Leadership

Abundant Housing LA is led by a steering committee of volunteers who are passionate about housing affordability and choice. Their biographies can be found below.


Brent GaisfordDirector – brentgaisford@gmail.com

BrentBrent coordinates across the AHLA steering committee and runs general meetings.

When he isn’t volunteering with Abundant Housing, Brent works as the COO and co-founder of Upwell Real Estate Group, where he helps create innovative, community-focused apartment buildings for young people. Prior to Upwell, Brent was a strategy consultant with Bain & Company, as well as a project manager for Bayes Impact, where he managed teams of data scientists working on non-profit projects to combat homeless, improve education, and reform criminal justice.

Brent has a long-standing passion for local politics and in 2010 he was elected to the Westwood neighborhood council and served its treasurer from 2010-2012.

In his free time, you can find Brent backpacking, skiing, or rock climbing in the mountains, or at a coffee shop working on his science fiction novel.

Brent studied Economics at UCLA.


Matt DixonProjects Director – northendmatt@gmail.com

matt dixonMatt is responsible for helping find projects to support and organizing support in favor of projects.

Matt is a civil engineer at Gannett Fleming, working on rail transit projects to help improve mobility and access to opportunity in cities across the country. He relocated from Boston to Los Angeles in 2012 to be a part of one of the most ambitious transit improvement plans in the US. Prior to moving, Matt was a transportation engineer and planner at VHB, and adjunct instructor at Northeastern University.

When he’s not engineering or advocating for housing, Matt’s probably in hiking boots or ski boots somewhere in the San Gabriel Mountains.

Matt studied Civil Engineering at Northeastern University in Boston.


Mark VallianatosCommunications Director – markvalli@gmail.com

Mark VMark coordinates media outreach and other marketing and external communication tasks.

Mark is a policy analyst, advocate and academic interested in a range of urban and environmental issues. He started his career advocating on international trade and investment rules for Friends of the Earth. After working and teaching at Occidental College for more than a decade he is launching a new urban change think tank and advocacy group to help remove barriers to the positive evolution of the LA region.

When not being a policy wonk, Mark likes exploring the LA region and spending time with his wife, daughter and son. He also enjoys uncovering the history of such building blocks of LA as single family houses and food trucks.

Mark studied political and social thought and received his law degree at the University of Virginia.


Shane PhillipsPolicy Director – shanedphillips@gmail.com

ShaneShane works with the AHLA membership to develop and advocate for policies that increase the availability of housing for people at all income levels.

During the day, Shane works as project director for the non-profit organization Los Angeles Streetcar, Inc. As an advocate, his evenings and weekends are spent writing about housing and transportation policy at Better Institutions and working with other passionate Angelenos toward win-win solutions to the region’s affordability crisis. Before coming to LA for graduate school, Shane worked as a tuberculosis researcher in Seattle.

In his free time, Shane can be found reading (fantasy and sci-fi, mostly), exploring LA’s neighborhoods on foot or by bike, or catching up on his Netflix queue.

Shane studied biochemistry at the University of Washington and received Masters degrees in urban planning and public administration from USC.


Mark R. EdwardsPolitical Director – reach.mre@gmail.com

Mark EMark’s role is to organize meetings with elected officials and key staff members to introduce AHLA mission and vision, then sustain those relationships.  Additionally, to lobby on behalf of our issues and to support elected officials when they’re fighting the good fight.

By day, Mark is an Impact Strategist with his own firm – MRE Communications. MRE Communications specializes in helping clients navigate the intersections of government, small businesses, non-profits, and community groups by offering a clear and cost effective strategies.

Mark graduated with a B.A. in Urban Studies from California State University, Northridge with a concentration in Public Administration and Community Service. He chose Urban Studies because it was an interdisciplinary major that developed his systematic understanding of the social, historical, political, economic, and cultural forces that shape our cities and how our cities influence its residents.

When not working or volunteering, Mark is always trying to reduce the number of tabs open in his browser because there are so many interesting ideas out there. He also loves to watch Premier League Football or hang out with his two dogs Ruthie and Squiggy.


Leonora YetterOnline Director – contact@abundanthousingla.org

LeonoraLeonora oversees Abundant Housing LA’s online tools, including our member database and website. Leonora also teaches other members to use the online tools.

Leonora is originally from New Jersey. Recently, she worked for the No on Measure LV Campaign in Santa Monica against an extreme anti-development ballot measure. Leonora is a two-year attorney with a background in litigation. Previously, she graduated from the University of Texas School of Law. For undergraduate studies, she attended New York University.

In her free time, Leonora enjoys gardening and cooking.


Ross ZelenStrategic Partnerships Director – rzelen@ablinc.net

RossRoss is responsible for building strategic partnerships with other Los Angeles-based community groups. His mission is to integrate Abundant Housing LA within the large quilt of community development, pro-housing, transit-oriented, housing equity, and urbanist groups within the region.

By day, Ross is the Editor of The Planning Report and Policy Manager of the VerdeXchange, a cleantech think-tank in Los Angeles that seeks to advance local solutions and collaboration to build a more sustainable city. He has previously worked on clean energy and climate change policy in Sacramento, and graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2013.

A native Angeleno, Ross volunteers with the local food rescue organization Food Forward and helps produce an annual Thanksgiving Feed The Hungry event in the San Fernando Valley. Also a die-hard LA Dodger fan, you can often find him complaining about the missed opportunities of solar carports in the parking lot, as well as the management of the bullpen.


Gabe RoseMembership Director – gaberose18@gmail.com

Gabe

Gabe is responsible for defining, tracking, and growing the membership of Abundant Housing.

Gabe is a lifelong progressive and community activist. For the last eight years, he’s been a co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Parent Revolution, a non-profit organization helping low-income families organize to improve their public schools. Gabe got involved with housing activism and Abundant Housing LA as he, his friends, and the families he worked with started to pay increasingly outrageous rents to live in LA, with no end in sight. Before joining Parent Revolution, he was selected for and completed the Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs in Los Angeles, a national experiential leadership-training program. Gabe is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as undergraduate student body president during his senior year.

Outside of Parent Revolution, he currently serves on the board of Coro Southern California, is an active volunteer in progressive political campaigns, and volunteers in support of unaccompanied immigrant children fleeing violence in Central America.