Phil Hettema President - Creative Executive

Phil Hettema is the President and Creative Executive of The Hettema Group (THG).  With a distinguished 30- year legacy in themed entertainment, Phil leads a world class team of experience designers, architects, and media producers known for creating uniquely compelling guest experiences with great emotional resonance.  Notable projects include One World Observatory at One World Trade Center; the High Roller Observation Wheel at The LINQ, Las Vegas; and Beyond All Boundaries at the National World War II Museum, New Orleans.

Prior to forming his own company, Phil Hettema was Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide for 14 years. He was responsible for the creative development of all major attractions and shows, including Terminator 2: 3D, Jurassic Park, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Backdraft and many more.  He oversaw master planning for all five Universal parks, including domestic and international expansion for Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s PortAventura (Spain), and Universal Studios Japan, and, most notably, the conception and delivery of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida.

Phil is an alumni of ArtCenter College of Design, instructed courses at the institution and endowed a scholarship for Enivronmental Design.  He has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, USITT, IAAPA, KIN, ICOM, SIGGRAPH, and at the TED Conference. Phil holds four patents for entertainment technology solutions and has been honored with numerous Thea awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) including Theas for One World Observatory (2016), Beyond All Boundaries (2010), FiestAventura (2000), The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (2000), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (2000), and Terminator 2:3D (1997).

Debbie Saale General Manager

As General Manager, Debbie brings a wealth of management expertise to The Hettema Group, with an ability to apply real world experience to a wide variety of design challenges that can at times require unconventional management techniques.  Throughout her career Debbie has demonstrated a unique ability to jump headfirst into management emergency situations, and quickly sort through the issues to streamline workflow and facilitate the design team to reach target objectives.

Prior to her role as a key member of The Hettema Group, Debbie held two posts at Disney Consumer Products.  First, she managed the digital studio and oversaw character art development, style guide production, large format production and digital photography.  She then managed creative operations for Infant/Toddler Pre-School products.

Early in her career, her background in print production and advertising led her to forge her own role as director of a design and marketing company specializing in direct marketing, print production, packaging and point of sales materials.  There, she managed projects and creative teams and served as the primary account executive throughout the production process.  She worked to personally develop relationships with a diverse collection of clients.

Anthony Pruett Senior Vice President – Operations

Anthony Pruett joined The Hettema Group in 2008 as a Project Director with over 25 years experience managing the design and construction of tourism, hospitality and retail projects. Anthony brings extensive on-site project and construction management experience in Asia, the Middle East and North America to all projects at The Hettema Group.

Prior to The Hettema Group, Anthony was involved in assignments that included the Ferrari Theme Park in Abu Dhabi, the Desert Diamond Hotel and Casino in Tuscon, AZ, and a wide variety of Las Vegas-based projects. In addition, Anthony project managed a design expansion of the Gardens Shopping Mall in Dubai, U.A.E., the Durban Film City in Durban, South Africa, the Exterior Show Pavilion/MS Band of Choctaw Indians in Philadelphia, Mississippi, as well as projects in Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and the Philippines. Pruett also served as technical advisor to the Abu Dhabi government for a range of projects in the emirate. His career in the entertainment industry began with a stint at Spectra Entertainment where select clients included the Sands Hotel (Atlantic City, NJ), Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, and Microsoft.

Anthony possesses a rare blend of artistic talent and business savvy that make him a true renaissance man. He received an MFA degree in theatrical design from the California Institute of the Arts and is also an attorney, graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2006. 

Cat Wisnoski Director of Human Resources

“Cat” joined The Hettema Group in January of 2015 as their human resource leader.  She brings with her extensive experience in human resource management, organizational design, and workforce development as a multi-faceted business leader.  With over twenty five years’ experience in the service industry, Cat has been responsible for the development and execution of several business and human resource strategy initiatives.  Prior to her joining The Hettema Group, Cat held the executive human resource role of a health care service provider with approximately 6000 employees.


B.A., Lakeland College

M.B.A., University California Irvine

Human Resource Professional Certification


President’s High Growth Training Initiative

Workforce Management – Optima’s Vision Award

California Caregiver Training Initiative

Steve Cathell Director of IT

Steve’s 30-year career in Information Technology began while working at Defense Contractors in Washington DC.  He did coding for the Navy Fleet Modernization Program.  Steve moved to Southern California to lead IT at the Broadcast Center for the Armed Forces Radio and Television program.  After 9 years, he started working with telecommunications company Accurate Telecom, overseeing the company’s transition from Digital Service Offerings to Voice over IP Services. In 2014 he began at The Hettema Group, heading the IT Department, managing expansion in size and scope of services.  Steve enjoys the outdoors, gardening and all things cars.


Technical Certification, CLC, Springfield, VA


Fiber Optic Network Build, Broadcast Center AFRTS, Sun Valley, CA

VoIP Conversion Management, ATI, Van Nuys, CA

Thomas Harding Technical Director

Thomas is known throughout our industry as a master of technical direction in the development of groundbreaking, high-profile theme park attractions. He brings to his current position for THG a proven, 25-year track record of successful projects for the world’s leading theme park companies, with numerous major theme park attractions opened for Universal Studios and Disney.

Thomas’s work has taken him around the globe, including an impressive roster of projects in Asia in particular. He has overseen the technical aspects of attractions for Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney California Adventure, Tokyo Disney Seas, Tokyo Disneyland, Shanghai Disneyland, Universal Studios Singapore, Chimelong Paradise, Sanrio Puroland, Sanrio Harmonyland and Expo ‘93 in Taejon, Korea.

