Partner Q & A: Amanda Sabicer

April 8, 2013

Amanda Sabicer, LASVP PartnerAmanda Sabicer is a stay-at-home mother of three who was most recently with Amgen’s Commercial Leadership Program. With her roles as an LASVP board member and Co-Lead of the Recruiting Team, Amanda has kept herself busy since joining LASVP in 2010.

Q: How were you introduced to LASVP?
Amanda: I discovered LASVP as a business school grad student at UCLA. I had to wait until I got a job after graduation before I could join.

Q: What project are you working on with LASVP? Why did you choose to get involved this way?
Amanda: As a board member, my focus switched last year from working on the strategic plan to building the membership of LASVP. I feel passionately that LASVP’s new strategic direction is the most innovative, daring and exciting in the SVP network. Then again, with such a talented group of Partners, many of whom are entrepreneurs, should we really expect anything other than a new “disruptive” approach to philanthropy? Since we are now working on executing our new vision, I am working with fellow board member, Marta Gazzera Ferro, to share the LASVP story with external audiences and recruit new Partners to join our tribe.

Q: What is your favorite part of being involved in LASVP?
Amanda: The people! As a busy mom of three kids (five years old and under), I make an effort to spend the little free time I have on activities and with people that energize me. LASVP never lets me down. In fact, even though I live in the Inland Empire now, I still drive out to the Westside for events and meetings. My husband jokes that I get an “LASVP high” after I hang out with members of LASVP. Where else in LA is there such an incredible, diverse, and intelligent group of results-oriented people who are committed to making Los Angeles a better place?

Q: What book are you reading right now?
Amanda: I just picked up Give Smart : Philanthropy that Gets Results by Thomas Tierney. I haven’t started it yet, but am looking forward to a new way of looking at philanthropy. I just finished David Brooks’ The Social Animal and found it fascinating. I thought Brooks’ section on emergent thinking (check out a quick summary) is especially relevant to LASVP’s foray into collective action.

Q: What do you look forward to on the weekends?
Amanda: I look forward to marveling at how my girls fearlessly tumble around in gymnastics class, to watching my son toddle around our backyard until he finds another dangerous object to put into his mouth, to “bouldering” in Joshua Tree with my family, and to collapsing next to husband in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine on Sunday night.

You can learn more about our Partners here on our website.

Passionate Leadership: Candy Deemer and Synergy Academies

April 8, 2013

Candy Deemer, LASVP PartnerSynergy Academies is a charter school system that reaches 1,200 K-12 students in South LA. Inspired by their amazing work, LASVP Partners have put their time and talent behind the organization, giving almost 500 hours of strategic assistance since our initial investment in 2010.

Energy, passion, and love of education. Founding LASVP Partner Candy Deemer brings all of this to her role as Co-Lead Partner with Synergy Academies. As a writer and executive coach with years of marketing and management experience, Candy can add fun, creativity, and keen insight to any conversation. Together with her Co-Lead Partner, Richard Landers, Candy has led the way for SVP to help Synergy Academies make the most of their communications.

Candy learned about Synergy by participating in meetings for LASVP’s grant rounds where she was impressed with the level of success Synergy had and their high standards of excellence. Using the knowledge she gained through volunteering with our former Investee Bright Star Schools, Candy was prepared to jump in and take the lead. As Co-Lead Partner, Candy acts as a liaison between SVP Partners and the Synergy leadership team.

She has developed tremendous respect for Synergy Co-Founders Meg and Randy Palisoc, and can attest that “they are wonderful people who work very, very hard for their students. They aren’t afraid to tackle any problem.” With LASVP’s passion for improving education in Los Angeles and Synergy’s entrepreneurial spirit, our investments of money, time, and talent have paid off. “It’s a really strong two-way working relationship,” Candy says. “Synergy is interested to have LASVP’s help and our partners have the skills to assist them with their goals.”

Throughout our time supporting Synergy Academies, SVP Partners have provided strategic assistance with board development, financial planning, organizational strategy, marketing and branding, IT infrastructure, and executive coaching. Candy has coordinated and managed the various projects and matched fellow Partners who have the skills needed to accomplish a project’s goals. Through Candy’s leadership, SVP Partners assisted Synergy as they have grown and expanded from grade school classes in a local church to having elementary, middle, and high schools, all of which are co-located with traditional LAUSD schools.

