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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.

David Primes
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David Primes
Chair

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
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Rich Semler
President

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 Burrooughs 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.  


Rich’s education is in the liberal arts, but he was also able to include some math and physics in his course load. He attended graduate school and taught English, Mythology and Literature, Jungian Psychology, and Literature and Film History at Case Western Reserve University and at Tufts University. Following his academic studies, he spent 40 years in the business world, with successes that included co-founding the Semler Brossy Consulting Group, of which he is still Chairman. Rich and his firm are advisors to the CEOs and Boards of a significant cross-section of the Fortune 500, and a number of local Southern California companies. Rich also serves on the Boards of several not-for-profit organizations, and is advisor to and investor in several start-up firms in technology and finance.


Like Griffith Observatory Director Dr. E.C. Krupp, Rich is fascinated by ancient cultures. He has visited dozens of important archeological sites, including several trips to Egypt, and such wonderful places as Cambodia, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Peru, Mexico, Turkey, and Syria.


Rich has fond memories of Griffith Observatory: from movies, visits over 50 years, and from history. He loves the grounds and the iconic building and is happy to help preserve it. But he is especially proud of the educational mission of the Observatory, and the broad reach of its science programs.

Dr. Eve Haberfield
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Dr. Eve Haberfield
Vice President

Dr. Eve Haberfield, Ph.D., retired as the director of humanities, sciences, social sciences and health sciences at UCLA Extension, where she was 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
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Ethan Eller
Treasurer

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.

Patricia Casado
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Patricia Casado
Secretary

"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.

Terri Bloomgarden
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Terri Bloomgarden
Board Member

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.

André Bormanis
André Bormanis
Board Member

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.

Linda Duttenhaver
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Linda Duttenhaver
Board Member
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.
 
Chris Laib
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Chris Laib
Board Member

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
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Lowell Orren
Board Member

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
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Arnold Seidel
Board Member

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
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Vicke Selk
Board Member

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.

 

Grady Smith
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Grady Smith
Board Member

Grady M. Smith is senior portfolio manager and vice president at Dimensional Fund Advisors and a member of the Investment Strategies group. He has general oversight responsibilities for a broad array of global equity and fixed income strategies. His role also includes communicating with clients and others on how Dimensional's portfolios are designed, implemented, and operated and the principles and academic research on which the firm is founded. Grady's experience at Dimensional includes portfolio responsibilities managing US and global equity mutual funds and separate accounts, as well as tax-managed equity portfolios.

 

Prior to joining Dimensional in 2001, Grady spent more than twenty years as a management consultant, most recently with Mercer. As a principal in their Los Angeles office, he was a lead consultant for some of the firm's largest accounts. Before Mercer, Grady held a similar role with KPMG, where he also served as a national consulting skills instructor, training new consulting staff from throughout the US.

 

Grady earned a BA in economics from Stanford University in 1978, an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2001 (Harold M. Williams Fellow) and is a CFA Charterholder.

 

Grady has enjoyed a lifelong relationship with Griffith Observatory. His first view through a telescope was of Saturn, through the Observatory’s Zeiss refractor – and he was hooked. During a subsequent childhood spent behind the eyepiece of a telescope, living both in LA and in the mountains near Yosemite, he would frequently call the Observatory’s staff to ask questions, and would anxiously await the arrival of the Griffith Observer. While majoring in economics at Stanford University, he continued to enjoy a relationship with the sciences, including coursework in astronomy and related subjects of interest. As an avocation in adult life, he has maintained an ongoing love for the sciences, particularly astronomy, and has led stargazing parties at campgrounds and other dark sky locations over the years. More recently he has appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with the Griffith Observatory, and looks forward to supporting its continuing science education efforts.

