Executive Committee

railLA Officers

Gunnar Hauser Hand, AICP

Gunnar Hand, AICP currently works for the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning. Most of his time at the County has been focused on the development of the County’s long-range General Plan document.  Mr. Hand is also the Public Sector Workforce Director for the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) where he works on planning, land use, transportation, and sustainability issues. In February 2010, Mr. Hand was elected to the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA-LA) as the Vice Director of Professional Development. railLA is his first project as a member of the APA-LA Board.

Recently elected as Chair of railLA, Mr. Hand has focused much of his professional career and volunteer efforts around the advancement of quality land use and transportation practices. With an affinity for the regional perspective, Mr. Hand sees the development of the California High Speed Rail (HSR) system as an opportunity to form a more regional perspective that will foster future collaboration throughout the State. On a local level, HSR has the potential to revitalize entire neighborhoods and introduce a new sustainable density to Los Angeles.

Gunnar Hand received a Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with a Major in Planning and a Minor in Political Science.  He then went on to receive a Master of Science in City and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Mr. Hand is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Gerhard Mayer, AIA

Gerhard Mayer is the founder of MayerArchitects, a planning and design practice in Los Angeles. Gerhard has over 25 years experience working on four continents, in a variety of large firms, including working with Geoffrey Bawa and several years with Frank Gehry.  Gerhard’s passion is to direct the built environment towards a future that includes pedestrian, bicycle, public transit and automobiles in a new American understanding of freedom and independence. Educated in Vienna, Gerhard came to the US on a Fulbright Scholarship in sustainable design.  He learned that a very unsustainable feature of modern life is the almost exclusive reliance on individual automobiles, and on such, planning and design deference. This fact was later confirmed in a study, with colleagues at the Rocky Mountain Institute, which demonstrated that an environmentally apathetic row house in Philadelphia has a noticeably smaller carbon footprint than a super energy efficient, environmentally conscious dwelling outside the urban confines.  The land use pattern due to accommodating cars was the defining factor.

MayerArchitects focuses on mixed use urban infill – highest and best use repurposing of underutilized real estate and on technical and institutional buildings. We aim towards green livable cities which facilitate natural orientation, allow thriving communities and empower individuals. We are a dynamic practice that responds to the advancing social, cultural, political and technological conditions of modern life. Our work reflects an enduring commitment to sustainability and the belief that design is a powerful strategic tool for securing lasting competitive advantage. Additionally, we consider design as one of life’s great joys.

Ashley Zarella Hand, LEED AP BD+C, Assoc. AIA

Ashley Hand moved to Los Angeles after finishing a HUD-sponsored land assembly and assessment project in New Orleans East with a team of planners from the Pratt Institute. She currently works as an architectural designer and LEED AP at AECOM and promotes sustainability in both her professional and personal life. Currently an active member of the Downtown Los Angeles community, an appointed member of the Green Building Retrofit and Workforce Program Advisory Council, and co-chair of the AIA/LA Civics Committee, Ashley Hand has worked in cities across North America to foster civic engagement, problem solving, and community activism. She founded the award-winning Sustainability Committee to promote sustainable urbanism and democracy and is a recipient of the 2010 Green Leadership Award from the County of Los Angeles.

Ashley Hand is married to railLA Chair Gunnar Hand with whom she has collaborated on a variety of articles, competitions and community engagement and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from McGill University and a Master of Architecture from the Pratt Institute.

Robert W. Vanech

Robert “Bob” Vanech is Treasurer of railLA and Co-Chair of Sponsorship and Finance Sub-Committee. Robert Vanech is an outspoken advocate for creative entrepreneurial catalytic change as a means to improve broken social and economic systems. His public experience ranges from educational reform as a Founding Director and Treasurer with the most successful charter school in LAUSD to a gubernatorial run in his homestate of Connecticut. On the private sector side, Robert Vanech is a leading Venture Capitalist, as partner at ETF Group, a $250M Swiss-based technology fund, and a well-known Serial Entrepreneur who has funded and started successful technology companies including Eureka Broadband Corporation where he served as President and Director and CADFORCE, Inc. where he served as President, CEO and Chairman of the Board. Raising over $70M in venture capital for these ventures, Eureka was sold for over $100 million in 2005 to Broadview Networks and CADFORCE sold in 2009 to global engineering firm, Neilsoft Pvt. Ltd.

Robert Vanech holds a Bachelor of Finance from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and contributes as an active alumnus of Choate Rosemary Hall. Robert Vanech lives in Venice, CA with his three children and is an avid football coach, basketball player, and competitive Scrabble player.

Jonathan Louie

Jonathan Louie is a designer and urbanist currently interested in the spatial and social relationships between the community and private individual within the urban environment. In an aim to better understand the urban realm he has worked under OMA-NY (New York, USA), Koetter Kim Associates (Boston, USA) and MVRDV (Rotterdam, NL); and has been a lecturer or guest critique at Syracuse University, Rhode Island School of Design, Northeastern University and Boston Architectural College.  His work has been exhibited in Boston, Syracuse, and Rotterdam.  Currently he is living and working in the Financial District of Los Angeles.

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