Our Mission

We calibrate: We transform and elevate the lives of tomorrow’s leaders from under-resourced communities, particularly the descendants of American slavery, by providing spaces where they experience their best selves, feel valued for the potential they bring to the world, and prepare to reinvest their time and talents back into their communities.

Our Origin Story

Our Program: Connections®

Calibrate.earth circle

Connections is a data-driven, social-emotional learning (SEL) program. It is a structured process designed to create a protective space, so that participants can listen and speak from their hearts. For Indigenous, Black, and People of Color (IBPOC), who are in survival mode day-to-day, Connections provides a safe place to cultivate intra-personal growth and interpersonal bonds. Connections normalizes the sharing of personal stories and conveys to participants that all voices are important and that each individual is appreciated for their authentic self. Connections is not psychotherapy, but it has a therapeutic effect. Participants are guided by prompts that elicit imagination, reflection, and critical thinking. During Connections, participants encounter healthy coping mechanisms, increase self-esteem and self-efficacy, and practice aspects of productive/constructive listening and communication. All of these qualities are essential for healing, advocacy, sharing values, and establishing narrative.

In their own words, teenagers say that Connections taught them to…

“We always knew academics was just one part of the equation for student success. Daily stressors from being low-income, from living in neighborhoods where even walking to school can be life threatening, where you can find drugs easier than you can find fresh vegetables all takes a significant toll on our students. It is hard to focus on your education when at home, you are not sure if you will have a roof over your head the next week. Our students are driven, determined and resilient but that means they put enormous pressure on themselves to get into the right school, so they can get the right job, so they can help out their families – adding yet another layer of stress. Often students shut down emotionally and just try to power through but it is going to come out one way or another. With Connections, this vicious cycle is upended. Students build strong, empathetic relationships with their peers. They learn the power of reflection, of pausing to check in, of ways to process stress in a healthy manner, confidence that their voice matters and certainty that they are not alone in what they are feeling and/or facing. It is a special space, a safe space, an empowering space that helps them be seen, heard and walk away more centered. Starting the day with Connections allows students to be open to all the instruction and growth that comes later in session. For something that only became a formal part of our curriculum in fall 2019, it is now one of the most critical components of what we do and essential to how we define student success. It is part of our DNA and how we run the organization as we all need spaces where we are seen, heard and belong. Partnering with Calibrate to bring Connections to Minds Matter SoCal has been a pivotal decision.”

— Tina Admans, President and Chapter Co-Founder, Minds Matter of Southern California

“Calibrate has helped us deliver on our mission to provide a setting that fosters community and confidence. Calibrate has been leading our 5th through 8th students through a social-emotional learning program that allows our students to experience engagement, empowerment, and emotional thriving. Marcie and the Calibrate team are doing amazing work! We are so grateful to have them join and become such a vital part of our community, adding such a positive and transformative experience to PFS!” 

— José Melgoza, Executive Director, Partnership for Success!

“Being a low-income student, we’re told that success is having extrinsic valuable things, whether that’s money, cars, house – things that we never grew up with. It took me a while to get away from that mentality and say that what I value is legacy and leaving a mark in my community. Connections is a place where students can build confidence in their values because they get their feet wet with what it’s like to reflect. Self-discovery is the start of having goals. I came from a school that didn’t have a college counselor or a real counselor, so what really were my opportunities to open up? Connections makes it okay for students to open up, to find out who we really are.” 

Jonathan Villalta, Connections Facilitator and Program Coordinator

For news coverage of Calibrate and Connections, check out Calibrate’s social media

For more information on Connections,  


Schools and nonprofits that provide social-emotional learning through Calibrate’s program, Connections.

Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, Mar Vista Gardens Los Angeles Public Housing Apartments

California State University, Los Angeles

California State University, Northridge, Art & Design Department, in conjunction with IntersectLA and Artpreneur

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

Compton College

George Washington Preparatory High School

Good Shepherd Shelter 

Governor Gavin Newsom’s College Corps

Lifeline Education Charter School 

Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services

Los Angeles County Youth Commission

Marching Beauties

Minds Matter of Southern California

Partnership for Success!

ROC Era: Girls and Boys ROC (Regardless of Color)

St. Lawrence of Brindisi Catholic School in Watts

Susan Miller Dorsey High School


Agencies that help Calibrate build programming and enrichment resources for our youth.

Beauty Behind the Bricks

Children’s Institute, Watt’s Campus

City of Los Angeles

Council District 15, City of Los Angeles

Crail-Johnson Foundation

Families and Schools Empowered, Inc.

Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles

Lakers Youth Foundation

Learning By Design Charter School

Los Angeles County Supervisor 2nd District

Los Angeles Rams

Love Wins Foundation

Project Blue

State Bank of India (California)

Stella Adler Academy of Acting and Theatre – Los Angeles

Team Flourish: A coalition dedicated to environmental sustainability and comprehensive wellness services and programs that includes Baron’s Microgreens, Gangsters for Christ (Reverend James JJ Jones), Mel’s Fish ShackOrganic Farm Solutions LLCPoint Blue Conservation ScienceSmiles for Miles Inc.The BeehiveUnited States Department of Agriculture (USDA)Valley Fruit & Produce, in addition to our program partners (see links above), George Washington Preparatory High School, Susan Miller Dorsey High School

The Connect

Think Watts Foundation

Watts Gang Task Force

Watts Skills Academy

YouBall Training

Our Team

Calibrate’s team consists of alumni – either of Connections or of our partnering nonprofits – who grew up in South L.A. and witnessed the transformational benefits of Connections within themselves and their communities. In addition, our trainers and half of our board members are veteran educators. We “Calibrate” training and job opportunities, as our Connections facilitators receive free training and are paid to facilitate.

  • Charletta ("Ms. J") Johnson - Founder / Director Emeritus
    Charletta ("Ms. J") Johnson
    Founder / Director Emeritus

    Charletta (“Ms. J”) Johnson, M.S., is a career education leader and community connector. After 16 years of teaching across three districts in Southern California, Ms. Johnson became the Founding Director of New Roads School La Cienega. She went on to start two charter schools, one of which, Community Harvest Charter School (CHCS) in Los Angeles, was named a “Top 10% of Schools” by California Department of Education and received a Bronze Medal for “Best High School” by USA News and World Today, December 2009. A random-sample study of CHCS students 10 years after high school revealed that all participants had completed one or more post-secondary degree programs and had maintained long-term jobs and relationships (Gilbert, M. (2016). Hear my heart: Listening circles provide protective factors for underserved teens. Unpublished manuscript, California State University). Currently, Ms. Johnson consults at Learning by Design Charter School in Los Angeles, conducts tours of African American history in L.A., and transitions homes to solar energy. Ms. Johnson carries a B.A. in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley, a Teaching Credential from LMU, and an M.S. in School Administration from Pepperdine.

  • Richard Robinson - Founder / Chair
    Richard Robinson
    Founder / Chair

    Richard Robinson, M.S., has carried senior level positions for over 20 years in the healthcare industry. Mr. Robinson has collaborated on inter- and intra-organizational cross-functional work groups that focus on regulatory, operational, and insurance compliance. Additionally, he has served on advisory boards whose initiatives focused on educating and championing underserved youth in hygiene, leadership, business communication, relationships, and college entrance and preparation. Mr. Robinson volunteers as a mentor to youth and young adults who either have higher education aspirations or who are looking to launch a career tailored to their strengths that might not include a post-secondary degree. Mr. Robinson holds a B.S. in Public Administration from Cal State Dominguez Hills and an M.S. in Organizational Leadership from California Baptist University. 

  • Marcie Gilbert - Founder / Executive Director
    Marcie Gilbert
    Founder / Executive Director

    Marcie Gilbert, M.Ed., is an Educational Therapist who has contributed to the field of education as a learning specialist, college guidance advisor, classroom teacher, school administrator, researcher (e.g., International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement), and curriculum/program developer. Marcie was on the founding teams of New Roads School and Urban Village Charter School, and launched Next Stage Young Artists Conservatory and Librujas Publishing. While a classroom teacher in 1994, Marcie was trained as a Connections® facilitator, and it is her great joy and honor to now be working with former students at Calibrate. Marcie received a B.A. in English from Stanford University and a Masters in Special Education: Educational Therapy from California State University, Northridge. Her Master’s thesis, Hear My Heart: Listening Circles Provide Protective Factors for Underserved Teens, provided an in-depth examination of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and how SEL can shape successful schools in underserved communities. Fun fact: Marcie was selected as a 2022 inaugural Los Angeles Rams pLAymaker!

  • De’Anthoney Jenkins - Director / Secretary / Chair-Elect
    De’Anthoney Jenkins
    Director / Secretary / Chair-Elect

    De’Anthoney Jenkins obtained both his B.S. in Finance and MBA from St. John’s University. While serving in the Marine Corps., Mr. Jenkins was a Maintenance Management Specialist and Using Unit Account Manager for four years, where he managed 200+ personnel and supervised accounts for maintenance of over 10 million dollars of tactical and non-tactical equipment. Currently, he is a Financial Institution Specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. His family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School. Fun fact: De’Anthoney climbed Mount Fuji in 2014.

  • Greg Kriegler - Director / Treasurer
    Greg Kriegler
    Director / Treasurer

    Mr. Kriegler is a servant-leader, entrepreneur, and intrapreneur. He is driven by core values: people, results, and innovation. Professionally, Mr. Kriegler leads a global team of modern workplace practitioners, mentored 70+ young professionals, and delivered 100+ projects/programs. He led the development of an SEL application for one of the world’s largest software platform companies and is engaged by global, F100 CEOs to refine their C-suite operations. He has served as Director, Client Executive for Avanade; Co-Founder of Dubblebooked, LLC; Founder, Cinevend. In addition to his BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis and MBA from University of Washington, Mr. Kriegler is certified as a Solution Architect (SISA) and Software Integration Delivery Lead (SIDL). Fun facts: Greg was a competitive baseball catcher in high school and college, and has run 24 half-marathons and 8 marathons, including the Boston Marathon.

  • Michelai Lowe - Director
    Michelai Lowe

    A proud South Central native with over 10 years of experience as an educator, youth advocate, and program manager, Michelai Lowe has been a champion for providing quality, innovative educational experiences for historically underserved communities. She currently serves as the Faculty and Talent Development lead for the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center at Howard University, where the mission is to increase Black talent in Quantum Information Science and Engineering. She is driven to solve complex problems in creative ways that truly transform access, retention, inclusion, and student success. Michelai has a B.A. in Sociology – Counseling & Social Change from San Diego State University; an M.Ed in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst; and an MFA in Interior Architecture from George Washington University. Fun fact: Michelai’s family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School.

