OfficersPresident: Isabelle Gunning, Esq., Third District
Vice President: Jarrett Tomas Barrios, Esq., First District
Vice President: Dr. Melina Abdullah, Second District
Vice President: Ilan Davidson, Fourth District
Vice President/Secretary: Ashlee Y. Oh, Fifth District
About the Commissioners
ISABELLE R. GUNNING, Esq.
B.A., Economics, 1977, and J.D., 1980, Yale University; Member, California State and District of Columbia Bars
Isabelle Gunning was motivated to study law during the civil rights movement of the 1970s when she saw that "some very positive things could be accomplished through the courts." Following a clerkship with Chief Judge William Bryant of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, she served as a staff attorney with the Public Defender Service in Washington D.C., and later with the Southern Africa Project of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Professor Gunning taught for six years as a member of the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law before her appointment to Southwestern in 1992. She says, "I want my students to see that there are certain assumptions in the law that we are all impacted the same way under similar circumstances - and that is not always the case."
Active in the larger realm of legal education, Professor Gunning served on the Board of the Clinical Legal Educators Association and was one of the three editor-in-chiefs of the Clinical Law Review. She also served on the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section on Gay & Lesbian Issues, as co-chair of the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education Scholarship Committee and as a member of the American Bar Association's Skills Training Committee. Under the auspices of the ABA's African Law Initiative and other entities, she has traveled to Ethiopia, South Africa and Tanzania to speak on clinical legal education and trail advocacy.
Professor Gunning serves as a pro bono mediator through the Los Angeles County Bar Association's Dispute Resolution Services Project, and Gay and Lesbian Mediation Project, as well as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Martin Luther King Jr. Dispute Resolution Center. She has also co-chaired the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center. Professor Gunning was president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California from 2005 to 2009 and is currently a member of the National ACLU board as the Southern California Affiliate representative.
Ms. Gunning was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Third Supervisorial District.
JARRETT TOMAS BARRIOS, Esq.
Jarrett Barrios serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Los Angeles. Leading a team of talented humanitarians to provide care and comfort to those afflicted by disasters - large and small - he also works to "disrupt" traditional preparedness training, and to develop and implement preparedness campaigns that measurably motivate Angelenos to take actions in advance of disaster to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors. The span of ARCLAs mission includes, as well, services and youth and community engagement efforts; this portfolio builds on his prior role as the chief executive of the Massachusetts Red Cross. For his transformational leadership in Massachusetts, he was awarded the American Red Cross Presidential Award for Excellence in 2014.
Barrios is an honors graduate from Harvard College (AB '90-'91) and Georgetown Law ('95), and practiced law at Hill & Barlow before beginning his public service in 1999, first as a Massachusetts State Representatives for four years, then a State Senator for five years. In the Senate, he chaired the Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee and was the Vice Chair of the Health Care Committee. In the House, he authored a broad range of legislation from a law to improve emergency room services for immigrants to the creation of state low-income housing tax credit. In the state senate, Barrios led the first comprehensive rewrite of the state fire code in the wake of the Station Nightclub fire, the strongest "buffer zone" legislation in the country to protect women's health centers, a statewide assault weapons ban, as well as authoring foreclosure prevention bills, consumer data privacy and protection legislation, a witness protection law, the gang-prevention "Shannon Grant" anti-youth violence grant program and legislation to protect victims of domestic violence. During this period, he founded the Massachusetts statewide Latino political group, Oiste, and the Commonwealth Legislative Seminar to promote the engagement of racial and ethnic minorities in politics. Upon leaving the legislature, he served as the president and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation in Boston and of GLAAD in New York and Los Angeles.
