Meet our awesome team!
Nearly all members of the board are ballroom dancers and have experienced the physical and mental health benefits firsthand. Those who aren’t ballroom dancers have been witness to the effects in others.
The mix of legal, medical, educational and dance experience among the board members, along with their passion for bringing ballroom dance to forefront as an effective therapeutic tool, is the reason for Rx Ballroom Dance’s rapid success in its first year and will be the reason the organization will continue to grow in a strong and sustainable way.
Erin Drake, founder of Rx Ballroom Dance and Executive Director
Erin has extensive experience in education and business development, both in the private and nonprofit sectors. As noted in her resume (attached), she has served on the boards of other nonprofits with responsibilities that included developing programs and their evaluative criteria, strategic planning, and managing fundraising and donor campaigns.
James (Jim) F. Roberts, Chairman of the Board
Jim is an attorney at law and the founder of Orange County’s premiere estate planning law firm that focuses upon protecting the family. Since 1981, with Jim at the helm, the firm has met the estate planning needs of more than 10,000 clients. Jim has the distinction of being among the ½ of 1% of the attorneys in California that the State Bar recognizes as being a Specialist in their field of practice. Jim has sat on boards for the protection of abused women and children, and has served as an officer on his church board. Jim is also the past president of service clubs in Southern California.
Audrey Schwarzbein, Board Member and Richard (Dick) Graham, Treasurer
Dr. Audrey Schwarzbein, an Ophthalmologist, and her husband Dr. Richard (Dick) Graham, a Neurologist, bring their decades of expertise and philanthropy to the organization. Outside of their own practices, they have extensive volunteer experience with numerous other nonprofit and humanitarian organizations.
Gary Flashner, Secretary
Dr. Gary Flashner is a retired medical physician, with several decades’ experience working in the ER and in the field (serving in Yosemite National Park). After retiring from the ER, he directed the development and review of a library of patient education documents for Elsevier/Exitcare, a patient education solutions company. In addition to serving on Rx Ballroom Dance’s board, Dr. Flashner teaches CPR classes and mentors students on a medical track at the University of California, Irvine.
Lynda Zadra-Symes, Board Member
Lynda is a litigation partner and co-chair of the Knobbe Martens law firm trademark and copyright litigation practice groups. She represents clients through all stages of U.S. litigation, from pre-suits through trial and appeal, in federal courts throughout the country and before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Her practice involves all types of intellectual property, and she also advises on issues relating to customs and anti-counterfeiting, international trademarks and copyrights, advertising, social media, competition and passing off.
Laraine Tanzer, Board Member
Laraine is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in private practice. Laraine is certified in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and an Approved Consultant in EMDR. Throughout her career, she has designed and led several comprehensive group programs including partner relationship programs, women support groups, grief workshops, leadership workshops, social skills training for children and parenting classes.
True brings valuable knowledge and insight to the Rx Ballroom board as a medical physician with over 30 years of training and experience. She currently serves as the Medical Director of the Emergency Department and Vice Chief-of-Staff at the Garden Grove Hospital and Medical Center in Garden Grove, CA.
Between her educational background in environmental science and creative writing and her career as a technical writer, Katie has spent nearly 20 years experiencing and witnessing the powerful effects of combining the creative arts and science. As a ballroom dancer for the last eight years, she knows firsthand the mental, emotional and physical benefits of this art/sport. Katie uses her writing and website skills to help Rx Ballroom Dance raise awareness of its program and build its community.
Birgit has over 25 years of experience in technical editing and content writing. She previously served as editing department manager at an environmental consulting firm, and in 2016 she became an independent contractor for content writing and editing. Birgit witnessed the devastation of Alzheimer’s when her mother became ill in 2010. While her mom has since lost her battle with this disease, her love of music and dance had an enormous impact in lifting up her spirits and keeping her present with her family for longer than medical experts thought possible. Birgit started taking ballroom lessons in 2012 and appreciates the engagement of both her mind and body that comes with learning this beautiful artform. Also, after a challenging day, a ballroom lesson is just what the doctor ordered to clear her mind and end her day with joy. When the opportunity arose to write grants for Rx Ballroom Dance in August 2018, Birgit knew she had to be involved because she strongly believes in the positive effects ballroom dancing has on people suffering from neurodegenerative illnesses based on her personal family experience.
John Holland, Social Media Intern
John is a senior at the University of Notre Dame studying Mechanical Engineering and Design. Originally from Orange County, California, he has participated in a variety of service opportunities throughout high school and college, earning him the distinction of Andrews Scholar at Notre Dame. John spent a summer as a camp counselor at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego, and worked as a data analyst at Teacher Created Materials. He is the acting vice president of the Notre Dame Glee Club, a 105-year old male choir, and has previously served as its treasurer and social media commissioner.