Ray, Richard
committeeRichard Ray is the Technology Access Coordinator for the City of Los Angeles and has been with the Department on Disability for over 25 years. He was part of the staff during the late Mayor Tom Bradley administration from 1985 to 1993 and former Mayor Richard Riordan from 1993 to 1998. He ensures that City Departments comply with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other disability laws. Mr. Ray is actively involved as a co-Chair of the National Emergency Number Association Accessibility Committee and a member of California Commission on Disability Access. Mr. Ray was recently appointed to serve on the Federal Communications Communication (FCC) Optimal PSAP Architect Task Force and Disability Advisory Committee. Mr. Ray has served as a co-chair of the FCC’s Emergency Access Advisory Committee and president of the California Association of the Deaf. Mr. Ray is involved in several projects such as Emergency Notification Systems, Text Messaging to 9-1-1 & Next Generation 9-1-1 and issues on different aspects of communication access in support of state and federal governments. He also wrote and compiled lists of recommendations and issues on different aspects of communication access. He also participates as presenter, facilitator and panelist during these conferences.

Mr. Ray has served as an expert witness on various court cases involving State Department of Rehabilitation and Correction as well as Federal Bureau of Prisons regarding telecommunication technology in prison systems for inmates who are deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing.

Velazquez, Bertha
committee Bertha Velazquez, a single mother who, after witnessing the lack of services and social opportunities for her Deaf daughter, has been passionate to improve public understanding of the Deaf community’s strengths – and needs. It is with her love and dedication to the Deaf community that she volunteers her time to make Los Angeles a better place for the Deaf community.

She supports and participates in producing DEAFestival LA, an event that she strongly believes is to educate, empower and support parents and their Deaf children. DEAFestival features theatrical performances, art workshops and informational booths that connected the Los Angeles Deaf and hard of hearing community with resources to empower them so that they too could have the opportunity to meet their full potential. She also believes DEAFestival LA is a special place for the Deaf and hearing community to commune and learn from each other.

Agyin, Michael
committeeAs a longstanding advocate for youth with disabilities, Michael Agyin was reccently a Job Coach for the Marriott Foundation Bridges program for youth with disabilities. He recently was the Outreach Coordinator for Los Angeles Councilmember Tony Cardenas’ DEAFestival; a citywide event that aims to educate the general public and offer a message of self-empowerment, guidance, and mentorship for deaf children.He also recently served as the point person for issues impacting the deaf/ hard of hearing and people with disabilities in the office of the Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the Neighborhood and Community Services Department. He created the Disability Hire LA ' Youth pilot program, which helps youth with disabilities obtain summer jobs while providing them with internship and leadership opportunities throughout the City of Los Angeles. Prior to joining the Mayor’s office, he served as the Program Assistant for the Campaign for College Opportunity; a non-profit organization devoted to ensuring that the next generation of Californians has the chance to go to college. He has 15 years of experience in programs and services for youth with disabilities.

Michael is one of only a of handful people with disabilities to serve in Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps) Western region, which address critical and unmet needs in education, public safety, and the environment.While serving four years on the Youth Leadership Governing Board of the National Youth Leadership Network, a national non-profit based in Washington D.C., Michael promoted leadership development, education, employment, independent living, and health and wellness among diverse young leaders in the United States. He’s also the first Deaf member of Public Allies Los Angeles; an AmeriCorps fellowship program dedicated to engaging and advancing a diverse group of young leaders in an effort to strengthen communities, non-profit organizations, and civic participation. Michael was recently appointed by former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger to be a member of California State Independent Living Council. Mr. Agyin received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from California State University, Northridge, and is involved with the California Youth Leadership Forum. He also volunteers through many various venues.

Audette, Robert
committee My name is Robert Audette and I am an Advanced Digital Photographer for the DEAFestival LA. I began my journey 3 years ago when I first came to DEAFesival LA to photograph the Fashion Models.

I could see people looking at me funny , wondering what I was doing , moving around to get a great shot. I am like a silent eagle eye, moving around to get the shot that no one else could see , therefore getting really awesome images . After the pictures were taken , people could see why I was changing position to get awesome photo of DEAFestival LA .

My dream is to capture the DEAFestival LA and get the photo & video onto Facebook , youTube, other websites to get the awareness of DEAF CULTURE out to the public in the future.

Crable, Kristine
committee Hello, my name is Kristine Crable and I reside in La Mirada, California. I’m a student at Cerritos College and work in their “Peer Mentor” program providing resources to help students succeed in their major.  

I also have a part-time job with the Los Angeles County In-Home Supportive Services as a caregiver to a Deaf and Blind woman. 