He currently serves on the boards of directors of the Massachusetts Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Inc. in Boston and the Latino Legacy Fund in Boston. Along the way, he has lectured on transnational gang violence in El Salvador, represented the United States in a delegation to Australia with the American Council of Young Political Leaders, counted hanging chads in the disputed presidential election of 2000, toured Mexico to train university students of American political process on behalf of the State Department, studied the public health systems and lectured on U.S. health reform in Brazil as an Eisenhower Fellow. He currently participates in the inaugural cohort of the Presidio Institute's Cross Sector Leadership Fellows in partnership with the White House Office on Social Innovation. He speaks Spanish and is proficient in Portuguese, and for twenty years, has engaged in licensed humanitarian efforts in Cuba.
Mr. Barrios was nominated to the Commission by and represents the First Supervisorial District.
MELINA ABDULLAH, Ph.D.
Melina Abdullah is Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Dr. Abdullah earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in Political Science and her B.A. from Howard University in African-American Studies. She is a recognized expert on race relations and in 2014 was appointed to the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission. Abdullah is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, with subjects ranging from political coalition building to womanist mothering. What binds her research together is a focus on power allocation and societal transformation. She is currently writing a book manuscript that examines Hip Hop and political mobilization. Professor Abdullah is a womanist scholar-activist – recognizing that the role that she plays in the academy is intrinsically linked to broader struggles for the liberation of oppressed people. Melina is a mother and resides in Mid-City Los Angeles with her children.
Dr. Abdullah was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Second Supervisorial District.
ILAN DAVIDSONCantor Ilan Davidson has been pleasing audiences with his singing since before he could read. At age five, he began singing with his Cantor, Philip Moddel, and hasn't shut up since. At ten, he made his Operatic debut with the Fullerton Civic Light Opera's production of Bizet's Carmen, as a street urchin.
Since then, he has performed roles in opera and musical theatre, performing, directing, and producing world-class productions.
Among his many accomplishments, Cantor Davidson is also known as a contemporary Jewish songwriter and performer, having delighted audiences all over the world, including Israel and Lithuania with the soulful sounds of his music. His recordings, Stained Glass (1995) and In A Hanukkah Mood (2007) are collections of original and covered songs by himself and many contemporary Jewish artists.
Cantor Davidson left the stage and in 1995 joined the Temple Beth El family, in San Pedro, where he has brought many new programs and much enthusiasm to all he does. Coming from a long line of Cantor’s, it must have been Besheret for Cantor Davidson, although talented in all areas of musical performance, to finally settle down into his career as Hazzan for Temple Beth El in San Pedro, California. In 2007, Cantor Davidson has founded a new foundation, KindredSPIRITS, producing an annual world humanitarian aid event. KindredSPIRITS premiered on June 5, 2008 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, adding that prestigious concert hall to the ever growing list of venues around the world, where Davidson has performed. Now, entering their 7th year, Global KindredSPIRITS, Inc. is an official 501©3, and has raised awareness and close to $300,000 for its beneficiaries over the years. As a past president of the South Coast Interfaith Council, Ilan fought for tolerance and understanding of ALL faiths in a difficult climate. Whether it is raising his voice for justice, Hazzanut, Pop, Opera, Musical Theatre, or Folk music, Cantor Ilan Davidson shares his soul and genuine love in every note.
When asked about his finest accomplishment, Cantor Davidson invariably responds, "After all the great concerts, services, and roles, my finest role in life is that of husband to my beautiful wife, Jodi, and daddy to my gorgeous daughters, Jordan and Zoe."
Mr. Davidson was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Fourth Supervisorial District.
Ashlee Oh, MPA is a Consultant for the Homeless Initiative for County of Los Angeles, a multi-jurisdictional and multi-disciplinary effort to reduce homelessness. She also consults for Harbage Consulting training diverse public-private stakeholders in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties to successfully implement California Department of Health Care Services' Coordinated Care Initiative and drive high quality care that optimizes health outcomes, healthcare access and systems efficiency.
Ms. Oh is a progressive leader who is driven by social justice. She supports a diverse and multi-cultural community that is committed to inclusiveness, respect, dignity, compassion and equity.
Ms. Oh is a well-rounded management professional whose work focused on the vulnerable, disenfranchised and underserved populations. Her past roles includes: Senior Health Policy Advisor to a Santa Clara County Supervisor; Community Benefit & Health Manager in Kaiser Permanente improving effectiveness of grant making focusing on at-risk populations via innovative philanthropic and public health approaches; and, Clinic Administrator establishing and operating a new primary and behavioral health integrated clinic in Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County. Her efforts have brought about systemic and progressive social changes via strategic community engagement and coalition building thus mobilizing successful cross-functional sectors to achieve objectives in public, non-profit, and private healthcare systems. She also supports non-profit organizations and start-ups by providing pro bono consultation.
Ms. Oh holds a Master in Public Administration degree from San Jose State University and Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology from University of California, Los Angeles.
Ms. Oh was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Fifth Supervisorial District.
CYNTHIA ANDERSON-BARKER, Esq.Cynthia Anderson-Barker is a civil rights and criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, CA. As a member of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG), as an associate at the Working Peoples Law Center in Echo Park, and later in her own law practice, attorney Anderson-Barker became proficient in handling lawsuits to end police misconduct. She frequently represents people arrested during political demonstrations and, in recent years, her law practice has focused on challenging prison and jail conditions for adults and youths in custody. She received the Pro Bono Legal Services Award from the state Bar of California in recognition of her years of providing legal services to those unable to afford private counsel. In 2007, under the auspices of the NLG, attorney Anderson-Barker helped organize legal representation for hundreds of students who walked out of school during the immigration protests. In cooperation with the Comite Pro Uno she started a legal clinic to stop the Maywood Police from targeting immigrants and impounding their vehicles. Anderson-Barker attended the University of California, Los Angeles and received her Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School.
Ms. Anderson-Barker was nominated to the Commission by and represents First Supervisorial District.
MICHAEL GI-HAO CHEUNG
Michael Gi-Hao Cheung was appointed Fifth District Commissioner by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich to the County Human Relations Commission on April 14, 2009. Commissioner Cheung also serves on the Los Angeles County Commission on Insurance and brings both an international perspective and considerable financial experience to both Commissions.
Mr. Cheung is active in the local Chinese community, having served as president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. In addition, he was former president of the Lung Kong Family Association and a member of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. His broad career as an accountant and President of M & D Associates, a tax and accounting service, and extensive experience in financial planning of business and loan acquisitions from financial institutions, provides him with the valuable skills and expertise to help the Commission address critical fiscal issues.
I am extremely pleased with the continued trust that Supervisor Antonovich has placed on me, comments Mr. Cheung. As a person with a vested interest in Los Angeles County, I know how important it is to provide our residents with ways to enhance their communication and understanding of one another, and to increase their sense of being vested in the well-being of this County. Mr. Cheung earned a Master of Business Administration degree from La Verne University in 1985 and a Bachelor of Science degree from Tam Kong University, Taiwan. He is married to Della and has two children in college.
A Los Angeles businessman and writer, Commissioner Dove has served more than 20 years as a human relations and economic development professional at the federal, state and local levels of government, including the Governor's Office, the Mayor's Business Development Office, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Office (HUD,) and the White House, as Budget Analyst. Most recently Mr. Dove has served as advisor to heads of foreign governments. Commissioner Dove is proud to have received early career mentoring from former Supervisor John Anson Ford and from L.A. Human Relations Commission Charter Executive Director John Buggs. Known for developing the "Chitling I.Q. Test" in the wake of the First Watts uprising and for co-authoring the original Philadelphia Plan while with the Labor Department in Washington, Mr. Dove's company, A.D. Associates, provides cultural diversity training and consulting services.
Mr. Dove was appointed to the Commission on Human Relations on January 21, 1997. He was nominated by and represents the Second Supervisorial District.
Porter Gilberg serves as the Executive Director for The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, a position he has held since 2014. He has been affiliated with The Center since 2007 first as a volunteer and later as a staff member. Gilberg holds a BA in Women’s Studies from the University of California at Los Angeles and an MA in Applied Women’s Studies from Claremont Graduate University.
Mr. Gilberg sits on the Advisory Boards for the Master of Public Health program at California State University Long Beach and the Long Beach Trauma Recovery Center, and is a previous member of the Mayor’s Affordable Housing Study Committee and the Women’s and Transgender Working Groups for The California LGBTQ Reducing Mental Health Disparities Project, a groundbreaking report on inequities in mental healthcare. He has also served on advisory boards for the Long Beach Violence Prevention Plan, Long Beach Rising, CSULB’s Elder Village, the Historical Society of Long Beach’s Coming Out in Long Beach exhibit, and is a previous board member of the Alamitos Beach Neighborhood Association.
Gilberg was recognized as a Steward of the Second District in 2012, as one of the Long Beach Post’s 40 Under 40 in 2013, as the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club’s Human Rights Banquet Person of the Year in 2014, and was the California Conference for Equality and Justice’s Gene Lentzner Human Relations Award honoree in 2016. He is most tickled by his recognition as Queer of the Year presented by Amp Org at the annual Cut & Paste Rock & Roll showcase in 2014. Gilberg has lived in Long Beach since 2003 and currently resides in Alamitos Beach with his rescue dog Augustine.
Mr. Gilberg was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Fourth Supervisorial District.
PREETI P. KULKARNIPreeti Kulkarni is a leader in the non-profit community of Southern California and is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Liberty Hill Foundation. Preeti has spent the last fifteen years managing the finances and operations of several non-profit organizations and has been a key board member and consultant at community-based organizations such as Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, Center for the Pacific Asian Family and the South Asian Network.
Preeti has been politically engaged at the grassroots level; when on the board of APAP, she developed the idea of issue-based forums to engage the membership in matters that impact the APS community and helped to produce the documentary "Vincent Who?" a film that strives to educate young people about the history of hate crimes against the APA community and motivate them to get involved in their communities.
To complement her grassroots activism, Preeti has also participated in legislative advocacy. While a Fellow in the Women's Policy Institute of the Women's Foundation of California, Preeti researched the upsurge of tenant evictions from residential properties in foreclosure, worked to ensure necessary protections were included in the bill, collected support letters from numerous advocacy organizations which were presented as legislation in the California legislature.
Preeti traces her activist roots back to the place where she was raised, Montgomery, Alabama. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University and later moved to Los Angeles to obtain her Masters in Accounting at University of Southern California. When not serving her community, Preeti can be found cooking with her husband, entertaining friends and family, and spending time with her dog.
Ms. Kulkarni was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Third Supervisorial District.
SAMUEL LIU, Esq.
Samuel Liu is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff for State Senator Ben Allen representing the Westside and Coastal South Bay in the State Legislature. In his role as the Deputy Chief of Staff, Samuel serves as a Strategic Senior Advisor to Senator Allen and oversees the operations of the District office.
Prior to that, Samuel ran Senator Allen’s successful campaign for State Senate in 2014. He brings prior experience working in the State Legislature for then-Assembly member Ted Lieu and has also worked for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Alliance for Children’s Rights as well as the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence.
He is an Alumnus of the New Leader’s Council fellowship program and served on the Board of the Asian Professional Exchange and the Asian Pacific American Legislative Staff Network in leadership positions. Samuel has a Juris Doctorate Degree from Loyola Law School and a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mr. Liu was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Fourth Supervisorial District.
Daisy Ma is a longtime community activist devoted to the advocacy of improving people's lives. She is active in the community as a leader on legislative policies, affordable housing, cultural education, and dedicated to the empowerment of individuals and communities. She currently serves as District Director to California State Assemblyman Ed Chau of the 49th District since his election in 2012 and formerly with Assemblyman Mike Eng from 2006-2012.
Commission from 2001-2006 managing the Home Ownership Program to meet the needs of low-income families and individuals who wanted to purchase their first home. She also served on the Los Angeles Commission on Children and Families from 1998-2006 creating awareness with solutions to support foster youth, DCFS Department and the goal to fruition the adoption process for healthy families.