During the course of his career, Thomas has invented special effects equipment that is now standard and found throughout the theme park world. He has received two Thea Awards for best new attraction, for T2-3D and Star Trek: The Experience.

A third-generation Californian, Thomas is an alumnus of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a U.S. Army Veteran.


T2-3D: Battle Across Time, Universal Studios

Star Trek: The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton

Ashley Huettner Office Manager

In Ashley’s capacity as Office Manager, she oversees the physical operations of the organization and the four buildings that comprise the company facility. With an array of responsibilities, she’s able to exercise her skills. Previously working within an office and retail environment, Ashley anticipates, problem solves, and multitasks effectively. From planning dinners and parties to organizing the company calendar, she is your go to! When she isn’t at the office, Ashley enjoys gardening, cooking, painting and traveling.


Pasadena City College

A.A., Natural Sciences

A.A., Behavioral and Social Sciences

Breeanna Garcia Project Coordinator

Along with her savvy approach to project coordination, Breeanna brings a strong background in architecture and environmental design. Before joining the team at The Hettema Group, Breeanna spent seven years with Horwitz Architecture + Design where she assisted in all aspects of their business, design, and project portfolios. Over the course of her career, Breeanna has primarily focused on residential architecture, but delved into many diverse types of work within the architectural field, including urban and city planning, community based and commercial projects. She is keen to apply her architectural and creative skills as needed at THG.

When Breeanna is not indulging on a Criterion Collection film fest, you’ll find her out hiking the local trails.


B.A., Architecture, Woodbury University School of Architecture


2016 Julius Shulman Emerging Talent Award


Bria Alvarenga Project Coordinator

As a project coordinator, Bria plays an indispensable role managing the day-to-day workflow of THG’s creative teams. Her dedicated and intuitive support to our teams is backed by more than three years of experience in corporate event staging and 12 years in customer service.

Before joining THG, Bria worked as a sales lead for a large event planning firm in Los Angeles, expanding the company’s customer base, training team members, and coordinating rentals and purchases. Prior to that, she served as a lead supervisor at a major home goods retailer, managing staff and operations, and ensuring excellent customer service. Additional experience in customer service reinforced Bria’s core belief in the power of teamwork.

In her spare time, Bria likes to enjoy the sun with her faithful canine, hiking in the mountains or strolling through Huntington Dog Beach.

Carol Young Dimensional Designer

Carol is a self-taught artist who has worked in the entertainment biz since her early twenties. She grew up in a small town in Kentucky and left home at a young age to conquer the world. Her first stop along the way was New York City, where she landed a job with a comic book company as a colorist. She was mentored by many talented artists and soon began her design career, first by hand-painting the pages.  When technology entered the world of design, Carol quickly moved into digital paint. Her love of the digital world presented several opportunities and she soon found herself in Hollywood working on movies, television series and commercials as a visual effects artist.  She eventually became a supervisor and artist for Stereoscopic Conversion. Carol’s love for and involvement with creating fantasy worlds became a natural transition into the themed entertainment industry. She has been working for the last several years in various design roles in themed entertainment, including color and color concept, interior design, scenic design and dimensional design.



Bloodshot, Turok, Solar, Shadow Man, Rocky Horror Picture Show

Visual Effects:

Daredevil, I Robot, The Simpsons, Harry Potter

Themed Entertainment: 

Bollywood Park, Dubai 

Cheryl Aguilar Accounting Manager

Cheryl has been an executive assistant and bookkeeper for almost two decades and openly admits that she loves working with numbers because, “They just make sense.”

Cheryl likes to keep busy with her many extracurricular activities. When not adding things up, she can be found keeping score at a baseball game with her husband, counting down miles while running a half-marathon, making sure she’s doling out equal attention to her three fur-babies or tallying stitches in her latest crochet project. Cheryl is a Notary Public and has recently returned to school to complete her degree in Psychology.


Pasadena City College

Chris Bradley Concept Artist

As a concept artist for The Hettema Group, Chris is always dreaming up imaginative and inspiring new ideas for rides, shows and interactive guest experiences. Not only is he a prolific idea generator, he’s also a master at visualizing attraction concepts via his highly original sketches, illustrations and finished renderings.

Chris brings to THG an impressive background in content creation across the entertainment industry. He has led teams of artists and show designers to deliver unique, world-class themed attraction concepts for industry giants such as 20th Century Fox, Lotte, Hasbro, Nickelodeon and Walt Disney Imagineering. In addition to his work in themed entertainment, Chris has illustrated visually engaging characters and scenes for tabletop games, including Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Game of Thrones and Star Wars.

Prior to his career as a professional artist, Chris was a Field Superintendent and Project Manager in the commercial construction industry. He personally led an interdisciplinary team of experienced professionals to build nearly 30 restaurants, retail and office locations.


B.F.A. – Visual Communication, University of Arizona

Watts Atelier of the Arts


20th Century Fox World, Dubai

Soarin’ – Tokyo DisneySea

Frozen – Hong Kong Disneyland

Christine Robinson Executive Assistant

Christine graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor’s degree in International Business and Art History. During this time, she studied abroad at Toulouse Business School to centralize her focus on French language and international business relations. She worked for several years as an administrative assistant and bookkeeping specialist before joining the THG team. She enjoys hiking, museums, and perusing albums at Amoeba Records.


B.A., San Diego State University

Chuck Ballew Art Director

In Chuck’s 26-year career at Walt Disney Imagineering, he worked in many different roles on a wide variety of projects. He contributed designs for multiple attractions in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom and was the Lead Designer for five different installations of the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters attraction. He has served as Creative Director for projects in Tokyo Disney Sea and worked on the design for Toy Story Land in Disney Hollywood Studios. His artwork has been featured in numerous Disney publications including Poster Art of the Disney Parks and most recently The Art of Disney’s Dragons.


