Who We Are

Board & Staff

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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.

  • Lisa Arellanes, B.E.P.

    Lisa Arellanes, B.E.P.

    Co-Chair, META 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 over 15 years experience in sales and marketing roles in the energy, high tech, advertising and hotel industries.

  • Helen Brewer

    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

    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.

  • Joseph L. M. Cervantes

    Joseph L. M. Cervantes

    Emeritus Board Member and Founding Member, META

    Joe Cervantes received his B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Joe has served as a volunteer for several community organizations throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Joe resides in Seabridge Marina in Channel Islands Harbor with his wife Juanita and daughter Victoria.

    Cervantes states, "I was motivated to be a founding member of META because of the lack of resources available to underprivileged Hispanic youth in Southern California. Further, it was and is disturbing to me that Hispanics don't attend college at the rate of main-stream America. Undeniably, this causes a socio-economic gap that will continue unless the trend is reversed by organizations such as META."

  • Daniel Duran, Ph.D.

    Daniel Duran, Ph.D.

    Emeritus Board Member, META and Department Chair, Associate Professor Department of Business Administration at Whittier College

    Professor Dan Duran brings a wealth of private sector business experience, having worked for businesses such as Sempra Energy Solutions, AT&T, Edison, NEC America, and Sat-Networks International. He has also established two firms, the first one focused on the design, installation and operation of leading-edge distance learning, video arraignment, and other applications for the education and legal markets. His most recent firm provides program management and policy support to utilities, government agencies, and corporations in the area of sustainable development. Duran teaches courses in international marketing, sustainable development, operations management, and the management of information systems. He is currently the Business Administration Department Chair.

  • Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia

    Emeritus Board Member, META, and CEO, EndPak

    Carlos Garcia is the president and CEO of EndPak Packaging in Pico Rivera, which he founded with his brother Edgar. it was ranked 77th by Print Packaging magazine and recognized by Hispanic Magazine as one of the top 100 Hispanic-owned and operated business in the country. He has three children and two grandchildren.

    Garcia was elected to the Pico Rivera City Council in 1997 and served as the mayor in 1999 and 2004. He's served as a delegate to the League of California Cities, an alternate director of the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority, and director of the Southeast Area Social Services Funding Authority. Prior to his run on the council he served as the Pico Rivera Planning Commission.

  • Robert J. Mairena

    Robert J. Mairena

    Founding Member, META, and President and CEO, Office Solutions

    Bob Mairena is the President and CEO of Office Solutions, one of the largest independent office products and services dealers in the country. Raised in the Bassett/La Puente area of Los Angeles, Mairena is the oldest of five children of immigrant parents from Nicaragua. He worked multiple jobs to support himself while going to school at University of Southern California full time and graduated in four years. Mairena and his wife, founded Office Solutions in 1984 and grew the company to its current prominence as the largest independent dealer in the West Coast.

    He is committed to nonprofit work and in addition to his role with META he is also affiliated with the Santa Ana based charity The Wooden Floor, as well as Festival of Children. He resides in Yorba Linda with his wife and daughter.

  • Jim Negele

    Jim Negele
  • Francisco Pinedo

    Francisco Pinedo

    Co-Chair, META 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.


  • Kurt Richter

    Kurt Richter

    Packaging Professional

    Kurt began his career working in sales for Richter Manufacturing, the family business. After nine years, he moved to Seattle to run a recent acquisition: Macon Paper Products. He successfully re-branded the business Richter Northwest and over the next nine years grew the business from 2 million to 12 million in yearly sales.

    Kurt moved back to LA in 1996 to assume the roll of Executive Vice President of Richter Manufacturing, while maintaining his responsibilities of overseeing Northwest sales and manufacturing, all agricultural products, and marketing for the Western United States. The business was sold to Tenneco Packaging in 1998, where Kurt assumed the position of Director of Marketing for theWestern United States, also continuing to manage the agricultural side of the business.

    In 1999 he moved to Ernest Paper Products as Product Manager of Protective Packaging Products, and was eventually promoted to General Manager of Ernest Packing Solutions Los Angeles.

    Kurt graduated in 1977 with a degree in Business Administration- Marketing. He retired in 2012.

  • Mike R. Robledo

    Mike R. Robledo

    Regional Sales Manager, Professional Sales Associates

    Mike Robledo is the Vice President of Sales for Professional Sales Associates. Over the past 25 years, Professional Sales Associates, Inc. has grown into one of the most respected and successful manufacturers' rep groups on the West Coast. PSA represents many of the finest office product companies including, Fellowes, Pentel of America, Energizer, Marvel Furniture, Shurtech and Cosco Stamps. Robledo's career in the office supply industry spans 30 years.

    Robledo joined META because he believes in the importance of giving back. He stated, "Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I remember a grass roots organization called the Uni-Vets that reached out to the Hispanic community in Pasadena, California where I attended schools. I was awarded a small, yet significant monetary scholarship that assisted me as I continued my education. Today, META has captured the vision of giving back and reaching out to those that want to continue their education."

  • Steves A. Rodriguez

    Steves A. Rodriguez

    Treasurer/Secretary, META and Partner CPA, Freemark Financial LLP

    Steves is a partner with the accounting firm Freemark Financial LLP in Santa Monica. 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.”

  • Jon R. Viramontes

    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!"

  • Cynthia L. Escartin

    Cynthia L. Escartin

    Cynthia has been a leader in helping organizations with start-ups, turnarounds, reviving underperforming teams and sustaining high performance teams in the areas of business development, training, strategic alliances, talent development, and operations for 15 years in the higher education, lending, and IT Outsourcing industries, with 20 years experience in business development. Cynthia has worked for Apollo Group, one of the nation's largest privately accredited universities nearing $3B in revenue, where she was a pioneer in helping to establish and develop their then business development program for corporate, military and community college partnerships, a program that evolved to Workforce Solutions.

    While at DeVry University, Cynthia managed remote national sales teams, contributing nearly 40% to total lead goals, as well as year over year account growth by nearly 45%. Most recently, during her engagement at Trident University International, Cynthia was instrumental in demonstrating 400% year over year lead growth by establishing a CRM within a 3 month period. She was also key in managing a project where the first ever university online appointment system was established in a 4 month period, thereby giving the online university full credibility and functionality as an online school.

    Cynthia completed her graduate degree in Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management, and her undergraduate in Business Management from University of Phoenix. Cynthia is a Managing Partner of the PIHOL Group, Inc., a consulting firm, a board member of MBA Women LA which is a local chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs, a proud mother of her recently engaged daughter who will be completing her graduate degree at Cal Baptist University April 2016, and is an avid yogi.

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