Laura Leigh Hughes
Laura Leigh Hughes is the founder of The Unusual Suspects. An actress for more than 20 years, having acted in dozens of television and film productions including Rizzoli & Isles, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Mentalist and CSI, Laura Leigh served as The Unusual Suspects’ executive director for 10 years. She then moved on to become a board member and served in that capacity for six years. Today, she continues to promote and support The Unusual Suspects while she focuses on her acting career and raising her daughter, Maleigha. She graduated from UCLA with a BA degree in Sociology.
Johnny Ortiz is an Unusual Suspects’ alumnus who stars as Tony Gutierrez in the Emmy-award winning series American Crime. Johnny was also featured in McFarland, USA and Strike One.
How does a music producer, singer-songwriter transition to founding vanguard content marketing agency, Freshwire, sell it to global marketing giant Omnicom within three years, then build a globally connected digital content studio for communications giant, FleishmanHillard before deciding to return to "making stuff?"
Considered an “up and comer” by Forbes magazine, Shawn Amos, son of Wally Amos (Famous Amos cookie brand), attributes his diverse background to growing up in the colorful Hollywood landscape. As a contributor on Bloomberg West TV, Amos is known today for his expertise in brand marketing. In a world of 24/7 media, people and companies are having a difficult time competing and standing out in the marketplace. Amos speaks to the need for content mindfulness, creating a storytelling culture, and authenticity in the 24/7 real-time race for relevancy. TEDx, Abbvie, AT&T, and Gallo are among the brands that have invited Amos to speak and lead workshops.
Prior to entering the marketing world, Amos was an A&R executive at Rhino Entertainment and vice president of A&R at Shout! Factory, where he produced and recorded multiple Grammy-nominated projects. He produced broadcast, DVD and audio titles for legacy artists ranging from Heart to Quincy Jones, for whom Amos later ran the Listen Up Foundation. He serves as Vice Chair of the board of directors for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
Amos describes his newest venture, Put Together Media, as more of a collective than a company. It is a collaborative association of creators, thinkers, doers who come together on a variety of consultative, curatorial, and/or production projects. “What’s fun for me is to mix and match teams as the needs of an assignment dictate. The media landscape changes too fast to become married to a fixed infrastructure and team. Build a team that will inspire one another, let them be creative, then let them move onto the next adventure.”
Shawn has also received critical and popular acclaim as blues singer, The Reverend Shawn Amos.
David Henry Hwang
David Henry Hwang’s work includes the plays M. Butterfly, Chinglish, Yellow Face, Kung Fu, Golden Child, The Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan. He is also America’s most-produced living opera librettist, who has worked with composers Philip Glass, Osvaldo Golijov, Bright Sheng, Unsuk Chin, Huang Ruo, and Howard Shore. Hwang is a Tony Award winner and three-time nominee, a three-time OBIE Award winner and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama. His screenplays include Possession (co-writer), Golden Gate, and M. Butterfly. He is a writer/producer for the Golden Globe-winning television series The Affair, and developing an original series, Shanghai, for Lionsgate and Bravo. Hwang won the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the 2012 Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi” Award, a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, and the 2015 IPSA Distinguished Artist Award. He attended Stanford University and Yale Drama School; holds honorary degrees from the American Conservatory Theatre, Columbia College, Lehigh University, USC, and SUNY Purchase; and serves as Head of Playwriting at Columbia University School of the Arts. Hwang was recently the Residency One Playwright at New York’s Signature Theatre.
Luis J. Rodriguez
Luis J. Rodriguez is author of the best-selling memoir "Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A." He has 14 other books in poetry, children's books, fiction, and nonfiction. For close to 45 years, he's done urban peace work and gang intervention--including visiting prisons and juvenile lockups for over 35 years--throughout the United States as well as Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. He's founding editor of Tia Chucha Press and co-founder of Tia Chucha's Cultural Center & Bookstore in the San Fernando Valley.
