The FOTO Board of Directors are volunteers who are committed to Friends Of The Observatory's efforts to support and promote Griffith Observatory as a strong community centerpiece of scientific learning, education and public astronomy to the children, youth, and adults of Southern California and beyond.
FOTO's Board members are drawn from a variety of professions and backgrounds, united in their enthusiasm for the Observatory and in the ongoing quest to improve its facilities and programs while planning for a robust future.
With a lifelong interest in mathematics and science, FOTO President David Primes began his university career as an engineering student. He later switched to accounting and worked part time at a large Los Angeles firm. His three-year internship there led to a position with them after graduation from Cal State Northridge.
Primes joined Los Angeles-based Sobul, Primes and Schenkel in 1981 and became a shareholder in 1984. In addition to client responsibilities (primarily for professional service concerns) he serves as Sobul, Primes and Schenkel's technology leader.
A frequent lecturer and consultant on computer topics and accounting technology, Primes is a member of numerous professional associations. He formerly chaired the National Kidney Foundation of Southern California and resides in Northridge with his wife Joyce and daughters Amanda and Victoria.
Rich Semler is honored to be on the Friends Of The Observatory Board. He describes himself as a lifelong science and science-fiction buff. It all started in the 5th grade, when he discovered Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clark, and yes, Edgar Rice Burrows and the Princess of Mars, too. A used 5-inch Celestron telescope with assorted lenses, and later a star globe, sealed his interest in astronomy, and friendship with JPL and Cal Tech scientists cemented it all.
Dr. Eve Haberfield, Ph.D., director of humanities, sciences, social sciences and health sciences at UCLA Extension, is responsible for overseeing course programming for more than 1,000 courses each year.
With a doctorate in biology from UCLA, Haberfield conducted research in physiology and taught community college and extension courses. She has been involved in teaching and academic administration since 1978. She met Observatory director Dr. Ed Krupp in the late 1970s as they worked together in planning a UCLA Extension travel study trip. Since then they have collaborated on many different archeo-astronomy field study trips and other programs.
Throughout her career Haberfield has been committed to increasing the scientific and cultural literacy of the Los Angeles community.
"My passion is scientific literacy," she says, "and astronomy currently is the most popular science for the lay public. Education is the key to understanding the scientific world around us and Griffith Observatory is a wonderful place to look up, learn and try to understand our place in the universe."
Haberfield enjoys hiking, skiing, and travel and resides in Pacific Palisades with her husband and daughter.
Ethan Eller has lived his entire life in and around the Pasadena area, and he still remembers taking a field trip with his elementary school class to Griffith Observatory. His father worked at JPL in the 50’s, and instilled a lifelong love of science, science fiction, and astronomy into his son.
Ethan has been working for the Ben B. & Joyce E. Eisenberg Foundation since 1986 as their Property Manager. The Foundation delights in giving every dollar they make to a wide array of charitable causes. In this capacity, Ethan has developed an additional appreciation for architecture and facilities management, and he is thrilled to be working for the incredible art deco building that is our beloved Observatory.
Ethan has also served for more than a decade on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Property Owners Association in the Fashion District, providing “safe & clean” services for an 84-block area in downtown L.A.
He is excited to provide his services to support the core mission of Griffith Observatory by making astronomy more accessible to the public. One of his primary goals is to enable as many children as possible to come through the Observatory, thereby firing up their imaginations to become the next generation of scientists, astronauts, astronomers, astrophysicists, explorers, or anything else that they can dream of.
"Inspiring the future, one imagination at a time."
Those were the words that persuaded me to become actively involved in Griffith Observatory. Like most Angelenos, I am proud of the Observatory being a part of our Southern California landscape. I saw the true beauty of the Observatory, the ability to capture the minds and spirits of young people, no matter what their race and I wanted to be a part of it.
