, which is a mandated training to work with survivors of domestic violence. Andrew has a BA degree in Psychology and Social Behavior.

Andrew joined Safe Parking LA in January 2022 as Director of Programs overseeing all direct services and lot operations.

Aurea Baltazar

Director of Programs

aureab@safeparkingla.org

full bio →

Aurea Baltazar, Director of Program, joined Safe Parking LA in 2020. Aurea is a first generation, Zapotec woman raised in Los Angeles. At SPLA Aurea has demonstrated her leadership by contributing to systems and operational changes that have supported the case management team. She completed her undergraduate degree at CSULA, where she earned a BA in Social Work. Following graduation, she began her career in the nonprofit sector working with families to provide them emergency food and housing, supporting students who were academically struggling, and advocating for domestic violence survivors.

She has over 7 years of experience in community organizing, working with families, and using culturally informed practices to pave pathways to success. Her personal experiences navigating public systems, supporting her family, and being a single undocumented mother have influenced her work. Beyond work, Aurea prioritizes reconnecting with her roots, investing in her community, and spending quality time with her son.

Carmela Carreno

Development Manager

carmelac@safeparkingla.org

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In her current position as Development Manager, Carmela Carreno helps to build Safe Parking LA’s base of support and grow its funding streams. Her approach to fundraising is informed by a community-centric mindset that uplifts belonging, interdependence and transformation. For Carmela, all who engage in strengthening the organization are equally valued, whether volunteer, staff, donor, or board member.

Carmela has over 10 years of nonprofit fundraising experience working for organizations such as United Way of Santa Barbara County, Just Communities Central Coast (formerly the National Conference for Community and Justice of the Central Coast), and Transition House in Santa Barbara. Her volunteer and “side gig” involvement includes support for groups working on tenants’ rights, voter education, immigration reform, human trafficking, and economic justice, where she specifically leveraged her professional knowledge of fundraising to help develop the capacity of grassroots organizations.

Carmela believes deeply in the vital role nonprofits serve in building healthier communities and advancing social change. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara, as well as a certificate in project management from UCSB Extension. A self-proclaimed extrovert, she loves staying active and spending time with others, most of all her daughter, Sasha, and her two sons, Alex and Nico.

Linard Williams

Lot Operations Supervisor

linardw@safeparkingla.org

full bio →

Linard Williams recently joined safe parking LA as the Lot Supervisor in early September of 2022. His leadership experience and over 15 years of management development and coaching will assist in the infrastructure required to successfully expand program services to assist in ending homelessness. Linard will be a force in supporting the expansion and building of various programs and services in the upcoming future. He became a member of the vision that replicates never giving up on an uphill battle of homelessness.

Linard enjoyed the last two years working in the nonprofit sector of a startup organization, Infinite Health. His leadership assisted in the organization of building a program that served the second largest school district in Los Angeles County. He helped develop the program serving over 110,000 Pandemic Response Lab (PRL) weekly tests to support health and safety issues. He looked forward to students continuing their school academic and sports programs while testing schools all over the Los Angeles region daily.

Linard Has a Bachelor of Science in Business with a certificate in General Management from the University of Phoenix. He was born in the southern state of Arkansas, in a city named Little Rock. He transplanted to California and made his home in Orange County. He loves both his sons and two grandchildren. His hobby is fixing and working on classic cars. His first passion is playing golf.

programs

Anna Ruiz

Lead Case Manager

Sergio Bedolla

Case Manager

Mirna Camarena

Case Manager

Trevor Casillas

Compliance Coordinator

Monica Cruz

Case Manager

Tamara Arredondo

Executive Assistant

Paula Guzman

Operations Coordinator

Sarinea Meserkhani

Intake Program Assistant

Maya Reza

Administrative Assistant

Dolores Sanico

Volunteer Coordinator

Jeff Sanico

Lot Coordinator

Camie Vega

Intake Coordinator

DEI metrics

  • BIPOC led organization (Executive Director is Latina)
  • 26% of the advisory board is BIPOC
  • 50% of the executive committee of the advisory board is BIPOC
  • 1 advisory board member has lived experience
  • 69% of our staff is BIPOC
  • 11% of our staff identify as LGBTQ+

View the Strategic Plan.

advisory board

Robert Norris

Chair

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Formerly a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Vice President of the Century Housing Corporation in Los Angeles California for eleven years. Century Housing has produced over 14,000 units of affordable housing in the Los Angeles area. At Century Housing Corporation, his areas of responsibility were Century Community Training Program (an all-construction trades pre-apprenticeship training program) the Century Learning Initiatives for today afterschool tutorial program in affordable rental housing, First time Homebuyer Counseling Services, and More Than Shelter for Seniors.

