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.