In 2014 and 2015 I truly enjoyed volunteering at DEAFestival Los Angeles assisting Bertha Velazquez at the children’s zone and Stephanie Velazquez with the Fashion Show. This experience led me a desire to become a member of the DEAFestival Planning Committee and serve as the committee’s secretary. I am also a member of the Fashion Show Committee assisting the entertainment and hospitality team.

I welcome you to join us for a very exciting experience!

Gamboa-Martinez, Marlon
committee Marlon Gamboa-Martinez, was born and raised in Boyle Heights. He is a father of two amazing CODA daughters (Children of Deaf Adults). In 2001, he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School located in El Sereno.

Marlon is currently attending Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) and is pursuing his dream to receive a B.A. degree at CSUN (Fall 2017). His goal is to become an ASL Teacher at any schools that would offer him the opportunity to teach.

He enjoys working and volunteering to improve the lives of the Deaf community. He has collaborated with the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD) by reading books to children. In addition, he was President of 'See United Deaf Power' Student Club at LATTC and President of 'Deaf Culture Club' at Glendale Community College (GCC). He was also very instrumental in organizing fund raisers to support these clubs and their programs.

As the T-Shirt Contest Coordinator, he is very excited and honored to work with Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Hearing individuals to produce DEAFestival Los Angeles…one of Los Angeles largest events! 

Heltemes, Alicia
committee Hometown: Phoenix, Arizona. Moved here in 2014, relatively new to Los Angeles. Attended to two different deaf schools during my grade school through High school; Phoenix Day School for the Deaf and later in high school years, Model Secondary School for the Deaf and relocated back to my hometown to finish my senior year at Desert Vista High School in 2003. I’m very happy to be part of this committee for the Deaf Festival and work with volunteer committees. Look forward to this brighter future for the Deaf Community in Los Angeles, CA. 

McRoberts, Joseph
committee Joseph McRoberts is currently retired and landlord of 4 unit apartment. He holds his B.A degree in graphic designer/photography from California State University in Long Beach. He is working alongside with Robert Audette in the photography committee to plan, organize and arrange the schedules for the photography teams in the event and fashion show. He used to be DJ entertainer with the group, Majestik Element in the past and performed at the Deafestival in Van Nuys many years ago. He was working for the aerospace industry as a manufacturing engineer for 20 years. He received his engineering training at UCLA with the certificate of completion in 1992. He is currently resides in Bellflower, CA to enjoy and pursue his exploration with his photography works and also doing his construction works at his apartments.

Sandoval, Roberto
committee Roberto Sandoval is a native of San Diego, California and currently lives in North Hollywood. He serves on the board of California Latino Council of Deaf and Hard of Hearing. He is the first Deaf Board member on the Mano a Mano Executive Board. Roberto’s participation on the Mano a Mano Board marks the beginning of much collaboration between Deaf and hearing interpreters who work in Spanish-influenced settings.


Goeken, Marsha Vae
committee Vae is a native of South Dakota and now rooted in California. She has been performing since the age of 6 where her first TV idols were Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett (all with red hair like her!) She has performed numerous times at Gallaudet University including her debut as the Witch in WIZARD OF OZ and as part of the Fairmount Theatre of the Deaf in Ohio and Deaf West Theatre in North Hollywood, Calfornia. Vae is a recipient of the prestigious Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship. She can be seen in various roles on television and film. She also has taught American Sign Language (ASL) classes at several community colleges, private sessions and workshops in theatre.

Monte de Rey, Maria
committee Maria Monte de Rey is a California Association of the Deaf, Entertainment representative since 2007. She has served an advisory member under Secretary of State Voting Accessibility Advisor Committee (VAAC) since 2006. Since Year of 2000 being the Deaf writer, she had taken Seminars of Scriptwriting for film, television, and Screenwriting Expos. She taught at Toronto International Deaf Film & Art Festival (TIDFAF) TV/Film scriptwriting workshop: Do & Don’t business of scriptwriting 2009 also in 2013, she taught Deaf & Hard Hearing kids in three high schools and one adult workshop in Canada.

Sprouse, Michael W.
committee Michael W. Sprouse is a passionate artist who studied Theatre Arts at Gallaudet University. During his time at the university, he has acted, produced, managed and consulted many theatrical productions. His passion is to advocate and educate the Theatre Industry what Deaf theatre artists are capable of.
His main interest is the portrayal of American Sign Language in Film, Television and onstage. He studied ASL translation for the stage and has since worked in numerous theatrical productions in the area of ASL translation. Currently he is researching ASL translations of Shakespearean Texts. He also serves on the California Association for the Deaf’s Entertainment committee where he continues his work advocating for positive and accurate portrayals of Deafness and American Sign Language.


