People

Team

  • Founder, Executive Director, and Board Secretary

    Dr. D’Artagnan Scorza is the Founder and Executive Director of the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood, CA.  Dr. Scorza is a US Navy Iraq-War Veteran, obtained his Ph.D. in Education from UCLA, served as a UC Regent from 2007-2009, was a 2010 Education Pioneers Fellow and is a 2013-2014 Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Fellow.  He has a B.S. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Business Management from National University and a B.A. in the Study of Religion.

    Dr. Scorza’s expansive research and policy experience extends throughout the state having passed policies that established veteran’s service centers across UC campuses, prioritized $160 million for student services, improved sustainability in Inglewood schools and expanded programs for boys and men of color throughout LA County.  He served as the chair on the Measure GG campaign securing $90 million in school construction bonds as well as matching funds bringing the total construction program to $123 million.  He’s currently engaged in grassroots policy efforts through the Healthy and Sustainable Inglewood Collaborative (HSIC), a group of more than 30 local stakeholders, to expand business opportunities through local economic development, to improve health in the built environment and to improve outcomes for boys and men of color.  

  • Creative Arts & Youth Empowerment Programs Director

    In his role as the Creative Arts and Youth Empowerment Programs Director, Daniel P. Castillo is focused on creating youth programs that utilize art as a medium to create and transmit stories for change. Daniel previously served as SJLI's Educational Equity Programs Director, where he managed the development and expansion of SJLI’s Boys and Men of Color efforts through their a series of programs, broadly known as Urban Scholars, which are integrated into schools across the greater Los Angeles area. These academic programs focus on addressing the literacy needs of Boys and Men of color by helping them develop academic competencies, critical consciousness and social awareness with the ultimate intentions to equip and empower them to enact social change through research, training, and community mobilization.

    Drawing upon his personal experience growing up in Los Angeles, Castillo can relate to the many challenges youth are facing, including the appeal of gang life. As a young child he loved visual and experiential art, and as he matured and developed his talent, he chose to follow a career path that would allow him to use his gifts as an artist and his passion for Social Justice. Through his work he is hoping to inspire and cultivate youth to take leadership positions in society and become who they were born to be in this world.

  • Health Equity Programs Director
    Trained as an engineer, Steele finds teamwork to be a fundamental pillar of how he leads SJLI's Health Equity Programs area. Following a hypertension diagnosis, he and his family began evaluating the food options in their community and similar communities. Finding very few affordable and healthy food options, the solution needed was for the community to develop a local food movement. Co-architect of the 100 Seeds of Change initiative with Nicole Steele, he now oversees all health focused operations and programs offered by SJLI, as well as providing policy and advocacy leadership which articulate the community’s health priorities.
  • Health Equity Program Manager

    As a transplant from Baltimore to Inglewood, CA with a small child and no car, Steele was forced to walk several miles to the nearest grocery store. Steele observed the many vacant lots along her walk, and began to grow increasingly frustrated. She could imagine Inglewood coming alive with a fresh local food system. Not content to sit idly by, Steele began petitioning local politicians and designing the 100 Seeds of Change initiative. Starting as a volunteer, and now as a full-time staff member, Steele is pleased with the growth 100 Seeds of Change has taken on under SJLI. A certified Master Gardener from University of California, Los Angeles, Steele manages all SJLI farms and nutrition programs.

  • Educational Equity Programs Manager

    An Oakland native, Katz is no stranger to urban settings, but when she left home to earn her B.A. in history from UCLA, she found herself experiencing culture shock and homesickness. It wasn’t until she began working at the Community Programs Office on campus that she found the supportive environment she needed. With a new sense of purpose and belonging, Katz finished school and is now helping Urban Scholars’ youth find their own sense of purpose and belonging on college campuses. Working at Roosevelt, Animo-Watts, and Jordan (Long Beach) high schools, Katz teaches classes, and works one-on-one with students to develop strategies that will help them realize their personal and academic goals.

  • Development and Communications Manager

    Linda manages the organization's efforts related to fundraising, external relations and communications. As a first generation American and the daughter of immigrants, Linda is passionate about lifting up and amplifying the voices of communities of color. Prior to joining the Social Justice Learning Institute's team in 2016, Linda began her nonprofit development career at various organizations that support vulnerable communities in Los Angeles. Linda received her B.A. in International Development Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Southeast Asian Studies, at UCLA.

