Mari brings more than 25 years’ experience in executive positions at nonprofits working in community economic development, performing arts, and adult literacy/education most recently as Program Director of Community Partners. As the former president/CEO of Centro Latino for Literacy, she received a 2014 James Irvine Leadership Award in recognition of her work bringing thousands of non-literate Spanish speakers online. She has served as Executive Director for Levitt Pavilion MacArthur Park, the Coalition for Women’s Economic Development and TELACU Community Capital. Mari holds an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Brown University.
Her unique link to Grand Performances began as a performer on GP’s stage in 1996. She has the rare distinction of being associated with the organization as a performer, a patron and supporter, and now as Grand Performances’ Executive Director.
Executive Director - Emeritus
In 1990, following a 22-year career as a performer, manager and curator of cultural programs, Michael Alexander became the first Artistic Director for the free public concert series presented by Grand Performances in Downtown Los Angeles at California Plaza. From the organization’s very beginning, he set the tone for Grand Performances’ approach to programming, with an eye to serving the entire community and to developing supportive relationships with the local arts community.
He recently said, “I am proud that Grand Performances has grown into an award-winning concert series that focuses on the cultural diversity of our city, and that we have developed innovative community-involvement programs that have resulted in the most diverse audiences in the country. We see our program as a model for the strong role that the arts can play in building healthier communities everywhere.”
In 2004, then-California State Assembly Speaker Herb J. Wesson appointed Alexander to serve on the California Arts Council. In January, 2007, his colleagues elected him Chair of the Arts Council and re-elected him to a second term in 2008. In 2008, Speaker Karen Bass re-appointed him for a term through 2012 when he was re-appointed for a third term by Speaker John Perez. He continues to serve as Past Chair. He also serves on numerous non-profit arts and community service boards where his skills in policy development, government affairs and community relations are regularly put to use. His strong belief that the arts play a vital role in building healthier communities is evident in the direction that Grand Performances takes in programming, marketing and community relations.
A native Angeleno, he started his professional performing career as a teenager, working as a clown in the Los Angeles City Circus and as a dancer in the Aman Folk Ensemble. He can still ride his unicycle forward!
As a lifelong arts advocate and artist, Nicole is thrilled to be joining the Grand Performances' family as she furthers her commitment to a more creative, equitable world. She has held development and communications roles at various arts and education organizations such as Sierra Canyon School, After-School All-Stars, Center Theatre Group, and Cal Performances. Nicole is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where she earned her B.A. in Media Studies and minor in Theater. She’s also a proud alumna of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where she studied Theater.
Director of Production
Mark Baker has been working professionally for over two decades in the technical, creative, and managerial aspects of theatre, concert and event production. Outside of Grand Performances Mark has been involved with well over 150 theatrical productions since moving to Los Angeles as Lighting Designer, Sound Designer, or Production Manager. Mark works with General Mischief Dance Theatre and Above and Beyond, New York based andKybele Dance Theater, a Los Angeles based dance companies as a Lighting Designer and Technical Director. He is a technical consultant for Diavolo Dance Theatre. Events include IAJE Annual Conventions, LA Times Festival Of Books, Playa Vista Grand Opening, Disney Concert Hall Gala Opening, Los Angeles Millennium New Years Eve Festival, and other various walks, private parties and events. Touring Credits include Rich Little’s The Presidents,Sesame Street Live and International performances in Japan, Korea, Brazil, Italy and The Netherlands with Diavolo Dance Theatre.
A true go getter, Bria Chavez first joined Grand Performances as the Marketing/ PR Intern during the 2015 summer season, but the summer dose of concerts just wasn’t enough. Now working as Grand Performances’ Marketing Manager, Bria is leading with passion and testing creativity to create an interactive experience for all of GP’s audiences - current and soon to come.
Bria is a graduate from UCLA earning a B.A in World Arts and Culture and a minor in Art History. She is thrilled to work for an organization in which her passions, ethics, and amusement align.
Leigh Ann Hahn
Director of Programming
Leigh Ann Hahn joined the Grand Performances team in 1992 after 15 years of for-profit business marketing in several different industries including banking, real estate, and entertainment. She has served as panelist for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Arts Partners program, Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, Los Angeles Dance Kaleidoscope, The Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and the Long Beach Public Corporation for the Arts. Hahn is currently a member of the board of directors for Khmer Arts, a Cambodian arts and culture organization based in Los Angeles County.
Director of Development
Christie joined our family in May of 2010 and previously spent nine successful years at UCLA Live where she was an integral part of the development team, and helped to expand that organization’s base of local, national and international funders.
Ms. Lesinski is a graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. In addition to a deep passion for the arts, she enjoys running, yoga, travel, exploring new restaurants and volunteering for a number of local organizations.
Doug has been involved in production in one way or another since 1990. He has been helping make magic at Grand Performances since 2001 filling in almost every job that can happen on the plaza. "In this crazy world we live in I know one thing, we need art. I will do what I can to make this world a better place. One art happening at a time."
Katie brings several years of non-profit performing arts experience, having previously worked at Festival Dance & Performing Arts Association. She holds a Master’s of Accountancy from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Seattle University, with a major in Accounting and minor in Italian. Katie is excited to be a part of the Grand Performances family.
Nurit has two decades involvement in the arts and entertainment social sectors as an artist and executive. A UC Berkeley grad, her work as a performer and creator has been seen on TV and film and on stages across the country. She has managed positions within varied organizations including Blue Man Group, Highways Performance Space, and for over a decade at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Born in Israel and raised in Los Angeles, she currently serves as the Deputy Director of Grand Performances, an internal leader and senior-level thought partner for the 32-year-old institution. Nurit is a member of the first cohort of USC/Association of Performing Arts Presenters' Leadership Fellows.
Production Manager - Emeritus
Fred often jokes that he changes careers every 19 years whether he needs to or not. Fred has a BA in music from The University of North Texas, America’s premier jazz school, and a Master of Music from Manhattan School of Music. He was a percussionist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the New American Symphony with Leopold Stokowski. His Broadway shows include Man of La Mancha with José Farrer, West Side Story with Chita Rivera and I Do! I Do! with Mary Martin and Robert Preston. The last seven years of Fred’s playing career was with Doc Severinsen, after stints as the drummer for Johnny Mathis, Shirley Bassey and others.
For approximately 19 years Fred toured as a Sound Engineer/Lighting Designer/Company Manager for many artists including; Mel Tormé, Kronos Quartet, Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Sid Caesar, Ben Vereen, The Brothers Johnson and Quincy Jones.
For 19 years (of course) Fred owned and operated Concertech which was the sound vendor for Grand Performances (then California Plaza Presents). Fred joined the Grand Performances staff in the early ‘90’s and this is his 19th season!
Zindy Landeros Valle
Zindy Landeros Valle, Office Administrator, known to take care of business, works the front and back office at Grand Performances. Most of the time you will catch her behind a computer, but if you don’t it is because she is outside enjoying the performances in the beautiful summer weather.