  • Diana Hernández Jiménez - Director
    Diana Hernández Jiménez

    Diana Hernández Jiménez is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Strategist, experienced in conducting comprehensive Equity Assessments, driving impactful DEI initiatives, and elevating corporate DEI programs. Diana has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Colgate University and a Master of Arts in International Relations and Affairs from the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. Her journey has been defined by a commitment to fostering inclusive cultures, where diverse perspectives thrive. From researching and implementing innovative strategies to championing equity, Diana’s passion lies in cultivating environments where everyone’s voice is heard and valued. Fun Fact: After a 10-year stint on the East Coast, Diana returned to Los Angeles, CA and happily lives with her two chihuahuas: Coyote and Soybean.

  • Kobie Conner - Director
    Kobie Conner

    Kobie Conner serves as the Director of Business and Legal Affairs for Mid-Budget Films at Netflix.  Prior to joining Netflix, Kobie spent over a decade at 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight Pictures in Business Affairs leadership roles.  Kobie also spent time as legal counsel at Walt Disney and Paramount Pictures.  After graduating from Yale Law School, Kobie was an associate at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster and served as a law clerk on the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Outside of work, Kobie has sat on numerous boards including the Langston Bar Association, African Americans Attorneys in Downtown Firms (AAADF), the Yale Law School Alumni Executive Committee, and the Association of Corporate Counsel – Southern California Chapter. He currently sits on the global board of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the advisory board of Facing History and Ourselves – Los Angeles, and is a Trustee at Turning Point School.

  • Daniele Johnson-Araujo - Director
    Daniele Johnson-Araujo

    Daniele Johnson Araujo, MBA, is Vice President, Corporate Secretary at State Bank of India (California). Daniele has worked in the banking industry for over 25 years with a focus on corporate governance, regulatory compliance, audit review, and overall strategic planning. Daniele partners with bank boards, executives, auditors, shareholders, and regulators, to implement, strengthen, and improve upon best practices with the goal of exceeding audit and regulatory requirements. Since Community Banks focus on supporting and building community relationships, and with the expectation of the Community Reinvestment Act requirements, Daniele annually partners with forty California community-based organizations, through volunteering, donating, and relationship building, with a focus on strengthening individuals, who in turn strengthen their communities. Fun Fact: Daniele’s family hobby is to maintain and work on classic cars.

  • Jiaqi ("Jackie") Zhou - Director
    Jiaqi ("Jackie") Zhou

    Jiaqi (“Jackie”) Zhou grew up in Shanghai and came to the States when she was 18 to attend the University of Southern California. She has since called LA home ­– one could say love at first sight. Jackie has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a master’s degree in psychology, and she currently works at Netflix. Since 2017, Jackie has been a volunteer mentor and Connections facilitator for Minds Matter of Southern California and Calibrate. She enjoys working with the students and finds immense joy seeing them grow both academically and emotionally. Fun fact: Jackie loves climbing and skiing, and would love to visit Antarctica soon!

  • Jessica Beard - Director
    Jessica Beard

    Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jessica Beard is a Lakers fan by default and a Kobe Bryant stan by choice. After earning dual bachelor’s degrees of Literary Journalism and Sociology at UC Irvine and a master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Jessica chose to pursue a career in Human Resources. Over the past 12 years she has served in HR Management, Learning & Development, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Employee Experience roles for companies such as Southern California Edison, TAO Group and Universal Music Group. Giving back to the community has always been a driving force in Jessica’s life. In high school, she volunteered at Rainbow Services, a shelter that provides support for anyone impacted by domestic violence. After college, she became a volunteer tutor for Schools on Wheels, an organization that enhances educational opportunities for children who are experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade. And now, she mentors the funniest and flyest eight-year-old girl she has ever crossed paths with through a program called Girls R.O.C. Fun Fact: Jessica caught the traveling bug while studying abroad in Spain and has since traveled to 18 countries (and counting!).

  • Gary Calderone - Director
    Gary Calderone

    Gary Calderone, CPA, is owner of Amazing Athletes of West LA, an educational sports franchise that offers a multi-sport program to benefit young children physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. In addition to Amazing Athletes, Gary owns GMCLA Consulting, LLC, a consulting business specializing in music rights. Prior to founding his consulting business, Gary was Senior Vice President, Administration, for Warner Chappell Music Publishing, and was involved with other music publishing companies prior to that. Gary grew up playing many different sports including soccer, baseball, and track and field. The excitement of working with kids and sharing his love of sports and health and wellness is what drew him to both Amazing Athletes and Calibrate. Fun fact: Gary has twice ridden his bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for charity.

  • Toya Holiday - Director
    Toya Holiday

    Toya Holiday is Elementary Athletic Director and Co-Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) K-12 at Campbell Hall. She began teaching in 1986 at Los Angeles Unified School District’s John F. Kennedy High School. Prior to joining Campbell Hall in 1999, Toya taught at Lincoln Parish District in Ruston, Louisiana. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from United States International. Additionally, Toya is a former college basketball player who played for the Arizona State Sun Devils women’s basketball team in the Pac-12 Conference. All four of her children also play basketball: one is currently the starting point guard for the Milwaukee Bucks, one a forward on the Dallas Mavericks, one a guard for the Atlanta Hawks, and the other played basketball for the UCLA Bruins. In fact, three of Toya’s children, plus one daughter-in-law, are Bruins. Toya is a proud grandmother of eight grandchildren. Another fun fact: Toya is the mother-in-law of USA women’s soccer international Lauren Holiday.

