Leadership Team


Léna Garcia, Managing Editor & Lead Curriculum Writer

Léna Garcia currently works with English Language Learners at Pacific Collegiate School in Santa Cruz. She worked as a reporter and as the Assistant News Editor for The Santa Barbara Independent. She was a Volunteer Mentor & Service Learning Intern at Renaissance High School, an alternative school in Watsonville. She has worked for Literature for Life since 2016 as a Copy Editor and a Lead Curriculum Writer. She has a B.A. in Literature from UC Santa Barbara’s College of Creative Studies and a minor in Professional Editing. Her poem, “Ceiling,” was published in Vagabond City Literary Journal.


Angelina Coppola, In-Schools Program Coordinator

Angelina Coppola grew up in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her B.A in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. Her writing has been covered in LA Magazine, The Washington Post, CNET Australia, among others. She has extensive experience as a teaching artist and has worked for several organizations in this capacity, including South Pasadena Arts Center (SPACE), WriteGirl, Bold Ink Writers and Day One. She currently writes and teaches in Los Angeles.


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Jervey Tervalon, Founder & Director

Jervey Tervalon, MFA, is the award-winning, Los Angeles Times bestelling author of five books including Understanding This, a novel based on his experiences teaching at Locke High School in Los Angeles, for which he won the Quality Paper Book Club’s New Voice’s Award. His newest novel, Monster’s Chef, was released by HarperCollins in 2014. He was the Remsen Bird Writer in Residence at Occidental College and now is an associate professor at National University and a Lecturer at the College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara. He’s lectured with USC and Occidental College. He is also an award-winning poet, screenwriter, dramatist, and the Founder and Editor of Literature for Life. Jervey was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles. He received his MFA from UC Irvine and studied with Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler’s Ark.


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Rosalind Helfand, Advisor

Rosalind Helfand works independently to create and lead innovative programs that connect and improve communities. From the arts to conservation, her focus is on doable big ideas that lead to lasting positive change and a better future. A leader in LA’s literary community, she co-founded the award-winning West Hollywood Book Fair in 2000, directing the festival for its first decade. She’s developed, curated and produced hundreds of literary programs, in partnership with leaders from LA’s diverse literary and arts communities, with a focus on multi-disciplinary collaborations with the arts, sciences, politics, and more. In addition to Literature for Life, her recent literary projects include Sci-Fest L.A., Lit Crawl LA, and LitFest Pasadena. She was also a curator of The Last Bookstore’s Indie Shelves Initiative. In 2013, Rosalind produced a community wide dialogue series in conjunction with the play “Cooking Oil’s” premiere in Los Angeles, which brought together nonprofit leaders to discuss international aid, women’s rights, and education. Rosalind is a past programming director of West Hollywood’s Women’s Leadership Conference and Human Rights Speakers Series, and is currently directing educational programming for NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. She was a guest speaker at the California World History Association’s annual conference, and she teaches high school writing classes in creative writing and academic writing at West Hollywood College Preparatory School. She is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz. www.rozhelfand.com


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Tom Coston, President of Light Bringer Project & Outreach to Schools Co-Lead

Tom Coston has been actively involved in the greater Los Angeles nonprofit community for the past 18 years. As president of Light Bringer Project he leads the organization and its board to fulfillment of its mission “to build communities through the power of the arts,” and to achieve long-term success for its innovative learning, prevention and career pathways programs. Tom has held leadership positions on the boards of many high-profile nonprofit organizations, including Villa Esperanza Services, Leadership Pasadena, Mothers Club Family Learning Center, Arroyo Seco Foundation, and Institute for Urban Research and Development and has served as board president of several of these. Tom is the producer of Pasadena’s famed Doo Dah Parade. He is a graduate of UCLA. www.lightbringerproject.com


Patricia Hurley

Patricia Hurley, Managing Director of Light Bringer Project & Outreach to Schools Co-Lead

Patricia has daily oversight responsibility of Light Bringer Project, its programs and operational needs. A graduate with a Fine Arts degree from Art Center College of Design, she has professional experience in public relations and marketing. She is a past board member of Leadership Pasadena and is on the communication task force for Villa Esperanza Services which serves developmentally disabled individuals and their families. Patricia has been with the organization for the past ten years.


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Graeme Fordyce, Brand Consultant

Graeme Fordyce is a writer and photographer living in Los Angeles. He received his BA in Literature from the College of Creative Studies in Santa Barbara and his MFA from the University of Southern California Writing Program where he was a past winner of both the Ed Moses Fiction Award and the Academy of American Poets Prize.


Scott Gandell, Art Director

Scott Gandell wears many hats. He descends from a long line of creatives and business professionals. His experience is as diverse as the subjects he illustrates. You may want to visit Pop Secret Gallery where he has made a home for The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles of which he is a Board Member. His network is vast and he is a proud alumnus of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.