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Co-Founder, TEC Leimert
In 2017 while studying Philosophy at UCLA, LaJuan Morris co-founded the Los Angeles-based non-profit TEC Leimert (Technology-Entertainment Convergence) and has been a notable advocate for diversity in tech and entertainment spaces. TEC Leimert has a sharp focus on lowering the barrier of entry and creating more access to tech and entertainment-related industries through a series of mixers, workshops, panels, and other programs.
In 2019, Morris helped to found the NXT LVL social media incubator program under the TEC umbrella. Partnering with the City of Los Angeles and Vector 90, NXT LVL is a free program that provides an opportunity for under-resourced youth to leverage existing affinities for social media and culture to develop professional skills in the creative economy.
In addition to freelance consulting as a producer for television and digital streaming platforms, LaJuan continues to further his diversity and inclusion efforts as a project manager for the NAACP Hollywood Bureau and NAACP Image Awards®.
A native of Los Angeles, Vusi moved with his family to St. Louis, MO, in the wake of the 1965 Watts Rebellion. Upon his return he attended LA High School and subsequently enrolled at UCLA, where he was a prominent student leader. Building off the blueprint laid out by UCLA students during the late 1960’s, Vusi and his peers helped to shift the paradigm concerning the role of students in campus governance regarding University policies related to investments in Southern Africa during the apartheid era, how student programs are funded and addressing systemic economic and social disadvantages in student admissions and retention rates, faculty hires and course offerings.
A long-time educator, community organizer, since 2006, Vusi is as a Student Affairs Officer at the UCLA Community Programs Office, where he advises student-initiated, student-run community service organizations and serves as a member of the UCLA Student Risk Education Committee, which he co-founded to make it safe for student to volunteer.
Through his current campus and community efforts, Vusi established MLK Remembrance Day occurs the 4th Tuesday of April each year since 2015, to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 visit to UCLA; a program that has impacted nearly 10,000 students K-12 and culminates with honoring a deserving recipient of the James C. Williamson Award designed by renowned local artist Nijel Binns, for their efforts to facilitate equity, diversity and inclusion and to promote the university mission. He has also co-founded the Reel Talk Film Series, TEC Leimert, the Crenshaw Corridor Consortium and the Camp X-S.T.R.E.A.M., a new innovative, collaborative summer program designed to excite P-12 campers about STEM career and learning opportunities.
More recently, inspired by the UCLA Centennial Campaign, Vusi helped launch the UCLA Beloved Community Initiative, which hosts the Beloved Community Luncheon on the third Tuesday of April each on Macy’s Bridge at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. This past year the luncheon served to hand out the inaugural UCLA Bridge Builders Award (also designed by Nijel Binns) to UCLA alumni the Hon. Diane E. Watson and aerospace pioneer Shelby Jacobs “for their efforts to engage a diverse community of people and to connected our work and or world to a deeper meaning and a higher purpose.” A son, brother, uncle and father who lives by the motto: “It’s not about the taste. It’s about the purpose.”, Vusi is a vegan and avid recycler who loves researching almost any topic and spends much free time writing poetry, playing with his guitar or reading a good book.
As a creative PR and communications strategist with over 15 years of extensive hands-on experience, Romondo Locke has passionately worked to discover the hidden stories of the organizations he represents and craft that narrative into strategic PR campaigns to amplify brand awareness.
He is highly successful in building relationships with media professionals, community leaders and key local stakeholders to align his organization’s key messages with that of the community to nurture the positive way the organization is perceived.
Romondo’s experience in media relations, digital niche marketing, social media and community relations has allowed him enhance the PR efforts for his clients through various media platforms and public relations strategies to support an organization’s desire to grow market share.
A native of Detroit, Michigan, Romondo received his Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public relations from Grambling State University and obtained a Master’s degree in Journalism, Mass Communication/ Public Relations from Kent State University.
