Board Of Directors
Members of the Venice Community Housing Board of Directors are distinguished professionals who serve in a volunteer capacity. An unselfish commitment to others is an underlying common element of each director which brings them to the table to advocate and ensure the delivery of our mission.
CO – CHAIRPERSON – Marie Kennedy
Marie Kennedy is Professor Emerita in Community Planning at the University of Massachusetts Boston and a former Visiting Professor of Urban Planning at the University of California Los Angeles. Throughout her academic career she combined the roles of activist and scholar, working in and writing about community development, planning education and participatory action research. Over the years, Marie has worked with and/or written about community and worker organizations and social movements in the Greater Boston area, San Francisco and Los Angeles, as well as in Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, Palestine and Nicaragua. She chairs the board of Venice Community Housing and serves on the advisory committees of Grassroots International and of Planners Network.
CO- CHAIRPERSON – Anne Zimmerman
Anne Zimmerman, AIA is the principal of AZ Architecture Studio; a 100% women owned firm located in Santa Monica, CA. Founded in 1993, AS Architecture Studio specializes in architecture and urban design serving the general public primarily throughout the City and County of Los Angeles. Anne previously served on the Boards of Design Professionals’ Coalition, an organization devoted to providing pro-bono services to communities in need, and the Association for Woman in Architecture Foundation. Anne received a B.S. in architecture degree from the University of Michigan in 1977. She has lived and worked in California since 1978. When she has the opportunity, Anne is traveling, mostly to affordable and interesting third world countries. This has informed her view of the world and her approach to architecture and design.
SECRETARY – Sophia Guel-Valenzuela
Sophia Guel-Valenzuela, MPH, MBA
Regional Vice President & PACE Executive Director at WelbeHealth
TREASURER – Sylvia Aroth
The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Sylvia grew up in Los Angeles and pledged allegiance “with liberty and justice for SOME”. After graduating UCLA, Sylvia worked as a CPA for many years, even opening her own CPA practice concentrating on taxes and audits for non-profit organizations. She eventually retired to focus on family and her real estate holdings. In 2010, Sylvia became involved in local politics and served on the Venice Neighborhood Council. Sylvia joined the Board of Venice Community Housing in 2013. She has lived in Venice for over 40 years.
Faisal works closely with the President of The LA Office on managing event sponsors and speakers for the company’s Industry Insights Summit in the spring and Brand Partnership Forum in the fall. This involves intimate communication with various clients to ensure their needs are being meet, that the clients are on track with deliverables, and that events run smoothly. He also manages the company CRM platform (Salesforce), handles in-house HR and office managerial needs, leads email marketing campaigns, and corporate member management. Faisal is a graduate of University of California, Irvine and joined the Board of VCH in 2019.
Theresa Hwang is a community-engaged architect and founder of Dept of Places, a participatory design and civic engagement practice based in Los Angeles, CA. She has spent over 10 years focused on equitable cultural and community development with multiple groups and campaigns. She was the former Director of Community Design and Planning at the Skid Row Housing Trust, a non-profit permanent supportive housing organization where she was the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow from 2009-2012. Theresa is an adjunct studio professor at Woodbury University and has previously co-taught at the University of Southern California. Theresa received her Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and Art History from Johns Hopkins University and her Master of Architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is also on the Board of Directors for the Association for Community Design and was recognized as one of Next City’s Urban Vanguards 2015.
With his background in leadership development, fundraising, advocacy, communications, event planning, public speaking and facilitation, Daniel is committed to strengthening the community through volunteer efforts and civic engagement. He is passionate about connecting people, organizations and ideas in ways that increase collective impact.
Outside of serving on the Venice Community Housing Board of Directors Daniel is a Program Manager at CDTech for the Public Allies Los Angeles program. He also serves as the President of the Zapata-King Neighborhood Council. Daniel is an alumnus of AmeriCorps, YouthBuild and the Front Line Leaders Academy. He is currently enrolled in Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) at Los Angeles Trade Tech College and is interested in supporting efforts that will help his peers achieve long-term success. With his passion for Black and Brown unity, Civic Engagement and becoming the voice for under-served communities, he aspires to be Mayor of Los Angeles.
