Having co-founded and led MZA Events for over 30 years, Craig has guided the vision, strategy, budget, message formation, and fundraising for well over 100 mass-participatory events in more than 15 cities throughout the United States that have in total generated over $400 million.
Craig began his career as one of California’s youngest managers of progressive legislative and congressional campaigns, earning the respect of veteran members of Congress for his ability to guide long-shot campaigns to victory. In 1984, he turned his attention to raising money for AIDS organizations in order to help to fill the gap left by the government’s negligible response to the epidemic. This led to his creating the AIDS Walk fundraising model, beginning with AIDS Walk Los Angeles in 1985, and followed by AIDS Walk New York and AIDS Walk San Francisco.
To this day, all three events continue to attract an enormous level of public participation and garner high fundraising results. Over the years, Craig has applied both the successful AIDS Walk fundraising model, as well as the hallmark tenacity and effectiveness of his MZA team, to many other causes and events with great success.
In recent years, Craig has become a student of Zen Buddhist meditation and is deeply grateful to his teachers everywhere.
Leif Green, Senior Director of Creative Services
Leif joined MZA Events as a volunteer for the inaugural AIDS Walk Los Angeles, the world’s first AIDS Walk, in 1985. He was then invited to join the MZA Events staff as a Community Organizer. Eventually moving up to the position of Event Director, he has worked on more than 100 events and helped raise over $200 million for charitable organizations across the United States.
As Senior Director of Creative Services, Leif is responsible for the artistic vision and design of MZA Events. He has been honored for his work and received Graphic Design West’s award for Best Point-of-Purchase Design in 1996.
Before coming to MZA, Leif was a professional actor on stage, television, commercials, and in film, most notably “Grease 2.” Leif has also worked as a film producer in animation at Warner Brothers and the Walt Disney Company. Credits include such films as Tarzan, Hercules, and Brother Bear 2. He also launched the highly successful “Library Initiative” for The Robin Hood Foundation, which has resulted in more than 240 elementary school libraries being throughout New York City.
Leif enjoys a long list of hobbies that include photography (many of his images from MZA events are featured in our materials), sewing, cooking, puppetry, drawing, painting, and calligraphy.
Kate Rosenblum, Director of Campaign Operations
Launching her MZA career in 2010 as an on-the-ground fundraising specialist, Kate has since mastered roles in both grassroots fundraising and event production. Her budget management expertise, eye for detail, and strategic thinking have served more than 14 AIDS Walk campaigns in fields ranging from team recruitment and fundraising, promotions, event directorship, and campaign operations. Now in her sixth year at MZA, Kate continues to cultivate client relationships, energize event production teams, and advance the company’s mission to produce high quality events that move people.
When not hard at work on MZA campaigns, Kate enjoys running outdoors, reading, listening to NPR’s Fresh Air, photography, and culinary adventures.
Ben Fordham, Director of Communications
Upon joining MZA in 2007 in an entry level position, Ben’s top-notch writing skills quickly became apparent. He transitioned to the communications team, which he now leads, and serves as the company’s go-to author and editor. With more than 20 campaigns under his belt, Ben is now responsible for ensuring uniform and compelling messaging for MZA and its many events. He also oversees public relations, celebrity recruitment/stage programming, and the writing of many other key strategic MZA communications. More recently, Ben has taken leadership of AIDS Walk Los Angeles as Event Director.
Outside of work, Ben sings in LA-based group The Silver Lake Chorus and freelances as a violin and fiddle player.
Michere Schott, Event Director
Michere brings a wide breadth of fundraising, logistics, and community organizing experience to MZA. She has over a decade of experience working in public and private sectors with organizations ranging from Planned Parenthood to AmeriCorps. Her portfolio of well-honed skills includes managing all aspects of fundraising and event promotion, community outreach, logistics, celebrity recruitment, public affairs, and corporate sponsor prospecting. She now serves as Event Director for Tour de Summer Camps, a cycling event that raises funds for the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.
Michere enjoys spending time with her family as well as curling up with a good book.
Emily Parson, Event Director
Emily’s first campaign with MZA was ten years ago, when she worked as a Fundraising Specialist before graduating college. She has risen from the ranks of the team staff to become one of MZA’s top fundraising, logistical, and event production experts. She now oversees MZA’s East Coast operations, including full production of AIDS Walk New York (the largest AIDS fundraiser in the world), the fluid stations and mile marker installations of the NYC Marathon (the largest marathon in the world), and logistics and marketing for Tour de Summer Camps NJ.
Valorie’s roots run deep with MZA. She was hired to work on the very first MZA-produced event, AIDS Walk Los Angeles, way back in 1985 and worked on a variety of campaigns following that first event. She remained a longtime volunteer photographer and supporter of MZA’s events over the next 25 years. In 2013, she returned to MZA full time to take on her current role overseeing the company’s finances and human resources. Valorie’s skill set lends well to her role at MZA, bringing her experience as a production manager in the film industry, professional photographer, and head of her family’s construction management firm. She is well versed in budgeting, management, payroll, employee benefits, accounting, and strategic planning, and she earned a BA in English Literature at UCLA.
Valorie continues to capture many of MZA’s events with her camera, and her photos are widely used in campaign marketing materials at no charge to our clients. When you see her at an event, smile!
Bert Champagne, Senior Supervisor of Office Management
Having joined the company in 1992, Bert is the longest continuously serving MZA employee. His skills in budget tracking, administration, and volunteer management help keep each MZA campaign running smoothly and successfully both behind the scenes and at the events themselves. Bert is also known throughout Los Angeles as a dedicated and beloved volunteer for numerous organizations and events, including APLA’s S.T.A.G.E. event, “Divas Simply Singing,” the Los Angeles Marathon, Project Angel Food, the “Diamonds of the South Bay” chapter of the American Women’s Business Association, and the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade.