Speakers: Forward LA

Jody Agius Vallejo – Associate Professor, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences

Jody Agius Vallejo specializes in immigrant integration, race/ethnicity, and social stratification. Her book, “Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class,” (Stanford University Press 2012) examines patterns of mobility and socioeconomic incorporation among the Mexican-origin middle class in Southern California. “Barrios to Burbs” addresses the following questions: How are upwardly mobile and middle-class Mexican Americans integrating into America’s core social structures? Are they incorporating into the white middle-class, as traditional assimilation theory predicts or are they forging a new route where they follow a minority pathway into the middle class? Second, what are the mechanisms that promote upward mobility and integration into the middle class? And finally, what is it like to be Mexican American and middle class in a society that holds a narrow view of the class structure of the population? Vallejo systematically address these issues with a mixed methodological approach, which combines the qualitative strengths of traditional sociological inquiry (in-depth interviews, participant observation, ethnography) with demographic analysis of representative statistics from the U.S. Census. Her newest project, The Latino Elite: Entrepreneurship, Community, and Mobility, is a study of middle-class and professional Latino entrepreneurs in Los Angeles. Building on theories of ethnic entrepreneurship, assimilation, racial/ethnic identification, and civic engagement, this research uses in-depth interviews, ethnography, and statistics to investigate the rise of Latino business owners in the formal economy, the institutions that support them, their patterns of ethnic philanthropy, the factors that shape their racial/ethnic identification, and the challenges and successes they experience as formal-sector entrepreneurs. Vallejo’s third project, in which she is a Co-Pi with Lisa Keister (Duke), examines heterogeneous assimilation outcomes of today’s new immigrants via the lens of wealth accumulation and business ownership, with a focus on Chinese Americans. This NSF funded study relies on mixed methods including extensive quantitative analysis of large data sets and an ethnographic study of Chinese American business owners in Southern California. Other projects include analyses of middle-class Mexican Americans’ experiences of subtle discrimination and microagressions in the white collar workplace and the mechanisms, such as early familial obligations, that lead to differential patterns of educational attainment between Mexican Americans and Chinese and Vietnamese Americans.

Lilian Coral – Chief Data Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

A native of Cali, Colombia, I emigrated to the United States with my Mother in the early 1980s. Raised and educated in Southern California, I have bachelors’ degrees in International Studies and Drama from UC Irvine and a Master’s in Public Policy from UCLA.

I currently serve as the Chief Data Officer for the City of Los Angeles, in the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti. I work to support data-driven decision-making at the highest levels of government, and innovation and creativity in solving LA’s most intractable challenges.

Prior to joining Mayor Garcetti’s office, I helped develop2-1-1 California, the alliance of 2-1-1 information and referral providers in California. 2-1-1 is a free phone number and online database that connects Californians quickly and effectively to health and human service programs in their communities.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked on projects ranging from planning and program development, to research and policy analysis for health and human service agencies, local government, and labor unions; I’m an older sister and a life-long fan of the New York Knicks, Zinfandel and (inter)national political shenanigans!

Jackie Dupont-Walker – Los Angeles Metro Board Member and President of Ward Economic Development Corp.

Jacquelyn “Jackie” Dupont-Walker serves on the LA Metro Board and also is the President of Ward Economic Development Corp.  She was a major force in city redistricting efforts in 1990 and 2000. She joined with other black leaders to fight for political gains that she said would have been wiped out when the lines for voting districts were redrawn. She also chairs the USC Master Plan Advisory Council. She represents West Adams residents as USC plans a multibillion-dollar redevelopment of some areas near the campus.


Laurence B Frank, President, Los Angeles Trade Technical College

Laurence B. Frank has been President of Los Angeles Trade-Technical College since 2013. Trade Tech’s rigorous focus on workforce development, has led to significant industry partnerships, grant opportunities and a re-vitalized relationship with the neighborhoods served by the college. In his former role as a deputy mayor for the City of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013, Frank oversaw community development, Public Works, the workforce development programs, and the system of neighborhood councils. President Frank’s strong sense of commitment to the community has catapulted LATTC to significantly increased levels of visibility and leadership. Under Frank’s leadership, LATTC serves as the lead convener for the South Los Angeles Transit Empowerment Zone (SLATE-Z) collaborative which is a partnership of elected officials, public agencies, community-based organizations, schools, universities, and business associations that successfully won a federal Promise Zone designation in June 2016. Frank has worked within the higher education landscape as a faculty member at UCLA, where he was the research and staff director of the Center for Labor Research and Education. Frank graduated in 1990 from the UCLA School of Law and has a religious studies degree from Saint Lawrence University.

Salin Geevarghese – Senior Advisor, Center for the Study of Social Policy

Salin Geevarghese serves as Senior Advisor at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP) as well as the Director of the Innovation and Action Network, a strategic alliance of CSSP, the National Initiative on Mixed Income Communities at Case Western Reserve University and Urban Strategies, Inc. Geevarghese previously served as HUD’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI) within the Office of Policy Development and Research. Prior to this appointment, Salin was Acting Director of the Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. Before coming to HUD as an appointee of President Obama, Salin worked as a Senior Associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation where he focused on urban redevelopment issues, anchor institutions, regional equity and opportunity, and community and economic development policy. A recognized expert and leader, Salin has consulted, spoken, and written widely on open records laws and transparency, public education issues, civil rights and equity issues, community and economic development, sustainable urbanization, and civic innovation and engagement efforts.

Dana Goldman – Professor and Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair and Director, USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics

Dana Goldman is a Professor and the Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair and Director of the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics. In 2016, he was appointed a Distinguished Professor of the University of Southern California. Until Fall 2009, he held RAND’s Distinguished Chair in Health Economics and directed RAND’s program in Economics, Finance, and Organization. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Health Services and Radiology at UCLA.

Dr. Goldman is a nationally-recognized health economist influential in both academic and policy circles. He is the author of over 100 articles and book chapters, including articles in some of the most prestigious medical, economic, health policy, and statistics journals. He is a health policy advisor to the Congressional Budget Office, and is a frequent speaker on health care issues. He serves on several editorial boards including Health Affairs and the American Journal of Managed Care. He is also a founding editor of the Forum for Health Economics and Policy, an online journal devoted to health economics and health policy.

Dr. Goldman’s work has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Business Week, U.S. News and World Report, The Economist, NBC Nightly News, CNN, National Public Radio, and other media. Dr. Goldman was the 2009 recipient of the Eugene Garfield Economic Impact Prize, recognizing outstanding research demonstrating how medical research impacts the economy. He was awarded the National Institute for Health Care Management Research Foundation award for excellence in health policy, and the Alice S. Hersh New Investigator Award recognizing the contributions of a young scholar to the field of health services research. He also has served on several panels for the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine, including a current panel on the fiscal future of the United States.

Dr. Goldman’s research sponsors include the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, National Cancer Institute, National Science Foundation, Amgen, Merck, Genentech, Pfizer, UnitedHealth, Pacificare, California Healthcare Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Dr. Goldman is also a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research, the nation’s leading economic research organization. He is the director of the RAND/UCLA Health Services Research Postdoctoral Training Program. He is also a founder and managing director of Precision Health Economics, a consulting firm to the health care industry. Dr. Goldman received his B.A. summa cum laude from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University.

Marqueece Harris-Dawson – LA City Councilmember, District 8

Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2015, representing the Eighth Council District. Harris-Dawson has deep roots in the South LA Community, serving as President and CEO of Community Coalition for a decade.  At Community Coalition, he championed a campaign to publicize the horrendous conditions of several inner city high schools and the inequities in the distribution of public funding. It resulted in an unprecedented $153 million for school repair and modernization in South LA schools. He galvanized South LA families to address public safety in the most humane and effective way possible, working with law enforcement agencies, city leaders, residents, and businesses to reduce crime and violence by transforming neighborhood parks and decreasing nuisance business activity that foster crime.

As a freshman Councilmember, he authored Proposition HHH, a historic $1.2 billion bond to end homelessness in Los Angeles as we know it. Under the Councilmember’s leadership, Proposition HHH passed, with over of 76% approval, to invest in Permanent Supportive Housing for chronically homeless individuals, families, and veterans.

Darnell Hunt – Professor and Chair of the UCLA Department of Sociology, and Director, Bunche Center for African American Studies

Darnell Hunt is chair of the Department of Sociology, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at UCLA. Dr. Hunt has written extensively on race and media, including numerous scholarly journal articles and popular magazine articles. He has also published four books about these issues: Screening the Los Angeles “Riots”: Race, Seeing, and Resistance (Cambridge University Press, 1997), O.J. Simpson Facts and Fictions: News Rituals in the Construction of Reality (Cambridge University Press, 1999), Channeling Blackness: Studies on Television and Race in America (Oxford University Press, 2005), and (with AnaChristina Ramon) Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities (NYU Press, 2010). Prior to his positions at UCLA, he chaired the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC).

Over the past two decades, Dr. Hunt has worked on several projects exploring the issues of access and diversity in the Hollywood industry. He was lead author of the Bunche Center’s 2014, 2015 and 2016 Hollywood Diversity Reports, which provide comprehensive analyses of the employment of women and minorities in front of and behind the camera in film and television. He authored the last six installments of the Hollywood Writers Report, released by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2016. He was principal investigator of The African American Television Report, released by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) in June of 2000. He has also worked in the media and as a media researcher for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ 1993 hearings on diversity in Hollywood. Recently, he has worked as a consultant on film and television projects focusing on sensitive portrayals of race and ethnicity.

Dr. Hunt has also been a frequent public commentator on questions of media and race. He has been interviewed for dozens of television and radio programs on the topic, and the findings of his research studies have been reported in thousands of print, radio, broadcast, and on-line media outlets throughout the United States and abroad. He has also participated in and moderated several panel discussions about media diversity sponsored by entities such as the Federal Communications Commission, the United Nations, the Congressional Black Caucus, and numerous colleges and universities. He was listed among Ebony magazine’s “Power 150 Academia” for 2009-2010.

Dr. Hunt received a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from USC, an MBA from Georgetown University, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from UCLA. A native of Washington, D.C., he has lived in Los Angeles for the past 30 years.

Angela Johnson Meszaros – Staff Attorney, EarthJustice

Angela Johnson Meszaros is an attorney at Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law organization, with a docket focused on air pollution, energy, and the urban environment.  Angela has more than 20 years of experience working with communities and organizations on environmental justice issues in the Los Angeles region.  During this time, Angela has used a range of tools to enhance the health, safety, and quality of life of low-income communities of color negatively impacted by environmental hazards including:  providing technical assistance to community members, litigation, legislative policy advocacy, and media engagement.

Angela’s efforts have focused on policy development, implementation, and enforcement in a variety of environmental areas including: the impacts climate change policy on communities of color, meeting the standards established by the Clean Air Act, public participation in environmental decision-making, reducing childhood lead poisoning, defending against destructive freeway siting, stopping inappropriate siting of sources of air pollution, land use policies and their impact on community health, reducing health impacts of air toxics from mobile and stationary sources, superfund clean up, the California Environmental Quality Act, and air permit development and compliance.

Angela holds both a degree in philosophy and a law degree from the University of Southern California.  She is a member of the California state bar.

Tamu Jones – Program Manager, Building Healthy Communities South Los Angeles, The California Endowment

Tamu F. Jones, program manager for South Los Angeles, joined the foundation in February 2011. Prior to joining The Endowment, Jones served for more than four years as a program officer for the California Community Foundation (CCF) where she directed and managed the foundation’s health care portfolio. Prior to her work in philanthropy, Jones managed a variety of public health programs for the City of Pasadena Public Health Department and Contra Costa County Health Services Department. Jones is a past Fellow of the Coro Health Leadership Program (2007) and is also a graduate of Leadership Pasadena. She earned her B.A. in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Public Health and a Master of Business Administration from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

LaVonna Lewis – Professor, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy

LaVonna Blair Lewis, Ph.D., MPH, is a Teaching Professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. She joined the University of Southern California (USC) faculty in the Fall of 1996. Dr. Lewis’ areas of research consistently focus on cultural competency and the health status and health care needs of underrepresented groups. She is currently involved in addressing racial disparities cardiovascular disease and diabetes through the Community Health Councils, Inc., African American Building a Legacy of Health Project. The project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a community based project that explores individual, organizational, and community support for (and barriers to) healthy living.

She is member of the Board of Directors for the Association of University Programs in Health Administration; and the Standards Council for the Commission on Accreditation in Health Management Education. She is also a member of several associations including the American College of Healthcare Executives and Community Campus Partnerships for Health.

Michael McAfee – President, PolicyLink

Michael McAfee, President, leads PolicyLink executive and program teams in strategic planning, policy development, policy campaign strategy, capacity building, and programmatic design and implementation at the local, state, and national levels. He came to PolicyLink in 2011 as the inaugural director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink. Under his leadership, PolicyLink has emerged as a national leader in building cradle-to-career systems to ensure that children and youth in our nation’s most distressed communities have a pathway into the middle class. His partnership with local leaders in more than 60 communities contributed to significant improvements in the educational and developmental outcomes for children and helped attract public and private investments that exceed $1 billion. Through the 2015 authorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Promise Neighborhoods program is now a permanent federal program.

