SCG 2023 Policy Conference - REIMAGINE: Multiracial Democracy
Executive Director, Inland Empire United
In spite of his immigration status, Alex is an artivist, teaching artist, actor, and writer whose work is centered around uplifting and changing narratives about underserved and disenfranchised communities, which include the undocumented community.
As an actor, Alex has toured the U.S. with his solo biographical show titled WET: A DACAmented Journey, which earned him the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for best solo performance, as well as recognition by the Mayor of Los Angeles in 2022.
As a writer, his stories, poems, and spoken word narratives address issues pertaining to race, class, immigration, assimilation, family, love, and Los Angeles. As playwright, Alex has written plays that make the "classics" accesible such as his own take writings by Shakespeare, Victor Hugo, and Anton Chekov.
As a teaching Artist, Alex hosts a series of acting workshops with formerly incarcerated folx that wish to enter the entertainment industry through film and television. He also works with organizations that teach acting and writing at various correctional facilities throughout California. Lastly, Alex teaches poetry and spoken word to public school students that range from ages 11-18 throughout various public school systems in southern California.
CEO, Funders Together to End Homelessness
Karen Bass SCG Member
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
A daughter of our city, Mayor Bass was raised with her three brothers in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood and is a proud graduate of Hamilton High School. After serving as a front-line healthcare provider as a nurse and as a Physician Assistant, Mayor Bass founded the Community Coalition to organize the predominantly Black and Latino residents of South L.A. against substance abuse, poverty and crime, and to pioneer strategies to address the root causes behind the challenges faced by underserved neighborhoods.
She then went on to represent Los Angeles in the State Assembly and was elected by her peers to serve as Speaker, making her the first African American woman to ever lead a state legislative body in the history of the United States. Her time in leadership intersected with the Great Recession, and she was honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for reaching across party lines and making tough decisions to keep the state from bankruptcy while protecting vital services.
While representing Los Angeles and Culver City in Congress, Mayor Bass helped protect small businesses during the pandemic, created policy to drive local jobs from federal infrastructure funding, and led the passage of what the Los Angeles Times called “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.”
Mayor Bass earned her bachelor's degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills before graduating from the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program and earning her masters degree in social work from USC.
Mayor Bass’s oldest daughter Emilia planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps working for social change. The Mayor continues to be inspired by Emilia and her son-in-law Michael’s passion for life. She has three other children, Scythia, Omar and Yvette, and two grandchildren, Michael and Henry, who live in the Los Angeles area.
Sr. Associate Director, Power California
Executive Director, Crenshaw Dairy Mart
Director/Choreographer, Stroll Groove, Inc.
Youth Advocacy Coordinator, Lens Co
President and CEO, SoCal Grantmakers
Most recently, she served as CEO for the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA), with an annual budget exceeding $600 million, a staff of 260 employees and 32 project areas throughout the City of Los Angeles. In response to a statewide call by the legislature, Essel's leadership helped lay a critical foundation for the dissolution of the agency, leading to a successful redistribution of resources for schools and local governments, while ensuring the completion of many crucial affordable housing projects and other developments vitally important to the economic growth of the region.
She has been named to numerous Boards and Commissions over the years, serving as chair of the California Film Commission, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, the Hollywood Community Advisory Council, Alternative Living for the Aging and Central City Association. She also served as Vice‐Chair of the California Workforce Investment Board and FilmLA and was a member of the powerful Los Angeles World Airports Commission, Grand Avenue Project Joint Powers Authority and Los Angeles Development Fund. Essel has been honored by esteemed organizations such as City of Hope, National Women’s Political Committee, Alternative Living for the Aging, Weingart Center Partners, Central City Association and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. In 2016, she received the Leader of the Year Award from the Southern California Leadership Network. She has been named to the Non‐Profit Times “Power and Influence Top 50” for the past two years (2016 and 2017).
Seyron Foo SCG Member
Senior Program Officer, Homelessness, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
In 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom re-appointed Seyron to the California Board of Psychology, a state board that protects consumers of
psychological services by
regulating the practice of
psychology, and supporting
the evolution of the
profession. He served two terms as Board President, the first public member to do so in more than a decade. He earned his master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs and his bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Shane Goldsmith SCG Member
President and Chief Executive Officer, Liberty Hill Foundation
Councilmember, District 1, Los Angeles City Council
Carter Hewgley SCG Member
Director, Home For Good, United Way of Greater LA
After graduating from Miami University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration, Carter received a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.
Executive Director, Engage San Diego
Prior to his work at The Center, Luis was a Health Educator at San Ysidro Health. Luis also served Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest for 10 years in several roles spanning the agency’s three pillars: education, health services, and advocacy. His time at PPPSW ignited his passion for community organizing, coalition building, and voter outreach.