Robert is a combat veteran with service in the U.S. Marine Corps in Viet Nam., served on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and LINC Housing. Robert has been honored for his role in assisting the development and opening of the Central Coast Veterans Cemetery on the former Fort Ord in Monterey, California.

Robert has undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Black Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey Indonesian Language Long Course. He has a master’s degree in Organizational Development and has completed the City of San Diego Management Academy for Senior Executives.

Robert is a recipient of the White House Community Drum Major Award for his work with the Faith Based Community. His hobbies are reading fiction and non-fiction, playing golf, and listening to Jazz.

Gary S. Cohn

Vice Chair

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Gary brings over thirty years of non-profit and development experience to his work as a trusted advisor. He began his work as a middle market banker from 1977-1992. Providing banking services and counsel for privately owned businesses with sales from $5-100 million. After being trained in credit, he led a sales and marketing team for several large California banks leaving Union Bank in 1992 to move into the non-profit sector.

Gary became the Executive Director of Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco from 1991-2007. Temple Emanu-El is one of the leading congregations in Reform Judaism with over 2,000 families founded in 1850. There he managed all business aspects of the congregation plus membership services and executing program. Gary was responsible for an annual budget of $15 million and an endowment equities and real estate of over $40 million.

In 2008 he became the Regional Director of American Technion Society in the Pacific Northwest (Silicon Valley to Seattle) raising funds to support the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. From 20015 until 2020 Gary held Senior Vice President/Major Gift roles at Alzheimer’s Association and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

In 2020, Gary founded Painted Rock Advisors. Painted Rock Advisors provides services to the philanthropic and non-profit communities. Painted Rock Advisors is a spin off from Brock & Associates established in 1993 by Holly Brock Cohn.

Gary serves on the Board of Directors of Hillel 818 and previously served on the Board of Directors of the American Red Cross-Bay Area, the San Francisco Food Bank and Bentley School. He was on the Advisory Board of City National Bank from 2000-2007.

Gary attended California State University at Long Beach and received his BS from the College of Business. He was honored as Alumnus of the Year for the College of Business in 2009.

Gary lives in Woodland Hills and has a daughter, Erica, who works in the entertainment industry.

Tim Wilson

Secretary

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Being a business builder and entrepreneur his entire career, Tim has worked across industries – Automotive, Hospitality, Loyalty – and across analog and digital worlds. He understands getting his hands dirty and getting things done.

And when it comes to the philanthropic endeavors in his life, Tim has embraced the same ‘get things done’ philosophy. Whether it is starting an in hospital after school program for children with cancer (Ooch-Too-Nite) helping kids attend overnight camp when they couldn’t afford it (AMICI) or participating in 12 hour golf marathons to raise money for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Tim’s focus in Canada was helping kids be kids.

When he moved to Los Angeles in 2015, that focus shifted to a need that he saw every day going to work – homelessness. Starting as a volunteer talking to clients in 2019, Tim eagerly accepted the opportunity to join the Advisory Board of Safe Parking LA in 2020 and is honored to be the first Board of Directors Secretary when their 501(c) 3 status is confirmed later in 2022.

Charline Sistrunk

Treasurer

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Charline has been in the financial sector for over thirty years. She started her career in finance working for a Fortune 500 investment company on Wall Street for eight years, then transitioned to working in the mortgage industry for past 25 years.

Charline has a bachelors degree in Business Management with a focus in finance. She is an avid believer in empowerment through education and taught financial literacy at several nonprofit organizations.

Today, along with her career in mortgage banking, Charline has a podcast and YouTube channel focused on encouraging her audience to take their success to the next level by exploring the benefits of perusing their financial goals to create generational wealth and legacy. Being well versed in both mortgage and investment banking Charline interviews industry experts as well as successful entrepreneurs.

