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.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Lakeland College

M.B.A., University California Irvine

Human Resource Professional Certification

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

President’s High Growth Training Initiative

Workforce Management – Optima’s Vision Award

California Caregiver Training Initiative

Keith Sneider Director of Accounting

As Director of Accounting, Keith brings a wealth of accounting expertise to The Hettema Group with over 40 years of experience in the accounting profession.  He is responsible for the overall finances as well as managing the day-to-day operations of the multi-faceted accounting requirements of the company.  Keith has been responsible for the finances and accounting requirements for a diverse variety of businesses, individuals and estates, as both an accountant with major accounting firms as well as operating his own accounting firm prior to joining The Hettema Group.  Keith is a graduate of Moorpark College and California State University, Northridge.

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

Kane Fritz Technical Director

As THG’s Technical Director, Kane Fritz leads the design, procurement and installation of the technological aspects of our projects. Kane’s expertise in designing and engineering Audio/Video and show systems is a key factor in our ability to pioneer new technological advances that wow audiences and function reliably for our clients.

Kane brings to THG decades of leadership experience in technical systems for the theme park and entertainment industries. He has held leadership positions with companies such as Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, Walt Disney Imagineering and Soundelux Showorks.

After earning a degree in electrical engineering, he began working as an A/V Project Engineer for Belcan Engineering. His position there and subsequent roles honed his mastery of studio recording engineering, sound system installation and operation, A/V and projection systems installation and operation, and personnel management.

EDUCATION

B.S., Electrical Engineering, California State University, Fullerton

A.S., Electronic Engineering, Saddleback Valley College, Irvine

NOTABLE PROJECTS

Volcano Bay Water Park, Universal Orlando

Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Universal Studios Japan

Star Tours II, Walt Disney World, Orlando

Transformers: The Ride, Universal Studios Singapore

Mission: SPACE, EPCOT

Universal Studios Japan

Alex Chao Illustrator

As an illustrator and concept artist Alex has worked on animated films, theme parks, and various experiential projects.  Alex’s skill set includes concept rendering, concept ideation, background design, and background painting.

Alex has worked as a background painter, concept designer, colorist, and illustrator for multiple studios including Universal, Thinkwell, Rethink Leisure and Entertainment, and Rough Draft Studios.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Illustration/Entertainment Arts, Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Warner Brothers Theme Park, Dubai

Twentieth Century Fox, Dubai

ANIMATION:

Season 7, Futurama

How Murray Saved Christmas

Ana Claxton Accountant

Ana Claxton has over 20 years’ experience in the financial industry.  Ana joined the team at The Hettema Group in 2014. Prior to joining The Hettema Group, Ana worked 17 years in the accounting department at Al-Sal Oil Co.

When Ana is not at work, she’s doing what she loves to do and that’s hanging out with her family.  Ana is an avid hiker.  Ana hikes with her family and friends every weekend.  Ana’s favorite football team is the 6-time champions, Pittsburgh Steelers.  Ana recently became a grandma to a pit bull named Gotti.

Andrea Klein Master Planner - Landscape Architect

Andrea has 20+ years of experience in Themed Entertainment, Hospitality, Mixed-Use Commercial, Transportation, Institutional, Healthcare, Municipal, and Multi-family Residential projects. She is a licensed Landscape Architect in the state of California and LEED accredited, and she has contributed to the design of a variety of projects in Asia and the Middle East, including entertainment overlay planning, exposition planning, luxury residential developments, embassy complexes and airport expansion projects.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Rhode Island School of Design

B.L.A., Rhode Island School of Design

M.L.A., Harvard University Graduate School of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Universal Studios Japan, Osaka, Japan

Monkey King Theme Park, Jinan, China

Warner Brothers Theme Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Bollywood Parks,  Dubai, UAE

Ashley Huettner Assistant Manager, Office Services

In Ashley’s capacity as Assistant Manager,  Office Services, 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

Cassie McGinnis Production Coordinator

After a year abroad studying Art History in Florence, Italy, Cassie returned to the United States as a content writer for an international traveling art exhibit featuring Michelangelo sculptures, creating content and educational materials for the exhibit. For the last 5 years she has worked on several projects as a project/production coordinator, including a World Class Resort Destination on the Red Sea in Aqaba, Jordan.

EDUCATION:

B.A., History, California State University Northridge

B.A., Minor in Art History, California State University, Florence, Italy

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 Staff Accountant

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 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

Danny Hartigan Creative Writer

As an entertainment industry veteran, Danny Hartigan has over 34 years of experience as a producer, creative director, writer, and consultant for a myriad of entertainment genres from theme parks, animation, film, live theatre, museums, attractions, and experience design. Proficient in all aspects of the storytelling process including idea generation, treatment and scriptwriting, casting, live show direction, exhibit design, art direction, producing and creative leadership.

As a part of the SAK entertainment company in Orlando Danny was initially hired to develop and perform live comedy shows in the Italian pavilion at EPCOT.  Throughout the 80s, Disney used SAK as a creative think tank and worked closely with creative park services to develop and produce numerous and distinct shows for EPCOT, Disney World and MGM Studios, (now Hollywood Studios).

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Bollywood and Motiongate Parks, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Universal Studios Hollywood Special Effects Show

Cinemagique at Walt Disney Studios Park, Paris

Animation Celebration, Universal Studios Japan

Heineken Experience, Amsterdam

 

David Clayton Dimensional Designer

David has been working in 3 D (as in 3d modeling/animation) for well over a decade.  In his years at Technicolor and Walt Disney Imagineering he created elaborate 3D worlds touching on all elements from modeling, texturing, lighting, animating and particle FX.  The majority of his current focus has been working on pre-viz for Disney theme park rides and attractions.

When looking to free his brain from the detailed world of 3Dcreation, David can usually be found with guitar in hand.  A graduate of the Atlanta Institute of Music and creator of GuitarBreakdown.com, music is not only his original passion, but is a huge asset when it comes to understanding the timing beats, rhythms and flow when animating and editing.

EDUCATION:

Atlanta Institute of Music

Gnomon School of Visual Effects

NOTABLE AWARDS:

Voted “best guitarist Orlando, FL” 1992

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

Devin Flanigan Creative Director - Senior Writer

Devin is a creative director and writer with 15 years of experience in themed entertainment, film, and television. He has conceived and created theme parks, shows, and attractions for world-class clients like Walt Disney Imagineering, Warner Bros., Sony, Lionsgate, Nickelodeon, Sea World, LEGO, DC Comics, the NFL, the NBA, and the Smithsonian Institution.

As Area Creative Director for Motiongate Dubai, he created seven major attractions for the park’s Sony Pictures Studios zone. Devin developed all attractions for the indoor Eon Time World park in Harbin. His television and film credits include R.I.P.D., Lie to Me, and The Chicago Code.

EDUCATION:

B.A., College of William & Mary

M.F.A., University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Motiongate Dubai

Warner Bros. Park Abu Dhabi

The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort

Sea World Australia, Storm Coaster

Diana O'Rourke Producer

Diana has been a member of The Hettema Group team since 2008, providing project support from concept through installation. Her tenure at THG has allowed Diana to participate in projects such as the Thea award-winning “Beyond All Boundaries”, Dragons Wild Shooting interactive dark ride at Lotte World, and the World Expo 2012 USA Pavilion in Yeosu, Korea.

With a background in theater and dance (both on stage and behind the scenes), Diana’s work in the themed entertainment industry has afforded her the opportunity to continue to flex both her creative and managerial muscles in a fun, challenging and exciting environment.

EDUCATION:

B.S., Ithaca College

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Beyond All Boundaries, The National World War II Museum, New Orleans, LA

ExplorOcean Preview Center, Newport Beach, CA

High Roller at The Linq, Las Vegas, NV

USA Pavilion, 2012 World Expo, Yeosu, Korea

Dragons Wild Shooting, Lotte World, Seoul Korea

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 Interactive 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

 

Jared Peter Project Manager

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

Jeff Cook CADD Designer

Jeff has been in the architecture and themed design industry for over 5 years, working on everything from multi-million dollar homes to theme parks.  He grew up on construction sites and moved onto electrical engineering and system administration specializing in network architecture and programming while he studied.  He focuses primarily on CAD, BIM and 3D Modeling and incorporates his other disciplines into the design and development of every project.  In his free time, he’s known to be into backpacking, mountain biking, archery, home brewing, 3D printing and building furniture.

EDUCATION:

B.ARCH., California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo

M.S., California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

One World Observatory, New York City, NY

Large-scale server deployment for CADRC in conjunction with the Air Force and Boeing Tapestry

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.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A. – Colorado State University

Semester Abroad – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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

Background Painting, Fringe TV Series

Transformers Game Cover, Petrol Advertising

Jerry Parra Show Designer

Jerry’s design experience in the themed entertainment and exhibit industries spans thirty-five years, including the creation of show spaces and environments around the world. Jerry has served as production designer and illustrator on attractions for the Shanghai Disney Resort. He was Art Director and Senior Designer on signature attractions for Universal Studios, including Super Hero Island, Amazing Spiderman Adventure, and Revenge of the Mummy.

Jerry’s design credits include two Dubai theme parks and two Sanrio parks in Japan, concept design and art direction for exhibits in the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, Condor Discovery Center, and the Los Angeles Zoo.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Industrial Design, California State University, Northridge

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Shanghai Disney, Production Design/Concept Illustration

Adventure Isle

Pirates of the Caribbean

Universal Islands of Adventure, Art Director

Revenge of the Mummy, Hollywood, Universal, Show Set Lead

Jesse Vargas Graphic Designer

Jesse Vargas is graphic designer with over 4 years of experience, with at least 3 in themed entertainment. His background as a print designer brings a fresh modern take to the already established THG aesthetic.

He specializes in branding, print media, UI/UX design, environmental design and illustration.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Graphic Design, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Bollywood Parks, Dubai

Motiongate Movie Park, Dubai

HubZero, Dubai

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.

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 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.

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

Joe Lanzisero Senior Creative Director

Joe spent over 3 decades with the Walt Disney company starting in Feature Animation where he learned directly from Walt Disney’s “9 Old Men.” From Animation he moved to Walt Disney Imagineering where he rose to be the Senior Vice President Creative in charge of the design for the Tokyo Disney Resort, Hong Kong Resort and the Disney Cruise Lines. He led the design for many unique and iconic projects around the world including Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland and the latest state of the art cruise ships The Disney Dream and Fantasy. His artwork and designs have been featured in numerous publication, is often quoted, and speaks on design around the world.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Character Animation, Cal Arts

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Hong Kong Disneyland

Disney Cruise Lines

Tokyo Disney Resort

Mickey’s Toontown

John Enete Concept Designer - Illustrator

For over 15 years, John has worked in architecture, entertainment, advertising, industrial design, and fashion. He has designed and illustrated architecture for high end hospitality, industrial products and prototypes for new technologies, illustrated and developed brand identity in advertising, worked on visual development for entertainment projects, and illustrated for the fashion industry.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Graphic Communication, California Polytechnic State University

B.A., Industrial Design & Illustration, Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Disney Shanghai Hotel

The Venetian, Las Vegas

Traders Shangri-La

Northrop Grumman Research Lab

L3 training facility

Costume designs for Cher & Dita Von T

Joli Lam Production 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

Juan Acuña   CADD Job Captain

In Juan’s 18-year architecture career, he has worked on several large projects.  He spent 12 years in Las Vegas working in hospitality, commercial and retail projects such as World Market Center and Echelon Place Hotel and Casino.  In the last 6 years, he’s made a career change to work in the theme park industry, where projects have included One World Observatory in New York, the Linq Wheel in Las Vegas, The Hello Kitty, Jurassic Dreams and The Monkey King Parks all in China.

EDUCATION:

B. of Architecture, University of Nevada Las Vegas

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

Keith Kaminski Art Director

Keith has had numerous creative careers over the past 33 years. Entertainment leaders including Sequoia Creative, Entertainment Design International and Universal Studios where he served as Production Designer for multiple areas within the parks, including The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride, Sneech Beach, Mayor’s Grandstand, Truffula Forest and “If I Ran the Zoo” children’s play area. He was also the lead designer for the Universal Hollywood backlot tram tour ‘Mummy Experience’ and The Flying Unicorn at UIOA.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Universal Hollywood backlot tram tour ‘Mummy Experience’

The Flying Unicorn at UIOA

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.

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

Kun Yang Architectural Set & Exhibit Designer

Kun has 8 years of experience in architecture including one year’s work experience as an architectural designer in China and multiple internship experiences from architectural firms to Planning and Construction Department in the government. His portfolio of projects ranges from school buildings, multi-unit residences and residential communities to large urban complex, residential area planning and sustainable urban designs. Kun is a generous and responsible team player and a thoughtful and focused designer, who is on the way to becoming an architect with professional skills developed through a wide range of transnational studies, internships and work experience.

EDUCATION: 

B.Arch., Xiamen University, China

M.Arch., University of California Los Angeles, USA

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. Eight 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

 

Leo Mauricio Dimensional Designer

With over ten years of international design and concept art experience, Leo has contributed his multiple skills to many production phases of projects, including governmental, museums, entertainment, and theme parks. He is able to apply his proficiency in the most current technologies to contribute to the design development of any project.

EDUCATION:

Federal University of Paraíba, Brazil

Masters in Architecture and Urban Planning

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

How to Train Your Dragon Land, Motiongate, Dubai, UAE

Dragon Age- Flight of the Wardens, Hub Zero, Dubai, UAE

Azura’s Warth, Hub Zero, Dubai, UAE

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!”

Notable Projects:

Abraham Lincoln Museum, Springfield IL

Warner Bros. Park, Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi

Hershey’s Factory Tour Ride

Education:

Bachelors of Architecture, Woodbury University

Masters of Architecture and Real Estate Development, Woodbury University

Mario Huerta Senior Facility Designer

Mario has worked on theme park attractions for over 20 years.  He has worked on four Disney theme parks in Asia and California, including Tokyo DisneySeas, DCA base park, Hong Kong Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Shanghai Disneyland.  He has held rockwork engineering, show set lead, and facility project architect roles for 15 projects, most notably Animal Kingdom’s Expedition Everest, Toy Story Mania at DCA, Florida and Tokyo, and lead architect for Shanghai Disneyland’s Enchanted Storybook Castle.  He has relocated to Tokyo and Shanghai for construction support and specializes in architectural ornamentation and documentation from concept through execution phases.

EDUCATION:

B.A., UC San Diego (1990) Urban Studies & Planning and Political Science

M.Arch., UC Berkeley (1995)

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. 

EDUCATION:

BFA, Theatre Design, California State University, Sacramento

 

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 art challenges the technology, and the technology inspires the art”

John Lasseter

EDUCATION:

Riverside Community College

Video Symphony

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Implementing Service Ticket Management, Fareboom INC

Implementation of Network Segmentation, Fareboom INC

Melissa Schulman Senior Producer

Melissa Schulman’s 15 years of experience in the themed entertainment industry has given her an opportunity to work on a diverse range of projects including theme park attractions, museums, and visitor centers. Her strengths include budget, schedule, and scope management for companies such as BRC Imagination Arts and The Pastilla Institute of Design. Melissa has been at The Hettema Group for over 3 years working on a variety of projects.

She is also the founder of Yoga-urt, an organic frozen yogurt store in Glendale, CA, which was sparked by her passion for yoga.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Cal State University, Northridge

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol Visitor Experience

Arizona Science Center

Heineken Experience

Shuttle Launch Experience

Microsoft “Surface” Campaign

Michael Overman Show Designer

For over a decade Mike has led design, art directed and installed numerous attractions and themed spaces for Walt Disney Imagineering, domestically and internationally. His work has gone from blue sky creation to project completion. He has collaborated and worked with multiple studios and business partners, such as General Motors in re-visioning Test Track in Epcot, Florida as well as Marvel Studios, delivering the first ever Marvel attraction on property for the Walt Disney Company in Hong Kong. Recently, Mike lived and worked in Shanghai, China as an Art Director on Adventure Isle for the Shanghai Disneyland Resort project, which recently opened in June 2016.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Illustration/ Entertainment Design emphasis, Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Pirates Lair, Tom Sawyers Island, Disneyland CA

Test Track presented by Chevrolet, Walt Disney World, Epcot FL

Iron Man Experience, Hong Kong Disneyland, Hong Kong

Adventure Isle, Shanghai Disney Resort, China

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 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.  She worked with them 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 Architectural Production Manager

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, as well as, 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

Nina Rae Vaughn Art Director

For more than three decades, Nina has been a major creative force in theme park attractions, fountains,

museums and hospitality venues worldwide. During her 20 years at Walt Disney Imagineering she started as a Special Effects Designer during the development of EPCOT to Director of Design on Pooh’s HunnyHunt, Tokyo Disneyland. She has contributed to countless Disney projects and created many of the park “Fun Maps”.

Early in Nina’s career she was a fountain designer at WET Design, responsible for design, presentation and field installation. Projects prior to joining THG included Paramount Park Spain, Harry Potter, Universal Orlando, Shanghai Disneyland and creating the design for “The Disneyland of Walt’s Imagination Model” at the Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco.

EDUCATION:

Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Pooh’s Hunnyhunt, Tokyo Disneyland

Main Street, Disneyland Paris

Disney Hollywood Studios, Orlando

Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland

Los Angeles Music Center Fountain

Fountain Place, Dallas

FEATURED GUEST SPEAKER and CONTRIBUTING ARTIST:

Disney Cruise Line, Art Center College of Design, Ryman Foundation Living Master’s Program

Paul Nam Illustrator

Paul’s illustration work creates lively, clear, and communicative artwork for projects. Paul has a great sense of structure which is reflected in quick idea sketches, concept sketches, elevations, POVs, core characters, to colorful marketing illustrations.

Paul has worked as a Concept Artist, Art Director, Assistant Character Designer, Prop Designer, Icon Designer, Storyboard Artist, and Illustrator for multiple companies.  He has experience in Mobile Gaming, TV Animation, and Theme Park Industries. Most recently, Paul worked as a freelance Assistant Character Designer for Cartoon Network as well as Titmouse Inc, Netherfire Games, ZQGame, and Riot Games.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Art Center College of Design

SELECT PROJECT EXPERIENCE:

League of Legends (MOBA Game)

Black Dynamite (Adult Swim TV Animation)

Ron Vance Dimensional Designer

After graduating from Art Center College of Design in 2003 with a degree in Entertainment Design, Ron has worked at most of the top companies in the theme park industry, including Thinkwell and Walt Disney Imagineering. Previous projects include The Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden Studios, The Bollywood Theme Park for Riva Group, as well as Treasure Cove and Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland.

Ron brings over seventeen years of experience to his current job at The Hettema Group as a Dimensional Designer. His combined education in architecture and industrial design gives him a unique understanding of three-dimensional space, including how to represent it on paper and in model form, which is valuable in the production of entertainment projects both virtually and in the theme park industry.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Art Center College of Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Harry Potter Experience at Leavesden Studios

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure, Shanghai Disneyland

Scott Chase Art Director

Scott has worked with leading entertainment companies for over 20 years creating museums, historical landmarks, theme parks, exhibits and traveling exhibitions.

Recent work includes a long-term assignment with Walt Disney Imagineering, where Scott was part of a team developing the company’s newest theme park and resort; Shanghai, Disneyland, which opened in June  2016.

EDUCATION:

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Tokyo DisneySea

“Top of the Rock” Observation Deck and Visitor Center at Rockefeller Center

The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

Scott Sabens Technical Associate

Scott is a Technical Associate and THG 3D printing professional. He is responsible for the technical and ride system management of projects and produces 3D prints in collaboration with artists and designers. He has worked in an engineering and technical capacity for over 5 years.  His career began at Walt Disney Imagineering, helping install Cars Land and the Red Car Trolley at Disney California Adventure. Prior to joining The Hettema Group, he was the Rides Manager for Motiongate Park Dubai and Bollywood Park Dubai. He continues to develop his love of roller coasters, ride systems and 3D printing at The Hettema Group.

EDUCATION:

B.S., Mechanical Engineering – San Diego State University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Cars Land & Red Car Trolley, Disney California Adventure, Installation

Motiongate Park, Dubai, U.A.E., Rides Manager

Bollywood Park, Dubai, U.A.E., Rides Manager

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.

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

Skyler Gage Facilities Services Assistant

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 barbeque and mixing cocktails.

EDUCATION:

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

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.

EDUCATION:

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

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

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

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.

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 Creative 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 her 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.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida

M.A., Anthropology, The American University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

One World Observatory, World Trade Center, NYC

Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool, England

Above and Beyond Traveling Exhibition, Boeing

Apollo/Saturn V Center, NASA Kennedy Space Center

Tom Vannucci Creative Director

Tom’s 25 years of experience in entertainment crosses genres including film, television, theme parks, large scale spectaculars, sports and special events.  He has served as creative director, director, writer and choreographer for companies such as Paramount, The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, The NBA and PAC 12 Properties.  Tom’s long relationship with Halloween allowed him to collaborate and direct multiple projects with Elvira Mistress of the Dark.  His directorial, conceptual and choreographic theatricality has garnished him awards from The Walt Disney Company, Universal Studios and the NBA, to name a few.

EDUCATION:

F.A., United States International University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Mystic Rhythms, Tokyo Disney Sea

C’est Magique, Disney Cruise Lines

Universal 360 A Cinesphere Spectacular, Universal Studios Orlando

Marvel Superhero Stunt Show, Universal Studios Hollywood

All for One, Three Musketeers Stunt Show, Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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

Valerie Williams 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.

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall

Tokyo Disneyland Star Tours Renovation

Tokyo Disneyland Hotel and Hotel Mira Costa Character Rooms

Stitch Encounter

Vinita Pugal Master Planner - Landscape Architect

Vinita has over 20 years of professional experience in the field of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture. She is a California Licensed Landscape Architect and a LEED Accredited Professional.  She co-founded a design company that designs a wide range of large-scale projects internationally. She serves as a principal advocate to the Bureau of Indian Standards for drafting Building Codes for Landscape Architecture. After moving to California, she has worked on various prestigious civic projects in Los Angeles. She has been actively involved in providing Experiential Design Concepts and Master Plans for companies that specialize in Themed Entertainment Design. She believes if there’s a beautiful story, it can be webbed into reality.

EDUCATION:

Bachelor of Architecture

Master of Planning and Landscape Architecture, School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi, India. 

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Motiongate and Bollywood Theme Park, Dubai Parks and Resorts

Coney Island Redevelopment Studies

Annenberg Community Beach House, Santa Monica

Beverly Gardens Parks Restoration

Yutaka Izutsu Senior Production Coordinator

Yutaka moved to the States from her home country of Osaka, Japan to join The Hettema Group in April 2016. During her career in Japan, she worked at Universal Studios Japan for many years as an executive assistant and project coordinator for the Creative Department. Before her move to the US, she worked on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter where she contributed skills as a liaison between numerous vendors around the world.

Outside of work, she enjoys playing tennis and trying out different sports. Good food and sweets are an essential part of her daily life as well.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Concordia College at Bronxville New York

ACHIEVEMENTS:

All American Awards

Division II Tennis-Rookie of the year in Eastern Division

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios Japan

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