She is also active in several community organizations: member of the Chinese American Alliance - Los Angeles Chapter, a civil rights organization established since 1912 and served as its first female President in 2009; serves as the English Secretary for the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association; member of the Asian Pacific Islander Task Force on Domestic Violence Awareness; Board Member on the Chinatown Business Improvement District, former Chair to the Chinatown Community Advisory Committee with the City of Los Angeles.
Daisy was born in San Francisco and attended San Francisco State University. She and her husband, Derek are longtime residents in Los Angeles County and proud residents in the San Gabriel Valley where they raised their 3 sons.
Ms. Ma was nominated to the Commission by and represents the First Supervisorial District.
GUADALUPE G. MONTANO, Ed.D.An alumna of the Women’s Policy Institute, Dr. Garcia Montaño is a women’s issues and education advocate as well as an academic. She teaches Chicana literature and oversees doctoral research while remaining connected to policy and issues of social justice. Academically, her research interests focus on Latinas in American politics both as candidates and advocates. Socially, she seeks to connect women leaders throughout the state on social justice policy.
She holds a doctorate in education, and her background includes experience in the non-profit sector, college access for under-represented students, higher education administration, and work on behalf of medically underserved communities nationwide.
A Valley girl, a Bruin, and a Trojan, she is committed to connecting all Los Angelese communities to local government and is an ardent Dodger fan.
Dr. Montaño was nominated to the Commission by and represents the Third Supervisorial District.
SANDRA THOMAS, Ph.D.
Dr. Sandra Thomas, the second African-American woman ever appointed Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission by Fifth District County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, is a community advocate who firmly believes that economic challenges should never overshadow goal realization. Dr. Thomas was appointed to the Human Relations Commission on February 13, 2007.
Dr. Thomas' resume includes a number of academic achievements including a BA in psychology, MA in engineering from the University of Kansas and a PhD in psychological counseling from Columbia University. Dr. Thomas used her talents in the telephone industry where she worked as an engineer for 26 years. In 1968, she created what is now known as the "800" toll free telephone number system.
She faces life with gusto and firmly believes that her academic success can be replicated by others, if they are fortunate enough to conquer critical crossroads in their lives. Such a philosophy and an innate desire to help others have motivated Dr. Thomas to found the Quality of Life Center, Inc., where she serves as President and CEO.
Another individual with less enthusiasm for life would have retired to enjoy her three adult children, Roselyn, Vincent and Michael, and six grandchildren. Commissioner Thomas served as youth counselor for 20 years at the Lincoln Avenue Baptist Church of Pasadena, where her husband Rev. A. Douglas Thomas is the Pastor Emeritus, and she continues to counsel scores of youth and young adults.
Dr. Thomas has been a foster mother in the state of California for more than 22 years and hundreds of local children have grown up in and around her home. She was named "Outstanding Mother of the Year" at Altadena Elementary School in 1977, and was Pasadena High School's "Mother of the Year" in 1979 when she single handedly raised enough money to buy new uniforms, jackets and shoes for the entire athletic department.
Currently a councilperson in Altadena, Dr. Thomas is an active participant in the Pasadena/Altadena African-American Leaders Community Coalition, the Pasadena City College African American Advisory Council, the Pasadena Junior League, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, Leadership Pasadena, D'Veal Family and Youth Services, the Altadena Community Center Board of Directors, and California State Senator Jack Scott's African American Advisory Committee.
She was selected as "2005 Congressional Woman of the Year" by Congressman Adam Schiff, and was named the first African-American female president of the Altadena/Crown City Kiwanis.
Dr. Thomas is a Life Member of the National Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) organization, and is the first individual to ever serve simultaneously at all levels of the NAACP organization. She is currently an NAACP National Trainer, a Regional Officer, the Southern California State Director and on the executive committee of the NAACP Altadena Branch, where she has just completed four very successful years as President.