  • Marcos L. Vann - Connections Specialist
    Marcos L. Vann
    Connections Specialist

    Marcos L. Vann has dedicated his lifework to elevating youth in underserved communities, in the capacity of a teacher, math intervention specialist, after-school director, advisor, athletic coach, and Connections lead facilitator. Mr. Vann was on the founding teams of Community Harvest Charter and Urban Village Middle School. He has devoted his career to both schools and nonprofit communities: View Park Prep High School, Marcus Garvey School, Enterprise Middle School, Partnership for Underserved Communities, Upward Bound USC Summer Residential Institute, UC Irvine S.A.M. Pre-Algebra Academy, YMCA, and the Summer Algebra Institute through Tom Bradley Youth and Family Center. Mr. Vann is a long-standing active member of Rangi Ya Giza, a non-Greek community service and social activist fraternity, and is a GTE Academic All-America recipient (currently sponsored by College Sports Information Directors of America and Google Cloud). Mr. Vann holds a degree in Psychology from the University of Redlands. Fun fact: His guilty pleasure is chili cheese fries with pastrami.

  • LaReina Hall - Bookkeeper
    LaReina Hall

    LaReina Hall’s career has followed her passion and skills for account management, financial performance, marketing strategies, human resources, and customer service. Ms. Hall’s career includes being an Accounting Specialist in Procurement for University of Texas (UT) Arlington; Assistant Store Manager, Shipping and Receiving Supervisor, and Customer Service Team Lead for the Follett Corporation at UT Arlington’s Bookstore; and, General Manager of Pizza Hut. Member of Alpha Kappa Mu Honors Society and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Ms. Hall graduated Magna Cum Laude in Accounting from Virginia Union University. Her family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School. Fun fact: One of her favorite things to do is karaoke.

  • Diana Garcia - HR
    Diana Garcia

    Diana Garcia brings expertise in human resources, business development, process improvement, partnership management, compliance, and data analysis. Ms. Garcia possesses a passion for both nonprofits and schools: she held the titles of Assistant to the First Vice President of United Farm Workers; Human Resources Specialist at Urban Village Middle School; Intervention Specialist at View Park Charter High School; and Operations Manager at Learning by Design Charter School. From the University of California, Los Angeles, Ms. Garcia holds a B.A. in Latin American Studies, as well as Labor and Workplace Studies. She is currently enrolled at USC in their Master of Science in Human Resource Management program. Her family tree with Calibrate started as a student of New Roads, where Marcie and Ms. J were educators, and then at Ms. J’s school, Community Harvest, where Vann was a teacher. Fun fact: She enjoys playing volleyball and exploring the city with her daughter.

  • Christopher Terry - Director, Brand Marketing
    Christopher Terry
    Director, Brand Marketing

    Founder of Good Business Logistics and Solutions, Christopher (“Chris”) Terry brings his content strategy expertise to Calibrate as well as to businesses such as A Good Run, where he’s been Marketing Content Manager for several years. It’s no mere coincidence that Chris has been working with a company that’s all about running, as running is a passion of his. Chris obtained his Bachelor of Applied Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he got in some great runs on the Big Island! His family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School.

  • Rebecca ("Becky") Jones - Director, Graphic Design
    Rebecca ("Becky") Jones
    Director, Graphic Design

    Rebecca (“Becky”) Jones is a self-taught digital artist, graphic designer, and painter. A customer service, team building, and content creation specialist, Ms. Jones has fulfilled roles of Program Coordinator, Creative Lead, and Recruiter for tech companies Iconma (Charter Communications), Volt (Apple), and Flink 12. Prior to her career in tech, Ms. Jones was an education administrator, both at Primrose School of Cedar Park West in Texas and for After-School All-Stars in Los Angeles. As a Program Specialist at All-Stars, she led 250+ students and 5 staff members. Ms. Jones majored in Business Management Economics at UC Santa Cruz and Digital Photography at the Art Institute. Her family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School. Fun fact: At one point in her life, Ms. Jones selected a city to live in by drawing names out of a hat.

  • Felipe Pimentel Carneiro - Content Creator
    Felipe Pimentel Carneiro
    Content Creator

    Felipe Pimentel Carneiro, originally from Southern Brazil, embarked on a journey to the United States to pursue his passion for film, enrolling at California State University Northridge (CSUN). With a keen eye for capturing captivating visuals and a strong foundation in storytelling, Felipe has honed his craft as an accomplished photographer and videographer. His practical experience on various film sets, including those at CSUN and the American Film Institute, has equipped him with valuable insights into the art of visual storytelling. As one of Calibrate’s Videographers, he is mainly responsible for creating content for Calibrate’s Social Media platforms, showcasing the essence of Calibrate to the public through visual media. Notably, Felipe’s versatility extends beyond the realm of film, as he has also ventured into the field of marketing, gaining expertise in digital marketing, brand strategy, and customer engagement during his role as a Marketing and Membership Intern at The Soraya and Nazarian Center for Performing Arts.

