Dr. Leah Hanes, Ph.D.
Our CEO, Dr. Leah Hanes, brings a unique set of professional and personal experiences to her role at Two Bit Circus Foundation. Beginning her career in Toronto, Leah produced and hosted an award-winning television series profiling women in non-traditional roles. This led her to Los Angeles, where she appeared on-camera conducting interviews and hosting a variety of programs covering environmental issues, business and politics.
She eventually segued into other areas of the entertainment industry, notably as the President of a boutique talent agency representing Academy Award-winning cinematographers, editors and production designers. She also spent several years owning and running an acting school for children and teens, during a period she describes as her “empty nest” adjustment.
Her early life on a farm in Canada nurtured a strong sense of environmental stewardship while her first college experience was in Early Childhood Education, illuminating a solid direction to follow in her recent academic endeavors. Dr. Hanes holds a Masters degree in Organizational Management as well as a PhD from the Graduate School of Leadership and Change at Antioch University
All of these variables lead to a confluence of skills and knowledge that fit perfectly into the Two Bit Circus Foundation ecosystem.
Mindy discovered the wonderful world of creative reuse warehouses while studying Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration at San Francisco State University. As part of her thesis on Nonprofits in Human Services, Mindy teamed up with a local creative reuse center called SCRAP to develop their educational resource program in partnership with San Francisco Unified School District. During her time with SCRAP, Mindy helped establish the nonprofit as a free resource for Bay Area teachers, and was able to secure a grant to fund monthly workshops designed specifically for educators.
Once back in her hometown of Los Angeles, Mindy continued her support of educational nonprofits through an Operations position at Kidspace Children’s Museum. When she finally found Two Bit Circus Foundation (then known as Trash for Teaching) Mindy was able to combine her experience in Nonprofit Operations with her passion for upcycling to carry on the mission of environmental stewardship through alternative education.
Mya Stark is from Culver City and started out as a filmmaker, writing movies for studios like Disney, Warner Bros, and Paramount. Next, she edited an arts and culture magazine. Then, she began working in nonprofits, as well as founding an art gallery that focused on relational art. Now she applies those experiences to making LA Makerspace a tool people can use to help each other learn anything (even if they are not experts, “techies,” or educators — but also if they are). She likes learning about neuroscience and art the most, because they are such powerful ways to “hack the human brain” and open up more possibilities, freedom, and fun! Mya and the LA Makerspace LAMBOT have never been seen in the same place at the same time.
Michael first began working with Two Bit Circus Foundation through the LAUSD SIG partnership while teaching for LAUSD. It did not take long for Michael to delve into the material frenzy. After seven years of teaching high school Science, Engineering and Robotics courses using 2BCF materials, supporting and mentoring new teachers through CSUDH TTT & STAR Programs Michael now brings his unique skill set and passion for the classroom to the 2BCF Team. Michael’s passion and focus is to bring quality cross-curricular and educational experiences to develop holistic and passionate students.
Michael holds a B.S. Mechanical Engineering, membership to Tau Beta PI Honor Society, a B.A. Philosophy from CSUN, California Teaching Credential Single Subject Credential in Physics, and has been trained in Curriculum & Instruction with emphasis in science and student centered learning.
A Denver native, Whit joined Two Bit Circus Foundation full-time in 2018 after more than a decade as a nonprofit communications consultant. Consulting highlights included building NASA's online streaming music platform and authoring a library of bespoke social media content for the CW Network.
At 2BCF, Whit designs all external communications and marketing efforts. He also manages a portfolio of the organization's major programs including the Games for Change Student Challenge and The Cardboard Challenge. Whit holds an MA in Nonprofit Management from Antioch University and studied Digital Communication & Marketing at the Yale School of Management.
Elliott Hanes is a producer, singer, and songwriter with the Hip Hop band, Bend and Peel. He is also the Education & Outreach Manager at the Two Bit Circus Foundation and is leading our program for digital music production.
Kate has traveled all the way from across the pond, earned a BFA in Drama, and started her journey in a different part of the circus. While working as a game show host at the Two Bit Micro Amusement Park, Kate was able to connect with the 2BC Foundation and fell in love with what the foundation has to offer the Los Angeles community. She has found herself as a facilitator of playful learning and the biggest fangirl (aka assistant) of Dr. Leah Hanes. When she is not an imagination sparker, Kate likes to sing show tunes to her soul cat, Poseidon
Renée Cobb has served in secondary schools for over 22 years as a teacher, counselor, school administrator, and district administrator in Lynwood, Compton, and Beverly Hills Unified School Districts. In addition, she spent over 5 years as an adjunct professor in the Counseling Department at Santa Monica College, and as a community college counselor for the Los Angeles Community College District. She has also utilized her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy working with individuals ranging from school-age children to adults within the court system. Renée loves helping people and families untangle the “ropes” of life in order to stand up and create positive change in their lives.
Prior to her career in the field of education, Renée spent time working in large tech companies such as IBM, Digital Equipment Corporation and Hewlett Packard as a Marketing Account Manager. While at Digital she volunteered to spearhead the Community Relations Committee and it was in this capacity that they adopted a school in Los Angeles Unified School District and began the journey of building the confidence of the teaching staff through computer tech training. Presently Renée serves on a governing board of an EdTech company. This type of broad work experience provides Renée with an opportunity to continue to engage her love for students, teachers, and schools, and to better understand what the community needs to help families.
Renée’s current passion is helping new administrators clear their preliminary credential by working as an Administrator Coach for the Los Angeles County Office of Education.