Jeffrey S. Levine, President, Levine Management Group, Inc. is a recognized specialist in real estate management, construction and development, of multi-family and senior citizen apartment communities. Over the years, the firm has managed in excess of $100,000,000 of real estate from pre-design through the completion of construction. Levine Management Group, Inc. currently manages in excess of 2,600 apartment units throughout southern California. Jeff has been involved in numerous aspects of these projects including project management, site acquisition and procurement, financial analysis, selection and supervision of architects and consultants, purchasing, oversight of permit processing and expediting, government regulatory compliance, monitoring of construction, and asset and property management. Jeff is a graduate of the University of Southern California, a licensed California general contractor and real estate broker. He is also a fourth generation Angeleno. The Levine family has been well known for the past seventy years throughout business, banking, politics and philanthropic organizations in the Los Angeles area.
Mindy Meyer is a longtime Venice resident and community organizer who is committed to building inclusive community organizations that emphasize peace and understanding in Los Angeles and especially in Venice. Mindy is currently a Special Consultant for the Center for Collaborative Policy. Previously she was former L.A. City Councilmember; Cindy Miscikowski’s appointee for the Citizen’s Unit for Participation (CUP) in Housing and Community Development and served as Vice President for CUP. Mindy brings a great deal of experience to the VCHC Board. Ms Meyer is the former Executive Director for Los Angeles Youth at Work. Prior to that, she was a coordinator for the Workforce and Economic Development for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation. She also worked for Inside Out Community Arts, a neighborhood arts program in Venice. Ms. Meyer has been a member of the Venice Community Planning Advisory Council since 1998. She received her Master’s Degree in Organizational Development from Antioch University
A retired civil trial attorney, Barbara Milliken has lived in Venice for over 20 years and currently devotes much of her time to volunteer work and community activism. For over six years she has volunteered as VCH’s Volunteer Coordinator, responsible for volunteer recruitment, training and recognition. She was nominated to VCH’s Board of Directors in 2012.
Dana Newman is a Venice resident and dedicated volunteer who connected with Venice Community Housing while volunteering through another organization doing arts and crafts projects with children at VCH’s Westminster TLC. She began her career as an analyst in Private Wealth Management at Goldman Sachs in Los Angeles and later as an associate at Credit Suisse. After a number of years in the financial industry, she decided to refocus her energy towards more meaningful objectives. She was nominated to VCH’s Board of Directors in 2012, and she also serves on the Board of Directors of Housing Options for People to Excel (HOPE), a non-profit that works closely with VCH. Dana received her BA in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University.
Mike Suhd is one of the founding board members of Venice Community Housing. He is a builder and vocational education teacher with the Santa Monica City Trades Intern Program. He has lived in Venice since 1975. For over 3 decades, Mike has been involved in community issues including renters’ rights, affordable housing, zoning and planning, alternative housing and job training. Mike has served both as secretary and treasurer of the Board in the past. Mr. Suhd has assisted in all VCH fundraising events and activities and has headed volunteer workdays on behalf of VCH.
Catherine practices in the areas of international human rights and civil rights. She specializes in Alien Tort Statute litigation and in matters involving forced labor and labor trafficking, police misconduct, unlawful detention, and constitutional violations.
Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Sweetser practiced union and plaintiff-side labor and employment law at Altshuler Berzon LLP in San Francisco. She also clerked for Judge Judith W. Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2009-2010.
Ms. Sweetser received an LL.M. in International Law from NYU in 2010; she wrote a thesis on the integration of legal interpretation by international organizations into judicial decision-making. Ms. Sweetser received her Juris Doctorate from New York University School of Law in 2008, and her B.A. from Yale University in 2005, where she majored in Political Science and International Studies. During law school, she interned at the Innocence Project, which handles post-conviction motions and appeals for prisoners claiming to be innocent, and at the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa, assisting with cases concerning detention of undocumented immigrants and sex discrimination. She also published a Note on accountability for abuse by U.N. peacekeeping personnel.
Jataun Valentine is an outstanding member of the Venice community. Her family has been in Venice since the turn of the century. She is actively involved in the community senior organization, Oakwood Recreation Center, and the Historical Society, to name a few. She is a trusted member of the community and is known to all as a voice of reason and conviction. She has gone to bat for the community many times. She has mobilized several groups to go to City Hall and successfully advocated for various programs and services . In 2005 the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office named her one of the Senior Citizens of the Year.