LTSC Welcomes Four New Board Members - Little Tokyo Service Center

LTSC Welcomes Four New Board Members

LTSC Welcomes Four New Board Members

This weekend at our annual board retreat, we welcomed our new board members Maria Ahverdyan, David Howden, Helen H. Ota, and Kevin Oyama! We are looking forward to them lending their unique perspectives and experience to further LTSC’s mission.


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Maria Ahverdyan is a museum educator and ceramic teacher residing in the vibrant community of Little Tokyo. With over 15 years of experience, she has held positions in nonprofits and cultural institutions such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Huntington Gardens, West of Rome Public Art, and the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles.

As a Museum Educator at The Norton Simon Museum, Maria continues to merge her passion for education and the arts, fostering inclusivity and accessibility. Her academic background includes studies in Art History at California State University, Los Angeles, and Art Theory and Criticism at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.

How were you first introduced to LTSC? Had you been involved with the organization prior to joining the Board?

“I was first introduced to LTSC in January of 2023 when I moved into the San Pedro Firm Building. Shortly after moving in, I joined LTSC’s Little Tokyo Neighbor’s group where I met residents and LTSC staff. I taught a one-day ceramics workshop for LTSC residents during summer 2023. I attended workshops taught by other residents as well. I helped organize a field trip to The Huntington Gardens for the Mi Casa summer program, where I also taught some art classes. I really enjoyed my time with the kids and youth of Mi Casa.”


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David Howden has over 24 years of experience working to assist communities address and end homelessness. As the Director for CSH’s Los Angeles Program, Mr. Howden leads a diverse group of experts to advance supportive housing across Los Angeles by leveraging team’s unique knowledge of housing and service solutions and creating and maintaining cross-sector partnerships to shift power to those with lived experience of homelessness, center racial equity, and create a system wherein everyone is empowered to choose the housing and services they need to live as independently as possible. He has helped service providers and developers strengthen capacity and foster the development of new supportive housing projects while driving system level change through the alignment and coordination of policies and resources amongst public and private partners. Mr. Howden is CSH’s lead representative with key stakeholders that include: the LA Mayor’s Office, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, and the County of Los Angeles. Prior to joining CSH, Mr. Howden was with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, where he was Funding Manager from 2001 to 2008. David has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Public Administration from Rutgers University.

How were you first introduced to LTSC? Had you been involved with the organization prior to joining the Board?

“I have been familiar with LTSC for over 20 years. First as one of many organizations providing services and housing to people experiencing homelessness – though through the years became ever more impressed LTSC’s dedication to community and partnership that has continuously been demonstrated through its approach to housing development. On a separate note – I do miss the tofu festival though.

I am honored to be part of an organization that was founded through activism and action and that has kept it central to its core and mission.”


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Helen H. Ota is the Artistic Director Emeritus of COLD TOFU, the nation’s premier Asian American comedy improv troupe and performed with the group for 25 years (1992 – 2017). Although she retired from the group, she occasionally performs with COLD TOFU and is an improv instructor. Helen also leads professional development workshops using improv skills for non-profit / community organizations and corporate entities.

In addition, Helen is a performing cast member of Grateful Crane Ensemble and has traveled with the troupe to Tohoku, Japan for Goodwill Tours in 2016, 2018, and 2023.

Helen also has more than 20 years’ experience in producing theatrical shows, and in 2009 she co-founded Yes, And…Productions, presenting Songs for A New World, and the Los Angeles premiere of the musical, Ordinary Days.

She is active in the community serving as an executive committee and board member of the Nisei Week Foundation (2008 President), Little Tokyo Rotary Club (current Secretary), Zentoku Foundation (current Secretary), Veterans Memorial Court Alliance, and an Advisory Council member of Kizuna.

Are there any programs or work areas at LTSC that you’re particularly looking forward to engaging with? Why?

“I’m looking forward to being involved with LTSC programs and work areas related to Little Tokyo. I believe the Terasaki Budokan and programs such as Sustainable Little Tokyo are vital in ensuring our community remains strong and vibrant. I’m also excited to become more familiar with all of LTSC’s programs, especially Changing Tides.”


Headshot photo of a man in a blue shirt.Kevin Oyama (he/him) is a Manager at KPMG LLP in the Accounting Methods and Credits Services Tax practice. He assists clients to preserve cash, improve efficiencies, and mitigate risks while navigating a dynamic mix of economic, regulatory, and globalization challenges.

Kevin began his involvement in the Little Tokyo community as a participant in Kizuna’s Nikkei Community Internship program at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) and later as a Staff Accountant at the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). At LTSC, he worked on grant invoicing and compliance, financial reporting, and property management for LTSC’s affordable housing units in the greater Los Angeles area. Kevin also served as the Treasurer on Kizuna’s Board of Directors.
Born and raised in Palo Alto, California, Kevin earned his B.S. in Economics/Mathematics and his Master’s in Accounting from the University of Southern California. He is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in California. He enjoys running, hiking, golfing, Korean BBQ, napping with his dogs, and volunteering.

Why is serving on LTSC’s Board meaningful to you? Is there anything in particular you’re hoping to give or gain?

“Throughout my time as a participant in non-profit programs, I’ve learned the importance of doing my part to ensure that the next generation has opportunities to experience community and make a difference in their own way. I’m hoping to take the skills I’ve gained professionally to give back and find creative ways to meet LTSC’s goals.”

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