Charles Wilmot
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Charles Wilmot
Board Member

Charles Wilmot has been a banking professional for more than 20 years and currently serves as a senior vice president and group lead in the commercial bank with Wells Fargo Bank. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Wilmot spent 10 years with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi / BTMU Securities and Union Bank (all members of MUFG, a global financial services firm) in corporate and capital market banking. His prior experience also includes Bank of America's commercial banking group where he worked with both publicly-held and privately-held businesses in the Greater Los Angeles region; while there he led the tax-exempt banking practice for Bank of America in Los Angeles. At Wells Fargo, Wilmot and his team are centered on growth capital, leveraged finance, the capital markets, and a client-centered focus delivering innovative solutions.

 

A Southern California native, Wilmot was born and raised in Orange County; he earned a BA in Economics from Graceland College and an MBA in Finance from the University of Iowa. He studied at Manchester Business School (graduate summer program) and is also a FINRA registered principal with series 79 and 63 security licenses.

“I remember as a youngster taking field trips to the Observatory and had fond memories. That was the initial spark for my involvement now,” he says. “I already supported their mission of education outreach as ­I benefited from that personally and thought this would be a great opportunity. But part of my interest has to do with what the Observatory does besides that [educational] mission: ­the scientific mission of the observance of the heavens”.

 

Wilmot formerly served on the Alumni Board of Directors for Graceland College and the South Bay Economic Development Partnership. In addition to Friends of the Observatory, he also serves on the Trustees of the Pacific - Aquarium of the Pacific and on the Finance Council for American Martyrs Church in Manhattan Beach. He is an active volunteer with the University of Iowa’s ASIST (Alumni Seeking Iowa Students) Program recruiting high school kids from Southern California to attend the University of Iowa, is active with the Knights of Columbus, and serves as an adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America.

 

A resident of Hermosa Beach, Wilmot and his wife Maureen have two children Charlie, and Isabel. He enjoys family travel, skiing, SCUBA, tennis, Iowa Hawkeye football, Taekwondo, and observing the night sky.

Les Zador
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Les Zador
Board Member

Les was born in Los Angeles and attended primary, middle, and high school in the Hollywood area. When he was eight years old, his dad took him to this amazing place where he had never been and could have scarcely imagined: Griffith Observatory. What impressed him most at the time were 31 of the best paintings (all originals) created by the celebrated astronomical artist, Chesley Bonestell, that were on display in the rotunda. Les did not keep his delight with the Observatory in general - and with Mr. Bonestell's works in particular - a secret from his family, as a result of which Santa Claus, in his infinite goodness, left a copy of The Conquest of Space under the Christmas Tree that year, and Les became hooked. He never missed a new planetarium show, and he bought all the books that he could find that featured the astronomical paintings of Mr. Bonestell. In 1969 it was Les's pleasure to make the great artist's acquaintance when he interviewed Chesley Bonestell for some classwork at USC while finishing his senior year (and which interview was published in L.A.'s original underground newspaper, The Los Angeles Free Press, two years later).

 

Although he has always been interested in astronomy, Les never had the aptitude for the math a degree would have required and has, instead, pursued a career in law and real estate. He graduated from Southwestern University School of Law with a practice that has focused for most of those years on personal injury and real estate and business matters.

 

As for his other interests, Les's dad was a composer of some renown; and for the past five years, it has been Les's pleasure to assist with the production of CDs of the music of Eugene Zador that have been released on the Naxos label. Les also has a genuine interest in outstanding film music (Aaron Copland, William Walton, Bernard Herrmann, Miklos Rozsa, etc.) and has served for the past 15 years on the Board of Directors of the Film Music Foundation, a charitable institution which generously supports students studying the art of composition for film and television and also produces broadcast quality interviews with outstanding composers and orchestrators working in film and television both domestically and abroad. It was because of his good friend and fellow Film Music Foundation Board Member Linda Danly that he met her sister, Laura - Curator of Griffith Observatory, and started attending All Space Considered as a regular about six years ago.

Events and Registration
2017-10-21: Public Star Party 2017-10-21
2017-11-02: Cosmic Musings 2017-11-02 - Sobel
2017-11-03: All Space Considered 2017-11-03
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