Specialties include: Press Releases, Fact Sheets, PR Campaigns, Media Kits, Online Newsletters, Community Relations, Digital Media, Marketing, Strategic Communications, Special Events, Internal Communications, Email Marketing, Social Media and Storytelling.
Leimert Park native and emerging artisan, Joaquin Marcel (Horton) seeks to abolish the stigma strictly associating pipe cleaners with arts & crafts. His mission is to elevate the artform beyond its stereotype into the realm of contemporary arts.
His career began as a teen entrepreneur. Joaquin’s product Fuzzy Stix was a kit containing pipe cleaners and instructions on how to make figurines and toys. To fund his company he designed and sold custom phone cases, headphones, and baby mobiles. His persistence culminated in being featured as one of ABC-7’s Cool Kids during his visit to Mattel Children’s Hospital to teach patients how to build pipe cleaner designs.
It wasn’t until he completed his life size Michael Jackson piece that he found his passion as an artisan, currently designing sculptors, and 2D/3D canvas art.
Terry has worked at the crossroads of cultural production and social justice all his life, and unlike bluesman Robert Johnson, never had to sell his soul to the devil. He is a recent cofounder of the nonprofit Leimert Park Village, Inc. which facilitates Creative Placekeeping at the intersection of arts, heritage and economic development, elected to the Emerging Arts Leadership Council Los Angeles and is currently at Cultural Policy Fellow at Arts for LA.
An independent cultural organizer, producer & consultant for artists and nonprofit arts organizations with 20+ battle tested years in the Nonprofit Arts Industrial Complex, he developed a surreal-like agility to manage fundraising, programming, marketing, and community engagement enterprises across creative disciplines. Terry is formerly the board chair of Lesole’s Dance Project, a South African dance company in Washington DC, research fellow at Provisions Library for Art & Social Change at George Mason University and Managing Director of Junebug Production Theater Company in New Orleans.
While Director of Producer Services and Tech at Black Public Media in NYC, he served as staff producer for BPM funded filmmakers, bringing their projects to fruition and broadcast on PBS. Later, as Senior Coordinator at StoryCorps, he produced their mobile recording studio tour, traveling the country collecting stories of everyday people for NPR’s Morning Edition. Experiences such as these have enabled him to work in a capacity where critical and quality storytelling is valued and not necessarily determined by commercial success.
He is currently investigating strategies for preserving arts and cultural resources that create a sense of place, identity and belonging in our communities via the urban planning tools of arts overlay zones, cultural districts and game theory.
Charles Babb is a Creative technologist with broad experience in all aspects of project management and coordination, marketing, business management, organizational development, and solution navigation. Direct experience in video game production, research and development, film and television production, graphic novel development, project management, event promotions, trend analysis, and negotiations.
Specialities: Video Game Development, English, Japanese, Brand Management, Project Management, Marketing Analysis, Hypebeast and Multicultural Urban Trend Specialist, Creative Writing, Policy Development, Leadership Development, Organizational Development, Literacy of Asia and the Pacific Rim, Digital Photography, Cinema, and Computer literacy in all Microsoft Applications (PC and Mac: English and Japanese applications).
Trissa Rene is Outside-the-box, with 20+ years in the entertainment and fashion industry, working with Fortune 500 industry leaders and top tier Hollywood stars. Offering expertise in developing creative PR opportunities and business development programs that drive interest, buzz and sales, even during periods of decreased spending. Establishes strong, customer-focused relationships, and strategic alliances with media contacts.
Aided in innovative strategies to boost brand prominence and drive growth for companies including Nike, Teen Vogue, Gatorade, T-Mobile-Blackberry, AT&T, Heineken, Diesel, NBA and the Sundance Film Festival. Championed booking, sponsorships and tactical PR for A-List talent including Destiny’s Child, Jay Z, Jessica Simpson, Tyra Banks, Mary J Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Puff Daddy, Lil Wayne and Lil Kim. Performed celebrity seeding, talent relations, red carpet and special events for Vans, Teen Choice Awards, Mercedes-Benz, MTV Video Awards, Ecko, Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Awards and Interscope Records.
