John Drake is an Assistant Chief and thirty-one year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) with contemporary leadership skills in developing personnel, positively influencing organizational direction, and cultivating community relationships. A participative and adaptable leader who reinforces the importance of core values: civic responsibility, organizational commitment, and personal ethical integrity. Core competencies include strategy development, innovative collaboration, organizational change, participative team building, and program management. Chief Drake’s leadership and vision help direct the Executive Officer and supports policy development within the organization.
David Barrett brings three decades of senior management experience to The Safe Community Project. Raised in a motion picture household, David has earned dozens of awards and honors for film and video production. His projects have taken him around the world, and he continues to work closely with film and media productions. David was the founder of one of the most successful software publishers for the Amiga Computer, including the world renowned VideoScape 3D, now known as Lightwave 3D. He worked closely with Apple for 28 years, including authoring of key media-centric training and white papers for new technologies, as well as working to create a new method of editing film, using personal computers. His work with Apple’s QuickTime, SuperMac, Radius, and Adobe‘s video products helped create a new industry.
David has worked within the fire service for 12 years, including collaborations with the Los Angeles Fire Department for 11 years. He has developed training materials, web content, videos, developed live drills with firefighters and children, as well as co-founding The Safe Community Project, along with subsidiaries MySafe:LA and MySafe:California.
His responsibilities with The Safe Community Project include strategic development, creating new programs and relationships, management and performance of grant programs, and collaboration with key partners. His focus is on changing the way people behave relative to public and personal safety. David speaks at multiple events around the country on the topic of fire prevention.
David graduated from Immaculate Heart College with a Bachelors of Music, and has multiple certificates in incident command, emergency medicine, and media. He is married and lives in Orange County, California.
Steven Owens served the Los Angeles Fire Department for 32 years, including 22 as a Captain, responsible for his own engine company. During his tenure with the LAFD, Steve was responsible for management, supervision and training of a fire company to provide fire and emergency medical services within a geographical area to include fire prevention (application/enforcement of LA Municipal Code) and community relations activities. Steve spent four years as a Fire Academy Instructor and six years as a Chief Officer Aide/Staff Assistant/Adjutant.
He served as training cadre member for Flashover Simulator, Search and Rescue Operations, Firefighter Survival, Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) Air Management and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Training teams. In addition to regular assignments, Steve also participated in investigative duties for significant incidents and professional standards.
Prior to joining the LAFD, Steve served for 20 years in the United States Air Force (nine years active and 11 years as a reserve NCO). Steve was responsible for administrative and technical support to air defense groups, airlift wings and supply squadrons. He also provided logistical and staffing support for combat communications squadron and was assigned as Public Affairs Specialist with duties as Wing Historian and was Editor of the military magazine (Vanguard).
Today, Steve acts as the Training Officer for MySafe:LA, MySafe:California, and The Safe Community Project. This includes collaboration with the organization’s continuing education partner, The UCLA Center for Pre-Hospital Care, the LAFD, and other organizations. Steve is an active Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Steve attended the University of Maryland, Los Angeles Valley College, Community College of the Air Force and numerous military and LAFD leadership and training academies. He is the Associate Pastor and President of the Church of God in Jesus Christ.
William A. Whitney
William A. Whitney has been with The Safe Community Project since its formation in early 2009. An expert in executive search and public safety, Mr. Whitney has worked in senior management for multiple search agencies in the U.S. and in Singapore. Mr. Whitney holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Puget Sound.A native of California, he is active in the community and currently serves as Secretary and Board member of the Men’s Garden Club of Los Angeles, serves as a Committee Chair for the Los Angeles Fire Department Historical Society & Museum, and is a L.A.F.D. CERT Division Coordinator.
Cameron Barrett brings extensive educational, training, and media experience to The Safe Community Project. She is an award-winning producer, director, camera operator and editor. Her projects have taken her around the world. She has multi-faceted experience in journalism including radio, television and online news (blogs, Audio/Video podcasts), education, as well as online, corporate and for-broadcast production. Prior to teaching broadcast journalism at both the University of Miami and the University of Georgia, Cameron spent several years as an on-air news anchor and then news director for an NBC affiliate in New York. She is a partner in a media production company in California (R/com Studios) with expertise in film, web, and software development.
Her role with The Safe Community Project is focused on delivery of educational programs and media content. Working closely with firefighters, educators, subject matter experts in multiple disciplines, Cameron and her crew create most of the video and educational content for MySafe:LA and MySafe:California. Cameron is an Emergency Medicine Technician (EMT) and is a graduate of Brown University, where she earned a Bachelors of Arts with Honors, as well as a masters of Broadcast Journalism from Northwestern University. She is married and has two remarkable dogs, Ed and Piper.
David Yamahata brings 36.5 years of experience as a firefighter to The Safe Community Project. Retiring as Chief Deputy of Emergency Operations of the Los Angeles Fire Department, David’s career covered a wide range of expertise. After his initial promotion to Apparatus Operator, he moved quickly through the ranks as Captain, Battalion Chief, Assistant Chief, and finally to the number two spot directly under the Fire Chief. David’s experience includes field operations, dispatch, employee relations, chief of staff, and division command.
Harout Harry Semerdjian has been a valued member of The Safe Community Project since March 2016. Harout is currently the organization’s Director of Government Affairs, working with elected officials throughout California to share our mission and progress. He is also an Associate with California Consulting, LLC, the largest grant-writing firm in the State of California. Harout has also served as a Campaign Adviser to several city and state election campaigns, and most recently helped secure victory for Professor Raul Bocanegra for California State Assembly, District 39.
He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in modern History and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an M.A.L.D. in International Law & Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University. He has also been a PhD scholar in International Affairs at the University of Oxford, St. Antony’s College.