John Yi is the Executive Director of Los Angeles Walks. Prior to joining LA Walks in 2019, John was the Advocacy Director for the American Lung Association in California, where he worked on strong tobacco control and air quality policies. At the Lung Association, John also served as a lead organizer by training tobacco control coalitions throughout the state. He helped bring smoke-free ordinances to over a dozen different cities, fighting back against secondhand smoke and Big Tobacco's efforts to target low-income and communities of color. John also served as the interim National Director for Parent Revolution, an education and social justice non-profit. In this role he led parent organizing campaigns in Texas, Oklahoma, Indiana, and Ohio. He received his master's degree at Georgetown University and his bachelor's degree at the University of Michigan. He is a brother of Pi Alpha Phi, speaks Korean and Russian, and loves to cook.
Daisy Villafuerte, MPL, joined Los Angeles Walks as the Advocacy and Engagement Manager in January 2018. Daisy grew up in Pico Rivera, a Latino suburb in Southeast Los Angeles County. Her previous work experiences in a clinical setting and in active transportation planning reinforced her belief in the importance of a connected, sustainable and accessible transportation system for all. Her interests include intersections of urban planning and public health (particularly mental health) and equitable community engagement in the planning process. She graduated from USC Sol Price School of Public Policy with a Masters in Planning with a concentration in Sustainable Land Use in May 2017.
Carmina R. Gomez joined Los Angeles Walks as the Programs Manager in December 2018. Carmina will develop programming that entices and mobilizes the public around safer streets initiatives and a healthier quality of life for Angelenos. In her professional and leadership experience, Carmina engaged communities to evaluate and address issues such as educational equity, health access, and sustainability. She served in the classroom as a High School Math Teacher for four years in New Mexico through Teach For America. Most recently, she implemented a cancer prevention program using a Promotora Model through USC’s Civic Engagement Office at the Health Science Campus. As a native of El Sereno, she continues to give back to her beloved community as a Board Member of the Wilson Mules Alumni Association and an Academic Coach for the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative at the Health Science Campus. Carmina earned a B.S. in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention from the University of Southern California and a Teacher Certification from the New Mexico Public Education Department.
Summer 2019 Fellows
Maamaloa Loumaile Finau is an undergraduate fellow at Los Angeles Walks through the CAUSE Leadership Academy. She is a rising Sophomore at Pierce College and plans on majoring in Political Science. Maamaloa is a first-generation college student. Her parents came from a small island in the South Pacific called Tonga. Maamaloa graduated with Honors from Monroe High School in the Law and Government Magnet Program. At Pierce College, she participated as the Chairman of the Young Democrats Club and the Club Representative of the Communications Club. Along with being a student, she continues to go back to her high school to help coach students in both the Mock trial and Speech and Debate team. Maamaloa is excited to join Los Angeles Walks this summer and is intrigued to learn more about this organization and what they are all about. She is here to learn and hopes that this experience will help navigate her way towards a specific career or passion. Although she is a part of the car community, she is also very much a user of public transportation and sees the value in it. Maamaloa is curious to see what goes behind an organization whose sole purpose is to help make others day-to-day lives easier. She loves to sing but loves food even more.
Firye Bediye is an undergraduate fellow with Los Angeles Walks through the UCLA Public Health Scholars Training Program. She is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and is currently a fourth year student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities majoring in Biology. She is also involved on campus as a board member of the UMN student group, Black Motivated Women, and a TA for a public health class. In the future, she intends to continue her education by pursuing a Masters in Public Health (MPH) and work in the public health field. Her interests within the field include environmental health and reproductive health. Since her family originates from Ethiopia, Firye speaks Amharic and loves Ethiopian food.
Arnold Shir is a graduate fellow with Los Angeles Walks through the UCLA Masters of Public Health program. Arnold received his BS in Kinesiology with an emphasis in physical activity, fitness, and society from San Francisco State University (SFSU). While at SFSU, Arnold participated in various physical activity research projects with his mentor and helped to coordinate the SFSU branch of 100 Citizens (now 3 WINS Fitness), a free community exercise program run by undergraduate students. Through his coursework and extracurricular experiences, he developed an interest in understanding how to utilize physical activity to improve the health of underserved communities, while simultaneously addressing the social determinants of health. While with Los Angeles Walks, Arnold hopes to understand how to improve the advocacy skills of community members. His goal is to help them understand how to become strong advocates who can create the change they want to see in their communities.
Mehmet Berker is a cartographer, GIS analyst, and graphic designer who uses traditional GIS software as well as graphic design software to create maps which seek to be informative as well as beautiful. He currently works freelance. Prior to this, he worked for Emerging Markets, Inc., and Emerging Markets Development Corporation, where he handled graphic design and GIS, assisted in research, and served as a project manager. Before moving to LA in 2012, Mehmet lived in Minneapolis, where he worked for the Ramsey County (MN) Parks and Rec Department, helping build a parks-finder webmap, Go Ramsey Communities. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Mehmet has also worked for Growth & Justice, a social and economic justice research and advocacy nonprofit in Minnesota, and for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. While his passion for pedestrian advocacy has grown immensely while living in LA without a car, he has always believed that a society is only as good as its most vulnerable members, and that everyone deserves happiness, safety, and respect.