Having a mid-August birthday has given me a gift each year with the Perseid meteor shower. Through the years I have shared this gift with family and dozens of friends. Taking people to remote places or even to our back yard to observe this event encouraged many of them to take an interest in the sky. I want to be a part of this awareness for others. Starting with school children, we can get them interested and engage their families with their new found enthusiasm. My goal would be to have a Student Griffith Observer in every classroom in Los Angeles.
After working for the Whittaker Corporation, Teledyne, and Trans Global Travel, I decided that it was the right time to see what was happening in the family business, Canter’s Fairfax. I have been there ever since.
My first charities were the women's auxiliary of the Jewish Home for the Aging, now LA Jewish Homes, and City Of Hope. I was on the board of LA Jewish Homes for over 25 years and have been an officer and on the board of the Homes’ support group, Associates IMC, since 1984.
Currently I am the Secretary for the two main campuses of the Homes.
My involvement with Veterans Holiday Celebration has taken me to new places in the community. I am on the board and an officer of VHC, which feeds and entertains over 3,500 vets and their families the first Sunday in December each year.
My interest in the Observatory started on the 5th grade tour and has continued through the years. I am honored to serve on the FOTO Board of Directors.
Mr. Bormanis is a writer, consultant, and television producer, most recently serving as the science research director for the upcoming Fox TV series Cosmos, based on Carl Sagan’s award-winning series.
In 2010 and 2011, he worked as a writer and consultant for the Disney XD animated series Tron: Uprising, based on the feature film Tron: Legacy. In 2009, he was a writer and supervising producer for the ABC Studios series Legend of the Seeker. The previous year, he was a writer and producer on the CBS / Warner Brothers television series Eleventh Hour, and in 2005, for the CBS / Paramount television series Threshold. Prior to Threshold, he was a writer / producer for the Star Trek: Enterprise television series, and science consultant for Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the Star Trek: The Next Generation feature film series. He has written stories and teleplays for both Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Voyager, is the author of a book, Star Trek Science Logs, published by Pocket Books in February 1998, and is a contributor to another book, New Worlds, New Civilizations, also published by Pocket Books. He wrote the narration for Centered in the Universe, a planetarium show currently running at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. He has written numerous magazine articles for popular science publications including Sky & Telescope, Mercury, The Journal of Materials, and The Colorado Plateau Journal, and is a frequent contributor to the online space policy forum The Space Review.
Mr. Bormanis received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Arizona, and an M.A. in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from the George Washington University. His master’s thesis, directed by Dr. John Logsdon, was entitled A Program in Transition: Policy Aspect of U.S. Planetary Exploration.
Verna Dauterive holds an M.Ed. and Ed.D. from the University of Southern California (USC). Originally from Louisiana, she became an elementary school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in 1943 and became an administrator in 1954. Early in her career, she served as LAUSD's Coordinator of Integration Programs and Administrative Consultant for Teacher Selection and Recruitment.
From 1982 until her retirement in 2005, Dr. Dauterive was principal of Franklin Avenue Elementary School in Los Feliz, not too far from Griffith Observatory itself. Her school, renowned for its "child-first" approach, emphasized arts education and actively engaged parents in the education of their children.
Throughout her professional life, Dr. Dauterive's expertise frequently was employed by both public and private community service organizations. She was appointed to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) by Governor Pete Wilson and served two terms as elected chair. Prior to her work on CTC, she was appointed by Governor George Deukmejian to the California Commission on the Status of Women, holding two terms as elected chair. In her long association with USC, she has served as adjunct professor and as a member of the Associates Board of Directors and the Board of Governors.
Verna Dauterive's connection to the Observatory includes the thousands of Franklin Elementary School students shepherded through its programs on field trips over the years.
“I visited with our youngsters many times and it was always extremely productive and fascinating,” she remembers. “They just humanized science for the teachers and for me as a teacher and a principal. It seemed to bring the world closer to the sky. The Observatory was always dear to my heart.”
Her retirement from LAUSD opened up possibilities for further involvement.
“They wanted greater diversity on the board and to increase its outreach program to include more representation from LAUSD,” she says. “That, and the Observatory would like more attendance by underrepresented students.