Marjorie Sheriff is a proactive, critical-thinker with over 7+ years of administrative and project management experience. Diverse skillset in venture operations, leading DEI initiatives, end-to-end preparation and execution of events, financial reporting and budgeting, creating clear and concise communications, and being a trusted thought partner.
Highly self-motivated, disciplined, and exceptionally well organized. Proficient with PC, Mac OS, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Salesforce, Quickbooks, Google Suites and Concur.
Eden Chen is Co-Founder of Pragma; a platform and a set of tools that enable multiplayer and social games. He is also Co-founder of Fishermen Labs; Creators of AR and VR experiences that have reached more than a billion impressions. 4th fastest-growing company in Los Angeles, and the 185th fastest growing company in the US.
Janett Liriano is an executive and entrepreneur, with a focus on empathetic innovation. She consults brands, executives and artists with their innovation and market-making strategies.
She has raised over $2M in venture funding- 1 of 30 Black or Latina women to do so. She has co-raised $10M+ for clients and partners.
Her service-driven business development style resulted in a 190+ partnership pipeline for her previous ventures. She is named in several patents for her innovations in advanced materials and cited in several industry journals/reports for her insights.
Prior to her career as an entrepreneur, Janett worked in the medical technology field creating high fidelity simulations with medical mannequins for doctors-in-training.
She is a formally-trained audio engineer and master electrician. Her design technology studies at New York’s Fame School and Boston’s Emerson College greatly inform her creative approach to technical challenges.
She is an active member the Leadership Council for Tech: NYC, an inaugural member of the United Nations Decade of Women Initiative, a 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Listmaker for Manufacturing and Industry and named Entrepreneur of the Year (2019) by GC4W.
Paris McCoy is an Experienced Creative Producer and Director Of Photography with a demonstrated history of working in the entertainment industry. Strong arts and design professional skilled in Creative Producing, Digital Marketing, Production Management, Art Direction, and Film and Television Production.
Terry Hart is a graduate of Howard University with a B.A. in Biology and has spent the past 15 years as a marketing and sales representative within the pharmaceutical industry. Recognizing how technology can be a game-changer for underserved communities, he has dedicated himself to helping communicate what these opportunities can be. He believes that through collaboration and ownership, the community he loves can rise to become the arbiter of its own future.
Eric started his career as a 2D animator at MTV on Beavis & Butt-Head and then moved to LA to work on King of the Hill & The Simpsons. When not working as a professional animator he spent 15 years working with the Art Institutes as an Instructor and created the most successful Video Game production training programs in the system.
He founded OW! (Online Worlds) Entertainment in 1997 to create virtual worlds for movie & TV properties.
For the past few years, he has been focused on the emerging AR/VR industry managing productions, designing pipeline models, game/experience design, strategic planning and developing studio pitches for AR & VR based on major Hollywood IP.
He is currently a professor at Loyola Marymount University teaching VR Studio, Worldbuilding and Studio Pitch. He is also actively a speaker at various industry-related events. He spends most of his time as a Media Arts Consultant designing training programs and production pipelines for animation, video game & XR production.
Themba Nelson is one of the founding members of TEC Leimert. Born and raised in Los Angeles … Experienced Judicial Assistant with a demonstrated understanding of the legal field. An Attorney with legal research and writing skills.
Sunny Jones is an Experienced Realtor with a demonstrated history of working in the real estate industry. A strong real estate professional skilled in Negotiation, Customer Service, Sales, and Investment Properties
Rashidi Jones is currently Executive Director of Motion Picture Finance at Sony and co-founder of TEC LEIMERT.
As a graduate of USC’s school of Engineering and Marshall school of Business, Rashidi started his career working at a small tech firm and soon transitioned into finance and strategy in the entertainment sector.
With over a decade of experience in entertainment, Rashidi leverages his entertainment and technological background to assist efforts in his community. He credits each step along his journey as building blocks that enabled him to become a culturally responsible and insightful leader.