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Board & Staff

Board of Directors and Staff

META Foundation's Board represents a cross-section of the community and is an advocate for Latino students in pursuit of higher education. The Board works hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization so that the funds raised have a direct impact in the community and increase the opportunities for Latinos to become successful business and community leaders.

  • Cisco Pinedo
    Cisco Pinedo

    Chair, META Board of Directors and Business Owner, CISCO Home

    In 1985, Francisco and Alba Pinedo started making custom upholstery in the garage of their home. In a highly competitive, design-driven industry, Cisco Home quickly distinguished itself with its superior craftsmanship, cutting-edge style, and unparalleled value.

    The Pinedo’s are committed to revitalizing and investing in the inner cities which was their motivation for establishing the L.A. Design Center in South Central Los Angeles. They are also committed to support underprivileged kids from the inner city by encouraging them to succeed through higher education.

  • Steves A. Rodriguez
    Steves A. Rodriguez

    Treasurer, META Board of Directors and Partner/CPA, Freemark Financial LLP

    Steves is a partner with the accounting firm Freemark Financial LLP in Beverly Hills. He provides business management consultancy and tax services to a wide range of clientele. He has worked with many of the largest production companies in the United States, a variety of musical artists, television actors, and directors.

    Rodriguez states, “I believe education is critical to the success of our society as a whole. Being of Latino origin, I want to be sure that our ethnic group is part of that success and if I can help in any way to be a part of that, I want to participate.”

  • Lisa Arellanes, B.E.P.
    Lisa Arellanes, B.E.P.

    Secretary, META Board of Director and Account Manager, Southern California Edison

    Lisa is an Account Manager with Southern California Edison's Business Customer Division, helping some of Southern California's largest energy users become more energy efficient. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and has more than 15 years experience in sales and marketing roles in the energy, high tech, advertising and hotel industries.

  • Helen Brewer

    District Sales Manager, Essendant, Inc.

    Helen Brewer is a District Sales Manager at Essendant, formerly United Stationer Supply Corporation, responsible for leading a sales team and sales efforts in California and Arizona. In addition to Helen’s role as Sales Manager, she is Vice President of the Essendant Foundation Board and a member of the Foundation Governance Board. Helen has over 25 years of sales and management experience.

    Helen earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Marketing from the University of Oklahoma and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Pepperdine University. As an active volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Helen has participated with builds in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Thailand, India and South Africa. She is also Co- Chair for the Chrysalis Women’s Empowerment Program, a nine-week educational program for homeless and low-income women re-entering the workforce.

  • James M. Casso

    Principal at Casso & Sparks, LLP.

    James (Jamie) Casso’s practice focuses on providing counsel to cities and other public agencies throughout Southern California. Jamie serves as City Attorney for the City of La Puente and as Special Counsel to the successor agency to the former South El Monte Community Development Commission, the former La Puente Community Development Commission and the former Community Development Agency of King City. He also serves as General Counsel to the Oversight Boards for the Successor Agencies to the cities of Buellton, Goleta, Lompoc and Riverside County. In August 2010, Jamie was hired by the City of Bell to serve as its Interim City Attorney.

    Jamie also served as long-time Chief of Staff for former U.S. Congressman Esteban E. Torees, gaining more than 30 years of public policy experience and knowledge. Jamie has represented several public and private entities before federal, state and local elected officials and agencies.

    Jamie is a Member of the City Attorneys Association of Los Angeles County, Board Member for New Bedford Panoramex and Member of the Board of Directors, California Polytechnic University, Pomona, Partners in Education. Jamie has a JD from Georgetown University and a Bachelor's of Administration from University of California, San Diego.

  • Leo Estevez

    Leo Estevez is a partner and founder of small green door, a full-service interactive web design and product photography studio in Los Angeles, California.

    Leo was born in Bellflower, California to Latino immigrant parents.

    He earned his Bachelor's degree in Fine Art/New Media. He received his Masters in Fine Art / New Media from UC Berkeley .

