Please meet our esteemed Board of Directors. Thank you all for believing in our mission.
Founder - Executive Director
Ava’s Heart Founder, Ava Kaufman is herself a heart transplant recipient. Eight years ago, having always been very healthy, a rare autoimmune disease left her in dire need of an emergency heart transplant. The enormous expense and strain caused her to lose her successful business, marriage and home. Observing firsthand the service gaps for post-transplant patients, Ava vowed to create a systemic change so that others facing organ transplant could find more support, guidance, and resources, honed for their unique situation. Her passion fueled her determination and founded Ava’s Heart.
Richard Lightstone began his career in film sound mixing in Montreal, Canada in 1971. Receiving four Genie nominations from the Academy of Canadian Cinema, Why Shoot The Teacher 1977, The Third Walker 1978, Meatballs1980 and Draw 1985. Mr. Lightstone relocated to Los Angeles in 1983. In 1984 along with his partners Steven Rubin and Stephen Miller, they wrote and Co-Produced a Television Game Show pilot, “Trivial Combat”. Developed at Columbia Pictures Television and taped at NBC Studios in Burbank. Mr. Lightstone served as the President of the Cinema Audio Society (2003 –2006). Richard is currently a board member of IATSE Local 695 and the Managing Editor of Production Sound & Video magazine. Mr. Lightstone is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS).
Chairman and Founder of Maple Capital Management
TV Host & Producer
Karla Gordy Bristol is CEO of Gordy Bristol Entertainment, a host of the television show, “Beverly Hills View”, host and producer of a live social media show, “Karla Dawn Live” and an entertainment producer. She grew up in the entertainment industry with many legendary family influences, and formerly worked at Motown Records. Karla’s earlier years began as a professional dancer, instructor, and choreographer from an American Bandstand regular, to Lionel Richie and Smokey Robinson music videos, to international stage shows and concerts. After a colorful career in entertainment and real estate sales, executive producing ten short films, “Destination Beverly Hills”, on her home city was rewarding.
Karla is passionate about helping others and making a difference. She is the co-founder of Friends of Fuller B. Gordy and is co-producing their 11th annual entertainment Strikefest extravaganza, where they honor non-profits. She’s been on various boards, been honored and recognized by State Congressional Leaders, and the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills City Councils, and she’s especially honored to be on the board of Ava’s Heart Foundation and to be an Ava’s Heart Hero Award recipient. The stories of the transplant patients and witnessing Ava Kaufman’s compassionate heart, compel her to help with their mission.
Karla’s grateful for her experiences, teachings and lessons learned from her parents, Iris Gordy, a former Motown Records vice president and executive producer, and the late Johnny Bristol, a Grammy nominated songwriter and artist, and producer, which taught her to show kindness to others.
As an art entrepreneur, university administrator and educator Victoria Franklin has consistently mentored and guided young professionals in their pursuit of successful careers and continues to make significant contributions to Los Angeles civic life.
Her leadership roles have included Chairperson and Commissioner South Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, National Health Service Corps Ambassador, New York Sister Cities Commission Cultural Exchange Chair (linking New York and Tokyo), UCLA Transportation Service Advisory Board Chair, Susan B. Komen Foundation Circle of Promise Advisory Board, Member of the City of Los Angeles and South Bay Workforce Development Boards and Beverly Hills Lions Club.
Victoria received her BA in World Cultures with an emphasis in Art History at UCLA prior to earning her MBA from The Anderson School at UCLA.
Sr. Executive Vice President, Change a Life Foundation
Lisa Fujimoto has combined the best of nonprofit and corporate worlds for the good of our communities for 30 years. Since October 2000 she has served at the helm of one of the most unique philanthropies in the country, Change a Life Foundation. A private family foundation whose donor remains anonymous, yet has impacted tens of thousands of individuals all over the state of California through changing one life at a time through their grants for individuals and collegiate scholarship programs. Through her leadership over $38 million has been allocated to over 500 charitable organizations. She is an accomplished leader in the philanthropic sector, founding member of the Orange County Roundtable and Orange County Family Foundation Alliance. She has unwavering integrity with a proven track record with corporate community relations, public affairs, grantsmanship, board development, fundraising, and the ability to influence key stakeholders in achieving objectives and building teams. She has served on 30+ charitable boards and is currently involved with philanthropy sector throughout California.
As a former New Yorker, Sidra Franklin LoCurto began volunteering at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Upon her arrival in LA in 1996, she started volunteering at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was assigned to the Emergency Department where she is still active after 21 years. In addition, Sidra received her hospice and bereavement training and worked with patients at Cedars-Sinai until the dissolution of those programs. She became a member of Pet Partners and visited patients at Cedars-Sinai with her Chihuahua Taj for the past six years. She visited with many patients who were awaiting heart transplants and offered support weekly.
When Sidra met Ava Kaufman in a dance class, Ava shared her story and they immediately bonded. Sidra was so impressed with Ava’s Heart Foundation and passion for her cause, that she knew that it was kismet that they met. Sidra is so proud to be a board member of Ava’s Heart Foundation. Sidra is an interior and landscape designer and has an eponymous business. Her husband Sal and her 16 year old son Wil are the lights of her life in addition to her 5 rescue dogs.
President Walter Properties - Palm Springs Hilton
Joan Yanow is a native Bostonian and relocated to Los Angeles in 2013. She accompanied a friend undergoing cancer treatments at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and decided to be a support volunteer, working with patients undergoing chemotherapy. Joan was also a volunteer for Make-A-Wish Foundation that gives children with life threatening diseases their greatest wish, a memorable and powerful experience. Joan also Co-Chaired Make-A-Wish’s event committee and their annual Gala Benefit.
Joan has continued her commitment to giving back after moving to Los Angeles and has been volunteering in the Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Ava’s Heart Foundation. Between her volunteer work, Joan works in the fashion industry and spends time with her two daughters.