Before joining PolicyLink, Michael served as senior community planning and development representative in the Chicago Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While at HUD, he managed a $450 million housing, community, and economic development portfolio where he partnered with local leaders to create more than 3,000 units of affordable housing and 5,000 jobs and ensure access to social services for more than 200,000 families. He also served as the lead instructor with HUD’s Leadership Development Program. He is most proud of personally ensuring the successful matriculation of more than 168 senior executives through the Leadership Development Program and providing fundraising, leadership, management, and organizational development technical assistance to more than 1,000 persons and 800 grassroots faith- and community-based organizations. His partnership with the White House and HUD’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships has resulted in nonprofit organizations accessing more than $1 billion in federal resources.

Michael believes that every American deserves access to opportunities that give them a fair shot at succeeding in life. He is an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellow, Aspen Institute Ideas Scholar, and Leap of Reason Ambassador. He served in the United States army, completed Harvard University’s Executive Program in Public Management, and earned his doctor of education in human and organizational learning from The George Washington University. He is an avid off-road hiker and practitioner of Bikram yoga.

Aurea Montes-Rodriguez – Executive Vice President, Community Coalition

Aurea Montes-Rodriguez is the Executive Vice President of Community Coalition, a social justice non-profit based in South Los Angeles. She was born in Mexico and raised in South L.A. where she developed a passion for advocacy and community organizing focusing on building black and brown unity. Aurea established the organization’s development department responsible for raising $5 million annually through public and private grants, a fundraising gala, and membership. In 2015, Aurea completed a successful $5 million capital campaign to renovate Community Coalition’s headquarters into a state of the art center for community organizing. Aurea also championed efforts to strengthen and support family care in South LA. Aurea is a co-founder of Partners for Children South LA and serves on the board of InnerCity Struggle, an educational justice organization located in East Los Angeles. She is also a member of the Building Movement Project working to build capacity within the non-profit sector to promote social justice efforts at the national level.

John Moon – District Manager, Community Development, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

John Moon is a Senior Community Affairs Analyst at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System where he develops programs and policies affecting low-income communities. Prior to joining the Federal Reserve, he worked at the CDFI Fund on the New Markets Tax Credit Program and has advised several successful allocation applications. He has also worked in many other areas within the community/economic development field. These experiences include the District of Columbia’s Mayor’s Office where he was responsible for many large-scale real estate development projects; the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle as a Public Interest Investment Banker; the City of Seattle where he managed its development finance programs; FleetBoston where he was a commercial loan officer; and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City where he conducted one of its first research case studies.

Mr. Moon earned his BA from UCLA Phi Beta Kappa and MPP from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was a Public Affairs Fellow through the Coro Foundation. He also serves on the Advisory Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s Center for Community Development Investments.

Dowell Myers – USC Sol Price School of Public Policy

Dowell Myers is a professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He is a demographer and urban planner who integrates quantitative evidence with interpretations of problems and policy solutions. His research emphasizes the linkages of demographic data (census, surveys, and projections) to future trends in housing workforce, education, taxpaying, voting, and immigration. His recent focus is construction of narratives that promote greater public understanding about pressing issues that affect our common future.


Gary Painter – Professor, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and Director, Sol Price Center for Social Innovation

Gary Painter is a Professor in the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Director of Social Policy in the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation. He has published numerous articles in top journals such as the Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Urban Economics, Urban Studies, Journal of Human Resources, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Real Estate Economics, Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics, and Regional Science and Urban Economics.

Professor Painter’s research interests focuses on social innovation, housing, urban economics, and education policy. He is among the world’s foremost experts on how changing demographics impact U.S. housing markets. Recent work has focused on how immigrants are integrating into housing markets across the U.S. and the role of the economic cycle on household formation. Other recent work has studied immigrant integration issues in spatial labor markets and in education. Current research focuses on how to evaluate social innovation.

He has served as a consultant for the National Association of Realtors, Pacific Economics Group, Andrew Davidson Co., Fannie Mae, Grant Thorton LLP, Burr Consulting, and the Research Institute for Housing America.

