Staff and Leadership | Playworks

Playworks for every kid

Staff and Leadership

LaVal Brewer
Executive Director

LaVal Brewer brings to Playworks more than three decades of experience in nonprofit management, with more than a decade of experience in executive and development roles. He recently supported the work of Southern California nonprofit and for-profit corporate employee volunteer programs as a consultant through the Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership and OneOC (formerly the Volunteer Center of Orange County).

LaVal has served as executive director for several YMCAs throughout Southern California. He is passionate about youth development, strengthening communities, volunteerism, and engaging for-profit organizations to address local issues. LaVal believes that play is essential at all levels of human development. LaVal is a trainer for CaliforniaVolunteers, serves on the board of the Capistrano Unified School District Foundation, is a Rotarian, and regularly volunteers in his community. LaVal is married and has three daughters. He is looking forward to playing switch, four corners, and koosh ball pickle during office recess.

Contact: laval.brewer@playworks.org

Michelle Serrano
Associate Director

Michelle has a background in psychology and ethnic studies and a passion for youth development and community service. It was the ability to serve her community and make a positive impact that initially drew her to Playworks. Through the partnership with AmeriCorps, she was given the opportunity to serve as a coach and experience first hand the impact this program has on students, schools, teachers, and communities. After working for four years at the Playworks office in the Silicon Valley, she took the opportunity to relocate and help bring more opportunities for safe and meaningful play to children in Southern California. In the past six years, she has grown the program and impact in Southern California while also supporting and leading efforts to launch the Playworks program in Portland, Detroit, and Salt Lake City. She loves being part of an organization that focuses on the importance of play in a child's life and the impact it can have both inside the classroom and out.

Michelle is in her tenth year with Playworks and is currently serving as the associate director for Playworks Southern California. Her role allows her to support the amazing SoCal team and explore how schools and districts can transform and sustain the impacts Playworks brings to their communities. Michelle is married and has one daughter. She enjoys spending time with her family and is grateful for the chance to have a positive impact everyday through her work.

Contact: michelle.serrano@playworks.org

Diane Santana
Development Director

Diane joined the Playworks family for a full year as a volunteer in 2011. After falling in love with the mission and vision of the organization she joined the team as a full-time staff member. Diane is directly responsible for identifying and attracting various funding sources including foundation and corporate partnerships, public funding and individual donors. She also plans, coordinates, and implements the annual fund development plans in order to meet the SoCal city fund development and budgetary goals. Diane has a current conceptual knowledge of the city's philosophy with an ability to leverage relationships and partnership opportunities for the overall benefit of Playworks SoCal.

Contact: diane.santana@playworks.org

Sheronda Helton
Regional Partnership Director

Sheronda comes to Playworks with over nine years of experience in education. She started her career as a Teach For America corps member teaching special education in South Los Angeles and Watts. She has experience with program management, partnership development, and program sales. A transplant from Detroit, Sheronda attended college at Grambling State University where she majored in Psychology and Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles where she obtained her master’s degree in education.

Sheronda is an active member of Leadership for Educational Equality and The Collective, and volunteers with the youth and young adult ministries at church as well as with other community organizations. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, trying new recipes, and exploring Los Angeles.  

Contact: sheronda.helton@playworks.org

Luciano Mondolo
Program Director

Luciano is in his sixth year with Playworks currently serving as the program director spearheading school partnerships and program quality in Southern California. He previously served as a Playworks program manager for three years dedicated to the development of many school partnerships and young professional individuals who had committed themselves to giving back and getting things done for Playworks. Prior to that, he was a Playworks AmeriCorps program coordinator for two years, and was honored as California’s 2012 Volunteer of the Year. A true believer in the power of play, he loves being part of an organization that focuses on giving students the opportunity to become leaders in and outside of the playground. Serving as an AmeriCorps member taught Luciano the importance of giving back to the community. As a certified Playworks trainer, he loves teaching playground staff and school community members how to create an active, inclusive, and positive environment within their program. He believes that the power of play does not start and finish after the bell has rung. Luciano loves videography and photography; you can always find his playful pictures in our PlayworksSoCal social media profiles. Luciano is married and has three sons who share in his passion for play.

