Board of Directors 2015
Marion Dies, Board President
A board member since 2010, Marion is a professional artist who has worked as a Scenic Artist in the entertainment industry. She was the first woman to work in the Scenic dept of Warner Bros. and is now co-owner of Lush Scenery Inc, a business which designs and produces paintings and murals for clients in the public and private sector world-wide. Ms. Dies has worked on and designed both for television and film, including the LA Opera, the LA Center Theatre Group, themed entertainment parks, restaurants, retail interiors, as well as private home commissions. Her own artwork has won awards and is collected.
She is also a member of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society and the Membership Chair for The Pasadena Society of Artists. Marion benefited from arts instruction beginning at an early age, and feels it should be a component of all children’s education.
Jane Cooke, Board Vice President
Toyota Financial Services
A board member since 2011, Jane is a Curriculum Developer for Toyota. She has a master’s degree in Education, with a specialty in Instructional Technology, and is a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) She is a published author and photographer, and is a Distinguished Toastmaster with Toastmasters International.
Jennie Redner, MAI, Board Secretary
A board member since 2007, Jennie Redner, MAI, is a real estate appraiser and consultant providing valuations and advice on commercial and residential property with more than 25 years’ experience. TerraFirma, Jennie’s appraisal business, solves real estate problems, primarily serving families, partnerships and small businesses. Typical appraisal problems that families encounter include the valuation of real estate for gifts to children, for the estate tax return required upon the death of a parent, or for dissolution of a marriage. Families seek her help to value minority, partial and fractional interests and she assists investors with testimony in court to help resolve a dispute. Jennie is passionate about providing the arts to children because of her childhood exposure to the arts. That training gave her opportunities to perform and build confidence from an early age.
Surisa Rivers, Board Treasurer
Surisa Rivers Law Office
A board member since 2008, Surisa Rivers started her own law practice in 2013 as a special education attorney, representing students with disabilities throughout Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange Counties. Between 2010 and 2013, she was a litigation attorney for the Disability Rights Legal Center, focusing on high-impact cases affecting the rights of persons with disabilities. Prior to moving to Los Angeles in 2006, Surisa was a special education attorney for low-income parents and students in Philadelphia, PA. Through this work, she learned that 50-70% of children in our juvenile justice system have learning or other disabilities. It became clear to Surisa that the only way to lead these precious youth away from the criminal justice system was through education, which Theater of Hearts accomplishes each year by providing exceptional arts education programming to at-risk youth.
Edwin de Santiago, Board Member
A board member since 2010, Edwin is a Business Analyst for Capital Group, one of the world’s largest investment management organizations. Edwin joined the Capital organization in 2005 and has held multiple roles within the organization. First serving as a Fund Representative with responsibilities in client services and project management functions for their services division. Then as a Quality Management Engineer with the information technology group, with responsibilities of providing quality assurance and quality control for client software applications. In 2011 he moved into a marketing role with the RFI/RFP institutional team, helping to drive institutional sales. More recently in 2015 he transitioned into a Business Analyst role with the Investment Operations Services group, leading strategic investment related projects and new product rollouts for the organization. Edwin received a Bachelor’s from San Francisco State University in Film Production and a MBA in Finance from the University of Redlands.
Pat Prescott, Board Member
The Wave Radio Station
A board member since 2005, Pat Prescott is a 30-year radio veteran who has spent 20+ years on-air in New York and has been co-host of the morning show on 94.7 The Wave in Los Angeles for the past 10 years. She is a passionate advocate for children, education and the arts.
Karolyn Ali, Founding Board Member
A founding board member, former Board Chair, Board Secretary and Board Treasurer, Karolyn is president and film producer for kAliCo Productions. Karolyn received an Academy Award Nomination as Producer of “Tupac: Resurrection” the 2005 documentary feature film about the life and times of artist/rapper Tupac Shakur. In addition to producing the documentary feature for MTV Films/Amaru Entertainment, Inc., released by Paramount Pictures, Karolyn was an editor of the companion book Tupac Resurrection 1971–1996 for MTV Books/Atria Books, distributed by Simon & Schuster. She shepherded the production of and edited Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary written by Jasmine Guy for Atria Books/Simon & Schuster. Ali edited Many Blessings: A Tapestry of Accomplished African-American Women, written by and published by Sonnee Weedn, PhD. “KLA$H” starring Jasmine Guy and Giancarlo Esposito, was Karolyn’s feature film debut as a producer. The independent music-driven thriller was filmed in 1994 on location in Kingston, Jamaica. She went on to be Program Director for the Turks & Caicos International Film Festival. Karolyn earned the prestigious Lillian Gish Award from Women In Film, and was also selected as the NAACP/Legal Defense Fund’s AT&T Entrepreneur of the Year.
Karolyn currently serves at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Oscars telecast and the Governor’s Awards annual ceremonies) as Creative Consultant/Special Assistant to president Cheryl Boone Isaacs.
Ian P. Lawes, Founding Board Member
Ian P. Lawes & Associates LLC
A founding board member, Ian is a General Contractor specializing in Restaurant and Food Facilities. With over 50 years in the restaurant field building the infrastructure for restaurants ranging from fast food stops to haute cuisine emporiums. Ian joined the Board because of his own affiliation with the arts and saw the need to fill a void in the arts education system for at-risk youth.
Hulya Pekkar, Board Member
Hulya is a new board member. She has been working in The Capital Group Companies for 20 years. She had several technical leadership roles for delivery of large scale financial applications for which she provided technical oversight and know-how. Hulya is passionate about technology and its impact on our daily lives. She teaches elementary school students programming and electronics classes on a regular basis. She advocates and participates innovation days at the elementary schools to inspire students for innovation and creativity. Hulya got her B.S degree in Computer Science from Bogazici University in Turkey and M.S degree in Computer Information Systems from The Claremont Graduate University.
Robert Ozaki, Board Member
Toyota Financial Services (Retired)
A recent board member, Robert Ozaki is a retired Business Manager from Toyota with more than 40 years of diversified business experience. He began his career working for DHL Japan, and later managed the Los Angeles Branch of this worldwide courier service. He then worked at Price Waterhouse, where he performed financial audits and subsequently moved to the tax group to manage client tax matters. After nine years in public accounting, Robert began his 29 year career at Toyota, where he held management positions in tax, finance and accounting, internal audit, and IT controls and compliance. His career at Toyota included a 2 1/2 year assignment with the Toyota Financial Services parent company internal audit group in Nagoya, Japan. Robert has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from UCLA, and a Masters in Taxation from Golden State University. He is a California CPA (inactive) and a Certified Internal Auditor.
Sheila Scott-Wilkinson, Theatre Of Hearts Executive Director and Founder
Sheila is the Founder, Executive Director and Artistic Director of Theatre Of Hearts, where she oversees day-to-day operations since 1987. Prior to her work with Theatre Of Hearts/Youth First, Sheila studied and worked in Europe, where she became an acclaimed actress of the stage and screen. Sheila completed training at the Frankfurt Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt, Germany, and the London Drama Center, England. While in Europe, Sheila starred in numerous stage productions at the famed National Theater of London, such as David Hare’s Map Of The World. Sheila also starred in a number of productions in theatres throughout England, such as London’s Royal Court Theater, the Welsh National Theater, the Liverpool Playhouse, the Theater Royal in Windsor, and many theatres throughout the West End of London. She received two DramaLogue Critics Awards for her work as an actress in The Book Of The Crazy and Jack Jackson’s Piano Bar, performed at the Skylight Theater, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Cultural Center. Sheila is regarded as one of the major talents of British and American theater, and her work is mentioned in Michael Billing’s The Modern Actor and Katherine Worth’s Revolutions In The Modern English Drama and At The Royal Court: 25 Years Of The English Stage Company. After returning to the United States and settling in Los Angeles, Sheila served as a Program Director for Artsreach where she taught, designed, developed, and implemented arts programming for Arts-in-Correction and for incarcerated youth at Nelles School for Boys. In response to the severe civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992, she established the Youth First Artist-In-Residence Program to prevent and intervene in youth violence. Sheila received a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles, and a State of California Resolution, and was awarded a Fellowship by the Eureka Foundation. She is a three-year recipient of a California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence individual grant to teach theater at the William Grant Still’s Arts Center for youth ages 9-16. Sheila participates on the initial Steering Committee LACOE for Arts for All, the Los Angeles County Regional Blueprint for Arts Education with the Los Angeles County Office of Education Community Arts Team. Most recently, Sheila was invited to participate in the Los Angeles Arts Commission Arts Leadership Initiative, the Executive Learning Group. She continues to pursue her passion for Theatre Of Hearts/Youth First, which has served over 100,200 youth to date.