Meg Palisoc – Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Synergy Academies 

Dr. Meg Palisoc (Class of ‘96, ‘98, and ‘13) is the Co-Founder and CEO of Synergy Academies, a non-profit organization that operates nationally recognized urban public charter schools in South Los Angeles. Over the past 13 years, Meg co-founded three schools: Synergy Charter Academy, Synergy Kinetic Academy, and Synergy Quantum Academy, which serve over 1300 students in grades K-12.

Meg’s passion for social justice and race relations began when she enrolled at the University of Southern California (USC) in the fall of 1992. Going against the advice of friends and family members, she decided to enroll at USC after watching the 1992 riots on TV because she wanted to be part of the solution to help prevent future civil unrest in the city.

Prior to entering the K-12 profession, Meg held various positions in college student affairs, including serving as the Director of Engineering Career Services at USC. As a college administrator, Meg noticed that college students who came from inner-city public K-12 schools were often not as academically prepared as their peers. For this reason, Meg transitioned from higher education and became an elementary school teacher in South LA with the Los Angeles Unified School District. As a teacher, she saw that inner-city schools were not improving quickly enough. Therefore, Meg co-founded the Synergy Academies schools to more rapidly create educational equity for all students.

Under Meg’s leadership, Synergy’s schools have pioneered the blended learning model since 2004 and are model STEM schools. In 2013, Synergy’s elementary school was named the Best Urban Elementary School in America and the #1 charter elementary school in California. In 2015 and 2016, Synergy’s high school was named a Best High School by U.S. News & World Report. Meg and her team’s mission is to share and exchange best practices with other educators worldwide.

Edward Park – Professor, Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University

 Edward J.W. Park is a professor in the Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. He received his Ph.D. in ethnic studies and a master’s degree in city and regional planning, both at the University of California, Berkeley. His research topics include migration studies, race relations, urban studies, and economic sociology. His most recent publications examine the transformation of Koreatown since the Los Angeles Civil Unrest of 1992 (“From Ethnic Island to a Transnational Bubble: Koreatown from 1992 to 2012,” Amerasia Journal, 2012) and comparative migration policies in transpacific context (“Immigration and Belonging: Nation, Class, and Membership in New Migration Policies,” AAPI Nexus Journal, 2012).

Manuel Pastor – Director, Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change

Dr. Manuel Pastor is Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California (USC) where he directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). He is the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change, and holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He writes and speaks widely on issues including demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment. He currently serves as a Public Member of the Strategic Growth Council in California, and has previously served as a member of the Commission on Regions appointed by California’s Speaker of the State Assembly, and as a member of the Regional Targets Advisory Committee for the California Air Resources Board. In 2012, he received the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year award for social justice research partnerships. Pastor’s current research is looking at the last several decades of economic, social, and environmental transformations in California – and what they can tell us about the road ahead for the U.S.

Alberto Retana – President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Coalition

Alberto was introduced to organizing at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.  After UCLA, Alberto cut his teeth in community organizing at Community Coalition, a nonprofit organization based in South Los Angeles that engages and empowers residents to improve health, education, and public safety. At Community Coalition, Alberto further developed his organizing values: understanding that leadership development, building the power of collective action, and non-violence are core tenets to advancing social change. Alberto’s unwavering commitment to organizing began with South Central Youth Empowered Through Action (SCYEA).

From 2009 to 2011, Alberto worked for the Obama administration in the U.S. Department of Education as Director of Community Outreach. In 2011, Alberto returned to Community Coalition to lead its mass based civic engagement strategy to organize 40,000 African American and Latino voters in various campaigns from statewide initiatives to enrollment into Obamacare. Alberto also helped to build Community Coalition’s cultural arm by launching PowerFest—South Los Angeles’ premier political concert drawing thousands of South Los Angeles residents to a day of celebration and empowerment.

After a rigorous national search, Alberto was selected to be President and CEO of Community Coalition effective July 1st, 2015.

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk- Executive Director, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

A native Angeleno, Tunua Thrash-Ntuk is the Executive Director of Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LA LISC). She is a seasoned community and economic development practitioner of more than 15-years with both non-profit and private sector experiences. Her strengths range from community advocacy to asset and real estate development around neighborhood revitalization. She has already led a number of important urban initiatives in Los Angeles focused on affordable housing and commercial development as well as transit-oriented projects. Prior to joining LISC, Tunua served as Executive Director of West Angeles Community Development Corporation, during her tenure she was responsible for the asset management and oversight of the WACDC real estate portfolio valued at $150 million. Tunua led the growth of WACDC’s real estate portfolio, in part by brokering a breakthrough in the development, construction and opening of West Angeles Plaza, a 24,000 square foot commercial office project. Tunua serves as a board member or advisory board member to many entities, including Federal Home Loan Bank San Francisco’s Affordable Housing Council, Housing California, City of LA Measure HHH Citizens Oversight Commission, Southern California Edison’s Consumer Advisory Panel, Greenlining Institute, Union Bank’s Community Advisory Board, Frontier Communications Community Advisory Board and the Los Angeles Development Fund, which is the City of Los Angeles’ New Market Tax Credit implementation group.