Contact: luciano.mondolo@playworks.org

Ann Nguyen
Program Director

Ann first joined the Playworks family in 2009 as Coach Ann, serving as a Playworks coach at Santee Elementary in East San Jose. She absolutely fell in love with the kids, the community she served, and the beauty of bringing the power of play to Santee to transform the culture of the school.

After being Coach Ann for two years, she graduated with her Masters of Counselor Education from San Jose State University and she became the counselor at Bridges Academy Middle school, the middle school that Santee Elementary students often attended. Ann was so thrilled to have many of her Playworks kids as seventh and eighth graders. The Playworks' philosophy was always an instrumental part of the work she did to serve her middle school students.

While at Bridges Academy, Ann co-created an elective program called P.A.V.E. (Personal, Academic, & Values Education). P.A.V.E. was a fun counseling class where students would learn important life skills and lessons, be encouraged to overcome their personal obstacles by making values-based decisions, and receive the help necessary to increase their GPAs in order to qualify for eighth-grade graduation.

After five years of serving as a middle school counselor, Ann is excited to return to the Playworks family as program director for Playworks Southern California.

Ann is passionate about impacting the lives of youth, improving school climate and culture by engaging and serving the community, and empowering others to make a positive difference. She believes that all kids everywhere deserve nothing short of an extraordinary educational experience. A south San Jose girl to her core, Ann loves spending time with her family and friends, dancing, playing the piano, and being in the front row for concerts.

Bertina Denogean
Pro Trainer

Bertina "Coach B" Denogean came to Playworks as an AmeriCorps member in 2012. As an educator on the playground, Coach B thrived on the opportunity to make a positive and meaningful impact on the students and adults she served. In 2014, she was thrilled to join the local office team and pilot our current TeamUp model as one of the first site coordinators in Playworks history. Prior to becoming a pro trainer, Coach B served as a program manager supporting the efforts to create more opportunities for safe and meaningful play to children throughout Southern California. Bertina is excited to further our vision that every child plays, bringing her passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm for play through the delivery of our Playworks Pro services. A California native, Bertina enjoys frequent trips home to San Diego, golfing, cooking with friends, and attending a wide variety of sporting events.

Jon Gibbs
Program Manager

Jon Gibbs served as a Playworks program coordinator, rotating between "Coach Jon" and his alter-ego, "Captain Redbeard" at Bennett-Kew Elementary in Inglewood, CA. In his first year as an AmeriCorps Coach, he was humbled and honored by the organization with the 2012-2013 Playworks Rookie of the Year Award. Before Playworks, he served proudly with City Year New York and City Year Los Angeles, completing two AmeriCorps terms within their service at local elementary schools. His passion for providing positive youth development and strengthening the community helps drive his professional and personal growth. A self-proclaimed "Jersey Boy", he loves playing and watching sports, drawing, and collecting a wide range of tattoos. He loves working for an organization that is constantly striving for inclusion and respect, and is bringing out the best in every kid through play!

Alejandra Liera
Program Manager

Alejandra Liera “Coach Purple” joined Playworks as an Americorps Program Coordinator, serving the community of South Gate at Aspire Firestone Academy in 2012 and the community of Huntington Park at Huntington Park Charter School in 2013. Prior to coming on board Alejandra worked with other Non-profit organizations such as LA’s BEST, LA KIDS and worked for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Her passion for enhancing the communities we serve and promoting positive youth development has been her driving force throughout her professional development. She loves working for an organization that believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid.

Janelle Matthews
Program Manager

Janelle Matthews also known as “Coach Jay” on the playground, joined the Playworks SoCal family August of 2012. She completed her first two years as an AmeriCorps member. During those years she had the pleasure of bringing inclusive and healthy play to the children at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary in Watts. Last year, Janelle helped pilot our new TeamUp model as site coordinator, bringing the power of play to four schools in one year. This year she is excited to continue her work as a Program Manager. As a SoCal native Janelle loves going to the beach, exercising, and spending time with family.

