For more information and media inquiries, contact Rachael Stoffel via

LAUP Welcomes Six New Members to Board of Directors

LAUP, a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of early learning, today announced the appointment of six members to the organization’s 2017-2018 Board of Directors.

Elected new members Tilmann Gruber, Chris Nixon, Karen Schoenbaum, Ani Shabazian, José Villa and Liem Vu join LAUP’s seven sitting board members effective immediately.

“LAUP’s Board of Directors has always supported a national gold-standard for quality early childhood education” said Scott Hippert, CEO, LAUP. “I am confident the newly elected members will carry on this legacy of excellence, with vigor and innovation. I look forward to working alongside them, as they take LAUP to even higher levels of impact in support of our young children and the professionals and parents who help form their educational and life journeys.”

LAUP worked with practice of Berkhemer Clayton Executive Search to identify a talented class of senior-level executives who are committed to the advancement of early-childhood education. The innovative board member search was managed by Ben Lambert, Senior Vice President, and Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, CEO of the firm, based in downtown Los Angeles.

About the new members:

Tilmann Gruber

Vice President of Sales Planning, Sony Pictures Television

Tilmann is a 15-year entertainment industry veteran, having excelled at strategic sales planning and finance. Prior to Sony Pictures Television, he worked at Warner Brothers Home Entertainment and New Line Cinema in various corporate and divisional capacities, with both an international and domestic focus throughout his career.

Chris Nixon

Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, AIG

Chris brings nearly 25 years’ experience in the global financial service industry to the LAUP board. She joined SunAmerica in 1993 and became part of AIG when it purchased SunAmerica in 1999. She currently serves as AIG’s general counsel for its global Consumer Insurance segment, serving on the executive leadership team and several governance committees. Chris is a member of the California State Bar, often using her law experience for pro bono service and brings with her depth of experience in corporate governance and related activities.

Karen Schoenbaum

Executive Vice President and CFO, California United Bank

Karen began her career at the Big 4 accounting services firm EY, after leaving to hold senior positions at several prominent financial institutions. She has been a member of California United Bank’s Senior Leadership Team since 2009—managing investor relations, overseeing public financial reporting, the investment department and the Treasury function as well as maintaining the SOX/COSO internal control framework for the organization and ensuring strong corporate governance. A proud USC alumnus, she loves USC football, and serves as a director with USC’s Leventhal Board of Advisors.

Ani Shabazian, Ed.M., Ph.D.

Loyola Marymount University (LMU)

Ani holds a dual appointment at LMU, where she serves as an Associate Professor in the LMU School of Education and as the Director of the Children’s Center. Ani’s research interests focus on developing best practices in caring for children in group settings. Before LMU, Ani had served as the Executive Director of the UCLA Infant Development Program, the Academic Administrator of the UCLA Applied Developmental Psychology Program, and the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Family School. Beyond her academic appointments, Ani travels extensively assisting limited resource countries develop programs to elevate the quality of care for children without guardianship residing in institutional settings.

José Villa

Founder and President, Sensis

José is the founder of Sensis, a cross-cultural marketing agency driving behavioral change. Under José’s direction, Sensis has grown into an award-winning advertising and marketing agency listed on Inc. 5000’s ranking of America’s fastest growing private companies eight years running. Before Sensis, he was the founder of José is also a regular contributor for industry publications like MediaPost, AdAge and Mashable.

Liem Vu

Managing Vice President, U.S. Markets for Pariveda Solutions

Liem brings over 25 years of expertise in the technology consulting industry to LAUP’s Board of Directors. In his current leadership position, he develops strategies and plans for market expansion across all offices in the U.S. Prior to this role, Liem held executive leadership positions at Neudesic, Hitachi Consulting and BearingPoint—while remaining active in the Southern California philanthropy community.

“We are thrilled to welcome six outstanding advocates for early childhood education to our Board of Directors,” said Richard Martinez, Board Chair, LAUP. “Tilmann, Chris, Karen, Ani, José and Liem’s diverse leadership backgrounds, and track records of excellence in the Southern California community, will guide LAUP to increase early learning program quality and capacity—in Los Angeles County, and nationally.”