Charline is the CEO of The Finance Bunch Media Group,LLC. She is a Certified Life and Business Coach. She is also the host of The Finance Bunch Presents: GIRL TALK, a podcast and YouTube channel.

Ira Cohen

Founder

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Ira Cohen’s long and varied retail career has taken him from Macy’s to Mervyns to Trader Joes where you may remember hearing him on Trader Joe’s radio commercials, “…this is Ira Cohen of Trader Joes!”.  He traveled throughout the world to change the product assortment there from primarily Wine, alcohol and cheese to a varied selection including produce, expansion of the frozen category, many new fresh products, flowers and more.

Since his retirement and along with his cherished wife Pat and friend Dr. Scott Sale, he founded Safe Parking, L.A. aimed at helping the approximately 16,000 homeless individuals who live in their vehicles.  A veteran, drafted at the age of 21 and served during the Korean War, the Safe Parking Lot at the VA is particularly close to his heart.  Ira is a graduate of Adelphi University on Long Island has two children, two grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Pat Cohen

Founder

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Pat Cohen has had a multi-faceted career beginning as a travel agent and then finding her stride in public relations where she specialized in the political arena. She moved on to Real Estate and later owned and operated her own replica Jewelry Store in Beverly Hills, Lanciani.

Together with her husband and fellow board member Ira Cohen and friend Scott Sale, she founded the non-profit Safe Parking, L.A. which manages parking lots that provide a safe haven for the homeless who live and sleep in their vehicles. Safe Parking and its wrap-around services have changed the lives of many formerly homeless individuals. Pat and her husband of over 25 years reside in Los Angeles and continue to support various charities in the Greater Los Angeles area.

Scott Sale, MD

Founder

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Scott Sale MD was a practicing internist in St Louis, Mo until 1999 when he and his family relocated to LA for his wife’s career. Scott continued to practice medicine in Los Angeles on a part-time basis until 2013.

Starting in 2004 he joined the board of New Directions, Inc which he chaired from 2012-2014.

In 2008 he started mentoring with Imagine LA and eventually joined and chaired the Board. Through his work at these 2 organizations and his synagogue, Leo Baeck temple, he became interested in people experiencing homelessness who lived in their vehicles. He founded Safe Parking LA with his Leo Baeck colleagues, Pat and Ira Cohen in Nov 2016 and was the Executive Director until May 2020. He has served as a Neighborhood Councilman for 3 years in the Mid City West area and is now very interested in supporting the Tiny Homes concept.

Ori Blumenfeld

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Mr. Blumenfeld is Senior Counsel at Levinson Arshonsky & Kurtz where he focuses his practice in all areas of complex bankruptcy and insolvency, corporate restructuring, distressed assets, acquisition and disposition, and related litigation matters. In terms of his corporate bankruptcy expertise, Mr. Blumenfeld has represented debtors, trustees, and both secured and unsecured creditors in bankruptcy courts. In addition, a substantial portion of his work consists of serving as general or special counsel to federal and state receivers appointed to general equity, Family Code, rents and profits, Health and Safety Code, and regulatory receiverships, as well as bankruptcy trustees, and other fiduciaries. He has significant civil litigation experience defending and prosecuting actions on behalf of receivers and businesses. He also provides legal counsel for partition referees, successor trustees, and provisional directors in matters involving property and business disputes.

Mr. Blumenfeld has been recognized by Super Lawyers and Law Dragon for his achievements in Bankruptcy Law.

 

Mr. Blumenfeld received his B.A. in History from the University of California at Berkeley, and his Juris Doctor from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law.

 

From 2014-2021, Mr. Blumenfeld previously served as a Commissioner on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Beverly Hills.

 

Mr. Blumenfeld also serves on the Board of Managers for the University of West Los Angeles School of Law.

 

Mr. Blumenfeld loves to travel, scuba dive, and all things soccer.

Nancy Hammerman

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Nancy Hammerman is a Senior VP at Sutton Capital Partners, a technology investment banking firm. Nancy heads up research and marketing and is also the co-founder of the Recurring Revenue Conference –an annual technology conference bringing together multiple industry leaders focused on the subscription economy.