Max Gallo
Program Manager

Max is entering his third year with Playworks Southern California and beginning his new role as a program manager. Max started with Playworks in 2014 as an AmeriCorps program coordinator serving a first-year partner, Washington Elementary School in Bellflower, California. The following year, he was very fortunate to move into the site coordinator position where he had the opportunity to work with four different schools in the Norwalk-La Mirada School District. At his four schools, Max worked closely with the supervision teams and faculty to increase the value and availability of play for all students. Before starting his time at Playworks, Max worked with another nonprofit teaching bicycle and pedestrian safety to elementary and middle school students. He also has experience at summer camps as a counselor and tennis coach. In his spare time, you can find Max cheering on his favorite sports teams, playing ultimate frisbee and basketball, and enjoying the sunny Southern California weather at the beach. Max, or “Coach Max” as he was known on his campuses, is grateful for the opportunities Playworks has given him to bring safe, healthy, and inclusive play to every child.

Dillon Mosier
Program Manager

Dillon joined Playworks as an AmeriCorps program coordinator serving the community of Santa Ana at Carver Elementary in 2013. As a site coordinator, he continued his work in Santa Ana working with over 3,000 students and 200 faculty, fostering a cultural shift in the community where every child feels respected, safe, and included, and both students and adults value play. Prior to coming to Playworks, Dillon worked with Project Shine where he assisted students in a variety of ways including teaching English, teaching citizenship, providing them with written histories in their native language, and serving as a conversation partner to increase their participation in the community and work toward becoming U.S. citizens. His passion for child and youth development that values play has been his continuous motivation to bring the power of play to the communities he serves. His high spirited energy is what has helped Dillon (also known as "Coach D") further Playworks’ mission and vision that every child plays.

Calvin Hamilton
Program Manager
Calvin “Coach Calvin” Hamilton started off as a Program Coordinator in 2014 as an AmeriCorps coach at Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary in Watts. After his year of service with AmeriCorps, he transitioned into the role of Site Coordinator where he empowered the students and staff members at four elementary schools in the Los Angeles area. Prior to joining Playworks, Calvin worked as both a counselor and a coordinator at UCLA Recreation Summer Camps for six consecutive summers, working with and positively engaging campers from the UCLA/Westwood Community. After a year and a half of being a Site Coordinator, Calvin is very excited to transition into the role of Program Manager, where he is excited to continue motivating our Playworks staff members and do even more to help Playworks reach the aim to ensure that EVERY kid gets to Play.  
Roderick Burnley
Operations Manager

Roderick comes to Playworks with more than 12 years of experience managing publicly funded programs designed to promote healthy communities, revitalize neighborhoods, and develop safe, decent, and affordable housing. He has a background in urban and regional planning and is passionate about local government, school districts, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses working collaboratively to create educational environments that motivate and inspire students. Roderick is in his first year with Playworks and is excited to be part of an organization dedicated to bringing out the best in every kid.

After a hiatus as a stay-at-home dad, Roderick rediscovered his passion for youth development and began volunteering at and subsequently working as a Program Associate for Jumpstart for Young Children. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and is a member of the Public Engagement and Housing Development Pipeline Committees, where he works to cultivate relationships with social service organizations serving families with limited income.

Roderick is married and has one daughter. He enjoys spending time with his family, walking trails, going on road trips, and cheering for the Lakers. He is looking forward to exploring the Playworks’ Playbook during office recess.

Myra Petgrave
Development Associate

Myra began her career in the nonprofit sector at Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum in Compton and supervised an AmeriCorps VISTA project fighting poverty through education. She has a background in development, most recently writing grants for Toberman Neighborhood Center serving families in the Harbor area. Born and raised in SoCal, Myra graduated from the University of Southern California, where she studied business administration with an emphasis in marketing and finance. Myra is married with two children, previously served as a board member for PTA and School Site Council at Leland Street Elementary School, and has volunteered in children's ministries at church. She enjoys biking, jogging, handball, and hiking. In her second school year with Playworks, she coordinates the LA Marathon Team, corporate engagement, and fundraising events. Myra is excited to bring her passion for education and helping kids to support the mission and vision for every child in SoCal to play every day.