B.A., East New Mexico University

M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University


Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, 5 global installations

Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland, Anaheim

Tower of Terror, Tokyo Disneyland

Connor Sinclair Senior Graphic Designer

Connor is a graphic designer from Westport, Connecticut. As the son of two creative parents he discovered a love for art and design at an early age. After receiving a BFA from The Savannah College of Art and Design, Connor left the East Coast to pursue a career in location based entertainment. Five years later, as a member of The Hettema Group graphic design team, he helps to create marquee signage, environmental graphics, and marketing presentations for some of most unique and innovative experiences worldwide. Connor’s interests include hand typography, model building, customizing cars, and snuggling with his cat.


B.F.A., Graphic Design, Savannah College of Art and Design


Dragons Wild Shooting, Lotte World, South Korea

Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

One World Observatory at One World Trader Center, New York City



Cynthia Durand Art Director - Interiors

With a rich imagination, an intuitive sense of story and a keen eye for the details of design, Cynthia specializes in developing wonderfully creative interiors for THG projects. Cynthia began her design career in the world of architecture, working on international retail and entertainment projects for the Jerde Partnership. She later expanded into the realm of themed entertainment and collaborated with the creative team at GameWorks, Inc. as a set designer and art director for the company’s first several location-based entertainment destinations.

Subsequently, at Sony Development, Cynthia served as a production designer, completing designs for two immersive gaming destinations based on The Airtight Garage by the French comic book artist Moebius. During more recent years, Cynthia has worked as an independent designer, providing designs and art direction for a diverse portfolio of interior projects for Motiongate Dubai, Universal Studios Hollywood, Pirate Bay in Shanghai and other high-profile entertainment destinations and museums.  


B.S., Environmental Design, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA


 Sega GameWorks, (Flagship) Seattle, Las Vegas, Ontario, CA, Grapevine, TX

Airtight Garage, Metreon, San Francisco & Mediage, Odaiba, Japan

Motiongate, Dubai, UAE

Pirate Bay Indoor Playground, Shanghai, China

DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda, Universal Studios Hollywood

Dave Max Designer

Dave brings to THG more than 20 years of experience working within the animation, themed entertainment and gaming industries. He has worked on numerous high-profile projects for a variety of companies, including Electronic Arts LA’s hugely popular real-time strategy (RTS) game franchise Command & Conquer. In addition, Dave has worked as a conceptual designer on animated and live-action television series for clients such as Warner Bros. Animation Studios, Nickelodeon and Creative Capers Entertainment (on projects for LEGO.) Prior to joining THG, he provided art direction, detailed architectural show set design, scenic design and conceptual illustrations for numerous themed entertainment projects led by the Wyatt Design Group, Inc.


A.A., College of the Redwoods

B.S., Art Center College of Design


The Loonatics Unleashed – Designer, Warner Bros. Animation, Los Angeles

Bionicle: CG Animated Features – Designer, Creative Capers Entertainment / Lego, Los Angeles

Warner Bros. World, Abu Dhabi: Metropolis – Land Art Director, Wyatt Design Group Inc.

Walking Dead Attraction, AMC / Universal Studios Hollywood – Show set Designer, Wyatt Design Group Inc.

David Lepor Illustrator

With experience in the world of theatre and a background in art, David feels right at home in the themed entertainment industry.  Whether concept design, color work, or illustration, David strives for quality, beauty, and consistency.

As an illustrator on Motiongate Dubai, David developed the visual design for a wide mix of dark rides, flat rides, play areas, retail spaces, and restaurants. He has additional experience in interiors, art direction, production design, and model making.

While not working on theme parks, David spends time designing sets and props for regional theatre productions.


Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design & Illustration, Communications Minor – Grace College, Winona Lake, IN

Master of Fine Arts, Scenic Design – University of California, Irvine


Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

Don Carson Senior Art Director

Don is a legend in the theme park world for his exceptional work as concept illustrator and designer. He is known for bringing focus on design principles unique to environmental storytelling to projects all over the world.

Don has applied his long career in theme park design to computer games, theater, and other media.  He strives to show the potential of using the principles of environmental storytelling to influence an audience’s experience, whether they are exploring a physical or virtual world.


University of Art College


Splash Mountain

Blizzard Beach

Mickey’s ToonTown

Estephan Quass Dimensional Designer

With professional experience in the entertainment business, Estephan provided art and creative direction in TV production for a major network in Brazil. In the US, he has designed sets for corporate businesses, exhibits, sports and music events. His work includes global theme park development, facility and attraction design, food & beverage and retail development, rock work, landscaping and ride vehicle design. With the use of 3D models, realistic renderings, animations, scale models and drawings, he serves as the bridge between the concept stage and the project production.


F.A.A.P.Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, Sao Paulo, Brazil

B.A., Industrial Design

M.F.A., Interior, Set & Exhibition Design


X Games Mega Ramp

Red Bull Extreme Cliff Diving – ICA, Boston

2016 Desert Trip Animatics for Stage; Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan

George Mandella Producer

George comes from the world of immersive experiences in technology and the arts.  He served as CTO of Zoomedia, an internet communications company for the world’s largest life sciences companies.  At Zoomedia, George oversaw the company’s strategic, consulting, engineering IT, project management, and R & D. He directed product development and was responsible for the deployment of new technologies.

George founded and was CFO/COO for Black Letter Discovery, a professional services company. Under his leadership, the company consistently increased profitability and expanded from a single office to a national operation.

George leveraged his multi-disciplinary background to produce unique, mind-expanding experiences.