William Vega – Provost Professor, USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work and Executive Director, USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging

 William Vega is provost professor at USC with appointments in social work, preventive medicine, psychiatry, family medicine, psychology and gerontology. He is also the executive director of the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging. Prior to joining the Roybal Institute, Vega was director of the Luskin Center on Innovation and an associate provost at UCLA. Vega was born in East Los Angeles and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2008, Vega is a highly cited author and a specialist in the health of Latino populations, and has conducted community and clinical research projects on health, mental health and substance abuse in the United States and Latin America.

Gloria Walton – President and Chief Executive Officer, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education

Gloria Walton is one of the country’s most exciting “next generation” political leaders. For the last seven years she has been President & CEO of Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE), a South LA-based community organization widely recognized as a leader in the development of cutting-edge strategies to ensure that black and brown, poor and working-class communities have an equal voice in the democratic process. Under Ms. Walton’s leadership SCOPE has played a pivotal role in several significant campaigns, including serving as an anchor organization in winning statewide alliance efforts to pass California’s Proposition 30 (which increased taxes for upper income earners and restored $6 billion in education funding, temporarily ending budget cuts to education for the first time in years); and Proposition 47 (which reformed the three strikes law by reducing non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and put the cost savings into rehabilitation, social programs, and mental health services). Ms. Walton also led the organizing effort for SCOPE’s green jobs programs that couple entry level positions with job training to create career pathways into good, green jobs targeted for workers in low-income neighborhoods. In 2016 Ms. Walton received the NAACP-LA’s Empowerment Award; the LA League of Conservation Voters Environmental Justice Champion Award; and, the Center for Community Change’s Champion in Community Organizing Award. She was a recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Fund for Leadership Advancement grant award and was named one of Liberty Hill Foundation’s Leaders to Watch in 2011. Ms. Walton currently serves on the Board of Directors of California Calls, the Coordinating Committee of the Black Worker Center, and is a Founding Advisory Board member of a national collaborative known as BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity).

Clarence Wardell – Director of Repurposing for Results, What Works Cities Initiative

Clarence Wardell III is the Director of Repurposing for Results for the What Works Cities Initiative. He was most recently a member of the U.S. Digital Service at the White House, where he led strategy and product management across several of the team’s projects. In that role he also co-led the White House Police Data Initiative, an effort aimed at using open data as a means to increase trust and engagement between law enforcement and the communities they serve. Prior to joining the U.S. Digital Service, Clarence served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow from 2014-2015

Clarence is a researcher and social entrepreneur who is passionate about using technology to increase and enhance civic engagement. Previously, Clarence was a Research Scientist with CNA Corporation’s Safety & Security group, where he provided analytical support to emergency management and law enforcement organizations to improve response outcomes. Alongside his work at CNA, Clarence has developed several civic-focused software products and conducted research in the online charitable giving space. In 2012, he co-founded tinyGive, a social media-based microphilanthropy platform that was acquired in 2016.

Clarence, who was previously an affiliate with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, is currently a Council on Foreign Relations term member and was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2017. He holds a B.S.E. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Peter White- Executive Director and Founder, Los Angeles Community Action Network

Pete White is Executive Director and Founder of Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN). LA CAN was formed in 1999 when 25 residents of downtown LA came together and acknowledged the problems that existed in their community and made a commitment to do something about those problems: to stand together, organize and become a force in the community that demands change. In the early years, LA CAN focused mostly on issues related to civil rights and preventing the criminalization of poverty, which remains a core project. Over the years, it has added core projects addressing women’s rights (2001), the human right to housing (2002), and healthy food access (2004). LA CAN also has projects focused on economic development, civic participation and voter engagement, and community media. While downtown LA remains its home base, with a particular emphasis on the Skid Row community, in 2007, it expanded its housing and healthy food access work into South Central Los Angeles. Pete was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles.