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).

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. 

Scott Sinclair Executive Director of Design

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.

EDUCATION:

B.A., California State Long Beach

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Tokyo DisneySea

Dollywood

Dubai Media Center

Ski Dubai

Abbey Road Studios

Chicago Museum of Science & Industry

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle

Kelley Ritch General Manager

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.

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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

Scott Shaw Senior Manager, Project Development

Scott Shaw is a proven business executive with a focus on the immersive relation between brands and consumers. His insight into the convergence of new media marketing, brand building and the delivery of technology have earned him the opportunity to work with some of the world’s largest brands including Bombardier, Hasbro, Microsoft, HP, Mattel, Coca-Cola, LEGO, Sony, Disney, Marvel and Warner Bros. He has also led the delivery of brand franchise experiences for The Lord of The Rings trilogy, Barbie (NYC and Shanghai, China), Hot Wheels and Starbucks.

At THG, Scott manages the company’s project development efforts, providing visionary leadership— from both a near-view and long-view perspective. He is responsible for new client acquisition, promoting new technologies, developing market strategies, establishing technology and service partnerships, and developing and communicating the company vision.

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.

EDUCATION:

Technical Certification, CLC, Springfield, VA

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:

Pasadena City College

A.A., Natural Sciences

A.A., Behavioral and Social Sciences

Breeanna Garcia Show Set Associate

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.

EDUCATION:

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

AWARDS:

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.

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Comics:

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.

EDUCATION:

Pasadena City College

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.

EDUCATION:

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.

EDUCATION:

B.A., East New Mexico University

M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Dragons Wild Shooting, Lotte World, South Korea

Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

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

 

 

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.

EDUCATION:

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

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:

University of Art College

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:

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

B.A., Industrial Design

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:

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.

EDUCATION:

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

 

EDUCATION:

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

 

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

The Beatles LOVE in Las Vegas

The 87th and 88th Academy Awards

 Bollywood Park in Dubai

Jessica Leivo Associate Producer

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.

EDUCATION:

B.S., The Art Institute of California

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Parkwide Holiday Decor, Universal Studios, Hollywood

Halloween Horror Nights, Universal Studios, Hollywood

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

Jodi Roberdes, AIA Director of Architecture

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.

EDUCATION:

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

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:

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.

EDUCATION:

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.

EDUCATION:

Pima College

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Carsland

Fantasyland

Seuss Landing

King Kong

Jurassic Park

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.

Education:

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. Eleven 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.

EDUCATION:

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.

EDUCATION:

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

(added focus in Illustration and Scenic Art)

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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!”

EDUCATION:

Bachelors of Architecture, Woodbury University

Masters of Architecture and Real Estate Development, Woodbury University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Abraham Lincoln Museum, Springfield IL

Warner Bros. Park, Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Hershey’s Factory Tour Ride

 

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.

EDUCATION:

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

EDUCATION:

Riverside Community College

Video Symphony

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

EDUCATION:
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. 

EDUCATION: 

B.A., University of California, Santa Cruz

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, Disney World Resort

The Lion King DVD Blooper Reel

Nina Tchaghayan Design Director, Facility & Show

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.       

EDUCATION: 

Bachelor of Architecture, Woodbury University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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

Awards/Honors:

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.

EDUCATION:

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

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.

EDUCATION:

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.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Cornell University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

20th Century Fox World Dubai

The London Resort

The Optimist Alternate Reality Game (Walt Disney Imagineering)

Motiongate Dubai

Fan2Sea Comic Con Cruise

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.

EDUCATION:

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

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Disneyland Resort

Universal Studios: Singapore, Japan, Hollywood

Warner Bros:  The Making of Harry Potter, England

Susan Spence Senior Writer

As a writer and content developer for museums, visitor centers, and theme parks, Susan is driven by a passion for transforming content and brands into extraordinary visitor experiences. She produces written materials for all phases of THG projects, in the form of concept narratives, multimedia scripts, and exhibit copy.

With a graduate and undergraduate education in anthropology, Susan brings a unique cultural sensitivity to her projects. She has additional schooling and professional experience in documentary film production.

Over the past 25 years, Susan has contributed to award-winning projects for high-profile clients around the world, including Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Arizona Science Center, NASA, and the Adler Planetarium.

EDUCATION:

M.A., Anthropology, The American University

B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida

SELECT PROJECTS  EXPERIENCE:

One World Observatory, World Trade Center, NYC

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

Davidson Center for Space Exploration, U.S. Space & Rocket Center

 

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.

AWARDS:

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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

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.

EDUCATION

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

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS

Motiongate Theme Park, Dubai Parks and Resorts

Malibu Wines at Queen Mary, Concept Designer

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