While his commitment to the San Diego community was cemented as an adult, Luis’s family established roots in the San Diego region when he was a young child. Luis is from Los Angeles and was the first of two children born to undocumented immigrants. Concerned with increasing violence near their home and a desire to be closer to their extended family in Tijuana, Luis’s family moved to San Diego when he was four. After obtaining their US citizenship and being priced out of homeownership, his family moved to Tijuana when Luis was eight. For eight years, Luis joined his father as a member of the transborder community, commuting to school each day. Although Luis moved back and has lived in the City of San Diego since September 13, 2001, his binational roots continue to shape his perspective and how he engages the region.
Luis earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies with a minor in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University in 2017, after transferring from San Diego City College. Lu
NYT Bestselling Author and National Political Strategist, Democracy In Color
He is a columnist for The Guardian and The Nation, and an opinion contributor to The New York Times. He is also the host of “Democracy in Color with Steve Phillips,” a color-conscious podcast on politics. He is the founder of Democracy in Color, a political media organization dedicated to race, politics and the multicultural progressive New American Majority.
Phillips is a graduate of Stanford University and Hastings College of the Law and practiced civil rights and employment law for many years. Phillips has appeared on multiple national radio and television networks including NBC, CNN, MSNBC and C-SPAN.
Professor and Center Director, UC Riverside
Ramakrishnan also founded the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside, and AAPI Data, a national publisher of demographic data and policy research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). He has published many articles and 7 books, including most recently, Citizenship Reimagined (Cambridge, 2020) and Framing Immigrants (Russell Sage, 2016), and has written dozens of opeds and has appeared in nearly 3,000 news stories. Ramakrishnan was named to the Frederick Douglass 200 and is currently working on projects related to racial equity in philanthropy and regional development. He holds a BA in international relations from Brown University and a PhD in politics from Princeton.
Ramakrishnan is president of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni, chairs the California Commission on APIA Affairs, and serves on the Board of The California Endowment and the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee (NAC). Ramakrishnan also founded Census Legacies, which builds on the foundation of census outreach coalitions to build more inclusive and equitable communities, and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, an official section journal of the American Political Science Association.
More information at https://karthick.com.
Director, Equity, Arts & Culture, SCG
Erica is informed by her background as a seasoned writer and performer. She is a founding member of the Dancing Diaspora Collective, a collective of POC artists and healers dedicated to honoring, sharing, and reimagining practices of the Latin & African diasporas in dialogue with local and global histories of cultural resistance. Most recently, her solo work “I am my Mother’s Daughter” about mothers and migration has been performed for over 8,000 people at UCLA’s historic Pauley Pavilion and has been selected for KPCC’s Unheard LA live series.
Erica holds a BA in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA and an AWP (Ayurvedic Wellness Practitioner) certification from Southern California University of Health Sciences.
Co-Architect/Editor, BLIS Collective/Reparations Daily (ish)
Trained as a journalist, he has extensive experience working within advocacy communications on an array of issues including housing, economic opportunity, criminal justice, voting rights, education inequality, and fiscal policy. He has previously held program and communication roles at various racial and social justice organizations, including the Surdna Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
His research and writing on reparations have been published in academic journals like The Review of the Black Political Economy and major media outlets like Business Insider, USA Today, and TIME Magazine.
A first-generation American with Sierra Leonean roots, he is the son of Gerald and Olivette Smith, and brother to Megan. He spent a large portion of his life in New Delhi, India, and Seoul, South Korea, and owes a large part of who he is today to the people and experiences that shaped him throughout his time there. He received his B.A. in Journalism from American University and his Masters in Public Administration from New York University. He is an avid reader, taker of walks, food buff, and joke-teller. He currently resides in what he considers the best neighborhood in New York City, the Lower East Side.
President & CEO, Roosevelt Institute
Under her leadership, Roosevelt has grown more than fourfold, and now regularly works with the nation’s top public officials, academic experts, and progressive movement organizers. Her research focuses on post-neoliberal thought and the intersection of race, economics, and social stratification; and her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and the Boston Review. She co-hosts the podcast, How to Save a Country, and is the co-author of the book The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
Prior to joining Roosevelt, Felicia ran investment services for the Democracy Alliance. She also ran operations and product development at a venture-funded, labor union-aligned education services company. Her public service includes a White House Fellowship in the Office of the Attorney General and a political appointment in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. She serves on the boards of the Economic Security Project, Deep Springs College, and the immigration policy group America Is Better. Felicia holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Her doctoral dissertation on the role of race and framing in K-12 public education politics received the 2000 American Political Science Association award in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.