We take a multi-disciplinary perspective to generate pragmatic solutions that respond to community needs.


Jennifer LeSar CEO and Founder,
Global Policy Leadership Academy

Jennifer LeSar combines a background of more than three decades in community development, real estate development and investment banking with a deep working knowledge of eco-system change management and organizational strategy.

She is the CEO/Founder of several systems change and sustainable communities-focused firms.

LeSar Development Consultants, founded in 2005, works specifically on systems change interventions to end the housing affordability and homelessness crises. In 2017, Ms. LeSar launched the Housing Policy Leadership Academy (HPLA), an education and engagement program for leaders and influencers designed to forge comprehensive regional housing solutions and identify actions needed to effectuate structural change and solutions.

Ms. LeSar earned an MBA in real estate and finance and an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA, and a BA from Bryn Mawr College in political science and economics. In 2014, she completed the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford Graduate School of Business.


JESSICA RIPPER, Director, Market Execution

Jessica Ripper specializes in partnering with clients to promote systems change at the intersections of housing, health, and human services through education and training, stakeholder engagement, and organizational capacity building. She currently leads a team that oversees curriculum development and delivery for the Housing Policy Leadership Academy and works with subject matter experts to create interactive educational experiences for a range of other clients. She previously served as a Principal at LeSar Development Consultants (LCD), where she guided multiple cities in Los Angeles County through the development of local homelessness plans, developed toolkits on subjects ranging from permanent supportive housing to cross-sector data sharing, and facilitated strategic planning for community-based organizations and collaborative networks. Prior to joining LDC, Jessica consulted on systems change initiatives for the County of San Diego Child Welfare Services and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, as well as other national and regional nonprofits.

HELMI HISSERICH, Director, Global Policy Programs

Helmi is a director at the Global Policy Leadership Academy, an immersive training and education firm focused on bringing best practices in housing solutions from around the world to U.S. civic and policy leaders. She has worked with various civic, community, and elected leaders throughout her career to advance affordable housing and economic development policies and programs in the City of Los Angeles. During her 25-year career with the City of Los Angeles, Helmi served as Deputy Mayor of Housing and was a senior manager at the Los Angeles Redevelopment Agency and the Los Angeles Housing Department. In her role with GPLA, Helmi leads delegations of California policymakers to Vienna, Austria, to gain in-depth knowledge of the internationally recognized Vienna Social Housing Model. A resident of Los Angeles, Helmi holds a BA in Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California and an MBA from Cornell University with an emphasis in finance. She has attended the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard Kennedy School and in 2016, was awarded a Stanton Fellowship for thought leadership in housing.

ARIA POUNAKI, Community of Practice Manager

Aria Pounaki brings experience in advocacy, housing policy, and affordable housing development to his role in GPLA. Aria is passionate about addressing housing affordability through the production and preservation of housing across the housing continuum. Aria has worked as an associate project manager at the largest nonprofit affordable housing developer on the West Coast. Mr. Pounaki graduated from Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree international relations and Spanish. He also holds a certificate in Real Estate Development & Finance from the University of San Diego. He resides in San Diego.

ARIA CATANO, Program Manager

Aria Cataño is passionate about addressing the housing and homelessness crisis through grassroots organizing and cross-sectoral innovation. Prior to joining LDC, Aria worked as a Communications and Land Use Specialist at Lee Andrews Group, where she managed multiple community outreach projects in the Los Angeles region. She is also active addressing water insecurity issues within unhoused and low-income communities in Southern California. Aria holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Southern California.

BEA STAMBUK-TORRES, Program Manager, Vienna Field Studies Program Beatriz Stambuk-Torres has been working and living in Vienna to deepen her knowledge of the Vienna social housing model and translate the policies and system of social housing to a language policymakers can use to implement in the United States. Beatriz is a researcher passionate about supporting initiatives that prioritize access to affordable quality housing for all. Beatriz previously worked as an Associate at LeSar Development Consultants (LDC) where she provided expertise to numerous California public sector jurisdictions topics including building affordable housing on public land, rehabilitation of hotels into housing for people experiencing homelessness, community land trust development, California wildfire disaster recovery, and regional preservation of unrestricted and restricted affordable housing. Beatriz has also worked as a housing researcher at UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation, a California housing policy think-tank, where she co-developed two published policy reports. She has also worked internationally for several years as an Environmental Analyst to secure water rights for Ecuadorian farmers and has three years of experience as a nationally certified Spanish interpreter in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Beatriz holds a master’s degree as a city planner from UC Berkeley.


Craig Adelman Senior Principal, LeSar Development Consultants Craig has 25 years working in community and real estate development, lending, CDFI and government sectors. Prior to joining LDC, he served as Managing Director for the Low Income Investment Fund’s SPARCC initiative, Bank of America.
Helmi Hisserich Director, Global Policy Programs, GPLA Helmi is a distinguished leader in housing policy and development with a robust track record of scaling sustainable solutions and aligning the interests of diverse stakeholders.
Gabriel Speyer Senior Principal, LeSar Development Consultants Gabe is a high performing affordable developer overseeing all aspects of numerous new-construction and rehabilitation projects including entitlements, design, finance, construction and lease-up.
Jessica Ripper Director, Market Execution, GPLA Jessica specializes in building bridges across the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to advance policy and systems change through strategic planning, community outreach and education, and interactive trainings and workshops.