Evelyn Barraza
Program Associate

Evelyn “Coach B” Barraza is entering her third year with Playworks Southern California and beginning her new role as a program associate. Evelyn began with Playworks in 2015 as an AmeriCorps program coordinator serving at Carver Elementary in Santa Ana Unified School District. The following year, she was given the privilege to share knowledge as a flex coach, a position that allowed her to work within all the Playworks partner schools in Los Angeles County and Orange County. Evelyn is passionate about youth development and excited to continue her journey within a team that creates a place for every kid on the playground. Evelyn is a SoCal native who enjoys yoga, family time, and traveling.

Roxana Colmenares
Site Coordinator

During her first year with Playworks, Roxana “Coach Rox” Colmenares served as an AmeriCorps member and then continued as a staff member at Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District. She enjoyed introducing “Summer Olympics” to her students at Chavez; during Summer Olympics, all grades come together to celebrate healthy play and healthy competition. She is excited to continue reaching more schools in her new position as a site coordinator. Roxana wants to continue modeling and teaching inclusive and healthy play to the communites Playworks serves. Roxana has lived in Los Angeles her whole life and enjoys going to the movies and to the beach to enjoy the sunshine.

Nicolo Vicencio
Site Coordinator

Nicolo Vicencio aka “Coach V” joined Playworks in 2013 as program coordinator, serving two years at Jefferson Elementary in Santa Ana. Before Playworks, Nicolo attained his kinesiology degree and became a strength and conditioning coach at Deft Touch soccer center, where he found his passion for youth development. As a first-year site coordinator, he’s teamed up with four different schools. Nicolo is excited to make sure all those students have a safe, inclusive, and fun recess. Nicolo’s hobbies include playing basketball, driving canyon roads, mixing music, and car tuning.

Ashley Cole
Site Coordinator

Ashley is overjoyed to be starting her third year with Playworks in her new role as a site coordinator bringing the power of play to four schools in Downey Unified School District. Ashley previously served two years as an AmeriCorps program coordinator both in Inglewood and Santa Ana. Being an Americorps member taught her the importance of serving the community and diligence in providing her students with a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment to play. Before joining Playworks, Ashley attended Cal State Long Beach where she pursued a degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in physical education and used her powers to provide group and personal training to people of all ages throughout Long Beach. In her spare time, Ashley is an avid dancer and an outdoor enthusiast.

Jessica Cornejo
Site Coordinator

Jessica “Coach Jess” Cornejo became a member of the Playworks Nation in December 2015. As an AmeriCorps program coordinator, she was selected to bring Playworks culture to a brand new partnership at Washington Elementary in Santa Ana, CA. Through the magnitude of love and passion she invested in her students and community, Jessica cultivated a strong and healthy school partnership in a six month time frame. Her dedication, resilience, and leadership—both on and off the playground—resulted in her promotion to site coordinator in June 2016. Jessica looks forward to awakening and empowering more children and adults through the indisputable power of play. When she is not rocking her Playworks blue, Jessica enjoys eating conchas, playing with her puppy, writing and performing poetry, and spending time with her beautiful family.

Jason Moore
Site Coordinator

Jason is in his third year with Playworks and is currently serving as a site coordinator. Jason previously served as an AmeriCorps program coordinator at Morrison Elementary. He graduated from California State University Dominguez Hills with a degree in kinesiology and a focus on teaching at the elementary level. In his new role as a site coordinator, Jason hopes to reach more communities by spreading his passion of positivity and healthy play. In his free time, Jason enjoys surfing, camping, and making music.

Albert Guerrero
Site Coordinator

Albert, aka “Coach Boh,” comes back to Playworks ready to empower children and adults in four school sites. His journey with Playworks began in 2015, when he served as an AmeriCorps program coordinator at a first-year partner school in Santa Ana. In his time as a program coordinator, Albert collaborated closely with school admin and recess staff to prepare their school’s transition to the Playworks TeamUp service model. Albert will be using this model throughout the year, which allows schools to take further ownership in ensuring every kid takes part in safe and healthy play every day. Prior to Playworks, Albert officiated high school wrestling at tournaments and dual meets within Orange County. He also brings three years of experience working in the finance world. Albert finds his peace exploring lush hiking trails, playing beach volleyball, and working to become the best Pokemon Master ever!