“We hope some of these kids will become potential scientists and they will be inspired as they learn more about the universe. Even if we get only one or two--what a grand thing that will be!”
As a Los Angeles native, Linda has fond memories of her fifth-grade field trip to the Griffith Observatory. She still remembers being impressed by the building’s grand façade, the Foucault Pendulum and the painted ceilings above. As an adult, she loves showing off the iconic landmark to her friends and family.
Linda is Vice President at Crossroads Management, a property management and real estate development company located at the historic Crossroads of the World in Hollywood. She is involved in a wide range of activities, from leasing and tenant relations to addressing historic preservation issues in Hollywood.
Prior to joining Crossroads Management, Linda spent twenty-five years in high-technology public relations at Los Angeles-based software companies. Linda holds a masters degree in international management from the American Graduate School of International Management (also known as Thunderbird), and a bachelors degree in French from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In addition to her support for Griffith Observatory, Linda is actively involved in charitable work with Los Angeles Ballet, University of California Education Abroad Program, and Los Angeles Library’s Student Smart Program.
Sandra Kang is a senior media and marketing executive with over 17 years experience across multiple media platforms (i.e., Television, Music, Film, Digital, Fashion, Sports, and Corporate Social Responsibility). Her versatility and expansive network are central to her ability to develop and execute innovative and customized solutions for clients. Her clients include large-scale industries competing in the following: Retail, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods, Fashion, Liquor, and Hospitality.
Sandra is currently an Executive at Creative Artists Agency’s (CAA) in the Brand Marketing Division. In this capacity, she is responsible for developing multi-pronged strategies designed to create long-term, sustainable enterprise value for clients and maximizing return on investments. Customized solutions often integrate content creation and strategic partnerships to accomplish client objectives. As Account Director on her campaigns, Sandra assembles and leads teams ranging from in-house support personnel to third-party affiliates such as agents, attorneys, production companies, managers, publicists and beyond. Her unique ability to manage complex projects benefits from her background of holding virtually all internal support positions throughout her career trajectory at CAA. Sandra and her teams have been recognized for extraordinary achievements with such awards as the Daytime Emmys, Cannes Lions Grand Prix, Clio Awards, and many others totaling over 40 recognitions.
Previously, Sandra was Project Coordinator at the Discovery Channel where she was responsible for developing experiential marketing campaigns leveraging special events, tradeshows, conferences, live branded experiences and sponsored events. Her ability to organize and manage such events contributes to her ability to work across multiple business units and brands and managing up to senior executives, across to her peers and down to direct reports. This also has built skills to build a broad menu of options when developing comprehensive campaigns.
Sandra graduated from the University of Washington with bachelor degrees in International Studies and Art History. She currently serves on the board for Friends of the Observatory at Griffith Park and is a NetKAL distinguished fellow from the USC School of Social Work. She has served as a CAA Foundation Ambassador for 12 years and is actively involved as a mentor for Communities In Schools non-profit and the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
Native Angeleno and current Los Feliz resident Chris Laib works and lives literally in the shadow of the Griffith Observatory. A graduate of UC San Diego with careers in sales and marketing management, he currently is a realtor with Keller Williams Realty, Los Feliz.
A passion for restoration of historically significant structures drew Laib to the FOTO board, citing in particular the Art Deco Ballin murals and Beaux Arts architectural elements of the Observatory's design. His earliest memories of the Observatory were as an elementary student on several school field trips.
In addition to his work with FOTO, Laib is Vice President for the Los Feliz Improvement Association, Los Angeles' oldest homeowners association. "I believe it is my responsibility to participate in the preservation of the community in which I live," he says. "The reopening of the Observatory will be a celebration not only of its proper restoration but its preeminent position as a site for public astronomy."
Lowell Orren believes strongly in FOTO's mission to support Griffith Observatory and astronomy education. He is honored to serve on the Board and work with FOTO to further the intellectual and cultural life of Southern California.