  • Alanna Hernandez - Program Coordinator
    Alanna Hernandez
    Program Coordinator

    Alanna Hernandez is a Connections alum, graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration – Management and Human Resources from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Alanna brings to Calibrate extensive experience with managing, as Manager of both Customer Service and Warehouse departments at Wild Attire LLC; as Front Office Medical Receptionist for California Orthopaedic Specialists; and as Executive Assistant to the CEO at All Pro-Environmental Solutions. Alanna is a career volunteer, having dedicated 700+ hours to advocating for 30+ nonprofits. Alanna is a foodie, loves nature, and possesses an innate passion for philanthropy, international travel, crafting, and soccer. She/they lives by Maya Angelou’s quote, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

  • Kelly Murray - Connections Mentor and Facilitator
    Kelly Murray
    Connections Mentor and Facilitator

    Kelly Murray is a proud alum of Washington Preparatory High School and Howard University. She is a career educator and Connections facilitator. In addition, Ms. Murray is an actor, writer, and event planner. She is connected to Calibrate’s family tree through her years of being a teacher at Community Harvest Charter School, so it is an extraordinarily special experience for her to now be working at Calibrate with her former students. Ms. Murray is a proud grandmother, and her fun fact is that she is a Trekkie.

  • Jonathan Villalta - Curriculum Development
    Jonathan Villalta
    Curriculum Development

    Mr. Jon graduated from UC Irvine (UCI) in 2019 with a degree in Education Sciences, and he is currently pursuing his M.A. in Teaching at USC. Mr. Jon’s goal is to give back to the city of Los Angeles by becoming an elementary or middle school teacher. He is driven by the concept of social reconstructionism and a passion to inspire young students to engage in their education and to attain a college degree. Currently, he is a SmartStart Teacher at Heart of Los Angeles. While at UCI, Mr. Jon worked with middle school students at an after-school program and interned for the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and working out. If the Lakers, Dodgers, or Rams are playing, then he is most likely watching the game.

  • Johmel Holt-Bradley - Curriculum Development
    Johmel Holt-Bradley
    Curriculum Development

    Passionate about people and advancing their care, Johmel Holt-Bradley has dedicated himself to providing In-Home Support Services (IHSS) for elderly clients and one-on-one interventions for students with learning disabilities since 2017. At Vista Del Mar School, Mr. Holt-Bradley works with his students on their Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals surrounding behavior and motor skills. Prior to 2017 for several years, Mr. Holt-Bradley patrolled the Queen Mary and Dodgers Stadium for Black Hawk Security. Mr. Holt-Bradley holds a B.A. in Psychology from California State University Dominguez Hills. His family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School. Fun facts: He loves basketball and old-school cars.

  • Stephanie Naranjo-Rodriguez - Connections Facilitator
    Stephanie Naranjo-Rodriguez
    Connections Facilitator

    Passionate about influencing policy-making, Stephanie Naranjo-Rodriguez is currently a full-time college student pursuing a B.A. in Sociology. Ms. Naranjo-Rodriguez has served both as an administrative assistant and volunteer at Minds Matter Los Angeles, an academic extracurricular program that she was selected to attend while in high school. Additionally, Ms. Naranjo-Rodriguez worked as an Office Administrator and volunteered as a Youth Council Coordinator at Girls Today Women Tomorrow, which provides intensive mentorship for youth in underserved communities. Ms. Naranjo-Rodriguez is bilingual (English/Spanish). Fun facts: She is an avid reader and has completed 4 marathons.

  • Brandon Smith - Connections Facilitator
    Brandon Smith
    Connections Facilitator

    Brandon Smith comes to Calibrate with extensive experience in maintaining the spiritual and physical safety of communities. With certifications in CPR and as a California Guard Card and D.O.J. Chemical Agent, Mr. Smith has served as a Security / Public Safety Officer for UCLA Health, Olympia Medical Center, Providence St. John’s Medical Center, and Healthcare and High-Risk Security Services. Prior to public safety, Mr. Smith was a Teacher’s Assistant in LAUSD for 7 years. A self-defense artist (e.g., Qigong, wrestling, boxing) and Fitness Coach, Mr. Smith is finishing certification at the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Since 2018, Mr. Smith has dedicated community service to Leimert Park, beautifying spaces and uplifting visitors’ experiences; in addition, he has been a Vibe Curator for Elefante Creative LLC. His family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School. Fun facts: Mr. Smith has acted as an extra and in roles in music videos and is a self-learner of African History and Self-Improvement.

  • Kalayla Jordan - Connections Facilitator
    Kalayla Jordan
    Connections Facilitator

    Kalayla Jordan is an undergraduate student at the University of Southern California, pursuing a degree in Neuroscience with a pre-Med track. An alumna of Minds Matter Los Angeles (MMLA), Ms. Jordan returned to become a volunteer for MMLA. Ms. Jordan is an active member of the Black Student Union. As a Cedars Sinai Teen Volunteer, she works closely with nurses to improve patient interaction on the Post-Surgery Floor. During recent past summers, Ms. Jordan was an NBCU Media Fellow, attended Vanderbilt Summer Academy and University of Pennsylvania, Penn Medicine, all highly selective programs. Since 2015, she has worked her way up to becoming the Event Coordinator for Sweet Thing Dessert. During high school, Ms. Jordan was in the top 1% of her graduating class, winning numerous academic and citizenship awards, and holding numerous leadership positions, such as Student Body President.

