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Staff

Fernando Pullum Headshot

Fernando Pullum

Executive Director

Fernando Pullum earned his bachelor's degree in music education (1981) and master's in trumpet performance (1983). Fernando moved to Los Angeles in 1984 to follow his dream of becoming an educator and professional musician. He assumed the music program at L.A.'s Washington Prep High School. Under his tutelage, the program thrived. In 1989, Los Angeles Unified School District recognized Fernando's music program as the first music magnet in South Los Angeles.

During the years that followed, 100% of Fernando’s students graduated with a high school diploma and only one student failed to enroll in college during the next fifteen years. Fernando has been recognized by many organizations and individuals throughout his tenure, including Oprah, VH-1, the John Lennon Foundation and the State of California as its teacher of the year. He has performed and recorded with many industry greats, such as Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald, Jackson Browne, Etta James, Alicia Keys, Eddie Murphy, Fishbone and more.

 

Over the years, Fernando’s students have performed for many dignitaries, including President Ford and Prince Charles. The students have performed with Jackson Browne, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Lionel Hampton, Wynton Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and many other incredible musicians. They have opened the Playboy Jazz Festival four times and traveled to Cuba, Brazil, Spain, and New York. Six of his former students have won Grammys. 

Alan Palmer Headshot

Alan Palmer

Finance Director

Alan Palmer is a Board member and Finance Director at the Pullum Center. He oversees and leads annual budgeting and planning processes, administers, and reviews all financial plans, reports, and budgets.

He is a Product Development Manager at Kawai Pianos. He began his career as a musician at Disneyland and performed for many top LA studios as a woodwind player and keyboard performer. He volunteers for various charities benefiting local schools and educational organizations to share his passion for music.

Kavya Velagapudi Headshot

Kavya Velagapudi

Development Director

Kavya is a Certified Fund Raising Executive with eight years of diverse experience generating revenue and resources for nonprofits. With a Masters in Social Welfare and a concentration in Non-Profit Administration & Policy Advocacy, Kavya has a unique blend of development, management, and clinical skills. Before launching Honu Fundraising, she was the Development Director of International Museum of Women, now part of Global Fund for Women, in San Francisco. Prior to joining the Museum, Kavya was the Western Region Director of Starlight Children’s Foundation in Los Angeles, where she oversaw all development, communications and program services in Starlight’s Western Region. Kavya has raised funds for various nonprofits through grants, special events, corporations, memberships, annual appeals, crowd-funding, e-appeals, silent auctions, and major gifts.

She began working with the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center in 2017 to assist with the organization's fundraising and marketing efforts.

Tracy Williams Headshot

Tracy Williams

Office Manager

Tracy has a M.A. in Chemical Dependency Counseling and a B.S. in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education from Grambling State University. She previously worked for over 15+ years at a non-profit organization as a Program Coordinator providing case management services to women and their families affected by the use and abuse of illicit drugs. She was employed by Richard Health and Associates to provide oversight to agencies who were contracted to enroll participants into Covered CA during its inauguration of the program. In July 2015, Tracy joined as a part-time Office Manager at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center. Prior to her tenure as Office Manager, Tracy worked on several theatre productions with the Pullum Center as the Production Manager. Tracy's son is an alumni of the Pullum Center and he participated in several productions including Lion King, Feeling Good, and Dreamgirls. Tracy is also employed full-time for the L.A. County Department of Health Services-Housing for Health as a Program Analyst. Tracy has a passion for helping others, which is evident by her work at the Pullum Center, where she truly believes we are saving living through the arts!  

Pullum Center Staff Group Photo
Pullum Center Staff Group Photo

Our Teachers

Dedication. Expertise. Passion.

Throughout the school year and the summer session, Pullum Center employs 15 to 20 teachers who are professional performing artists and/or college graduates or students with majors in the performing arts and music education.  They teach from weekly lesson plans designed in accordance with State of California standards for the performing arts.  All relish the opportunity to share the performing arts with underserved children who are so eager to learn.

Narvel Mayo, Musical Director - Piano Instructor.png

Narvel "Pooh" Mayo

Musical Director & Piano Instructor
Earl Williams, Drama Director.png

Earl Williams

Drama Director
Ryan Porter.jpg

Ryan Porter

Trombone Instructor
Ben Makarchuk, Instruments Instructor and Assistant with Sr. Jazz Band.jpg

Ben Makarchuk

Instruments Instructor & Senior Jazz Band Assistant
Christopher Powe, Instruments Instructor, Assistant to Mr. Pullum with sr. Jazz band.jpg

Christopher Powe

Instruments Instructor & Senior Jazz Band Assistant 
Traydell Coach T Nelson, Step Instructor.jpg

Traydell 'Coach T' Nelson

Step Instructor
Vaughn Bannister_Guitar Instructor.jpg

Vaughn Bannister

Guitar Instructor
Dorene Nelson, Tap Instructor.jpg

Dorene Nelson

Tap Instructor
Micah Heard, Drum and Drumline Instructor.jpg

Micah Heard

Drum and Drumline Instructor
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