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 Gaisford, Director – firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Benton Heimsath, General Meeting Director – email@example.com
Benton is a real estate professional with a passion for affordable, transit-oriented development. He is currently Project Manager at AMCAL Multi-Housing, Inc., a nationally-recognized affordable housing builder, where he is deeply involved in all aspects of development, finance, and construction of low-income apartments in California and Texas. Previously, he’s worked at a real estate consulting firm and at the LA Department of City Planning. He received a Master in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA in 2014.
When he’s not building or advocating for more housing, Benton enjoys hiking, playing squash, and reading widely. You can also find him on Twitter @layimby.
Matt Dixon, Projects Director – firstname.lastname@example.org
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 Vallianatos, Communications Director – email@example.com
Mark 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.
Mark R. Edwards, Political Director – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark’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 Yetter, Online Director – email@example.com
Leonora oversees Abundant Housing LA’s online tools, including our member database, weekly emails, and website. Leonora also manages the online advocacy forms (“action alerts”) Abundant Housing LA and our members use to support or oppose projects and policies.
Outside of Abundant Housing LA, Leonora is a mom, and an attorney working in the non-profit sector to defend tenants from eviction. Recently, she worked for the No on Measure LV Campaign in Santa Monica against an extreme anti-development ballot measure. 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.
Chelsea Lee Byers, Director of Local Organizing – firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Byers is the Chair of the Campaign to End the Statute of Limitations on Rape and Sexual Assault and a member of the 2017-2018 inaugural cohort of the Speakers Justice Bureau through the Community Justice Reform Coalition. She coordinates and facilitates creative direct action training and resource development to support movement organizers around the globe with Beautiful Trouble and has mobilized thousands of change-makers through grassroots advocacy training and campaign development. She has organized dozens of public demonstrations for social justice, held vigil for political prisoners and whistleblowers, and earned media at the 2016 Republican National Convention for gun violence prevention advocacy. After she disrupted and ended his hateful speech during a campaign stop in Las Vegas on January 20th, 2016, Donald Trump said of Chelsea, “That’s a young woman that doesn’t know… She’s Lost… To hell with her.” In 2014, Chelsea was named ‘Proud Community Ally’ by the Northern Arizona Pride Association for her work organizing Flagstaff’s largest rally in history against discrimination legislation SB 1062. Chelsea is a contributor to the feminist blog The Engaged Gaze and a member of the National Women’s Political Caucus. In July 2017, Chelsea launched the Mural Map LA – a free resource to build community through greater accessibility to street art in Los Angeles.
Gabe Rose, Membership Director – email@example.com
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.