  • Avantre ("Tre") Lesley - Connections Facilitator
    Avantre ("Tre") Lesley
    Connections Facilitator

    Avantre (“Tre”) Lesley brings to Calibrate strong team development and leadership skills, with a passion for community service and working with youth. He also has a passion for baseball, having played in both high school and college, and later channeling his experience with the sport and his natural drive as team motivator into working as a coach for Inglewood City Elite Baseball (ICE), always aiming to put players in the best position to succeed. Some fun facts about Tre: He’s stood at the very top of the Empire State Building in NY, his favorite place he’s traveled to is Costa Rica, and he could eat avocado toast for breakfast every day!

  • Ann Wong - Connections Facilitator
    Ann Wong
    Connections Facilitator

    Ann Wong has been involved in community service for over 10 years, initially volunteering for numerous organizations in her high school service club, then as the Co-Director and Finance Chair for UCLA’s Bruin Run/Walk, and now, as a Connections Facilitator for Minds Matter Southern California and Calibrate. She has a wide variety of interests and is affiliated with a number of educational and professional organizations. Ann holds a B.A. in Economics with a minor in Education from UCLA, and has eight years of accounting experience as a CPA. She is currently pursuing her M.A. in Marriage/Couple and Family Therapy at California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant. Fun fact: Ann enjoys hiking and yoga, and can’t seem to stop watching YouTube!

  • Kimberly ("Kim") Estrada - Connections Facilitator
    Kimberly ("Kim") Estrada
    Connections Facilitator

    Kimberly (“Kim”) Estrada’s family tree with Calibrate started as a student at Community Harvest Charter School, where she engaged in Connections each year from 7th-12th grade. When not facilitating Connections, Kim is an Area Visual Manager for H&M, overseeing a total of 19 stores throughout Los Angeles, Ventura, and Hawaii. Kim has a passion for travel and recently spent a summer in Greece. She’s also quite the foodie and loves discovering new food places and coffee shops. Fun fact: Kim is an accomplished cellist and accordionist.

  • Carlos Olmedo - Connections Facilitator
    Carlos Olmedo
    Connections Facilitator

    Carlos Olmedo is an Academic Support Program Coordinator for the Educational Talent Search Program at California State University, Fullerton where he assists with planning and programming of workshops, field trips, and other special events. In addition, he oversees a caseload of seniors and supports the college application process for those students. Carlos graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 2018. After graduating, he worked at a logistics company before deciding to pursue his master’s degree. He is a first-year student in the Master’s of Science in Education with an emphasis in Higher Education at CSU Fullerton. Fun fact: Carlos is extremely passionate about soccer and has played the sport for over 15 years. In addition, he enjoys photography and has created an Instagram page to share what he captures: @photosby_olmedo.

  • Rickena McClain - Connections Facilitator
    Rickena McClain
    Connections Facilitator

    Rickena McClain started working with youth as a camp counselor and then advanced to camp director, where she provided engaging support to diverse children and youth in a recreational camp setting. She later became Program Assistant and then Family Services Specialist at Crystal Stairs, Inc., an organization dedicated to improving the lives of families through child care services, research and advocacy. Rickena studied Business Management at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, and Human Development at Pacific Oaks College in San Jose, California.

  • Gabby Lane - Connections Facilitator
    Gabby Lane
    Connections Facilitator

    Gabby Lane is a model, actress, and youth advocate from the rainy city of Seattle and is now soaking up the sunshine rays in Los Angeles. Her mission is to spread light wherever she goes. One of Gabby’s biggest joys in life is working with kids from all walks of life. She had a successful career nannying for over 70 kids. From kids with special needs to at-risk youth, you will always find Gabby actively mentoring kids of all ages and cheering them on to be the best version of themselves. It is an honor to Gabby to be part of a kid’s journey of life, and working with them motivates her to continue to expand, grow, and be brave. When Gabby is not on set or working with kids, you can find her drinking coffee with her friends and hairy four-legged daughter, Penny, or learning American Sign Language. Fun fact: Oprah Winfrey once waved to Gabby, which made Gabby burst into tears of happiness!

  • Jennifer Lupercio  - Connections Facilitator
    Jennifer Lupercio
    Connections Facilitator

    Jennifer Lupercio was born and raised in the Inland Empire. She graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a B.A. in Sociology and Criminology. Jennifer now works as a resident substitute teacher at middle school in the same district she grew up in! She hopes to someday work in restorative justice or with children in detention centers. On the weekends, Jennifer facilitates for Calibrate at Minds Matter OC where she lesson plans and leads a Connections Circle. She is also Calibrate’s Cal Poly Pomona Program Coordinator for College Corps and offers mentorships to help students pay for college by uniting students of different backgrounds with a common purpose. Fun facts: Jennifer’s been going to concerts since she was 13, and she has 11 tattoos with plans of getting more through the years.

  • Brittany Love - Connections Facilitator
    Brittany Love
    Connections Facilitator

    Brittany Love is a talented cook with an enormous, generous heart. She has keen instincts, an eye for detail, and is a talented event coordinator. Calibrate and Brittany came together through Brittany’s daughter, who had been participating in Calibrate’s programs. In fact, Brittany helped Calibrate start Connections at her daughter’s school. Fun Fact: Brittany is a movie goer! Every Tuesday she goes solo or with friends.

  • Jesus (“Big Zeus”) Rivera - Connections Facilitator
    Jesus (“Big Zeus”) Rivera
    Connections Facilitator

    Jesus Rivera aka Big Zeus is a multi-talented recording artist and business owner. His focus is on creating a platform for emerging entrepreneurs in the music sector and improving the community. This important goal in Zeus’ radar led him to create the independent label Vicious Cycle under the motto of “Break the Cycle” and the nonprofit organization Cycle Breakers Corporation. Thanks to the guidance of Big Zeus, Vicious Cycle and Cycle Breakers aim to break generational curses, financial instability and emotional trauma. With resources and events both companies have held within the Los Angeles area, Big Zeus has been able to provide an outlet for underprivileged youth and host a multitude of events to lessen community tension. “Vicious Cycle’s motto is ‘Break the Cycle’ meaning there are different outlets that we aren’t exposed to in our daily lives that we can use to be successful, all it takes is to really be yourself and not fall under any category anyone tries to place on you but your own.”

  • Chailen August - Connections Facilitator
    Chailen August
    Connections Facilitator

    Chailen August graduated with a B.A in Critical Race and Ethnic Studies from UC Santa Cruz. While at Santa Cruz he worked for the African American Resource Center where he provided mentorship to incoming students. He also got an opportunity to study abroad at the University of Ghana where he conducted ethnographic research on African Hip Hop and its ties to Pan Africanism. After graduating, he joined City Year LA, where he provided academic and socio-emotional support to over 120 students at Jefferson HS in South LA. It was here that he was honored as a Rams Playmaker for his work in the community and ultimately got connected with Marcie Gilbert who too is a Rams Playmaker. Currently, Mr. August is pursuing his PhD in Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon. Fun Fact: He played college basketball.

  • Ray Ruano - Connections Facilitator
    Ray Ruano
    Connections Facilitator

    Ray Ruano graduated with a B.A. in Cognitive Science from UC Davis. While at Davis, Mr. Ruano worked for the departments of Undergraduate Education and Information Education Technology. He provided student support services surrounding academic exams, assisting students, professors, and administration with scheduling and processing. In addition, Mr. Ruano maintained technology for over 100 campus classrooms and lecture halls, assisting with tech support, repairs and rewiring machinery. Since graduating college, Mr. Ruano has been a behavior interventionist for students with learning differences and obtained his certification as a Registered Behavior Technician. Mr. Ruano is bilingual (English/Spanish). Fun fact: He is an avid roller skater.

  • Claudia Silva - Connections Facilitator
    Claudia Silva
    Connections Facilitator

    Claudia Silva is a Legal Assistant for a distinguished California firm that practices consumer rights protection and mass tort litigation. There she assists with tracking and coordinating the successful filing of over 200 motions per year all over California courts. Claudia graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Political Science in 2018. She has also recently received a certification in Paralegal Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. Claudia facilitates a Connection circle in the Minds Matter partner program, which she is an alumna of. Fun fact: Claudia is passionate about arts and crafts and home decor. She also enjoys a good karaoke session with her dad and her friends.

  • Uche Ollawa - Connections Facilitator
    Uche Ollawa
    Connections Facilitator

    Mr. Ollawa’s professional callings balance between education, entertainment, and technology. As an educator, he was a Special Education Intervention Specialist in Los Angeles and Dallas, and a Blended Language Instructor in Shanghai China. Additionally, he presented workshops to the U.S. Embassy in Shanghai, covering topics such as the history and current evolution of Hip-Hop. Along with having been a Project Manager for Dopamine Music in Shanghai, China, Mr. Ollawa has performed as an actor, poet, and event host in LA, NYC, Nigeria, and Shanghai. His podcast, Beyond Original, will launch in 2021. On the technology side, Mr. Ollawa served as Project Manager for Coding Dojo. Mr. Ollawa carries a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and TEFL Certification, and he is currently pursuing a Masters in Education for Instructional Design and Learning Technologies. His family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School. Fun fact: His guilty pleasure is cheese or ranch dressing on almost everything.

  • Paola Lopez - Connections Facilitator
    Paola Lopez
    Connections Facilitator

    Paola Lopez earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Human Resources from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Among her most memorable educational endeavors were a research project on food insecurity and a mock trial on privacy invasion. At Cal Poly she was also involved with the Bronco Navigators Mentor Collective Program, where she provided advice, support, knowledge, and direction to other students to help navigate their academic experience. Over the years Paola has volunteered for a number of community engagement activities, such as a city beautification park clean-up event and making Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need. Prior to facilitating connections circles with Calibrate, Paola took on some HR tasks and responsibilities as an intern. Her hobbies/interests include: painting, reading, watching movies, listening to music, going out with friends and trying different boba spots. Fun fact: when she has her earbuds on, she is most definitely listening to Bad Bunny – her favorite music artist!

  • Gregory Titizian - Connections Facilitator
    Gregory Titizian
    Connections Facilitator

    Gregory Titizian achieved his Bachelor of Science in Management and Human Resources from California Polytechnic State University in Pomona (CPP). One of his most impactful life experiences was a service trip to Armenia sponsored by the Paros Foundation, where he helped with school repairs and projects that included painting hallways, building a cement dance floor, and helping distribute school supplies and shoes to less fortunate children in outlying rural villages. During his service in Armenia, Gregory also mentored orphans and took them on excursions. Gregory is one of Calibrate’s Connections alumni, having experienced Connections in a course created and taught by Calibrate’s partner, Dr. Sharonda Bishop, at CPP.