DeMar George
Site Coordinator

DeMar “Coach Dee” George became an AmeriCorps program coordinator in August 2015. He served his first year at Kennedy Elementary in Santa Ana, CA. Through his program, he established a community of healthy play, respect, and inclusion for over 900 children. At the end of that school year, he was honored as the AmeriCorps National Rookie Coach of the Year. He is a firm believer in the power of play and its positive impact not only on the children he serves but the community as well. He is excited to begin serving as a site coordinator at four different schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District and Downey Unified School District. Outside of Playworks, he is an extreme sports fanatic. He coaches and competes in mixed martial arts. He also enjoys spending time with his fun-loving family.

Joshua Williams
Site Coordinator

Since joining the Playworks team in 2014, Joshua Williams has dedicated himself to bringing the best out of every kid through play. Known on playgrounds as Coach Williams, he has spent over five years in youth development. Serving one year in Inglewood as an AmeriCorps member and another year in Westchester as a program coordinator, Joshua is poised to take on the site coordinator role. Before becoming a Playworks member, Joshua worked at an enrichment based after school program in underserved communities of his hometown Sacramento, CA.

Joshua aims to create a respectful, high-energy community at every school he serves. He is known for bringing a passionate and creative approach to his work. Since moving to Southern California, he has found a love for hiking, surfing, and hunting for the best food LA has to offer.

Rose Alvarez
Site Coordinator

Rose’s interest in investigation, life sciences, the scientific method, and her desire to contribute to the advancement of society led her to pursue and achieve a BS in Chemistry and BS in Environmental Sciences from the University of Texas at Brownsville. Following her goal of achieving higher education in the sciences, Rose aimed at setting an example for the youth in her community. While mentoring and teaching middle and high school students at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, she recognized that positive youth development aligned with her passion for societal advancements and her dream of making the world a better place.

Rose has worked with Playworks since January 2014. After rocking it out in Texas for three years, both as a program coordinator and a site coordinator, Rose joined the Playworks Southern California team as a site coordinator. Rose is excited to help further Playworks’ mission and is honored to contribute to safe, healthy, and inclusive play for all. In her free time, Rose enjoys running, biking, yoga, and going to the beach. Rose is currently pursuing a graduate degree in forensic psychology. She is studying the influences of socioeconomic status and neighborhood disadvantage on the social and emotional development in youth, the link to juvenile delinquency and recidivism, and the effects of early intervention at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology Los Angeles.

Monique Sanders
Site Coordinator

Monique “Coach Mo” Sanders joined the Playworks family in 2014. Armed with ten years of experience as a substitute teacher, Monique was prepared to serve as an AmeriCorps member in her hometown of Inglewood at Warren Lane Elementary School. As an AmeriCorps member, Monique has delivered over 5,300 hours of exceptional service to schools and communities in Inglewood and Los Angeles. This school year, Monique is eager to take on a new role as site coordinator. Her ability to build relationships within the communities Playworks serves makes her a natural in this position. Monique is excited to share her enthusiasm with four school communities this school year. Monique enjoys spending time with family and going on adventures. She is passionate about leaving this world better than she found it and making a difference.

Nathaniel Manzano
Site Coordinator

Nathaniel “Coach Nate” Manzano began his career with Playworks as an AmeriCorps program coordinator in August 2015. He served his first two years at Lincoln Elementary in Santa Ana Unified School District. While working at Lincoln Elementary, he saw the value of play, respect, and inclusion. Equipped with over six years of youth development experience, this Riverside native is excited to be serving with such an innovative and driven team to further impact the communities Playworks serves. When not intently spreading the Playworks mission, Nate can be found playing soccer, basketball, and football. He also enjoys spontaneous adventures to new places.

Victor Gonzalez
Site Coordinator

Victor “Coach Vic” is ecstatic to begin his journey as a site coordinator serving four schools in Downey Unified School District. Victor started as a staff coach, serving two years in the Los Angeles Unified School District where he was able to give back to the community that he grew up in. Last school year, he was a staff coach in Bellflower Unified School District. Before joining the Playworks team, Victor worked with students through elementary and high school. Being a Playworks program coordinator enhanced his belief that every child should be healthy, active, and academically driven. He is always encouraging his students to try their best in all they do. Victor believes every child has the ability to be successful in anything they put their mind to. He is a father and fitness enthusiast who has a passion for changing the lives of children no matter the circumstance.