Debra Fine Appointed CEO of I Have a Dream Foundation – Los Angeles

Debra Fine has joined I Have A Dream Foundation – Los Angeles (IHADLA) as the new CEO/executive director, it was announced at the national staff conference held in Nevada last month. Debra has been CEO of both private and public companies in the educational media, technology, and consumer product sectors. She has served on several nonprofit boards such as The Maple Counseling Center and Step Up on Second. Debra’s role as CEO/executive director will have an emphasis on fundraising. Fine has over 20 years of experience in strategic planning, capital raising, marketing, operations and business development/strategic alliances.

“When the Board approached me with this opportunity, I knew it was a perfect fit. I was immediately interested because of IHADLA’s mission to proactively reach children and young adults. This organization provides in school and after class tutoring, mentoring, cultural enrichment, college counseling and scholarship opportunities,” says Debra. “The organization adopts classes of at risk youth in 3rd grade and stays with them through high school. We then grant them an $8K scholarship over four years for college. Our students have an 83% on-time graduation rate, versus the average rate of 43% for other schools in at-risk areas. 93% of our high school graduates then go on to college. IHADLA’s programs contribute to the wellbeing of these young people, getting ahead of crime, creating community safety, and breaking the cycle of poverty. We needed to take our commitment to a healthy future and next generation into our own hands. The federal government can only do so much. As the CEO of, I will bring to the table years of experience as a foundation CEO and concentrate my efforts on fundraising for this essential organization.”

“We are excited to introduce Debra Fine as the chief executive officer of the “I Have A Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles,” said Grant F. Little, III, Chairman of the IHADLA Board of Directors. “Debra’s background in running blue chip companies and organizations, her background in raising funding (over $100 million), and her hard work in children’s education, mental health reform, services, and foundations makes her the perfect leader for IHADLA as we begin a major capital campaign.” 

Katy Garretson, IHADLA’s previous executive director added, “I am so pleased that Debra Fine will be my successor, and I look forward to her bringing the incredible IHADLA services to even more at-risk youth across Los Angeles.” Garretson will be staying on with the foundation as the sponsor of the Dreamers in Watts. Prior to her years as the CEO, Garretson had been a mentor and served on multiple board committees as a volunteer. She requested a move back to a volunteer role in April and is returning to her creative roots in the television industry.

The “I Have a Dream” Foundation – Los Angeles has been sponsoring students (“Dreamers”) throughout Los Angeles since 1987. The Foundation sponsors an entire grade at an inner-city Title 1 elementary school and stays with those students for over ten years, providing after-school and summer programs, academic and cultural enrichment, counseling services, arts instruction, mentors, and tutors. Upon high school graduation, IHADLA then provides each Dreamer a last-dollar scholarship for college or career training.

There are currently four active IHADLA program sites: fifth graders in Watts, eighth and ninth graders in Inglewood, and mostly college freshman/college sophomores in East Los Angeles. IHADLA also serves over 1,000 Dreamer Graduates via alumni support and/or scholarships.


Debra Fine CEO I Have a Dream Los Angeles
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