Bradford Bancroft began his career as a working actor in the theatre in New York and eventually came out to California to star in such films as Bachelor Party, Patty Hearst, Dangerously Close and Damned River. Once in LA, he continued to work in television, theatre and commercials. Bradford studied music at Yale University. He pursued theatre, music, and film at California Institute of the Arts, and finally earned his Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University (Los Angeles).
His interest in the therapeutic aspects of theatre games and improvisations led him to the field of drama therapy, where he spent 15 years working with the Stop Gap Theatre Company in hospitals, battered women’s shelters, drug and alcohol rehab centers, and schools.
Bradford is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and a Registered Drama Therapist. He has his own practice, Rehearse For Life, in Glendale. He continues to work at the VA doing what he lovingly refers to as “Karaoke Therapy” with the Vets in the PTS ward.
Finally, Bradford is a trustee of the Bancroft Family Foundation and has served on a number of non-profit boards around Southern California. He has been proud to be part of the Unusual Suspects community for many years and grateful to be their honoree in 2014.
Annie Lukowski is the co-founder of Vanishing Point Media a virtual reality production company where she brings her passion for storytelling to cinematic VR filmmaking. Annie has created content for new media platforms and silver screen alike - from co-founding branded entertainment company WorkingBug Media, to her successful work in the advertising space (with brands like Jeep, teenVogue & USA Network) to her acclaimed short films and work as an independent feature film producer. Vanishing Point is engaged in exciting work in narrative and commercial VR alike with collaborative work showing at the TriBeca Film Fest and clients like Banana Republic and Stan Lee's Comikaze
Elizabeth L Silver is the author of the forthcoming memoir, The Tincture of Time (Penguin Press, 2017) and the critically acclaimed novel, The Execution of Noa P. Singleton (Crown/Random House, 2013), which was published in seven languages and optioned for film by ImageMovers Production Company. Elizabeth’s writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, The Los Angeles Review, The Millions, The Dallas Morning News and others and she has been a writer-in-residence at several artist colonies including Ucross Foundation in Wyoming, Byrdcliffe in Woodstock, NY, A Room of Her Own Foundation in New Mexico, the British Centre for Literary Translation, and Circle of Misse in the Loire Valley, France. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the MA program in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in England, and Temple University Beasley School of Law, Elizabeth has taught English literature and writing at several universities, and worked as an attorney in California and Texas.
A former board member for The Unusual Suspects, Lara Magnusen serves as Portfolio Strategist and Portfolio Manager for Altegris Advisors and is a member of the Investment Committee. Lara has worked at Altegris since 2005, previously serving as the Director of Investment Products and Director of Research and Investments for Altegris Advisors. With a career starting in 1999, Lara was also previously Director of Manager Research for Cabezon Capital LLC, responsible for due diligence and development of emerging hedge fund managers. Additional experience includes her tenure at Helix Investment Partners, a fixed income oriented hedge fund, as well as several years as a Financial Analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Lara received a BA in Economics with a minor in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley; an MBA from the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego; and holds the designation of Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA).
The former board chair of The Unusual Suspects, Ed Coghlan is an accomplished senior corporate communications executive with vast health care and public policy experience.
He also has experience in public transportation (Los Angeles County Transportation Commission), education (Los Angeles Unified School District), public health (Oldtimers Foundation and Mexican American Opportunity Federation), environment (Metropolitan Water District and Tree People) and children’s issues (First 5 Los Angeles). He has a broad understanding of the Latino market and has worked in successful placements in Spanish language media.
Coghlan is a veteran public speaker and presenter, teaches presentation and media skills to professionals around the country and is a former broadcast journalism faculty member at UCLA Extension and California State University Northridge.
Julie Tugend is a management consultant, executive coach and writer with over 20 years experience working with foundations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. She began her career in Mayor Tom Bradley’s office, where among other assignments, she served as education and human relations policy advisor and liaison to L.A.U.S.D. More recently Julie served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for The California Endowment, where she oversaw the development of the foundation’s award winning Center for Community Health conference center. Julie was one of Unusual Suspects’ founding Board Members and is an alumni of Second City, Los Angeles.