THE FLTS TEAM
Viviana Franco is founder and Executive Director of From Lot to Spot, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating equitable access to parks and food gardens in working class communities of color. Since 2009, she has helped garner over $15 million dollars in funding for greenspace projects throughout Los Angeles County. FLTS aims to create 20 greenspaces by 2020 in communities that need it most.
Ms. Franco founded From Lot to Spot as a direct response to the relationship between lack of green space and the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods in 2007. Viviana was born and raised in a neighborhood of Hawthorne, California that was drastically transformed by the creation of the 105 Freeway in the early 1980’s. When the freeway was completed, there were countless excess right-of-way lands that remained vacant and unmaintained – left to degrade and demoralize low-income, working class communities. Ms. Franco grew up playing in one of these vacant lots, on 118th & Doty Ave., an experience that shaped her adult life and professional career.
Ms. Franco, earned her graduate degree in Urban Planning with an emphasis on community development from the UCLA School of Public Affairs and holds a B.A. in History from UCLA. She has over 10 years of experience in the community planning field that includes strategic planning and project management, community outreach, fund development, open space design and construction, land use analysis, and demographic analysis. Her passion for equity for all peoples drives her work to improve the standard of living for all communities.
Because of her activism work in the City, she was appointed in 2012 by the Mayor of the City of Hawthorne to serve as a Parks & Recreation Commissioner. Ms. Franco’s proudest accomplishment is being the daughter of working class immigrants and credits this for her continuously dedication to social justice.
Maria De Leon is Project Manager at FLTS and is responsible for planning and execution of all FLTS projects as well as facilitates communication and partnerships with key government officials, businesses, organizations, residents, and other stakeholders, which are an essential element in the success of FLTS’s work.
Maria De Leon was a student of FLTS’s first “Spaces of Blight” class in 2008 and has been part of the FLTS team for four years. Maria grew up in the city of Hawthorne, where FLTS was founded, and has seen firsthand the effects the lack of safe and accessible greenspaces has on a community and its youth. The lack of healthy food options and environmental injustice in her neighborhood has also impacted her family’s health, fueling her efforts of social activism. At FLTS, she has dedicated her full time to improving and engaging disadvantaged communities. She specifically enjoys interacting with community members and working directly in the communities that saw her grow.
Currently as Project Manager, Maria’s responsibilities include project planning and implementation, staff and volunteer management, and office administration. Ms. De Leon is currently pursuing a B.A. degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance. Maria enjoys hiking and camping, as well as swimming and dancing. Maria is undefeated at tongue twisters.
Nydya is FLTS’s Project Coordinator. She works closely with the Project Manager and Community Organizer to successfully implement projects. She also spearheads all PR campaigns and handles social media content.
Nydya Mora grew up in Paramount, CA located in the Southeast region of Los Angeles where green-space inequity has been a persistent issue. Seeing first-hand the disparaging results of a largely ignored community, she set out to create equitable and safe environments for all. Nydya received her B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning where she garnered the tools needed to help elevate blighted communities. Her values are rooted in equity and sustainability, and is very passionate about transforming underserved neighborhoods into empowered and just communities. Nydya owes her inquisitive spirit to PBS for providing educational programming while growing up in an environment where the lack of safe spaces meant being forced to stay indoors. In her spare time, Nydya enjoys exploring new environments, reading, discovering new music & podcasts, and spending time with her Pitbull doggies, Bobby & Riley.
Arlene is a Community Organizer with FLTS working primarily in the City of LA’s communities of Echo Park, Boyle Heights and Watts. Arlene currently leads FLTS’s community outreach and engagement campaigns and is point of contact for all community members.
She was born and raised in a small border town in South Texas. She moved to Los Angeles, CA after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from St. Edward’s University in Austin. Before joining FLTS, Arlene worked with Voto Latino and Fuse TV during the 2016 Presidential Election. She was chosen to be a “Crash The Parties” reporter at the Democratic National Convention and her role was to help engage, educate and empower Latinos during the 2016 campaign. Crash The Parties 2016 was such a success, it was awarded the 2017 Winner for Best Get out the Vote Campaign by The Social Good Awards! The most important lesson Arlene learned from her “Crash The Parties” experience is how crucial it is to be on the ground with people who are affected most by policy. Arlene loves adventure, taking her dog on a hike, homemade food and a good book.
Enrique is a Community Organizer with FLTS working primarily in the cities adjacent to the Lower Los Angeles River in Southeast Los Angeles (LA) County. Enrique is an active and impactful participant in coalitions and working groups aligned with multi-beneficial, green space goals. He also conducts research, builds partnerships, provides analysis of local issues, and builds expertise on topics relevant to community-driven green space development.
Enrique was born in East Los Angeles and raised in the city of South Gate in Southeast LA. Before joining FLTS, Enrique promoted the development of livable communities in the private and public planning sector. His experience includes drafting Environmental Impact Reports, conducting community outreach and working as a City Planner. Enrique’s high regard for social and environmental justice emerged while working for a city planning department in Southeast LA. Daily, he witnessed the severe economic hardships that punitive land use policies inflict on disadvantaged Latino communities. He also observed the negative effects of lax enforcement of environmental regulations by reluctant city planners’.
Enrique’s role as a Community Organizer draws on his Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from the College of Environmental Design at California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly). He also earned a Master of Science in Regenerative Studies from the John T. Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly. His master’s thesis explored how planners’ use administrative discretion in the face of sustainable urban development. Enrique enjoys reading fiction and riding his road bicycle.