The Arts for LA team is a wealth of strong leaders! Read on to learn more about each of our staff members. 


Ricky Abilez
Director of Policy and Advocacy

Ricky Abilez (they/them) is a Queer, Latine artist, educator, and advocate who centers restorative and racial justice, social equity, and culturally responsive youth engagement in their work as an arts education practitioner and community leader. They've worked with prestigious arts organizations including South Coast Repertory, The LA Philharmonic, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and The Ford Theatre, and have taught a self-developed curriculum in using art for social justice at various high schools across the country, including California School of the Arts - San Gabriel Valley.

Prior to their work with Arts for LA, Ricky worked as a performing artist and freelance producer. They also served in nonprofit administration as the Education and Community Partnerships Manager at 4C LAB, the Associate Diversity and Inclusion Consultant at McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the Executive Assistant to Dr. Eric Cervini at Deviant Content, and Policy Fellow at the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

They hold a BFA in Theatre Arts from Cal State Fullerton and an MPA in Education Policy and Public Policy Analysis from the University of Colorado Denver. They were honored with the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award in 2022 by the CU Denver Alumni Association and Robert Earl McConnell Foundation for their commitment to equity and civic engagement in the arts and society. They are an avid singer and spend most of their downtime being the family clown.

Melissa Flores
Director of Programs

Melissa is a Program and Operations specialist with demonstrated experience interacting with diverse community members and creating positive relationships to further various program outreach. Melissa brings strategic management, holistic program development and thoughtful user experiences to each project. Prior to Arts for LA, Melissa worked with the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator where she helped curate their member experience and bring its community together virtually. Melissa has also worked at The Gabriella Foundation, spearheading various projects including the expansion of their summer camp program to low-resource communities in Los Angeles. Melissa's experience in the arts and culture sector is diverse – she has been a dancer since the spire age of three, studied film at Santa Clara University and expanded her arts administration career through the former Leadership Council of Emerging Arts Leaders, Los Angeles.

In her downtime, Melissa can be found rooting for her favorite sports team (Go Clippers!), ambitiously working on her running pace, exploring different foods in Los Angeles or having passioned discussions about various prestige TV.

Gabriel Gutierrez
Creative Jobs Collective and Operations Associate

Originally from Chicago, Gabriel is an adult adoptee, first generation street dance artist, founder of MoFundamentals, and artivist dedicated to highlighting the resiliency of the foster and adoptee community. His work centers around disseminating his knowledge of street dance, lessons of manhood derived from his experiences in homelessness, being his own financial safety net and foster care. Gabriel brings important ancestral practices from his P’urhépecha lineage into his work.

His contributions at the intersection of hip hop, education, healing practices, and foster care advocacy have earned him invitation to train at intensives hosted by Rennie Harris, nomination for the ACTIVATE Cultural Policy Fellowship to represent Los Angeles City District 1, and recruitment to pilot reentry programming funded by the California Arts Council. Follow his work on instagram @mofundamentals.

Gustavo Herrera
Chief Executive Officer

Gustavo was appointed as Arts for LA’s Executive Director in December 2018.  Prior to working with us, he was the Western Regional Director for Young Invincibles (YI), where he was responsible for leading YI’s California offices, including its West Coast expansion. As director, he set strategic direction and advanced YI’s policy priorities on health care, higher education, jobs, and civic engagement for the region.

Before starting at Young Invincibles, Gustavo was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of L.A. Plaza de Cultura y Artes (LAPCA), overseeing the day-to-day operation of a county museum, including the oversight of a master plan committee responsible for strategically developing three acres of additional museum campus. From 2010-2012, Gustavo led the Maestro Foundation, a classical music and performance arts foundation, as the Director of Organizational Development. Between 2007-2010, he assessed and recommended business growth strategies in the US marketplace for the global Fortune 500 Company, American Honda Motors, Co.

Gustavo holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from American Jewish University and a dual Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies with an emphasis in socio-politics and economics and Art History from the University of California Santa Barbara. Gustavo served on the Board of Directors of the Create: Fixate Arts Organization (2006-2010). He is a current Strong Workforce Implementation Advisory Board Member for the California Community Colleges, Advisory Board Member for the California Physician’s Alliance and founding Board Member of Silverlake Forward.

Cindy McHale
Director of Development

Cindy McHale joins Arts for LA as Director of Development. Cindy brings experience at leading performing arts and international special event organizations. Prior to joining Arts for LA she worked at the Super Bowl Experience and Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles; and served as Director of Institutional Giving at The Music Center.

Cindy also brings experience in higher education, serving as an adjunct professor on the University of San Francisco’s Master’s Program in Sport Management faculty, and as Director of Corporate, Foundation and Government Grants at CalArts.

Cindy holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from University of California, Los Angeles. In her spare time, Cindy hikes, windsurfs and is crafty, bringing her interests to life in mosaics, photography and other art forms.

Aj Moultrie
Digital Organizer
AJ Moultrié is a music artist, media producer, and art director from Inglewood, CA.  She started her creative career as an undergraduate Media major at UC Berkeley where she became involved as an avid student organizer, visual and performance artist. With 5+ years of media production experience, AJ has high expertise in packaging written, audio, and visual content in a way that stimulates global audiences and encourages them to establish lasting relationships with the brand. Former employers include Sirius XM, Crooked Media, Oakland Museum of California, and more.

Nicole Nicholas
Executive Assistant to Gustavo Herrera

Nicole is a strategic operations professional, bringing years of organizational planning, human resources, project management, technical efficiency, and nonprofit administration experience to Arts For LA.

She is currently earning her Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in Human Resources.

Yamily Pardio
Programs Associate

Yamily Pardio is currently a student at Los Angeles City College and Educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art. She migrated from Yucatan, Mexico in 2001 and was deeply impacted by her experiences as an undocumented immigrant. She has been an organizer in various realms of youth-led immigrant movements including undocumented student advocacy efforts for Dream Resource Centers and grassroot campaigns to stop the deportations of queer and trans migrants. She eventually found herself in contemporary art museums working with visitor engagement, family, and school programs. She plans to continue exploring the intersections of advocacy, organizing, law and the arts in her professional and academic career to hold institutions accountable for their historical exploitation of workers, First Nations and Indigenous people across the world.

Melissa Tillman
Interim COO

Melissa Tillman is the Founder & CEO of Nonprofit Growth Advisors, a Los Angeles based consulting firm. She is a seasoned nonprofit professional, who has built programs from the ground up, raised millions in charitable dollars, and led systemic change.