About

The Friends of EXPO Center is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support the recreational, educational and cultural programs offered at EXPO Center, a Department of Recreation and Parks facility that serves at-risk youth and families in one of the most densely populated and economically challenged communities in Los Angeles. EXPO Center hosts over 2.3 million visits each year.

The Friends of EXPO Center was instrumental in raising the $30 million that built EXPO Center and it continues to support the vital facility with leadership and financial resources. The Friends of EXPO Center raises funds from individuals, corporations, and foundations and strategically directs these resources to the creation and support of innovative recreational and multifaceted educational programs at EXPO Center.

Thanks to the generosity of the individuals and organizations that support The Friends, EXPO Center is able to offer many critical educational, recreational, and enrichment programs for at-risk youth and their families, most of which would not be possible without this financial support.

In 1998, several Los Angeles business and community leaders felt compelled to address the dire need for empowering change in South Los Angeles and shared the desire to create a community safe-haven where the often overlooked residents in this economically disadvantaged neighborhood could come together to improve their daily lives, develop skills for a positive future, and foster pride and ownership of their neighborhood. In order to create a centrally located community center for this large neighborhood, a very large facility would be needed.  Standing on the southwest corner in Exposition Park sat a remarkable, yet abandoned building – the historic 1932 Summer Olympics Swimming Stadium.  When originally built, it was one of the most spectacular aquatic facilities in the world. From 1932 until 1970, 65 world records were set in this facility; no other pool in the world has come close to that tally.  It was the launching pad for the careers of Clarence “Buster” Crabbe, Eleanor Holm and Esther Williams and became USC’s “home pool” in the 1950s.  However, by the 1970s, the facility was showing its age and when Los Angeles was awarded the 1984 Olympic Games, rather than refurbish the historic 1932 venue; it was decided to build a new swim stadium on the USC campus. This once spectacular historical facility was ignored, and when the 1994 Northridge Earthquake caused significant damage, the entire facility was forced to close. The city began discussions to raze the historic building and pool in order to build a multi-story parking structure for the neighboring Coliseum. Los Angeles historians and philanthropic visionaries sprang into action and started a non-profit organization to save this significant piece of Los Angeles history.

By 1998, The Friends of EXPO Center had raised $17-million from private funders and $13-million in public support to repurpose the 1932 Swimming Stadium into a state-of-the-art recreational and community facility.  In 2004, The Friends gifted the building to the City of Los Angeles thus beginning a unique and thriving public/private partnership in which the daily operations of EXPO Center is managed by the Department of Recreation and Parks with ongoing leadership, strategic direction, and financial support from The Friends. The building’s renovations restored the original Art Deco façade and Olympic signage and encased within it a steel and glass addition that houses two gymnasiums, two locker rooms, two large multi-purpose rooms, three large classrooms (Afterschool area, computer lab, video production lab), conference room, commercial kitchen and multiple offices.  The 50-meter Olympic pool was restored and a secondary family-friendly recreation pool was built.  Renovations were also made to a 1922 Spanish-Colonial building at the edge of the property and turned it into the Ahmanson Senior Center with a working community garden in its “backyard”.  During the day, the Senior Center offers a variety of fitness classes, computer workshops, and various clubs and then in the late afternoon and evenings it becomes classrooms and rehearsal space for Youth Orchestra Los Angeles at EXPO Center.

Also added to the EXPO Center campus was the Ralph M. Parsons Preschool, which provides local families with year-round licensed childcare and preschool education; the W.M. Keck Amphitheater, used for free outdoor community concerts and plays; and the Soboroff Sports Field, which provides the community with a regulation-size AstroTurf playing field.

The  City of LA  recently awarded EXPO Center management  of  the  historical Exposition Park Rose Garden and The Friends have been entrusted with renovating and repairing this amazing historic Los Angeles jewel. The EXPO Center manages the day-to-day operations of these facilities and The Friends provides strategic leadership and the funding necessary to keep all EXPO programs free or low cost for the community. Twelve years since its opening, EXPO Center now boasts over 2.3-million visits each year with its most vital and important programs made  possible  by The Friends. For funders, the partnership means that contributions to The  Friends go directly to programming, with little of the overhead that is typically part of an organization’s costs.

 

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

OFFICERS

John M. Argue, Co-Chairman
Founder & Senior Managing Director
VerityPoint

Terry L. Feit, Co-Chairman
Partner, Strategic Clients
Deloitte

Steve Calhoun, Treasurer
Senior Executive Vice President
Colliers International

Patrick Escobar, Secretary
Attorney
Law Offices of Fausto P. Escobar

 

DIRECTORS

Steve Soboroff, Chairman Emeritus
President
Soboroff Partners

Mrs. Roy A. Anderson (Betty)
Founding Director of The Friends of EXPO Center

Jason Booke
Senior Vice President
Wells Fargo Bank

Eric S. Bright
Senior Vice President
Bel Air Investment Advisors LLC

Debra Kay Duncan
Chair, LA84 Foundation

Donovan Green
Regional Director – External Affairs
AT&T California

Shelby Jordan
President
CRTD

Shelby Jordan II
Senior Project Manager
LEGENDS

Deane Leavenworth
President
Leavenworth Endeavors

Rob Mancini
First Vice President, Wealth Management
Financial Advisor
Sports & Entertainment Director
The Lindbrook Group at Morgan Stanley

Michael O’Donnell
Partner, Assurance Services
Ernst & Young

David Pelaia
West Coast Real Estate Debt Originations
CIT Bank N.A

David Roberts
President
David Roberts & Associates

Dennis Rodriguez
Chief City Executive, Los Angeles
Siemens Corporation

Arturo Sneider
CEO
Primestor Development

John A. Somerville
Vice President, Area Business Unit Leader
Buildings + Places, Los Angeles Metro
AECOM

Heidi Talbott
Executive Administrator & Grants Administrator
Dan Murphy Foundation

Steve White
Senior Vice President of Wealth Management
UBS

ADVISORY BOARD

Henry J. Brandon
Business Consultant
Brandon and Associates

Christopher L. Fox
President
Minuteman Holdings Company

Jon S. Gibby
Philanthropist
Retired Executive Director, Los Angeles Rotary Club

Cecilia Aguilera Glassman
Retired Executive Director, Los Angeles Police Foundation

Brian Matthews
Managing Principal
Payden & Rygel

Curren D. Price, Jr.
Councilmember, 9th District
Los Angeles City Council

Jeffrey N. Rudolph
President & CEO
California Science Center

Mike A. Shull
General Manager
City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation & Parks

Stender E. Sweeney II
Executive Vice President
LA Regional Commercial Banking
Wells Fargo & Co.

 

STAFF
Stephanie Wells
Executive Director

Julia Furer
Development Director