B.A., University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television

Creative writing, New York University

Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic

Gwen Ballantyne Art Director

Gwen has leant her imagination and creativity to movies, theme parks, video games, museum exhibits, theatrical experiences, and architectural design projects worldwide for over 23 years.  She has worked as an Art Director, Concept Designer, Illustrator, Sculptor, and Costume Designer.  And each time, she transforms her design sense to suit the unique parameters of the projects, which run the spectrum from “Sesame Street to “Delta Force-Black Hawk Down.  For Walt Disney Imagineering she served as Art Director for “Journey to the Center of the Earth” at Tokyo DisneySea.

Her project client list has included Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Warner Bros., Paramount Parks, Henson Studios, Nickelodeon, Lionsgate, National Geographic, Sesame Street, HBO, The Hettema Group, Thinkwell Group, BRC Imagination Arts, and Novalogic.


B.F.A. in Fine Art and Anthropology, University of California at Santa Cruz

M.F.A in Production Design and Technology from California Institute of the Arts


World Fair Dubai 2020, Concept Designer

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Art Director/Show Designer

Tokyo DisneySea, Art Director/Show Designer of Journey to the Center of the Earth

Disney California Adventure, Concept designer/illustrator

Sanrio Hello Kitty Theme Park, Show Designer

NatureQuest, Fernbank Museum of Natural History GA, Art Director

Sesame Street Presents the Body Museum Tour, Art Director


Jacob Berding Designer

A versatile creative force, Jacob Berding has professional experience as both a designer and art director for live entertainment, themed environments and museums. He prides himself on discovering new processes of design by working closely with vendors and partners to push the limits of what is possible, while getting the tasks at hand completed on time and on budget.

Jacob has worked in experiential design since 2014 and has specialized in a number of disciplines including 3D modeling, illustrations, graphics and drafting. He is fortunate enough to have participated in multiple high-profile projects through to completion, such as Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome (Frozen meet & greet) at Disney California Adventure Park, How to Train Your Dragon land at Motiongate Dubai, the Ghost Post interactive special edition subscription in collaboration with Walt Disney R&D and more.

Jacob completed his Master of Fine Arts degree in Themed Entertainment Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Along with his themed entertainment background, he has formed his own software development company, which has helped him learn to manage large and small projects alike.



M.F.A., Themed Entertainment Design, Savannah College of Art and Design



Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome, Disney California Adventure Park

How To Train Your Dragon, Motiongate Dubai


Jared Peter Senior Producer

Jared comes to The Hettema Group after serving as the Production Manager at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. While at the Dolby, Jared worked on the integration of complex productions such as The Oscars, AFI Fest, AFI Honors and a wide range of events including major movie premieres and theatrical productions. Previously, he worked as a Producer on the schematic and detail design phases of Bollywood Park in Dubai; which opened in November 2016. In the 8 years prior, he worked exclusively with Cirque du Soleil on the production and creation phases of three major productions: The Beatles LOVE in Las Vegas; ZAiA in Macau, China and IRIS in Los Angeles.


The Beatles LOVE in Las Vegas

The 87th and 88th Academy Awards

 Bollywood Park in Dubai

Jeremy De La Garza Illustrator

For 10 years Jeremy has worked as an illustrator doing character design, concept art, and storyboards for comics, games, animation, and theme parks.  He has worked on a variety of projects with companies including Inkle, Boom! Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, Zoic, Petrol Advertising and Olympus Flag and Banner.

He started drawing in Colorado, at a small kitchen table with a box of crayons.  Alongside his brother, they would draw comics and epic Ninja Turtle battles.  While drawing, background noise of shows like Batman, Mask, and Knight Rider filled the air.  At 12 years old, he hitchhiked to LA where he now resides.


B.F.A. – Colorado State University

Semester Abroad – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy


Voyage to the Iron Reef Storyboards, Knott’s Berry Farm

Background Painting, Fringe TV Series

Transformers Game Cover, Petrol Advertising

Jessica Leivo Design Coordinator

Jessica spent 15 years as a kitchen & bath designer in the home remodeling industry, gaining diverse experience in construction and project management.  She recently graduated valedictorian with a degree in set & exhibit design and crossed over into the themed entertainment world.  She has worked in the field as a technical supervisor for theme park production, as well as behind a desk as a show set designer.


B.S., The Art Institute of California


Parkwide Holiday Decor, Universal Studios, Hollywood

Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios, Hollywood

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Press Event, Universal Studios, Hollywood

JiEun Hong Graphic Design Assistant

Ever since her first shoebox diorama project in the second grade, JiEun has known she wanted to work in the creative world. She has made it her lifelong goal to dabble in any and every creative field possible, which has already taken her on a thrilling ride of self-taught coding while playing Neopets in elementary school to becoming Editor-in-Chief of her high school yearbook staff to graduating as a Fine Arts major from New York University and to working as a broadcasting media volunteer at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics & Paralympics.

As a Graphic Design Assistant at THG, JiEun helps create graphics for both in-house and client projects. When she is not mass-downloading the latest fonts, JiEun enjoys the pack rat life of adding to her sticker collection, making annual summer trips back home to South Korea and binge-watching 90s sitcoms with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream.


B.F.A., Fine Arts, New York University

Jodi Roberdes Director of Facility Design Services

Jodi has played an integral role in many architectural and interior design projects for The Hettema Group since 2009, including Dragons Wild Shooting at Lotte World, the Malaysia Truly Asia Centre, The High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas, DreamWorks Water Park, Meadowlands and was Lead Architectural Designer for the One World Observatory experience at the World Trade Center in New York City. She is currently in charge of the architectural design for a major theme park in Asia.

Jodi was Director of Design at Scenery West Design & Construction, creating turnkey projects involving multiple disciplines, specialty consultants, architectural facility interface and show integration. She was responsible for projects including Sony’s ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ attraction, Japan; Sea World’s Circ de la Mer Attraction, San Diego; Fort Worth Zoo, Texas Wild! 8-acre expansion; five GameWorks Entertainment Centers throughout the U.S., and Oakley Flagship Stores.  As Senior Associate at JKI International Architectural & Planning, Jodi executed multiple design/build projects domestically as well as interior entertainment facilities and attractions internationally. Jodi was consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering, assisting with exteriors and interiors for Disney’s California Adventure.


B.A., Architecture, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

M.A.,Urban Design and Planning Technical University, Athens, Greece


One World Observatory at One World Trade Center, New York City

High Roller Observation Wheel, Las Vegas

Joli Lam Project Coordinator

As a Production Coordinator, Joli loves to combine her artistic and organizational skills by creating deliverables and presentations for project clients. She earned a degree in psychobiology, volunteering in a psych research lab, while exploring her creative interests on the side. She also worked as a graphic designer, producing signage and display cases for the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame, before graduating in 2015 and beginning her career in the themed entertainment industry. Joli enjoys painting and learning new crafts in her free time and is an accomplished meeting-notes doodler and knickknack collector.


B.S., University of California, Los Angeles

Justine Huseth Producer

Justine comes to us after 15 years in Documentary Programming, where her work has taken her from the Strait of Magellan to the Arctic Circle. She has a background in directing, writing and editing, as well as extensive experience in scheduling and budgeting.

She has produced content for networks such as: Netflix, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, The History Channel, TLC, NBC, ABC, FOX.

Prior to her career in broadcast television, she worked in Advertising in New York City.


B.S. Anthropology & Spanish, Boston University

Karen Thompson Colorist - Designer

Karen has more than 25 years in the themed entertainment and visual effects industries. Her focus has been color design and special effects. Karen was on the creative projections team for “Standard Time” at the Getty Museum, LACMA, and Tom Bradley Terminal. She served as Field Art Director on Little Mermaid, Clarke Quay Adventure, and Knott’s Kingdom of the Dinosaurs rehab.  She was lead special effects painter at Digital Domain on Apollo 13, and Terminator 2-‐3D and at Disney Animation

Universal Studios projects included Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure, King Kong at USF, and Jurassic Park at USJ. Karen was lead special effects painter at Digital Domain on Apollo 13 and Terminator 2-3D.

Karen teaches Matte Painting at Art Center College of Design.


Pima College




Seuss Landing

King Kong

Jurassic Park

Kelley Ritch Senior Producer

Having worked on numerous show sets both domestically and internationally, Kelley is a Producer/Project Manager specializing in creative based projects with over 15 years of experience. Before transitioning into themed entertainment, Kelley’s career began in the film/television industry which ingrained in her the driving force of production schedules and the ability to achieve success within budget limitations. Kelley has held key roles in some major entertainment projects and the diverse project exposure makes her uniquely qualified to run multifaceted projects and guarantees any project she takes on will be realized beyond all expectations.


Universal Studios Orlando, Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts, Queue scenic show set

Universal Studios Orlando, Optimus Prime Marque Figure, Transformers Attraction

Cirque du Soleil, Michael Jackson THE IMMORTAL World Tour, Scenic Show Set

Taylor Swift 2011, “Speak Now” Concert Tour, Scenic Show Set

Katy Perry 2011, “California Dreams” Concert Tour, Scenic Show Set

Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World/Sentosa, Lights, Camera, Action , Special Effects Theater/Show Set

WDI/Disneyland Resort, Finding Nemo, Scenic show set

Kristin Showalter Illustrator

A master of illustration and design, and a powerhouse of creative ideas, Kristin develops concepts for THG projects and brings them to life in beautifully rendered illustrations. She first entered the design world as a set designer and scenic artist, applying her expert painting skills to projects for Universal Studios, the San Diego Zoo, The Goretorium in Las Vegas and a variety of television shows, music festivals and movie premieres.

Kristin quickly expanded her professional skill set to provide illustration, graphic design, art direction and concept design services for theme park attractions, resorts and television and film projects. She has collaborated on a myriad of projects with RGH Themed Entertainment, Granaroli Design & Entertainment, Global Entertainment Services and the Wyatt Design Group.

After working her design magic during the day at THG, Kristin works as an adjunct faculty member at California Institute of the Arts, where she teaches Art Direction II to the Applied Design students in the Theater School.


M.F.A., Design and Production, California Institute of the Arts

B.A., Fine Art and Technical Theater, California State University Stanislaus

Laura Garrett Design Manager

Laura’s first experience visiting Las Vegas, at age 8, forever changed her by showcasing the endless possibilities of spatial experience, the magic that can be generated in highly themed spaces and how that transforms our perception. After receiving a BFA in Interior Design from the California College of Arts, she left San Francisco to head to Los Angeles for a chance to create highly unique and distinctive spaces. Ten years later with The Hettema Group, Laura is now a design manager, providing overall direction of the graphic design department and creating presentations to reflect the creative stories THG tells and the experiences they create.


B.A., California College of the Arts

A.A., Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Notable Project:

One World Observatory at One World Trade Center, New York City

High Roller Observation Wheel, Las Vegas


Levi Lack Show Set Associate

Levi Lack applies his abiding passion for design, world building and storytelling to his work as a show set associate for THG. Prior to joining us, Levi served as a designer for Entertainment Design Corporation, developing concepts for live and location-based entertainment. Levi also worked with Silent-House Productions as an assistant art director, contributing to a variety of projects including Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour, P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League and the 2018 iHeart Radio Music Awards.

Levi earned a B.F.A in Scenic Design and Production from California Institute of the Arts. As part of the CalArts Center for New Performance, he was the scenic designer for The Hendrix Project directed by Roger Guenveur Smith. Hendrix premiered at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in Brooklyn, New York. It was successfully remounted at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Off Center Theatre Festival in Costa Mesa, California. While in school, Levi took part in the CalArts Walt Disney Imagineering Educational Initiative and interned with the Art Department of the 88th Academy Awards.


B.F.A., Scenic Design and Production, California Institute of the Arts

(added focus in Illustration and Scenic Art)


The Hendrix Project, Public Theater and Segerstrom Theater for the Arts

Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour

P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour



Lydia Montes Facility Design Manager

As Facility Design Manager, Lydia interfaces closely with our teams’ Executive Architect, Producers and Art Directors to design the perfect “containers” to house our attractions. This includes developing the size of each facility, fitting it to the site, outfitting it with the required support systems, and designing interior spaces in keeping with the attraction’s story.

Lydia has been in the theme park industry for more than 10 years. In addition to her experience in architecture and facility design, she has also held the titles of Show Set Designer and Show Set Manager. Lydia has lent her design talents to numerous high-profile entertainment projects. For her, every day at work is just “another day of theme park magic!”


Bachelors of Architecture, Woodbury University

Masters of Architecture and Real Estate Development, Woodbury University


Abraham Lincoln Museum, Springfield IL

Warner Bros. Park, Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Hershey’s Factory Tour Ride


Mark Shumate Art Director

Mark Shumate has created dozens of dynamic attractions, environments and events in America and Europe, over a battle-hardened career spanning somewhat more than 20 years. He has left his design fingerprints on presentations ranging in scope from kiosks to major attractions to full theme parks for a list of companies that include Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Busch Gardens and Paramount Parks. 

In addition, he has designed and executed stadium-wide spectacles including events for Olympic Ceremonies.  Mark has a BFA in Theatre Design from California State University, Sacramento and did graduate work in the Theatre Design Program at UCLA. He also studied at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where he currently teaches Entertainment Design. He holds 2 patents for attraction innovations and is a LEED accredited designer. 


BFA, Theatre Design, California State University, Sacramento


Marlies Urbauer Illustrator

Marlies Urbauer is an illustrator and character designer with a keen sense of color and an exceptional talent for creating lively characters that are full of personality. Prior to joining THG, she designed ride vehicles and costumes—and worked as a lead painter and POV artist—during the development of the Haichang Polar Ocean World in China. Marlies also served as a lead color designer for Universal Studios Hollywood and has conceptualized stories and character designs for multiple TV show ideas related to a project called Fun Star. Marlies has a passion for color, painting and travel, along with a love for the sea and the marine life living within it.


B.F.A. Cal State University Channel Islands


Haichang Polar Ocean World

Martina Kostkas Marketing and Business Development Manager

Martina joined The Hettema Group’s Business Development department in 2015 after working for a Los Angeles-based private lender for almost nine years. Her background is in Marketing, Fine Art and Education.  Martina has taught developmental skills and Fine Art to children ages 3 to 12, and continues to advocate for the arts by volunteering her time to schools and local education programs.  In her free time, you can find Martina enjoying a walk in the Angeles Mountains with her pup, Maya.


B.A., California State University Los Angeles

Matt Ramos IT Support Specialist

Matt Ramos is a talented and accomplished Information Technology Professional with over 6 years of experience in Network and Systems Administration, with background in Audio Engineering. Matt has worked on several notable films as Audio Engineer. The only thing he loves more than technology is his cat, Ghost, who loves to bite.  He is experienced in managing servers and LAN/Wireless networks. His favorite past times are consuming large amounts of food and competitive gaming.  He is very social and can often be seen holding bags of chips.

“The problem with internet quotes is that you cant always depend on their accuracy”

 -Abraham Lincoln


Riverside Community College

Video Symphony


Implementing Service Ticket Management, Fareboom INC

Implementation of Network Segmentation, Fareboom INC

Monica Buzzi Accountant

Monica Buzzi is an accounting assistant and contract administrator with over 20 years’ experience at an executive level in the entertainment industry for companies such as Guitar Center and The Hettema Group.

As an executive assistant, she supported high level executives. She maintained projects, proposals, set up and coordinated meetings, conferences, coordinated travel schedules, accommodations, and logistics for her clients. Monica managed banking and bookkeeping for several accounts, administered human resources, payroll, and provided customer service.

She volunteers her time as often as possible, including over 100 hours at Huntington Hospital. A foodie and home cook, she adores her dogs.

Bryan College of Court Reporting

Nicole Balderrama Senior Project Coordinator

Nicole attended UCSC where she double majored in Film and Sociology. She jump-started her animation career with an internship at Creative Capers Entertainment where she worked over the years as a freelance artist and production coordinator, working with talented people on a number of Disney projects including the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive experience at Disney World Resort. Nicole also built an overflowing book, comic, and graphic novel collection while she was a manager at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena. 


B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz


Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Disney World Resort

The Lion King DVD Blooper Reel

Nina Tchaghayan Architectural Design Director

With close to 15 years of varying experience in the design and construction industries, Nina has been the Project and Design Manager for a variety of project types which include:  Theme Parks, Museums, Institutional, Historic Rehabilitation and Preservation, Custom/High end Residential, Mixed-Use, Tenant Improvements and more.

With a Bachelor of Architecture and special interests ranging from experiential design to historic preservation, Nina has extensive experience in all stages of projects; from conducting research, designing and coordinating with various consultants to leading teams, preparing presentations and cost estimates, and observing construction.  

As Design Manager, Nina managed a team of 15-20 show set designers for Bollywood Parks and Motiongate theme parks in Dubai.  She was also Lead Technical Designer for the Nature Lab exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, as well as, for Super Silly Fun Land for Universal Studios in Hollywood, which included the overseeing of fabrication.       


Bachelor of Architecture, Woodbury University


Union Station 360, Los Angeles

Bollywood Parks, Dubai

Motiongate, Dubai

Nature Lab Exhibit, Natural History Museum, Los Angeles

Super Silly Fun Land, Universal Studios, Hollywood


Los Angeles Conservancy 2010 Preservation Design Award for The Hollywood Bungalow Courts

California Preservation Foundation 2010 Design Award for The Hollywood Bungalow Courts

California Preservation Foundation 2013 Design Award for Orchard Gables Rehabilitation

Featured in “Here Tomorrow: Preserving Architecture, Culture, and California’s Golden Dream” by J.K. Dineen for The Hollywood Bungalow Courts

Quinn Riddle Technical Coordinator

As a technical coordinator for THG, Quinn assists the technical leads on our project teams in researching new ride and show technologies and documenting proposed technologies for guest experiences. In his six years of experience in the entertainment industry, he has performed a variety of roles across multiple forms of media. With a background in interactive entertainment, Quinn got his start in videogame development and co-founded a mobile game startup with fellow USC alumni. He later joined Sony Computer Entertainment of America as a technical audio designer for PlayStation titles, subsequently transitioning to post-production, for clients such as Netflix, Paramount and the BBC.

Quinn has spent time studying abroad and teaching in Japan, where he embarked on a grand quest to find the best ramen in the world. In his free time, Quinn enjoys traveling, photography and restoring classic cars.


B.A. University of Southern California, School of Cinematic Arts

Richard Gutierrez Senior Illustrator

Richard has been entrenched in the theme park industry for upwards of 40 years and is still going strong. His expertise runs the gamut from blue sky, concept, and production design, including themed architectural design, art and illustration.

Richard has been extensively involved in countless domestic, and global themed entertainment projects over the years. Working with industry heavyweights such as, Universal Studios, Favilli Studios and Disney Imagineering.


Tokyo Disney Sea/ Little Mermaid Lagoon

Epcot Center/ World Showcase

Jurassic Park the Ride/ Universal Studios Hollywood

Sanrio Puroland

Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas/ Caesar’s Magical Empire


Scott Chase Art Director

For more than 25 years, Scott has worked with leading worldwide entertainment companies and museums to bring a wide variety of projects to the public.   

With more than a decade of experience at Walt Disney Imagineering, Scott served in key design roles on numerous Disney theme park projects, including extended assignments on the Shanghai Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea design teams.

Other projects include The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, “Top of the Rock” Observation Decks and Visitor Center at Rockefeller Center, and exhibits for The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.


B.A. Art/Graphic Design, San Diego State University


Shanghai Disneyland, Tomorrowland

Tokyo DisneySea, Port Discovery and Fortress Explorations

“CSI: The Experience”, Traveling Science Center Exhibit

Scott Sinclair Senior Creative Director

Scott has played key roles in concept and design on numerous high profile projects including Lotte World interactive dark ride, the Hello Kitty Theme Park in Anji, China, Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, Disneyland Marketing and Entertainment Division live stage shows and parades, Sony’s retail entertainment center, Metreon in San Francisco and Mediage in Tokyo.

Scott has been lead designer on a number of ambitious projects, including Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, The National Ag Science Center in Modesto, California,  Ski Dubai for Thinkwell, and Paul Allen’s “Flying Heritage Collection,” a WWII fighter plane display in Seattle.


B.A., California State Long Beach


Tokyo DisneySea


Dubai Media Center

Ski Dubai

Abbey Road Studios

Chicago Museum of Science & Industry

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle

Skyler Gage Facility Services Manager

Skyler has worked with The Hettema Group since 2015, assisting in everything from reception to facility management. His flexibility has allowed him to provide reinforcement in the day-to- day enterprise. His passion to be a helping hand stems from volunteer efforts in the Audubon Society and Rotary Club. When he isn’t running around the office with boxes or tools in his hands, Skyler enjoys creating culinary masterpieces on the barbecue and mixing cocktails.


B.A., Media Art – California State University Channel Islands

Stefan Lawrence Creative Director

Stefan Lawrence is a creative director with 15+ years of experiential storytelling experience, having created experiences for such clients as Walt Disney Imagineering, 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Lionsgate, Nickelodeon, Merlin, Hasbro, BBC, Aardman Animation, Nintendo, Red Bull, and many more. Most recently, Stefan was a creative director at Rethink Leisure & Entertainment, where he worked on numerous theme parks, FECs, and other location-based entertainment projects.

When he’s not at work, Stefan enjoys old ships, watching movies from 1984, tiki drinks, special effects, barbecue, mid-century furniture, Japanese action figures, vintage travel art, Swedish detective novels, and doing the crossword.


B.A., Cornell University


20th Century Fox World Dubai

The London Resort

The Optimist Alternate Reality Game (Walt Disney Imagineering)

Motiongate Dubai

Fan2Sea Comic Con Cruise

Sue Li Character Designer

Sue is originally from Beijing, China, working as a character designer/visual designer for 3 years after college. She came to the United States in 2010 to obtain her Master’s Degree in Animation.  After graduating, she began working on a variety of assignments in all aspects of graphics and creative arts for Disney Parks worldwide. She is responsible for the development of designs treatments, logos, graphics and creative arts for live shows including parades, stage shows and special events on and off the Disney property and onboard the Disney Cruise Line. She loves design, including computer graphics, digital painting, and character creation.


B.A., Animation, Jilin College of Arts, China

M.F.A., Animation, Savannah College of Art and Design


26th Shanghai Tourism Festival: Shanghai Disneyland Resort “Igniting the Dream” Parade

Disneyland 60th anniversary: Paint the Night Parade

Disney Cruise Line: Tangled: The Musical

25th Disneyland Tourism Festival: Shanghai Disneyland Resort “Happy Dream” Parade

Tokyo DisneySea: Into the Shadow show

Disneyland Resort: Frozen Fun

Sunnie Burke Executive Architect

Sunnie is a licensed architect who has worked on a wide variety of building projects, including residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For over 15 years, Sunnie has created comprehensive design packages for themed entertainment projects. Her production management skills have been a key factor for many projects staying on schedule and within budget.


B.S., School of Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology

M.A., Architecture, Southern California Institute of Architecture


Disneyland Resort

Universal Studios: Singapore, Japan, Hollywood

Warner Bros:  The Making of Harry Potter, England

Susan Spence Senior Writer

Susan has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and content developer for museums, visitor centers and theme park attractions. She produces written materials for all phases of THG projects—from research outlines and concept narratives to multimedia scripts and exhibit copy.

With an academic background in anthropology, Susan brings a unique cultural sensitivity to our projects. She has completed additional coursework in documentary and fiction film history and production. Susan’s ability to translate complex topics into entertaining visitor experiences has earned her the privilege of working on projects for high-profile clients around the world.


M.A., Anthropology, The American University

B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida


One World Observatory, World Trade Center, NYC

Above and Beyond Traveling Exhibition, Boeing

U-505 Submarine, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago

Apollo/Saturn V Center, NASA Kennedy Space Center

Tim Guo Illustrator

As a concept designer for The Hettema Group, Tim is responsible for dreaming up and visualizing ideas for rides, shows, themed settings and interactive elements. He brings more than six years of professional design experience to THG, having worked for notable clients such as Audodesk, Nintendo, 2Dawn Games, Impeller Studios and Universal Studios. 

Tim’s childhood passion for drawing cars and dinosaurs paved the way for a career in art and design. After graduating from Pratt Institute with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design, Tim continued his studies in the entertainment design program at Art Center College of Design. There, he was able to direct his focus toward designing video games, films, commercials and theme parks.

In addition to his work for major studios, Tim has partnered with other up-and-coming agencies to produce mobile and indie video game.


B.I.D Industrial Design

Pratt Institute

Art Center College of Design


Ferrar World, Abu Dhabi

EonTime World

Ski Egypt

Starfighter Inc. (Impeller Studios)

Ravaged (2Dawn Games)

Tim Kirk Show Designer

Tim was an Imagineer at the Walt Disney Company for 22 years and still consults for Disney Theme Parks worldwide.  Tim is a designer and illustrator with wide experience in a broad media spectrum — from theme park and museum exhibit design to book illustration and greeting cards. Other projects include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the University of Notre Dame, Ghiradelli Chocolate, and the Mini Time Machine of Miniatures in Tucson, Arizona.


5-time winner of the Hugo Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration


Tokyo DisneySea

Disney-MGM Studio Tour,  Walt Disney World

First American artist to illustrate the J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar for Ballantine Books

Tolkien work is featured in the Greisinger Museum in Switzerland

Valerie Williams Senior Producer

Valerie worked at the Walt Disney Company, where she began at Corporate Operations, Planning and Finance at the Studio. She then transferred to Walt Disney Imagineering, where she started her career that spanned over 25 years.  At WDI, she worked with the Tokyo Disney Resort portfolio in multiple capacities that included coordination, liaison between WDI and Oriental Land Company for maintenance and Show Quality Standards, Production Management, Producing and Project Management.   Projects ranged from small and large enhancements to high-end hotel character rooms, large-scale attraction renovation, and design of a new addition to the Tokyo Disneyland Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.


Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall

Tokyo Disneyland Star Tours Renovation

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel and Hotel Mira Costa Character Rooms

Stitch Encounter

Victor Armstrong Illustrator

Victor is a relatively young designer and a newcomer into the themed entertainment industry. Already his growing portfolio of projects include branding, zoo and aquarium design, attraction design, and theme park design. He enjoys wearing many hats when it comes to his work. From concept sketching and master planning to color board direction and story writing. Simply, he enjoys contributing to all aspects of the design process. In Victor’s freetime he would likely be found abroad sketching and learning new ideas at a local attraction.


Citrus College – Architectural Drafting

Art Center College of Design – Illustration


Haichang Ocean Park



Yasmin Pazandeh Dimensional Designer

Trilingual in English, Farsi and French, Yasmin (pronounced Yass-Meen) comes from a multicultural background. Several relocations through the years have exposed her to many extraordinary historical and geographical points of interest. Since graduating from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture, she has combined a strong architectural foundation with years of design experience in a variety of fields, including Themed Entertainment, Production Design and Interior Design.

Yasmin’s professional experience reflects her appreciation for design’s different facets. She believes that her real experience comes from the greatest teacher of all – life. As an immigrant who now proudly calls California her home, she has had profoundly beautiful experiences traveling the world and understanding that imaginative design and exquisite details are all around us, just waiting to be appreciated and interpreted or celebrated through our eyes.


B.S., Architecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

A.S., Architectural Studies, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa


Motiongate Theme Park, Dubai Parks and Resorts

Malibu Wines at Queen Mary, Concept Designer

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