Elizabeth is a third generation architect born in Houston and raised in Los Angeles. Watching her parents build in remote locations and start a design school meant that Elizabeth grew to see the practice of architecture as a community-based profession. Growing up in Texas where land use planning and zoning is limited and California where exclusionary zoning practices are historic, Elizabeth is excited by the challenge of Los Angeles where rules are plentiful but often contradictory
Elizabeth co-founded LA-Más because she saw a need for a design approach to be integrated early on in public projects and civic planning. She believes designers can help create a unified vision, identify creative alternatives, and work in partnership with communities. Elizabeth provides leadership at LA-Más by ensuring all projects are thoughtfully designed and critically engage systemic problems.
Elizabeth has extensive experience in architecture and construction administration having worked at MASS Design Group, Ball-Nogues Studio, and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca. Elizabeth has taught design-build studios at Woodbury University’s Agency for Civic Engagement (ACE) Center and serves on the Zoning Advisory Committee of Re: Code LA, a city-led effort to transform the city’s outdated zoning code. She holds a master’s degree in architecture from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Southern California.
Helen is a Los Angeles native raised in the Frogtown neighborhood by a working class, first generation Chinese family. Growing up in an immigrant community, she deeply identifies with the rich diversity that makes Los Angeles so unique. With mentorship from local leaders, Helen became the first person in her family to go to college. After nearly a decade on the East Coast, Helen is honored to be back in her hometown investing the privilege of her education and work experience back into neighborhoods like the one where she grew up.
Helen joined LA-Más because of her passion to explore strategies that minimize displacement pressures that come with gentrification. Helen provides leadership at LA-Más by ensuring all projects are grounded in local need and systemic change. Helen has extensive policy and community-based experience having worked for former LA City Council President and current Mayor Eric Garcetti. Her national policy and program experience includes her work as Program Associate at Living Cities, fellowship at the Office of Sustainable Housing & Communities at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, and internship at the Office of Political Affairs at the White House under President Obama’s administration.
Helen serves on the Los Angeles City Planning Commission, a member of Genesis LA’s Community Advisory Board, and on the Board of the Elysian Valley Arts Collective. She holds a master’s degree in public policy and urban planning from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from the University of Pennsylvania.
Design + Engagement Lead
Abby is an architectural and urban designer and researcher who grew up in St. Louis and New York City. Growing up in these two very different cities, and with two anthropologist parents, she became fascinated by the ways in which the built environment shapes, and is shaped by, social patterns. She is passionate about exploring ways that design can be used as a tool for social impact within underserved communities.
Abby holds a master’s degree in Architecture and a Certificate in Urban Policy from Princeton University, and a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Mathematics from Columbia University. She has previously worked for several non-profit design organizations and in the architecture offices of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Lewis.Tsurmaki.Lewis.
Design + Engagement Associate
Chaz is a Northern California native raised in a family of woodworkers and makers. She has always been inspired by the ability people have to shape their own spaces. Chaz is interested in the exploration of different housing types, and in the complexity of the systems and scales of interaction that operate within our home and our cities. She believes that design is enriched by the collective dialogues and perspectives of everyone involved in the process.
Chaz holds a master's degree in Architecture with a Housing Specialization from the University of Oregon and a bachelor degree in Architectural Studies from Arizona State University. Her interests in design, fabrication, and construction haves led her to seek opportunities in a range of fields in addition to architecture. Chaz has previously worked in furniture refurbishing and as a laborer for the restoration of a 100-year old house. She has also worked for a General Contractor in the Bay Area and for Koss Design+Build in Arizona.
Ronnie is a Los Angeles native, born and raised in a first-generation Korean family. His immigrant parents and mentors inspire him to look into ways that non-profits, for-profits, and government agencies can work together to fix the social inequities that exist in immigrant communities. He strongly believes that design and urban planning can serve as powerful catalysts for change.
Ronnie holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. His experience improving schools and supporting communities in Kenya, through the non-profit organization Dreams for Schools, highlighted the role communities should play in design decisions. He has also worked in finance and operations roles at Orange County tech firms Mavenlink, a project management software company, and Broadcom, a semiconductor company.
Linda is a first generation Filipina/Burmese/Chinese-American born and raised in Los Angeles. She has extensive experience in fundraising and communications at grassroots social justice organizations. Having worked and organized in the rapidly changing neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Inglewood, Little Tokyo and Historic Filipinotown, Linda has seen how development that ignores the local culture has displaced longtime residents. She is passionate about creating infrastructure that amplifies the community’s voice and gives them a true stake in the changes happening around them.
Linda is part of Tuesday Night Project, which produces the public mic series Tuesday Night Cafe. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in Urban Sustainability at Antioch University LA. Linda holds a bachelor's degree in International Development Studies and Political Science, with a minor in Southeast Asian Studies from UCLA.
Alex grew up in Cholula, Puebla, in central Mexico, where rapid city growth has made large social, economic and environmental impacts. She spent her childhood in the local market where her parents, an educator and a business owner, ran a corner store and instilled a strong sense of pride in their community. These experiences sparked her interest in how urban planning and design can promote healthy and thriving communities.
Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the Universidad de las Américas Puebla, and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. She likes to take on collaborative projects that focus on the improvement of the quality of life for people and increase access to goods and services. Alex has worked with academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and local governments in the U.S., Mexico and Brazil to develop planning projects and research that incorporates the community’s vision and action.
Photos by Victoria Wall Harris!
We want to give thanks to people who will always be part of our LA-Más family!
María del Carmen Lamadrid
Many thanks to our strategic thought partners who inspire and advise us in our work!
Michela O’Connor Abrams