Board of Directors

Elijah Adams

Elijah is President and CEO of Faith Electric, a Southern California-based Electrical Construction Contractor providing high, medium, and low voltage construction services to utility, municipal, commercial, and industrial customers. Prior to Faith, Elijah was a Principal in the Industrial and Private Equity practices at Bain and Company and was Vice President in BNY Mellon’s corporate strategy group. Elijah also worked at the Chapman Company, the first publicly traded African American-owned investment bank, and Comerica Bank. Elijah received a BS in Finance and a minor in communications from Santa Clara University. He has a joint Master’s Degree from the School of Computer Science and the Tepper Graduate School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.

Being on the board is the best way I have found to help kids that are living the life I lived as a kid. The impact on these kids’ lives is immeasurable.


Peter Bartle

Peter is a seasoned legal and business affairs executive with significant experience in the entertainment, consumer product and digital media industries. Currently, Peter is General Counsel for John Paul Mitchell Systems, one of the world’s leading hair care companies. Previously, Peter was General Counsel and Head of Business & Legal Affairs for Ithaca Holdings, LLC, an entertainment company focused on talent management, music and other related businesses, and a corporate attorney at Latham & Watkins LLP. Early in his career, Peter served as an infantry and special operations officer in the United States Marine Corps. He holds his BA from Brown University and JD from UCLA School of Law.

I am honored to support a program that focuses on developing the tools students need to be successful in life. It is not just about getting to college, rather it is about learning how to overcome obstacles and fostering the growth of young adults who will contribute to the world.


Joe Blackstone

Joe is the CEO/President of Blackstone Consulting, Inc., established in 1991, where he is responsible for Operations, Marketing, Finance, Human Resources, and Legal departments for a multi-million-dollar mid-sized service company. Blackstone Consulting provides security, food, janitorial, facilities maintenance, grounds maintenance, and project management services. Prior to starting his own company, Joe worked as a management consultant for West Hudson in Los Angeles and Bain & Company in Paris, and as a Marketing Representative for IBM Corporation in San Francisco. Joe is a University of Southern California alumnus, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1983. He earned his MBA at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1985.

I believe so strongly in the power of education to make a difference in the lives of young people who then make generation after generation better. I’m particularly passionate about helping those who typically are left behind and have less access and experience in rising through the college ranks.


Katherine Calderon

Katherine is the first alumni of Determined to Succeed to join the Board of Directors.  She was also the first in her family to leave Los Angeles and go to college across the country.  At Barnard College, Columbia University, she studied Art History, Visual Arts and Economics, graduating in 2020.  During her summer breaks, she worked as a museum educator, teaching and crafting with families and young children in Los Angeles museums including the Skirball Cultural Center and the Petersen Automotive Museum.  Today, she lives and works in New York City as art fairs assistant at Gagosian, a contemporary art gallery with gallery spaces all over the world.  She is very proud to serve DTS in this capacity and give back to the organization that has given her so much!

As a voice on this board and an alumna of DTS, I feel very strongly about the impact this program has on students and their families. I started as a student with DTS in 9th grade. They saw potential in me and my work ethic; they saw that, with additional resources, I could achieve more. From then, my weekends and summers were fully booked with programs that would build my resume as well as my personal and professional growth. I stepped into my role as a college student, across the country from my family, feeling fully prepared and supported, academically, mentally and financially. Now as an adult, I am determined to give back and support students who are like me in any way I can. DTS has changed a lot since I was a student. It is growing and maturing as a program and I am proud to be a part of this board. 


Jared Cohen

Jared is a native Angeleno from Westwood. After going east for his BA at Dartmouth College, Jared returned west for his MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA. Professionally, Jared started his career in New York in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. After moving back to LA, Jared worked for two other global investment banks and now works for a private investment firm where he splits his time between venture capital and private equity investments. In his spare time, Jared likes to golf, work out, spend time with family and friends, try new restaurants, give back to the community and explore the world of midcentury modern décor.

Education and career mentorship are crucial in breaking the cycle of poverty. I am excited to help DTS in its efforts to provide students with the resources necessary for them to live fulfilling lives. They will then enrich their communities and provide better opportunities for the next generation.


Abdiel Garcia

A native Angeleno and a proud, low-income, first-generation-to-college graduate, Abdiel completed his Bachelors in Child Development at Tufts University and his Masters at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Most recently, Abdiel spent the past 5 years as an undergraduate admissions officer and as Assistant Director of the Undergraduate Minority Recruitment Program at Harvard University. He is thrilled to be back in Southern California as the new Associate Director of Academic Advising and College Guidance at the Geffen Academy at UCLA. In his spare time, Abdiel enjoys road biking, hiking, learning languages, and enjoying his mother’s homemade enchiladas de mole rojo.

When a program demonstrates tremendous results and also brings out the best of humanity in everybody, how can you not want to get involved? I was a low-income and first-generation-to-college student, and the life-changing impact of a program like DTS resonates deeply for me.


Kyle Harimoto

Kyle began his career in the Agent Training Program at United Talent Agency after receiving his M.B.A. from the University of Illinois.  He made the move to writing with a pilot for USA and was subsequently hired as a writer on LAS VEGAS and HAWAII FIVE-0.  Kyle has sold pilots to Amazon, Peacock, CBS, The CW, SPIKE TV and wrote on the ESPN mini-series THE BRONX IS BURNING.  He has also written a video game for Midway and sold a feature screenplay.  Kyle co-created the WGA Staff Writer Bootcamp which has educated over 800 recently hired TV writers and taught a master class at the University of Hawai’i West O’ahu.  He currently works on NCIS: LOS ANGELES where he is an Executive Producer.  Kyle lives in Redondo Beach with his wife and son and credits the time he spends surfing and at Kron Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for allowing him to deal with Hollywood.