Lowell grew up in Southern California and has lived in Pasadena since 1978. He has been practicing law there with his wife, Tyna, since 2001 - primarily Probate, Trust, and Estates. Before opening his private practice Lowell worked for Southern California Edison and Edison International. Prior to that he was a Senior Economist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena doing energy research. He also worked at City National Bank. Lowell has taught economics at the University of Minnesota; and the colleges of St. Thomas and Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota; UCLA Extension; and California State University, Los Angeles; and business law at University of Phoenix.
Lowell has extraordinary credentials as well, with a B.A. in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley; an M.A. in Mathematics from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut; a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Minnesota; a J.D. from Loyola Law School; and an LL.M. in Tax from Golden Gate Law School.
For four years Lowell was on the Board of Directors of Temple Beth David in Temple City. He also served five years, and continues to serve, on the Board of Governors of the Alumni Association for Loyola Law School.
Arnold Seidel is chairman of Morton Seidel & Co., Inc, an independent family-owned brokerage firm established in 1925. He serves as executor and trustee of numerous trusts.
Current community activity includes service as treasurer of the Young Musician Foundation, board of directors of the Los Angeles chapter of American Technion Society, founding chairman of Friends of Greystone, and mentor of classical voice at the Fraternity of Friends of the Music Center.
Seidel is a long-time Observatory fan. Bringing all the necessary players together in the best interests of the facility during the renovation was important for success, he believes. "The FOTO board, the Observatory staff and the City of Los Angeles have worked together to make sure everything done has been done with quality."
The Seidels have two sons, David and Craig, and three grandsons, Danny, Tommy and Ronnie. David shares his father's passion for astronomy and currently heads pre-college education programs at JPL in Pasadena. Arnold's wife, Joan, shares his commitment to community service and education and will serve as National President of the American Technion Society, a university based in Haifa with programs comparable to Caltech and MIT.
Vicke Selk credits synergy with bringing her to the FOTO board. She and her husband John had just become interested in amateur astronomy, and with the purchase of a telescope were beginning to become acquainted with the night sky, when she was asked to meet with Griffith Observatory personnel to discuss the upcoming Observatory renovation and expansion project that was in the early stages of development. Selk, then vice president and treasurer of Pitzer College in Claremont, California, had acquired considerable experience with construction financing and project management as chief financial officer at the College.
Following a visit to the Observatory to meet with Dr. Krupp and FOTO Executive Director Lombardo, she was amazed at what she saw on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Observatory. "They were so stretched for space that some of the internal storage was literllay underground. It was like a submarine, they were using every square inche of space they could find."
Selk's early tenure on the board grew out of a keen interest in the Observatory as an important architectural symbol for the City. She was anxious to have a role in fostering preservation of the Observatory's historical architectural heritage. However, with increased familiarity of the Observatory and its mission her interest evolved. "I grew to understand and enthusiastically support Griffith Observatory's role in promoting public astronomy and science education as well, as it's function as an important architectural and cultural icon" she says.
A native of Oklahoma, Selk joined the Pitzer administration in 1971. She holds a master's degree from the Drucker Management Program at Claremont Graduate University. She and husband, John, are both private pilots and music lovers with wide-ranging interests from opera to blues. Retired in 2008 after 37 years of higher education administration, Selk is currently enrolled as a student at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, Colorado. She is pursuing a second career as a design bookbinder and letterpress printer.
Charles Wilmot has been a banking professional for more than 20 years and currently serves as a senior relationship manager in the wholesale banking group with MUFG Union Bank. He joined MUFG Union Bank in 2006 from Bank of America's commercial banking group where he worked with both publicly-held and privately-held businesses in the Greater Los Angeles region. He also led the tax-exempt banking practice for Bank of America in Los Angeles. At MUFG Union Bank, Wilmot leads a corporate banking team focused on debt and equity capital market financing, along with derivative hedging, structured trade, and treasury management solutions for clients based in the western United States.