So what’s been Candy’s most rewarding experience with Synergy? “Seeing how they have come along in the way they present themselves.”  From branding and identity, to executive coaching, to building presentations, Candy has loved the “fun and creative” aspects of assisting Synergy. “They weren’t getting the full bang for their buck [with their communications] when we first started with them,” she says. But now, the way they present themselves through their Trade Secrets Tours and presentations “does a great job of showing how Synergy achieves such extraordinary academic results. People get it now and they get excited about it.” Synergy’s effort to share their success with other educators is gaining traction and teachers are traveling from other states to take the tour and meet their teachers.

Overall, Candy believes that SVP Partners added the greatest value by helping Synergy “think through their strategy as an organization–how to lead a growing organization, how they present themselves to the world, and thinking about what’s next in terms of ‘sharing out’ their best practices with other schools.”

To learn more about Synergy Academies, you can visit their website at and RSVP for their next Trade Secrets Tour coming up on May 22.

To find out more about becoming an SVP Partner, click here.

Haircuts and Human Touch: A Stop on the Beauty Bus Journey

April 8, 2013

Beauty BusWe connected with Beauty Bus Foundation during the 2011 Social Innovation Fast Pitch program. Founder Wendy Levine shared the Beauty Bus story in her outstanding 3-minute pitch at the competition (watch here). Today fellow founder Alicia Marantz Liotta, shares with us another story from their amazing journey! 

Getting to the barber takes planning and coordination, just finding a babysitter for his young twin boys can be a tough venture and that’s only the first step. Scott Lew and his wheelchair are loaded, along with his ventilation gear, into the family van. Wife, Annabel, and caregiver file in after. For the Lews, safety is of utmost importance when taking trips outside the home. All possible variables are taken into account – Scott’s head shaking loose during the car ride, a vent hose popping out, suctioning of saliva and manual breathing assistance during his barber visit. The trip is possible, but it’s not easy.

Scott Lew, loving husband, father, and avid writer, has been living with ALS for the past 8 years. The neuromuscular disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, has taken over his ability to move his body (he is quadriplegic), speak, swallow or breathe. Everyday use of mechanical aids to carry out his life-supporting needs is routine and communication via a speech device that tracks his eye movements allows Scott to continue verbalizing his sharp wit.

Scott’s struggles with a luxury that is so often taken for granted – the ability to leave the house, get to the barber shop, take a seat, receive a haircut and leave feeling renewed – are more than an able bodied person may imagine. In learning of Beauty Bus Foundation, Scott’s interest was piqued at the ease of receiving an in-home haircut and a compassionate human touch.

“I still want to look my best at all times. Call me vain, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who see me, look past my wheelchair and ventilator face-mask, and say stuff like, ‘Man, your hair’s getting long.’ Either because of my partial baldness, which exaggerates my otherwise bushy hair when it goes bad, or because of the genuine goodness of people, who don’t want to comment on my obvious disabilities and are just trying to make small-talk – I’m not sure, but it’s clear – I need regular haircuts.”

Scott was unsure of what was to come in his first Beauty Bus visit, only hoping for an experience that left him comfortable and safe.

“Beauty Bus volunteer Janine exceeded all expectations. At 5 feet tall and 100 lbs. soaking wet, with her nose ring and punk-rock cute skull and crossbones sweater, Janine packed a lot of personality into her small person and, I discovered, talent. Not only did she give me a great haircut (I’m easy, just short please), she also gave my wife, who has layered wavy hair that makes styling her difficult, an excellent cut as well.”

Beauty Bus client Scott Lew

“I can’t say enough positive things about the Beauty Bus. We found their service so extraordinary and helpful. I’m sure there are thousands of people with disabilities and special needs who could use their help.”

Beauty Bus Foundation delivers dignity, hope and respite to chronically or terminally ill men, women and children and their caregivers through complimentary beauty and grooming services and pampering products. Please visit their website at for more information on their programs, services and how to give or contact them directly at (310)392-0900.

You can also purchase tickets for their annual Beauty Drive coming up on May 5 by clicking here.