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. When she’s not spreading the STEAM word across California, she loves spending time with her grandchildren.
Dr. Dijanna Figueroa, PhD
Dr. Dijanna Figueroa has made a career of exploring the mysteries of the deep. She was featured in James Cameron’s documentary Aliens of the Deep, which follows Cameron and NASA scientists as they explore the some of the deepest parts of the ocean and learn about the unique life forms that inhabit those spaces. Recently, Figueroa has become an advocate for STEAM education—adding art and design to the science, technology, engineering, and math equation. She’s spent more than two decades teaching STEAM to grades K–8 in the greater Los Angeles area, formerly served as global director of the Muse School National Geographic Society’s Green STEAM program and has advisory roles with many STEM/STEAM nonprofits. She was recently featured on MTV’s Women Crush Wednesdays Women in STEM series. She teaches middle school science at St. Matthew's Parish School and runs programs that teach students how to fly drones, scuba dive, and build underwater robots. She is currently the Director of Education and Playful Learning Ringmaster at Two Bit Circus Foundation. If that isn’t enough, Figueroa is the director of the Lucas Scholars STEM program, a community based social justice and equity program designed to engage young people in science, engineering, design, and art. She loves the ocean, art, and exploration and is committed to making science, technology, art, engineering, math, and music accessible to all people.
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.
Mya is currently on a Leave of Absence & will return to full-time work post-Covid19 Safe At Home order
Through positions held at startups to academic institutions, including Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) Center for Innovation, Make in LA, and the University of California San Francisco Center for Digital Health Innovation, he helped to create opportunities conducive for innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to this work, he is an accomplished designer, multi-media artist and researcher. He commonly incorporates the use of audience participation into his own practice, and views interactivity as means that produces an arena for discussion, active viewership, and community engagement. STEAM is integrated into his own education— Justin has a dual Bachelors in science and art, and a Masters in Science in Global Medicine with an emphasis in management from the University of Southern California. Through his varied experiences, Justin recognizes the importance of Renaissance thinking, and hopes to inspire the next generation of makers, creatives, and entrepreneurs.
After more than a decade as a digital communications consultant, Whit Wagner joined Two Bit Circus Foundation full-time in 2018. Consulting highlights included building NASA's online streaming radio station, launching Springboard Music Festivals and authoring a library of bespoke social media content for the CW Network. He also holds an MA in Nonprofit Management.
At 2BCF, Whit architects all external organization communications. He also manages all major programs including the AT&T Inventor's Challenge, Games for Change Student Challenge and ongoing Cardboard Challenge.
Elliott Hanes is a producer, singer, and songwriter with the Hip Hop band, Bend and Peel. He is also the Education and Playful Learning Coordinator 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
Board Of Directors
Dave Zobel, Board Vice President, is a Cal Tech Alumni and a science writer. He describes himself as: “Half-bithead, half-executive, half-writer, half-wit: Possessing that rare ability to get down in the trenches with the researchers and the coders (being one myself), defend them to upper management and clients, and explain what they do to the outside world.” Zobel was the developer of the first Science Kits that changed the focus of T4T materials from use in Art alone to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education. He joined the Board in 2011. He is coordinator of External Events for T4T.
Marcella Klein Williams
Dr. Marcella Klein Williams has hopscotched across the entire system of public education from preschool to university in a multitude of roles spanning teacher, director, president and chief. Her career has focused on STEAM teaching and learning. She has been called a thought leader, innovator, mentor, facilitator, and systems thinker. She always answers if called teacher.
Celeste Anlauf, Board Member, is currently the Major Gifts Officer at the Exceptional Children’s Foundation, a 25 million dollar non-profit that has been improving that lives of people with special needs since 1946. Previously, Celeste held the position of Director of Major Gifts and Communication at Para Los Niños. Prior to that she planned and launched St. Paul the Apostle’s $20 million capital campaign—the first comprehensive campaign in the School’s 75-year history.
Francisco Arechiga, Board Member, helps manage digital content strategy, implementation and development for East West Bank. Francisco has eight years’ experience related to U.S. and China cross-border business and cultural exchange and is involved in tri-sector projects in arts and culture, civic engagement, education and economic development in Los Angeles. Previously, he worked for four years in the department of public education at the Yunnan Provincial Museum in Kunming and is fluent in Mandarin.
Nirvan is an LA based filmmaker, creative consultant, speaker, entrepreneur, and founder of Imagination.org. Nirvan began teaching himself animation while studying philosophy at New College. He went on to earn an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts. Nirvan’s animated short films have screened in festivals worldwide, winning numerous awards. In 2001, Nirvan began an ongoing collaborative experiment called The 1 Second Film, which became among the first crowdfunded films. In 2012, Nirvan directed Caine’s Arcade, an 11-minute short film that became a viral phenomenon, receiving over 8 million views and sparking a global movement of cardboard creativity in kids around the world. Nirvan has received the Dan Eldon Creative Activist Award and the Innovation in Action award. Nirvan is a partner at Interconnected, consults with companies and non-profits, serves on the board of CicLAvia, and tries to keep up with his garden and email.
Scott counsels leaders of social enterprises in developing social impact strategies, growing organizational capacity, and creating projects, programs, and partnerships that achieve measurable results.
Scott founded Beyond Advisers to work with social innovators, nonprofits, philanthropists, governments, and private sector leaders to design and build their organizations and initiatives for impact. He teaches and lectures on the role of lawyers in social innovation, advises law schools in developing social impact clinical practices, and consults with law firms to develop social impact practice groups. Crain’s Chicago Business called the class he teaches one of “the coolest classes for law students.”
Prior to starting Beyond Advisers, Scott served as General Counsel for the Clinton Foundation. During a decade of service to the Clinton Foundation, Scott established, grew, and led the legal team that supported a global operating charity with over 2,000 staff and volunteers working in 36 countries on more than a dozen initiatives. Scott led the team of in-house professionals and outside firms that created the organizational and operational structures that supported the Clinton Foundation’s board, enterprise systems, and program teams during their most prolonged and intensive period of growth.
In supporting the program work of the Clinton Foundation’s initiatives, Scott counseled dynamic leaders and teams in developing partnerships designed to spur social and economic change around the world. These partnerships spanned the areas of global health, climate change, international development, commercial agriculture, supply chain innovation, childhood obesity, small business mentoring, post-disaster relief, globally-focused conferences, and museum and special event operations.
As a corporate attorney prior to his time with the Clinton Foundation, and as a graduate of the first program in the U.S. to offer a master’s degree in public service, Scott has advised new endeavors and established enterprises working to change the world. From programs working with sweet potato growers in the Mississippi Delta and cashew farmers in India to private sector startups and nonprofit spinoffs, Scott’s work has equipped him with deep knowledge of legal, program, and organizational operations.
With his background in public service, law, and communications, Scott is motivated by the possibility and promise that bold ideas can be transformed into action to change lives and communities in new, specific, and measurable ways. He spends some of the best parts of his days being inspired by his wife, two kids, and rescue dogs, including Miss Tommie, who is blind, deaf, and awesome!
Joe’s leadership has been instrumental in building Thinkwell’s reputation as a company that deals masterfully with many of the world’s most cherished brands and intellectual properties. Whether he’s addressing the concerns of Warner Bros. and the author of Harry Potter or those of cultural institutions like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Joe advocates for the priorities and values of Thinkwell’s clients as they strategically expand.