Sumi Parekh serves as the Executive Director for the Group Effort Initiative (GEI). Prior to her role at GEI, Sumi worked for Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti and served as the Executive Officer to the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development. In this role, she served as a thought partner for the Deputy Mayor, helped to execute the Mayor’s strategies for economic development, and served as a day-to-day manager for the Office of Economic Development staff. She also created Garcetti’s Evolve Entertainment Fund (Evolve), launched in February 2018 to open up professional pathways into film, television, music, and digital media for over 1,000 participants. In June 2021, Evolve was absorbed by GEI.
Sumi was also a Program Manager at the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to improving life for all Angelenos and the Director of Legislative Affairs and Programs at the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC).
Appointed by Mayor Garcetti, Sumi currently serves as a Commissioner on the nine person Los Angeles City Police and Fire Pension Board. Sumi also serves as a member of Reimagine L.A. County, a coalition of advocates, community organizations and neighbors continuing to push Measure J investments and a board member for LA Collab, an unprecedented effort to connect Latinx talent, executives, and creators to opportunities in the entertainment industry — and double Latino representation in Hollywood by 2030.
Sumi graduated in 2013 from the University of Southern California with a Masters in Public Policy and is a graduate of the University of Texas with a B.S. in Mathematics.
Melissa Ramirez serves as the Program Manager for the Group Effort Initiative. Melissa realized she wanted to pursue a career within the entertainment industry as a sixteen-year-old growing up in East Hollywood.
In 2018, Melissa joined Mayor Garcetti’s Evolve Entertainment Fund (Evolve), a workforce development program that provided career pathways into entertainment careers for low-income and underrepresented Angelenos. Through Evolve, Melissa secured internships at Outfest, Live Nation Entertainment, and NBCUniversal in their Corporate Relations, Diversity & Belonging, and Campus Recruitment & Initiatives departments.
In college, she discovered her passion for helping aspiring professionals with securing entertainment career opportunities. In her final college semester, Melissa accepted an offer to join NBCUniversal’s Campus Recruitment team as an Assistant. Melissa recruited interns in the L.A. region for NBCEntertainment and Owned Stations & Affiliates divisions.
In 2020, Melissa worked for Mayor Garcetti’s Office of Economic Development as the Evolve Entertainment Fund Coordinator supporting fellow Evolve peers with securing internships and entry-level positions. Now, Melissa is excited to continue paying it forward and support upcoming storytellers, executives, and professionals at Group Effort Initiative.
Melissa graduated in 2019 from California State University, Northridge with a B.S. in Business Management and a B.A. in Economics. Melissa is also a cat lover and volunteers at the SNPLA Kitten Nursery in her spare time. Melissa is a proud owner of two short-hair tabby cats.
Feven Negussie serves as the Program Coordinator for the Group Effort Initiative. She is an alumni of the Evolve Entertainment Fund, having joined the program as a junior in college and landing internships at companies such as Hello Sunshine, Anonymous Content, Creative Artists Agency, and Film Independent. Following graduation, Feven began interning at Evolve, assisting with placements and projects, then quickly climbed the ranks to Program Coordinator after the GEI and Evolve merger.
Feven holds a B.A. in English and a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has a passion for storytelling, meaningful representation in media, and spending too much money.
Sarah Marin (she/her) serves as a Program Coordinator for the Group Effort Initiative. As a former GEI participant, she joined with her first-ever internship at Anonymous Content. From there, Sarah has interned at various companies and non-profit organizations across the industry, including New Cadence Productions, Women In Film, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and ABC Entertainment. She is a proud alumna of both the Academy Gold Rising program and the Television Academy Foundation Fellowship program.
Sarah is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, where she studied Cinema and Television Arts and Communications with an emphasis in Entertainment and Tourism. As a first-generation Latina passionate about making a positive impact in the entertainment industry, Sarah is driven to help build inclusivity, work with diverse voices, and uplift others in their career journey. Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Sarah is happy to be residing in the area and enjoys spending time with her family and friends!
Em Pennington serves as a Program Coordinator for the Group Effort Initiative. She graduated from Columbia College Hollywood with a Bachelor’s degree in Film and Television. She started out working as a production assistant on multiple student films and with Brian Graden Media, as well as interning for Pantheon Entertainment before becoming a GEI participant her junior year.
Em is enthusiastic about helping to change the entertainment industry by uplifting unique and underrepresented groups. She has a lifelong affinity for random adventures, nature, film, and writing bad poems.