  • Cristina Ferreira - Connections Facilitator
    Cristina Ferreira
    Connections Facilitator

    Cristina Ferreira received her B.A. in Psychology at UCLA and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy at California State University, Long Beach. In addition to being a socio-emotional Connections facilitator at Calibrate, Cristina works as a Chat Specialist at Oasis Mental Health and volunteers at Minds Matter of Southern California, where she is involved in various activities related to mental health and college readiness. Cristina is also employed by UCLA within the Physics and Astronomy department, her primary responsibilities being training and onboarding. Cristina’s fun fact: “I’ve been scuba diving with sea lions and manta rays!”

  • Alejandro Salinas  - Connections Facilitator
    Alejandro Salinas
    Connections Facilitator

    Alejandro Salinas is a fourth-year student attending Cal Poly Pomona seeking a bachelor’s in political science. He is the first member in his family to attend college. During his first few years at Cal Poly Pomona, Alejandro participated and worked as a Peer Mentor for the Bronco scholar program, where he worked with first-year students adapting to college-level coursework in Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning. Fun fact: Alejandro works full-time for his old high as a football coach for both Varsity and JV levels as linebacker coach, JV Defense Coordinator, and Varsity Co-Special Forces Coordinator.

  • Jose ("JJ") Lopez - Connections Facilitator
    Jose ("JJ") Lopez
    Connections Facilitator

    Jose (“JJ”) Lopez is an accomplished military veteran with extensive experience in organizational management, training and security. During his time in the Navy, JJ received a Navy Achievement Medal (NAM) for successful completion of over 2,000 travel arrangements in a 2-month span, evidence of his strong organizational skills and dedication to whatever project or challenge he encounters. Following his time in the Navy, JJ achieved a B.S. in Business Administration from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona (CPP), with special emphasis in Management and Human Resources. Problem-solving is an area of excitement for JJ, as is working with people and teams. JJ is a Connections alumnus, having participated in Calibrate’s CPP Connections program in partnership with Dr. Sharonda Bishop. His fun fact: Watching anime is like a religion for him.

  • Melissa Macias - Connections Facilitator
    Melissa Macias
    Connections Facilitator

    Melissa Macias is an urban developer with a background in nonprofits that promote education equity. Her urban development projects include building a community greenhouse in Guanacaste, Costa Rica and mapping building accessibility routes in Barcelona. Ms. Macias has provided writing remediation and workshops to underserved youth in both Sydney and Los Angeles, through such organizations as Sydney Story Factory and No Youth Left Behind Foundation of America. Since August 2019, she has served as the Programming Manager for Minds Matter of Los Angeles. Ms. Macias is an active alumnus of Hermanas Unidas, and a past scholar alumnus of the All Ways Up Foundation, Minds Matter of Los Angeles, and Scripps College Academy. Ms. Macias holds a State Seal of Biliteracy and received her Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) from University of California, Davis in Community and Regional Development with a minor in Professional Writing.

  • Gladys Garcia - Connections Facilitator
    Gladys Garcia
    Connections Facilitator

    Gladys Garcia was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from UCLA in 2019 with a B.A. in Chicano/a/x Studies. Through three separate AmeriCorps grants, they have dedicated themselves to education equity nonprofits: Jumpstart, Minds Matter of Los Angeles, and 826LA. As a queer, non-binary, first-generation Chicanx social justice advocate, Ms. Garcia believes that quality education is not a privilege, but a right. Coming from a low-income community themselves, they are aware of how important a quality education is to all children, regardless of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. Ms. Garcia looks forward to returning to school, to obtain a teaching credential and Masters in Education. Their favorite book is Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

  • Robert Aguirre - SEL Advisor
    Robert Aguirre
    SEL Advisor

    Robert Aguirre, M.A., is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Mr. Aguirre currently provides mental health services both in private practice and through the Heredia Therapy Group. Prior, he served as a Mental Health Clinician for San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, Children’s Full-Service Partnership and at Para Los Niños. As part of LA’s BEST Afterschool Enrichment, a program that promotes health and fitness, Mr. Aguirre acted as Site Coordinator, Program Supervisor, and Traveling Support Staff. As Youth Squad Supervisor for Imperial Courts, he implemented Summer Night Lights, a recreational program delivered by the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. Mr. Aguirre obtained a dual B.A. in Psychology and Chicana/o Studies from California State University Northridge and an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy, with an emphasis in LatinX Culture from Pacific Oaks College. His family tree with Calibrate started as a student of Ms. J (Charletta) and Vann at Community Harvest Charter School.

  • Michael Leonard - General Advisor
    Michael Leonard
    General Advisor

    Michael Leonard is Senior Vice President of Wealth Management and a Portfolio Manager at UBS since 2013. Prior, he fulfilled the roles of Vice President, Portfolio Manager, and Senior Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch for five years. Mr. Leonard was CEO of a private statistical analytics firm as well as a private financial consulting firm. He served as an advisory board member for Middle Market Investment Bank. A graduate of Stanford University, Mr. Leonard is also a licensed Financial Advisor with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority across 16 states.

  • Additional Calibrators -
    Additional Calibrators

    Behind the scenes, we have a beautiful family of 20+ innovators, magic-makers, volunteers, networkers, media contributors, and additional Connections facilitators.