  • Academic and Career Support Coordinator

    Danielle Frye is responsible for supporting SJLI tutors and teacher trainings, and coordinating college tours.  As the Academic and Career Support Coordinator, Frye focuses on working with 9th to 11th grade students. She meets with students, parents and teachers to conduct Individual Academic Plans, college application and financial aid assistance. She has extensive experience in developing college access curriculum and activities for diverse high school students from varying socio-economic backgrounds and working with parents and volunteers. Ms. Frye also has teaching experience in language arts and mathematics.  Ms. Frye earned her B.A. in Liberal Studies with an Area of Concentration in Linguistics and Language with a minor in Africana Studies from California State University, Dominguez Hills.  She is CBEST certified teacher and reads, writes and speaks Spanish with proficiency.  She has published and presented several educational papers including a presentation during the National Conference of Black Studies in Miami, Florida.

  • Resource Development Coordinator
    A native of Los Angeles, Tyler developed a passion for empowerment, encouragement and putting smiles on faces at a young age. While attending UCLA, he became intimately aware of the educational and health disparities within Los Angeles County and was inspired to pursue a career impacting and uplifting communities that historically have been underserved. Realizing that he couldn’t simply learn about issues that impact communities that he’s a part of and not fight for improved experiences, Vernon pursued leadership positions aimed at uplifting and empowering Black men. As the Resource Development Coordinator, he implements strategies that bolster capacity and the ability to provide economically vulnerable youth with enhanced academic experiences.
  • Market Manager of Inglewood Certified Farmer's Market (ICFM)

    Tracey Bonilla is the Farmer's Market Manager for the Inglewood Certified Farmer's Market (ICFM) at the Social Justice Learning Institute. In 2013, Bonilla began volunteering with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Her work with the LAFPC lead to an opportunity to be considered for a job at SJLI in 2015. She started her work at SJLI as a peer educator, where she was responsible for administering healthy lifestyle classes and the maintenance of several school & community gardens in the cities of Inglewood & Lennox. After several months of working as support staff for the Inglewood CFM, in January 2017, she began her role as Market Manager of the Inglewood CFM.

    Bonilla got her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz in 2012. She also received her A.A. in Liberal Arts for Behavioral & Social Sciences from Santa Monica College in 2014. She is currently in school completing course work to pursue a Masters degree in Nutrition & Exercise Sciences.

  • College Access and Persistence Counselor

    After graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Statistics, Zafferano managed a research project at UCLA in the Education and Psychology departments. Although the research project was rewarding and aligned with her interests, Zafferano felt that she was missing a piece of the puzzle: she wanted to create interpersonal connections with youth and support them going into Higher Education through her work. At SJLI, that piece of the puzzle is filled as the College Access and Persistence Counselor. Zafferano works with Urban Scholars high school seniors and alumni to provide information about college pathways, to assist with application and financial aid processes, and to give support for persistence through college completion.​

  • Academic and Career Support Coordinator

    Arron Baptist currently works as an Academic and Career Support Coordinator for the Social Justice Learning Institute. He works with high school boys of color through mentoring, teaching, and providing academic counseling. Mr. Arron Baptist is endeavoring to acquire more skills and practice that will enable him to be a valuable member of his community.

    Baptist is a candidate for a M.S. I'm Public Policy and Administration at CSU Long Beach, and Earned his BA in Africana Studies from CSUDH. His growing familiarity with policy and administration builds upon his undergraduate foundation in Africana Studies (B.A. earned at CSU Dominguez Hill) and enables him to analyze school environments, and make critical recommendations, and execute the vision of the school and community. The analysis, recommendation and execution process that Mr. Baptist practices could be seen in his work at View Park High School, his Alma Mater, where he spoke to seniors, organized college trips and worked along side the college counselor.  Mr. Baptist demonstrated his commitment to school vision and his ability to accept direction as a volunteer at Environmental Charter Middle School whileworking under Brandon Garrett in the after school program.

