Board of Directors

HopeNet’s Board of Directors come from several of our sponsoring congregations and the community-at-large. The Board meets bi-monthly and provides governance and oversight, ensures that the agency’s mission is being fulfilled, and that HopeNet remains a strong, visible and effective force for good in our community.


Nydia Barakat

A native of Puerto Rico, Nydia moved to California in 1980. Nydia has spent her professional career in the Hospitality Industry and the non-profit sector.  Nydia is married and has two children. As a family, she and her children are committed to responding to the needs of people in need, whether it  is by addressing the homeless, the hungry or helping with resources for basic needs.

Robert Barnes

Raised in Southern Maryland, Robert is a longtime resident of Los Angeles and is a real property transactional attorney with the international law firm of Norton Rose Fulbright.  He and his family live in Hancock Park, and he is a past president and the community service director of the Wilshire Rotary Club, where he has directed the club’s community service outreach programs for many years. He firmly believes in the Rotary motto, Service Above Self, and that food security is a basic human right.

Laurie Brown

Laurie Brown is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.  She has received her teaching credential and Master’s degree with honors in Educational Psychology and taught in public and private schools on both the East and West coasts. She was employed at Marlborough School for nearly 20 years and broadened the School’s community outreach program and is recently retired.  She maintains a vibrant private tutoring practice.

Laurie learned of HopeNet while at Marlborough, where students volunteered weekly at HopeNet’s First Unitarian food pantry for many years, and adds:  “I continue to be impressed with HopeNet’s sense of purpose and effectiveness in meeting its goals. I’d like to see more neighborhood understanding of the valuable service HopeNet provides.”

Star Brown
Prior to working at First Church of the Nazarene, Los Angeles, Star worked with the Jewelers Board of Trade for 20 years as a business analyst. She graduated from Virginia State College, now known as Virginia State University, with a BA in Literature. For the past 10 years Star has worked as the Office Administrator at First Church of the Nazarene and became actively involved with the food ministry/food pantry in 2015 as the pantry coordinator. She is also a member of First Church of the Nazarene serving on three church boards, deeply committed to helping those in need. Star joined HopeNet as a Board Member in 2019.

Walter Engler

Walt is a native of Southern California. He resides in West Los Angeles with his wife, Virginia, and their three sons. Walt attended CSU Northridge and earned a BS in Business Administration before beginning a career as a CPA at Ernst & Young and late as the Senior Vice President of Operations at Sony Pictures Entertainment in Culver City. Walt and his family are parishioners at Saint Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica. He is committed to continuing the HopeNet mission of feeding those in need. Walt is the acting Treasurer for HopeNet.

William (Bill) Gaddy

A native of Los Angeles, Bill has resided in Larchmont Village since 1978. Involved in construction for 28 years, Bill opened B. Gaddy Electric in 1995. He and his wife and 2 children are active at Bel Air Presbyterian Church and appreciate the value and reward of service to others.

Floydette Gibson

Floydette has spent her professional career in consumer relations. She is a member of Wilshire United Methodist Church, is married with two children and is committed to addressing hunger in our local area.

Brian Milder

Brian is a native Californian; he grew up in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from both UC Berkeley and Loyola Law School. Following a brief legal career, Brian started a successful wireless communications consulting company. After a decade in wireless, he started Kinetic Group, a company specializing in strategic business communications. Brian joined Deloitte in 2017. Brian’s interest in HopeNet is to directly impact the quality of life of its clients, improve our community, and maximize what HopeNet can accomplish through a very lean infrastructure. Brian lives with his wife, Roya and their two children, Jacob and Gabby.

Andy Nieman

Andy has been a long time HopeNet board member, serving as agency Treasurer for many years. A CPA, Andy brings HopeNet a sound financial perspective and common sense as well as a profound commitment to HopeNet’s mission of serving the low-income population in our area. Andy and his wife Jill have two grown children. Andy is a Vice-President for HopeNet.

Jane Gilman (Honorary Member)

Jane Gilman is editor and publisher of the Larchmont Chronicle newspaper which serves the Hancock Park, Larchmont, Miracle Mile and Park La Brea communities. She is secretary of the Larchmont Boulevard Assoc., and of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. She joined the HopeNet board in 2006, and has been active as a chairman of the annual Taste of Larchmont Village fundraiser for HopeNet since its founding in 1993.

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