Meet Our Board of Directors
Cristina Rodrigues is a marketing leader whose strengths lie in understanding customer experiences and building powerful brands. With an extensive resume serving as a marketing executive, Cristina has been responsible for the strategic development of product and marketing initiatives worldwide. She has served as a Peace4Kids volunteer and participant in our group mentoring program for over three years. Cristina brings over 20 years of International Marketing & Product Development experience that includes working at a Fortune 500 company (Staples Inc.), a Forbes 25 company (Samsonite Corp.), as well as 15 years of experience in the LED technology industry. Cristina has also held top management positions as Director of Global Brand Marketing at Rosetta Stone and Director of Strategic Marketing at Acuity Brands.
Richard has been an active part of the Peace4Kids community since 2009 as both a volunteer and member of the Board. When not busy with Peace4Kids, Richard serves as the Managing Director of Design Lab, a real estate development entity located in NELA. Richard also is the Founder and President of Fortis 17 CRM Corporation, providing construction management and development advisory services to a variety of end users. During the course of his nearly 40-year career, Richard has been the recipient of numerous AIA awards and spoken at conferences dealing with design and environmental issues in many parts of California.
Elizabeth [Liz] Parker
Liz is the Regional Operations Manager for Embarcadero Realty Services LLP, managing over 1.5 million square feet across 11 properties. Liz joins the Peace4Kids Board having been a regular volunteer at the Peace4Kids Core Saturday Program. She brings an intimate understanding of our organizational culture and the needs of youth in foster care.
Angelica Nwandu is an alumna of Peace4Kids and the founder of Instagram-based media company The Shade Room. The New York Times called The Shade Room "Instagram's TMZ, and In 2016, Forbes named Angelica to its 30 Under 30 list, saying she "revolutionized celebrity gossip". The Shade Room's followers, across all digital media platforms, now total more than twenty million people. Angelica has also been a Sundance Fellow, and was selected for the January 2014 Screenwriters Lab and Directors Lab for the script she co-wrote, Night Comes On.
Mira Zimet is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of the award-winning webseries, The Storyboard Project, a digital story archive of narratives from people impacted by foster care. She currently serves as chief creative content officer in the communications and marketing office at USC Annenberg. She has spent the past nine years producing, directing and editing videos that bring to life the great work that goes on at the University of Southern California. Before coming to the university, Mira served for over twelve years as an independent writer/producer on documentaries and educational videos. In 2002, she received an Emmy nomination in the education category. Additionally, Mira has received 15 CASE (Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) awards (both national and regional), including six gold.
Maria Groezinger is the President and Founder of LA Apparel Services. In this role, she coordinates a team of fashion industry professionals to help bring their ideas to market. As an alumna from foster care and health advocate, Maria also brings a unique perspective to our board that helps shape our priorities. As a trained integrated holistic nutrition expert, she believes that there is a direct link to a thriving community and access to healthy whole foods. She hopes to support Peace4Kids in increasing the health and wellness of the foster care community through providing affordable and convenient access to whole foods through thriving business models.
Darrell is currently an ABC News Contributor and the National Security Program Manager for CT-Watch, a global solutions provider of training and consulting in counter-terrorism, security and intelligence. He is an advisor for an MGM/Skydance spy thriller TV show, serves as a certified executive coach and mentor, and a frequent public speaker on leadership and diversity and inclusion issues. Darrell is collaborating on several projects in the entertainment industry, as well as a book about his 28-year life as an undercover CIA Operative. He retired in October 2018 as the most senior black CIA officer in the Directorate of Operations with the rank equivalency to a three-star general. He began volunteering with Peace4Kids in January 2016 and was elected to the Board of Directors in March 2019.
Akin Abioye, Ed.D.
Board Member Emeritus
Dr. Akin Abioye is an alumnus from Peace4Kids and currently serves as the Manager of Youth Justice at Liberty Hill Foundation. In this role, he manages the day-to-day activities for the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color Southern California and My Brother’s Keeper Los Angeles County work, and supports the Ready to Rise public private partnership. Dr. Abioye began his advocacy career at Peace4Kids at the early of 16 by helping to shape the passage of the landmark bill AB12, which increased the legal age of foster care to 21 in California. His efforts on this campaign earned him the prestigious White House Champion of Change Award in 2015. Dr. Abioye brings lived experience and in-depth knowledge of the child welfare system to our community and organization.
Leslie Ponciano, Ph.D.
Board Member Emeritus
Leslie Ponciano is a developmental psychologist, and the Director of Research Opportunities at California State University, Office of the Chancellor. She has created, directed, and taught academic courses at Loyola Marymount University, UCLA, and CSULA. Dr. Ponciano’s research examines the social and emotional development of children in non-parental care such as ECE classrooms and foster care. She also has experience as a social worker/supervisor in foster care, an infant-toddler teacher, and a behavioral specialist. Dr. Ponciano helped to develop the curriculum for Peace4Kids, a community-based organization serving foster children. She has three children and is a former foster parent. Dr. Ponciano obtained a B.A. in Psychology from UCI, a M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Psychological Studies in Education from the UCLA.
Board Member Emeritus
As the co-founder of Peace4Kids, Marni brought years of experience as a social worker. She was fueled by the idea that youth in foster care deserved an equitable opportunity to create community and connect with people who authentically cared for them. For the first 10 years of Peace4Kids existence, Marni served every role imaginable. As a volunteer Program Director she established the foundation for the youth curriculum, recruited volunteers and conducted outreach for resources. As the Board Chair, she helped to take Peace4Kids from an all volunteer organization to a thriving nonprofit with staff and an annual operational budget over a half million dollars. Most importantly, Marni's spirit was highly infectious and left a lasting impression on the youth. Though life has moved her with her family to New Zealand, she is still affectionately called the "mom" of Peace4Kids by all of the youth.