Felicia Garcia is the Librarian at a middle school in the San Gabriel Valley. She received her BA in English Literature and Language from Cal State LA, and her Master’s in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. Felicia's interest in both urban planning and libraries comes from her desire to promote more equitable, livable communities. A native Angeleno, she has always lived car-free, choosing to bike, walk, run, and use public transportation to get around. Felicia’s interest in safe streets advocacy began when she was training for the Los Angeles Marathon in high school and realized firsthand the inequity people on foot face while she was out on long runs. In her community of Northeast LA, Felicia has been involved with grassroots coalitions such as Figueroa for All, where she organized demonstrations, sent out press releases, and generated media coverage to shed light on the injustices people face getting around when walking and biking, and to advocate for a safer street design for North Figueroa in Highland Park.
Azusena Favela is the Director of Programs & Operations at LURN. In this capacity, she oversees LURN’s initiatives, especially its community engagement efforts and micro-finance programs. Raised in South Central LA, her career has been dedicated to serving her community in the nonprofit, private, and philanthropic sectors. She specializes in development, community outreach initiatives, training residents on civic engagement, and forging public/private partnerships. She has degrees in Chicana/o Studies, History, and Community Economic Development. She currently serves as the President of the South Central Neighborhood Council. Azusena believes our sidewalks are the last truly democratic spaces in the city, as such all Angelenos deserve to occupy or navigate the streets free of harassment and safely without fear of injury.
Artineh Havan is a Project Control Manager at Metro and is currently assigned to the Westside Purple Line Extension Section 3 subway expansion project. While she completed high school and college in Los Angeles, she recently returned from a 16-year hiatus in New York City and is proud to say that she has largely continued her car-free lifestyle. Artineh is excited to be an advocate for pedestrians through L.A. Walks. She holds graduate degrees in public administration from USC and urban planning from NYU.
Daveed Kapoor contributes a diverse range of experience as an architect, united by his consistent passion for space that improves the quality of people’s lives. He began his professional career in 2000 at Johnston Marklee where he led the design of artist’s studios, restaurants, offices and custom homes, as well as participated in multiple award winning projects. In 2005 Daveed founded utopiad.org, a land development and architecture collective focused on redressing social justice issues in Los Angeles. Working with developers and operators Utopiad has designed, entitled, permitted and constructed multiple housing, hospitality, live/work, and manufacturing places in Los Angeles, Santa Monica and San Francisco. In 2011 Daveed began transforming warehouse office spaces with RAC Design Build, he was architect of their 3048 Coolidge riverfront headquarters and assisted in pre-acquisition, appraisal and financing of the project. Daveed commutes by bicycle and is a transit advocate who has implemented bus stops, bike lanes and bus only lanes. With the DLANC Complete Streets Working Group he helped design, and was permit architect of, the Spring Street Parklets. Follow Daveed at @daveedkapoor
Charu Kukreja is an urban planner, writer, and designer with broad experience on projects on the east coast and Southern California. Her work supports her vision to enhance transportation access and equity, and promote the development of vibrant, safe and walkable communities. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Charu was a core member of the New York City Department of Transportation’s WalkNYC project team to develop a citywide pedestrian wayfinding system. A variety of print, digital and environmental applications of this world-class map and signage system now serve pedestrians, bike share cyclists, tourists, and transit riders across New York City.
Charu’s love of walking was inspired at an early age by her grandfather, who showed her how a daily stroll allows us to connect with our surroundings and with each other. Now 98 years old - and still walking every day - his life is a testament to the positive impacts of walking on long-term physical and mental health. With this inspiration, Charu is driven forward on her mission to improve walkability in urban communities.
John Mimms is Project Manager with Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a non-profit affordable housing developer. At Community Corp., John has focused on sustainability initiatives and how the organization can reduce its use of electricity, water, and gas. His background is in City Planning and Architecture and he is interested in incorporating quality design and sustainable principles into real estate and infrastructure development. John is a native Angeleno, but got his BA in Urban Studies at Columbia University in New York where he learned that cities are not inherently for cars and urban walking is possible. He graduated from USC with a Master’s degree in Planning, and lives in South LA, within walking distance to the Expo Line.
Deborah Murphy, Founder of Los Angeles Walks, is a consultant to the cities of West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Long Beach and Los Angeles and the CRA/LA; and to community-based organizations including the Playhouse DistrictAssociation, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, Trust for Public Land and Warner Center Association. In addition to founding Los Angeles Walks, Deborah is the Chair of the City of Los Angeles Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a member of the Green LA Coalition’s Living Streets campaign, and has conducted Walkabouts in three communities—Hollywood, Glassell Park/Cypress Park and Downtown Pasadena. Follow Deborah at @lawalksdmurphy
Kaitlin Scott is a planner in Los Angeles. She currently works with Alta Planning + Design, where she focuses on pedestrian planning, programming, and inclusive outreach tactics in communities across southern California. Through her work, Kaitlin has addressed issues of safety, accessibility, and equity surrounding streets and public space. She recently received her a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA. Despite the uncomfortable and unsafe walking conditions of her southern California hometown's auto-centric streets, she grew up preferring biking or walking. This preference eventually led her to her career as an active transportation planner and her life as a pedestrian advocate. Kaitlin believes streets as our largest public space, so they should be safe, accessible, equitable, and engaging for users of all ages and abilities.
Former Advisory Board members:
Jeri Dye Lynch