President & CEO
Renata Simril is President & CEO of the Play Equity Fund. A 501(c)3 public charity, the Play Equity Fund was established by the LA84 Foundation in 2014 and is dedicated to supporting programs and actions to ensure all kids have equal access to sport and structured play. The Play Equity Fund achieves this by raising awareness of inequities, supporting the sports-based youth development ecosystem for greater impact, and developing partnerships to advocate for funding and sustainable solutions to ensure kids of color have access and opportunity to pathways for lifelong wellbeing. It is the only nonprofit committed to making Play Equity a social justice issue.
Ms. Simril is an accomplished civic and private sector trailblazer with more than 25 years of diversified experience with a commitment to leadership and service. She most recently served as Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff to the Publisher of the Los Angeles Times, where she oversaw staff operations and special projects. Her earlier career included three seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where she served as Senior Vice President of External Affairs overseeing the restoration of the Dodgers brand and the Dodgers Foundation; and over a decade in real estate development with Jones Lang LaSalle, Forest City Development and LCOR, Inc.
Her public service included stints as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Housing in the Hahn Administration, where she worked to expand rental and affordable housing in Los Angeles, and as a Development Deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, where she worked to help rebuild communities in South Los Angeles after the 1992 civil unrest. Ms. Simril began her career in the U.S. Army as a Military Police Officer in the U.S. and Germany.
Ms. Simril is active in the community outside of the Play Equity Movement, currently serving on the Boards of United Way of Greater Los Angeles; LA 2028 Olympic Bid Committee; Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation.
She formerly served as a Governor’s Appointee on the California Science Center Board, where she led successful negotiations of long-term lease agreements for USC to manage and operate the Coliseum and Sports Arena properties; as Chair of the Board of Regents for LMU, and as a member of the Lusk Center for Real Estate at USC. She was named to the Orange County Register’s 50 Most Powerful in Southern California Sports list in 2017 and to the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of The 500 Most Influential People from 2016-2020. CSQ magazine named her a Visionary in Sports and Entertainment, 2017, and Simril received the WISE LA (Women in Sports and Entertainment) Women of Inspiration award in 2016.
Ms. Simril is a third-generation Angeleno. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Loyola Marymount University and a Master’s in Real Estate Development from USC. Ms. Simril resides in Studio City with her husband and two sons.
Chief Development Officer
Kathleen (Kathy) Ash joined the Play Equity Fund as Chief Development Officer in December of 2019. Prior to joining the Play Equity Fund, Ms. Ash served as the Associate Vice President of Development at Loyola Marymount University (LMU). She oversaw the principal gifts program, corporate and foundation relations, gift planning, and parent and international fundraising for University Advancement, where she directed strategy for identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of transformational relationships and giving in these areas.
Before returning to LMU, Ms. Ash was the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) in Los Angeles. CEF provides over $12 million in scholarship funding annually so that more than 9,000 financially deserving students could attend Catholic elementary and high schools within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Prior to her time at CEF, Ms. Ash was the Associate Dean for Business Services in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University. She has also held the positions of Vice President of Operations at the Braille Institute of America, Director of Finance and Operations at Marlborough School, and was also the Executive Director, Administrative Services for the School of Engineering, and the Chief Financial Officer for the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
Ms. Ash earned her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and a Master’s in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.
She and her husband, Kevin, live in Playa del Rey. They have two grown children and two very spoiled dogs. In her spare time, Ms. Ash leads an active lifestyle that includes running, hiking, reading, travel, and being outdoors.
Since joining the Play Equity Fund in 2019 as Development Associate, Ms. Aragon has created a donor stewardship plan, board giving policy and collaborated with Grants & Programs to increase all Development functions. She was born and raised in San Diego where she grew up exploring the great Jamul outdoors, rollerblading in her driveway and playing sports.
She captained the Women’s Golf Team at UC Santa Cruz, and also graduated from the University of San Diego’s Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management Program in 2017 and the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy Fundraising Academy in 2019.
As a first-generation college student, Ms. Aragon is particularly passionate about access to affordable education and building sustainable social-emotional support systems for youth in Southern California. Ms. Aragon has worked at a number of foundations and nonprofits throughout the region, including serving as Director of Development & Communications of The First Tee of San Diego, and is currently a member of the Latina Giving Circle and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP).