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Betty Lamarr conceived EmpowHer Institute out of her own personal journey that took her from pregnant teen at her high school graduation and receiving public assistance to college graduate and corporate executive. After a stellar career in corporate America, Betty relocated to South Africa to lead a Black owned business and create jobs for Black South Africans. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Betty and a small group of women dedicated to making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged girls and women formally established EmpowHer Institute as a 501(c) (3) in 2003.

Observing how young women in South Africa were pulling themselves out of poverty through micro-enterprises, Betty decided… Read more>

Learn Our History


President/Chief Executive Officer

Dawn L. Brown joined the EmpowHer team in October 2020. She has more than 20 years of nonprofit management and consulting experience, and has served as the Executive Director of three well-respected nonprofit organizations across California. In each role, Dawn successfully launched fundraising and marketing strategies that increased company revenue, improved program delivery, and expanded advocacy and policy efforts for youth of color from economically disadvantaged communities…Read more>

Meet the Team


The EmpowHer Institute is comprised of a talented group of hardworking professionals who care about the
future of girls in Los Angeles. For more information about how you can join EmpowHer’s team, click here.

Alma Alvarado

Academy Instructor

Alma is a first generation Mexican-American and the first in her family to graduate from a University. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from CSULB College of Engineering. Alma strongly believes that underrepresented students and women should pursue STEM related careers…Read more

Kendra Burks

Workforce Development Manager

Kendra joins the EmpowHer Institute team with 10+ years of non-profit experience. Before joining the team, her workforce development program experience involved working with diverse populations, including LGBTQIA+ older adults, transitional-aged youth, the formerly incarcerated, unhoused Angelenos, and junior high and high school girls at multiple LA-based organizations, including the Los Angeles LGBT Center, L.A. Kitchen, and Joan Macy School…Read more

Dr. Dijanna Figueroa

Creative Director, Social Justice STEAM Camp

Dr. Dijanna Figueroa is a Marine Biologist, STEAM Educator, and Social Justice Warrior. She currently serves as the Chair of Innovation and Design where she leads the innovation/STEM team, teacheses kindergarten science, and high school marine biology. She also serves as the Creative Director of the EmpowHer Institute Social Justice STEAM camp…Read More

Jessica Guillaume

Academy Instructor

YJessica was born and raised in Miami, Florida and moved to California to complete her MFA in Screenwriting. Having lost her parents at a young age, she always felt she lacked peace and true happiness. Finding a passion in Creative Writing, she found a healthy outlet that inspired, not only healing, but Social Justice, as well. At that moment, Jessica made it her mission to…Read more

Megan Hobza

Grant Writer

Megan Hobza, MBA, has provided strategic planning and business writing services for over three decades to organizations in the nonprofit sector. For 20 years, she consulted on participant-led program design, grant proposal writing, and community benefits reports for a major metropolitan medical center as part of an interdisciplinary Community Services Department team leading initiatives to impact social determinants of health;…Read more

Staci Janisse

Community Resource Manager

Passion and a strong work ethic have defined Staci Janisse’s incredible journey as a child of God, wife, mother, and transformational life coach. Following her academic career at Grambling State University and the University of Kansas, she served a 14-year sentence in Corporate America and is now dedicated to pursuing her God-given assignmentRead more

Keyonna Keith

Director of Programs

Keyonna Keith is committed to serving underserved and marginalized youth through mentoring and educational programs. As an undergraduate, Keyonna worked with the UCLA Urban Collaborative P.A.L.S. Program to provide high school students in Watts mentorship and guidance with college preparation. Prior to joining EmpowHer, Keyonna has worked in the nonprofit sector managing and developing engaging after-school programs that provide tutoring… Read more

Hoda Marcus

Program Manager

Hoda embarked on her journey over two decades ago, dedicating her time to both work
and volunteer efforts within the nonprofit sector. She has an academic foundation in Social Sciences and Crisis Intervention and Counseling, complemented by proficiency in three languages…Read more

Jazmin Romero

Chief of Staff

Jazmin received her Bachelors in Economics from Mills College and her MBA from Mills College, Lorry I. Lokey School of Business. She is a first generation Latina college graduate that is passionate about supporting WOC to achieve their academic and career goals. During her undergraduate studies, she provided mentorship to girls in Oakland Unified School District and Los Angeles Unified School District and college prep and guidance to San Jose’s Downtown College Prep graduates… Read more

Maya Stehle

Academy Instructor

Maya is an educator and youth advocate, holding a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from LMU. With a diverse background—from mentoring middle school girls throughout her college experience to teaching 7th grade—she brings 6+ years of experience in youth mentorship and leadership. Maya’s passion lies in utilizing the classroom as a platform to address nonacademic needs…Read more

Alejandra Vides-Austin

Academy Instructor

Alejandra Vides-Austin was born and raised in Maryland, in the suburbs of Washington, DC. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for adventure and creativity, and fell in love with the West coast immediately. She earned her associate of arts degree in visual communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)…Read more


Claudia Alleyne, M.D.


Claudia Alleyne, M.D., is a neonatologist and Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) located at Kaiser Permanente’s Anaheim Medical Center. Dr. Alleyne provides medical care to newborns that are born prematurely, critically ill…Read more

Tony Baylis


Tony Baylis is the director of the Office of Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Programs at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Tony is a senior manager who serves as a champion, ambassador, and advocate for diversity and…Read more

Gloria Dominguez


Gloria Carolina Dominguez, is a Vice President, Branch Manager, for City National Bank. Gloria began her career in baking as a Teller over 20 years ago, and has moved her way up to where she is now. Gloria joined City National Bank…Read more

Angel James Horacek


Angel James Horacek practices employment and civil rights law on behalf of employees, focusing primarily on anti-discrimination work.  She represents employees in courts, arbitrations, and administrative hearings. She also counsels employees in select pre-litigation matters…Read more

Joslyn Osborn


Joslyn Osborn is a partner with Vaco Los Angeles and is responsible for expanding, leading, and training the executive search team. She has more than ten years of client service and recruiting expertise for finance and accounting…Read more

Cecilia Owens

Board Chair

Cecilia Owens is the Chief Financial Officer at industry-leading music licenser APM Music, where she oversees accounting, finance, human resources, and legal affairs. With balanced career growth in various industries, including entertainment…Read more

Diedra Porché


Diedra Porché is the Senior Vice President, Government and Non-profit Banking Manager covering the western region at JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is responsible for the banking and finance needs of municipal and not-for-profit clients…Read more


Jianella Becerril


Mireya Esquivel


Olga Garcia


Samantha Godoy


Jalah Guy

Vice President

Angela Lopez


Peyton Meeks


Kayalah Moore


Samantha Mora


Lizbeth Santillano



Rosa Carrillo

Principal, Carillo Consultants

Martha Daniel

CEO, Information Management Resources, Inc.

Nikkole Denson Randolph

VP, Special & Alternative Content,
AMC Theaters

Julia Evans

Director, Philanthropy & Social Impact
Sony Music Group

Lori Heffelfinger

Owner, The Heffelfinger Company

InaMarie Johnson

Board of Directors, Kelly Services, Inc.

Teniel Jones

Executive Director, Base 11

Helen Norris

Chief Information Technology,
Chapman University

Rene’ Nourse

Principal, Urban Wealth Management

Jason Park

Axos Financial

Mary Sadeghi, M.D.

Emergency Care Physician