  • Educational Equity Programs Manager

    David Turner III is an activist-scholar from Inglewood, California. His educational, scholarly, and activists interest intersect at Black politics, social movements, critical consciousness, and race, class, and gender. David's primary interest is social transformation, and working with historically marginalized communities to do it.  As a seasoned organizer and educator, David brings over five years of experience back to the SJLI team, having helped students at various universities establish cultural centers, negotiate and win demands for racial justice, secure funding, and coordinate direct actions across the state of California and the nation, all while teaching at both the K-12 and the postsecondary level.  David is currently a Ph.D. student in the Social and Cultural Studies in Education program at the University of California, Berkeley, and his dissertation will focus on youth organizing and the politics of the education justice in Los Angeles. David holds an M.S.Ed in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Africana Studies with a minor in Sociology from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

  • Health Equity Peer Educator
  • Health Equity Peer Educator
  • Health Equity Peer Educator
  • Health Equity Peer Educator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Champions for Change Program Manager
  • Food Production Manager
  • Youth Organizer
  • Communications Coordinator

Board of Directors

  • Chair and Co-Founder

    Dr. Omai Garner is a Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor and Associate Director Clinical Microbiology in the UCLA Health System. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pathology at UCLA, and a former McNair Scholar. Garner obtained his doctorate in Biomedical sciences from the University of California at San Diego. Garner’s research focuses on infectious disease and glycobiology, with a specific emphasis on the role of glycosylation in viral protein biology.

  • Chair

    Dr. Linda Baum is an immunologist and pathologist in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UCLA. Her current research focuses on the biochemistry of cell-cell interactions in the immune system and cancer models. Baum is a faculty member at UCLA, and teaches at the Medical and the Graduate School. She is the Medical Director of the UCLA Clinical Laboratories and head of the Division of Laboratory Medicine. Baum received a B.S. in biology from Stanford University, and her Ph.D. in immunology, and M.D. degrees from Duke University.

  • Treasurer

    Dr. Nancy Greenstein is the 2013 chair of the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees, and director of Police Community Services at the UCLA Police Department. Greenstein has received national recognition for community policing programs and strategies for bringing together diverse groups and agencies to resolve various issues. Greenstein has a bachelor’s degree in education from Boston University, masters of social work with a community organizing specialty from UCLA, and a Doctorate in Education from UCLA.

  • Director

    Dr. Vickie Mays is Director of the BRITE Center, a Professor in the Department of Psychology in the College of Letters and Sciences, and a Professor in the Department of Health Services at UCLA. Mays teaches courses on the health status and health behaviors of racial and ethnic minority groups; research ethics in biomedical and behavioral research in racial/ethnic minority populations; research methods in minority research; as well as courses on the social determinants of mental disorders and psychopathology. She holds a Ph.D.

  • Secretary

    As a child growing up in Watts and Inglewood, Scorza was witness to the community hardship caused by a lack of resources and opportunity. Scorza, himself, experienced living in a home without economic security, a chronically ill sibling, and an absent father.  College never seemed like a realistic opportunity for Scorza, rather his goal was to gain employment and support his family. Fortunately for Scorza, a series of school counselors intervened, encouraging him to make college a priority.

Board of Advisors

  • Advisor

    Brian Selmo is a managing director with First Pacific Advisors. Selmo joined the firm in 2008. He serves as Director of Research and Portfolio Manager for the FPA Contrarian Value Strategy (including FPA Crescent Fund) and the FPA Value Partners Strategy. He is a research analyst for the FPA Hawkeye Strategy. Selmo has a bachelor’s degree with honors in economics from The Johns Hopkins University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

  • Advisor

    Bowe Kurowski is the West Coast Manager of recruiting for TRU Staffing Partners. Kurowski has worked at firms such as Proskauer Rose LLP, Paul Hastings Janofsky Walker, Weston Benshoof LLP, White & Case LLP, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. He currently sits on the Board of Advisors for Cal State LA’s Legal Continuing Education Program and has developed and teaches curriculum for the first e-discovery paralegal class approved by the ABA on the West Coast.

  • Advisor

    Antoinette Mongelli is the founder and CEO of Free as a Bird. Previously, Mongelli was the founding executive director of the UCLA Volunteer Center, working with community organizations and volunteer programs in Los Angeles to increase the involvement of the UCLA family and the public, in civic life. Mongelli has also served as an assistant chancellor, and as the executive director of UCLA Special Events and Protocol. Mongelli has a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from California State University.

  • Advisor

    Ben Allen is a member of the Santa Monica-Malibu Board of Education, and is the Board’s immediate past President. He has been a leader on issues of teacher evaluation, sustainability, financial accountability, and community engagement. Allen is an attorney with the law firm Richardson & Patel LLP, where his work focuses on government/political affairs and litigation. He is also an adjunct professor at UCLA Law School, where he teaches education law and policy.