Meet Our Team - Los Angeles LGBT Center

“... I think I was excited to know that the system is doing something about kids like me and stuff like that, so...I wasn't really nervous. I was more like excited to know the system is actually trying to do something for us.” 

 –Youth Quote 

Read the full report on the Findings from the RISE Youth Qualitative Interviews.

Meet Our Team

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Meet Nketchi

It's so important to have a place like the Center, a safe spot, where people can go.

Watch Nketchi's Story
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Lisa Phillips, Director of Clinical and Foster Care Services

Lisa Phillips, M.A., LMFT is the Director of Clinical and Foster Care Services of the Children Youth & Family Services Department (CYFS) at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Lisa joined the Los Angeles LGBT Center in 1998 and has held positions of Mental Health Clinician, Residential Manager, and Associate Director before her current position. She is responsible for the leadership, administration and management of clinical and foster care programs serving LGBTQ youth. This includes the RISE program, a model program to address barriers to permanency and well-being for LGBTQ children and youth in foster care; a 7-day a week drop-in center for homeless and unstably housed LGBTQ youth; a 24 bed emergency shelter for youth struggling with mental health issues; a 24 bed transitional living program; and an 8-bed independent living program. Her responsibilities include developing strategic and evidence based models for LGBTQ youth; short and long term strategic planning; clinical supervision; and training and consultation to county and private foster care and mental health agencies. A particular priority for Lisa is the ongoing development, implementation and evaluation of services that improve the well-being of LGBTQ youth and gender expansive children in child welfare and increasing family and caregiver support for, and affirmation of, their child or youth’s sexual identity and/or gender expression. Lisa has been a licensed marriage and family therapist for 15 years and has an extensive clinical and administrative background developing programs for LGBTQ youth. She is part of the leadership team responsible for the procurement, development, implementation and management of the RISE Initiative, a recipient of the Children’s Bureau’s Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII), a 5-year, $100 million initiative designed to create more competent and affirming professional and caregiving environments for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered, and questioning children and youth in foster care in Los Angeles County. Lisa holds a BA in Sociology from Mt Saint Mary’s College and her Master’s from Phillips Graduate Institute in Los Angeles, CA.

Joann Cerda, Facilitator

Biography coming soon

Ange Castellanos, Training and Coaching Instructor

rise angeAnge coordinates permanency plans for youth receiving RISE services and works to ensure that all surrounding adults are LGBTQ-affirming and competent.  She coordinates a team of four care professionals to provide support and therapeutic services to LGBTQ youth and their caregivers.  She earned her B.A. in Sociology from UC Riverside while participating as a student athlete. Ange has been involved in the social service field since 2008.

Arian Gauff, Family Finding Coordinator

Arian focuses on finding a network of supportive relationships (biological and non-biological) for youth receiving RISE services. Prior to joining RISE, Ariane worked for the New Orleans Department of Social Services as a foster care worker, home developer, and adoptions staff member. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from the University of New Orleans.

America Islas, Mental Health Clinician II

rise americaAmerica is the RISE Program’s bilingual clinician. She provides services to both youth and families. By developing an understanding of her clients’ underlying needs, she supports them in a process that can result in permanency and long-lasting connections for young people. America also educates and advocates to reduce discrimination and rejection in caregiver settings, while also increasing LGBTQ awareness in systems of care. She received her M.S. in Marriage and Family Child Counseling from San Francisco State University and has been a practicing clinician since 2011. She works with a variety of populations, but specializes in services for the LGBTQI2-S population.

Ariel Bustamante, Training and Coaching Instructors

rise ArielAriel Bustamante is a former Liberty Hill Leader to Watch and American Bar Association Panelist with nearly a decade of experience working with social justice non-profits including GSA Network, Liberty Hill Foundation, the ACLU of Southern California, and now the RISE Program at the LA LGBT Center. She attended Green Mountain College, an environmental liberal arts college in the small, rural village of Poultney, Vermont and self-designed her area of study: inequality and oppression studies. As a certified HIV testing and prevention counselor, she worked to increase awareness and access to resources in the small town. For over 6 years, using an intersectional model, she worked to support the leadership development of youth activists and community organizers. As an equity and compliance expert, she has trained thousands of adults in the education sector, service providers, and others across the country at conferences, on panels, and through on-site consultation.


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