Becoming involved with Determined to Succeed was an easy decision for me.  I gravitate towards organizations that strive to make a definable difference in people’s lives.  Due to nationwide funding guidelines and parameters, many organizations today work to “impact” the highest numbers of people that they can.  To me, this isn’t the goal.  Sometimes, to do great work and truly change the course of students’ lives, you need to focus your energies on a smaller group.  This is what DTS does so well, it’s not everything for everybody but it is life-changing for the students that are a part of DTS Los Angeles.


Heidi Hendrix

Heidi has more than 20 years of strategic human resources experience with a focus on organizational and leadership development and change. She served as a member of Spencer Stuart’s Human Resources Practice focused on executive search and leadership advisory services. Before that, Heidi was the top human resources executive for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems division. She spent 15 years at Bank of America and began her career at Andersen Consulting. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Heidi earned a bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a double major in organizational and interpersonal communications. Heidi recently served as a member of the PS1 Pluralistic School Board of Directors, was President of the Board of Trustees for Palisades Preschool, and is an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Heidi frequents spinning and pilates classes – and enjoys hiking, biking, swimming, and almost anything outdoors with her husband, Ken, and her children, Jonah and Lily!

I am in awe of DTS students’ energy and determination —even as the challenges of the pandemic impact them disproportionately. I have seen firsthand how the program’s support and resources help students achieve their individual goals.


chair

Jordana Jaffee

Jordana is a television writer and producer for NCIS: Los Angeles, who has also developed projects with CBS Studios, Warner Brothers, and Universal. Before segueing into entertainment, she was a journalist for The New York Times and Newsweek. Jordana earned her Bachelors degree from Harvard University, where she studied History and Literature and was Editorial Chair of The Harvard Crimson. She also holds a JD from UCLA School of Law. Originally from Orange County, California and a product of the public school system, Jordana has a keen interest in the educational landscape of Los Angeles. Jordana served on the DTS Board for three years before becoming Chair in 2020, and is also a member of UCLA’s Food Allergy Advisory Counsel. She and her husband Mark have two children.

I love watching our incredible students grow, mature, and evolve through the years – from the summer before 8thgrade through college graduation and beyond. Each one of them makes a commitment to DTS and DTS, in turn, does its part to support their dreams and change their futures


Sarah Montoya

Sarah is a Financial Advisor and Partner within The Beverly Hills Millennium Group at Morgan Stanley. She began her career as a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch, holds the Series 7 and Series 66 Licenses, and is a California Insurance Broker. Sarah currently serves as Chapter Head of The W Source – Beverly Hills Chapter. She graduated from UCSD with a Double-Degree in Economics and Political Science. She is a Pi Beta Phi Alumnus, as well as an active member of multiple non-profit organizations in the Southern California area. Sarah is a certified Yoga Instructor, frequents California-based car shows, and enjoys hiking, traveling, and Football (Go Broncos!). Sarah and her husband, Carlos, live in the Los Feliz area with their dog, Baxter.

As a first-generation American, I share a deep personal connection to the stories of resilience, strength, and perseverance of the DTS students. The holistic whole-child approach to supporting them through high school, college, and beyond gives these hardworking students and their families, the opportunity to build a brighter future.


Jamie Phillips

Jamie is a third-generation Los Angeleno and a graduate of LAUSD schools. She received her Master’s in Education from Harvard in Teaching and Learning and then taught at Timilty Middle School in Boston. She returned to Los Angeles and taught Special Education at Beulah Payne School in Inglewood.  She eventually left the classroom to start a private educational consulting practice.  Outside of her work, Jamie has been an active member of many nonprofit boards, including the Culver Palms YMCA. Through her service at the Y, she has worked extensively to cultivate and promote camping as well as parent/ child programming, fundraising, and teen programs.  Additionally, she serves as a board member for multiple schools, actively participating in fundraising, program development, and curriculum advancement. Jamie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and four children.

I want to give my time and resources to this organization because of the transformative effect of the work- it truly alters the course of the students’ lives.  From on-site tutoring and mentoring to DTS outdoors summer camp to career awareness and development; DTS’ fulsome programming addresses the needs of their students thoughtfully and from every angle. There is no greater way for me to give back than to help further the mission of Determined to Succeed.


Jessica Reid

An attorney by training, Jessica began her career as a clerk in the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago. Upon relocating to Los Angeles, she worked as an associate at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, then as Vice President of Business Affairs for a motion picture studio. She left the law to spend time with her young children and pursue volunteer work as an advocate for children’s health and education. She has served on multiple non-profit and hospital boards and committees, spearheaded health education and awareness programs, written articles and educational materials, and collaborated on development projects toward those ends. Jessica holds a law degree from DePaul University College of Law and earned her Bachelors degree in Journalism and History from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Jessica joined Determined to Succeed in January 2017 and became a board member in 2020.

When I stepped down as Co-Executive Director in March of 2020, I knew I would support DTS forever. The DTS approach to individualized, holistic support for students is a revelation in the college access field; the program is truly a catalyst for systemic positive change.