    Leo started his post-college career as a fine artist by showcasing interactive large-scale installations and sculptures at the Berkeley Art Museum , PS1 , LA Design Center , Munich National Opera House and others.

    After several years in the art world, the family decided to move back to Leo’s hometown of Los Angeles to open small green door , a full-service interactive web design and product photography studio.

  • Marissa K. López

    Marissa is an Associate Professor of English and Chicana/o Studies at UCLA.

    She earned her Ph.D. in English from UC Berkeley, her Master's from the University of Wisconsin and her Bachelor's from UC Berkeley.

    Marissa is actively involved in her field and has been published many times. She has chaired conferences and workshops. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Latino Studies Association.

  • Marie Melendez

    Marie is an office administrator, paralegal and secretary at Crawford & Bangs, LLP.

    in 2010, Marie started ICMARIE, which is a non-profit organization focused on mentoring success in Latino youth for social change.

  • Lee Polster

    Lee is a Commercial Real Estate professional as agent, owner and shareholder in Coldwell Banker Westmac.

    He graduated magna cum laude with degrees in Comparative Literary Studies and Economic from Occidental College in 2002.

    Lee has many years of active volunteer work as an assistant football coach at Compton Centennial High School, as an Oar Member of the Navy Seal Foundation and as a part of the Occidental Mentoring Program.

  • Jon R. Viramontes

    Founding Member, META and Regional Sales Manager, Fellowes, Inc.

    Jon Viramontes is the Western Regional Sales Manager for Fellowes, Inc. He has over 30 years of experience in the office products industry and is responsible for managing Fellowes, Inc.'s commercial office products business in the Western Unites States.

    Jon stated, "Back in 2000, I was fortunate enough to have been asked what I thought about an idea to begin an organization that would be built on a vision, by individuals who have a passion to make a difference in the lives of others. It was a vision of creating an organization that would provide young men and women a chance to realize the opportunity of higher education, benefiting from their hard work, focus and discipline in high school, which would simply become the foundation for their future. Today, that vision is META. I am proud to be a founding member of META and to be associated with such individuals and an organization that give so much back to the community. We're making a difference one scholarship at a time!"

  • Geovanna WatersGeovanna Henao Waters, Psy,D, graduated from Phillips Graduate Institute in 2008 with a doctorate degree in Organizational Management and Consulting. She earned a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pepperdine University in 2005 and a Bachelor of Arts Degrees in English and Psychology from Mount St. Mary’s College in 2003.

    Dr. Waters has been in the Beauty Industry for over 10 years. She is currently the Vice-President of Sales at BH Cosmetics. In her role, she coordinates all aspects of domestic and global wholesale sales, working closely with the sales team to continue customer growth. She also focuses on all business development initiatives and works closely with the Executive Team to ensure company success and competitive edge in the Beauty Industry.

    Dr. Waters is also currently a Professor at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising), and Advisor for the Latina Global Executive Leadership Program sponsored by USC.

    She resides in Burbank with her husband and 4 year old son.

  • Laura Lull
    Laura Lull

    Executive Director

    Laura Lull has more than 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in a variety of roles including Executive Director, Chief Operating Officer, Communications Officer and Director of Development. In 2014-15, Laura served as the President for Sandpipers, an all volunteer, member-driven nonprofit that addresses the needs of the South Bay community through funding and programming for children and families in need.

    Laura is an energetic and passionate leader with experience in strategic planning, fundraising, scholarship management, operations, finance, marketing, public relations, and program development. She reflects an ability to think out-of-the-box, partner with external organizations and act resourcefully to accomplish great things. She is known for an entrepreneurial spirit, business savvy, and community building drive.

    Laura’s philanthropic passion revolves around education and youth. From teaching diverse middle school students just outside of Washington D.C, to starting an intergenerational program connecting youth with senior citizens in Oakland, to launching strategic communications for a large grantmaker, Laura’s work and philanthropic interests have always intersected.

    Laura Lull has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a Bachelor’s Degree (BS) from the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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