Since 2008 Nancy has coached entrepreneurs for the Social Innovation Fast Pitch Competition; for Manhattan BeachTEDx; CNN Heroes: for the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Living Progress Challenge, for the United Way Homelessness Challenge and TechStars LA. Nancy serves on the board of the Women Founders Network and is the producer of Tech&Homelessness: A Call to Action. Her past activities have included serving on the board of the Harvard Business School Association of Southern California and Social Venture Partners.

Victor Hinderliter

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Victor has dedicated himself to serving people experiencing homelessness since he arrived in Los Angeles in 2008. Over the past 14 years, he has overseen a variety of homeless programs, from homeless street outreach to interim and permanent housing programs. He played integral roles in the development and expansion of the County’s Coordinated Entry System and Coordinated Outreach System, which serve as the foundation of delivering homeless services in LA County.

As the Acting Director of the LA Homeless Services Authority’s Access and Engagement Department, he oversaw the daily deployment of 200 outreach workers providing life-saving services to unhoused individuals across the County during the COVID pandemic. In his current role as the LA County Department of Health Services Director of Street Based Engagement, his teams bring medical and behavioral health services directly to encampments and other unsheltered settings across the County.

Victor is passionate about leveraging his experience, knowledge, and relationships to support Safe Parking LA’s crucial work in helping people living in their cars find safety, solace and a pathway back into their own homes. He in turn is supported by his amazing wife Korinne and two beautiful children, Caleb and Carmen.

Gregory Kushner

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Gregory Kushner founded Lido Advisors in 1999 with the goal of ensuring that his clients are “fiscally fit” with a healthy financial portfolio in all areas of their lives. Kushner works with investments and strategy for ultra-high net-worth investors and family offices to provide objective and personal financial solutions and multi-generational planning. In addition to his current role as Chairman, Kushner continues to serve client relationships as an investment advisor representative of Lido, including all aspects of managing their wealth.

Prior to founding Lido Advisors, LLC, Kushner founded Lido Consulting, Inc., in 1995 to provide consulting services for family offices. Services include implementing best practices within the family office structure, extending to all facets of running and maintaining a family office. The firm provides resources on several topics important to the effective management of wealth. Lido Consulting hosts many “invitation-only” events every year where Kushner acts as Conference Chairman and moderator. Topics include investment strategy, economic outlook, risk management, family office creation and management, charitable giving, asset allocation, and updates regarding the impact of government and political activities impacting the ultra-high net worth community.

Kushner discovered a passion for sharing his financial knowledge in 2009, when he hosted a weekly radio show about investing and personal finance on KABC 790AM in Los Angeles that ran until 2010. He was the Keynote Speaker at the AM 870 Wealth Summit (February 2018) and has periodically been a host of financial shows on the same channel. Recently, Kushner discovered a new platform for sharing his insights with the public by becoming a Forbes Finance Council contributor. Kushner also speaks regularly on issues relating to the management of substantial wealth throughout Southern California. Kushner also is a featured speaker annually for Pepperdine University’s Certificate in Financial Management for the Family Office program including courses on due diligence, investment policy statements, and asset allocation.

Kushner earned a Bachelor of Science degree (cum laude) in Business Administration from USC (1978). Kushner is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant (inactive). Kushner is active in the community, volunteering his time as well as serving as a Director and Chief Financial Officer of a private family foundation called the Tech Sgt. Jack Kushner Ret’d Foundation, that provides substantial grants to veteran’s causes throughout the United States. In 2020, the foundation made grants over $350,000 for veterans causes.

Ellen Sloan

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Ellen worked for over 20 years in finance, investments, and accounting at Bank of America, City National Bank, and Price Waterhouse.  Additionally she has been a serial entrepreneur and intrapreneur and understands the ups and downs along the journey to entrepreneurial success.

Ellen is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University’s Graduate Social Entrepreneurship program.  She recently co-created a new course on Digital Advocacy.  She has also been a coach and mentor for Episcopal Social Enterprise Academy and serves on one of their advisory boards.

She is on the Advisory Council for REDF, a venture philanthropy organization that invests exclusively in social enterprises.  She is a past member of the Santa Monica Social Service Commission and volunteers for Bread & Roses and Food Forward.

the history of Safe Parking LA