L. Stephanie Tait
In true Aries fashion, L. Stephanie Tait takes on every project with the energy and fire of a thousand suns. Stephanie completed a Bachelors of Arts in Film Studies from UW-Milwaukee, earned a Masters of Arts from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and spent four and a half years pursuing a PhD with the University of Edinburgh’s Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Department. She also spent her time in Scotland curating and organizing independent film festivals and screenings with the Film House Theatre in Edinburgh, and the University of Edinburgh’s Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Department.
Putting her PhD on hold, Stephanie moved to Los Angeles in 2010 to continue her work in producing, writing, and directing. Her lifelong involvement in humanitarian issues and activism has led to her becoming a co-founder of the East Valley Alliance. Stephanie lives in Studio City with her husband and two cats, and constantly reminds them of why science fiction is the best lense in which to discuss social justice issues.
Abra is an educator who has served the highest needs students in Los Angeles for more than a decade. She started her career as a founding teacher at a K-8 school in Lincoln Heights and went on to become the director of the school’s 4-6th grade campus. As an education consultant, she currently partners with organizations and schools across the country in the effort to provide an excellent education to all children. She sits on the board of LA’s first all-girls charter school, GALS LA, and volunteers at NoHo Home Alliance, a drop-in center for people experiencing homelessness.
After her husband, Keith Schwalenberg, died suddenly in February of 2019, Abra became a member of the Studio City Neighborhood Council Committee on Homelessness which he founded along with two fellow community activists. She comes to advocacy for unhoused individuals out of a commitment to social justice and a desire to carry on the work of her husband, who inspired her to listen to and connect with people directly experiencing homelessness in the fight to ensure that everyone in LA has a home.
After retiring Andrew felt the call to tackle the humanitarian crisis of Homelessness in our community. Andrew started by cold calling organizations he had heard about to learn about best practices solutions for the homelessness crisis.
He found dedicated people working very hard with limited resources to help the most vulnerable in our community. Andrew started volunteering and contributing anyway he could. His prior business experience has led him to become a member of the SPA 2 Steering Committee, a member of the San Fernando, Santa Clarita Homeless Coalition, and President of NoHo Home Alliance.
Andrew continues to be motived by the needs of the homeless, the desire for the community to seek solutions, and inspired by the hard working staff and volunteers of all the organizations he works with. Andrew is way more boring than the cofounders and has not had as interesting a life as their bios tell. He is continually inspired by their passion and commitment to improving the lives of others.
Lydia Sussman's passion for working with under-served populations began when she taught deaf children in a small Morrocan immigrant village in Israel in 1974-75. She returned home and received her degree and credential in Deaf Education from CSUN. She is currently retired after 33 years of teaching deaf and hard of hearing elementary students and babies for LAUSD. Never one to stop “working,” she is continuing to work in her field as an adjunct professor, teaching graduate students, supervising student teachers, and interns at Cal Lutheran University.
Lydia is also a volunteer at NoHo Home Alliance as their “kitchen lead,” creating meals with donated items in a respectful and creative way and providing dignity and sustenance to individuals struggling with homelessness and hunger. She serves on the NoHo Home Alliance Advocacy and Fundraising Committees.
Her experiences with both children and adults in Los Angeles have provided a window into the inequities in our educational and social systems. Lydia pledges to continue to work to bring about change and growth in her community and to work to right the inequities so many of our neighbors struggle with.