Velazquez, Stephanie
committee As a young mother in high school, she faced many challenges, however, Stephanie was determined to finish her education. In 2007, she graduated from CSDR and decided to continue her education at Cerritos College. Stephanie strongly encourages her peers to empower themselves and stand up for what they believe in. She understands the importance of community involvement and inspiring others to give back. Since 2007, Stephanie has dedicated her free time to produce DEAFestival LA. Her artistic skills have been very instrumental to the children's workshops and fashion show. She was an art instructor in 2007 and 2008. She was also a DEAFinite Model for the first fashion show in 2009 and in 2010. In 2011, Stephanie helped produce the fashion show and showcased for the first time her own original designs. Her knowledge of a garment’s proper fit combined with her innate creative abilities allow her to choose clothes, make up and hair styles to fit any personality, mood and time. Her work in DEAFestival LA inspired her to carry her own clothing line to reflect an effortless and wearable line that reflects a strong, sexy, fun and fearless woman.
Stephanie is very proud of her Deaf culture and to be an "Angelino". She invites you to DEAFestival LA, an event she believes celebrates the Deaf cultural and brings together the diverse communities of Los Angeles through arts and cultural education.

Altamirano, Alma
committee Alma Altamirano is a Deaf Makeup artist who's been doing make up since the age of sixteen. Last year's DFLA's Fashion Show was her first major event debut as a Make-Up artist. Her good friend, Stephanie Velazquez, asked Alma to be the personal makeup artist for her 10 models.

At first Alma felt the job overwhelming; however, her passion motivated her in making each one of Stephanie's models gorgeous.

She is forever grateful for the experience that opened doors to numerous clients. Through this great opportunity and experience, she's had the privileged of working alongside actor, John Maucere, "No Ordinary Hero: The Superdeafy."

Make-Up is her love and passion. It's not just about being pretty or covering insecurities but to Alma, make up is ART. She enjoys seeing all varieties of transformation from before and after. It's especially rewarding witnessing the facial expression of her clients when they see themselves in the mirror. This is the reason she love being a MUA!

Altamirano, Blanca
committee Blanca Altamirano born and raise in the City of Los Angeles.  She received her Child Development degree at East Los Angeles College and graduated Woodrow Wilson High School in 2002. In 2013, Blanca won DEAFestival Los Angeles T-shirt Art Design Contest.  This opportunity motivated her to be more involved in the Deaf community and in 2014; she volunteered to lead the event's Child Care area and assist with the Fashion Show. This was another DFLA experience that put purpose in her life to empower her Deaf peers to showcase their talents and put their skills to work at the event’s Fashion Show. Blanca created and manages DeafGlam which encourages other make-up artists to promote their talent.  She strongly believes that we all can make a difference in our Deaf community….so let's start making a difference!!    #LADEAFTALENT

Piedra, Marizol
committee Let me introduce myself; my name is Marizol Piedra. Almost all my life, I have lived in the City of Whittier. I've been sewing for almost 10 years now. I attended college with a career in Fashion Design. Pattern making is what I enjoy and love the most.

For some years now I have practiced with make-up and I am seriously thinking of pursuing a career as a Make-Up artist.

For the past 3 years, I have showcased my original designs at DFLA Fashion Show. Doing what you love is an important; if not, how can you be happy for the rest of your life not doing what you love?


Mojahedi, Ali
committee Once Ali Mojahedi received his first Polaroid camera at age of 14, he fell in love and immersed himself into the photography: process and print his own black and white pictures. Once he became junior in high school, he became a high school year photographer.

He ventured in Pasadena City College where he majored in photography. Meanwhile, he attended Art Center in Pasadena and CSU Northridge specializing in graphic design and photography. His passion for photography derailed while he worked as graphic and web designer for Metafor Imaging in Culver City. After a while, he resumed his love for photography after departing his position as graphic and web designer. Currently, as a freelance, he is a web developer.

As a photographer, he loves to capture the true spirit of humanity. His desire is to bring out the true nature of individual to represent their identity.

While he is not taking photography, Ali enjoys outdoor activities such as bicycling, hiking, and playing basketball. He is happily married to Carmine Ida and has two wonderful children.

Safford, Maisha Franklin
committee Maisha Franklin Safford is a Jill of All Trades. Juggling between serving the deaf and hard of hearing community in Riverside, teaching American Sign Language at a college and Social Media Specialist; she believes in living her life to the fullest.

Wezel-Peterson, Andreas
committee Andreas was born and raised in Germany and is presently living in Los Angeles. He is a Senior Communications Designer on the Internal Corporate Communications team at Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, a segment of The Walt Disney Company, in Glendale, California. Andreas leads all the design communiqués for over 3,000 employees (including executives) as well as consumers across North America. He earned a bachelor’s degree from RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Science and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Graphic Design at Savannah College of Arts and Design. He is also the art director of the small creative agency called Bang! Creative. While he is not doing any design related works, Andreas enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, road trips and sightseeing.

Special thanks for these volunteers for their commitment to help support the Committee

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