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Mens Empowerment Summit 2019

September 7 @ 8:00 am - 4:00 pm


Devon Franklin



10-11:30AM: STAY WOKE PANEL 2020




11:30-12:30PM: SPORTS PANEL
12:45-1:45PM: MAN UP!











Police Reform

Police Reform

Moderator: Dominique DiPrima

Dominique DiprimaDOMINIQUE DIPRIMA has been bridging worlds since she arrived on the planet. Ms. DiPrima was born in New York City but grew up the quintessential California Kid. Her mother is Beat poet/icon Diane DiPrima, her dad, poet Amiri Baraka, is considered the father of Black Arts Movement. The daughter of two activists, of two coasts, of an African American father & Italian American mother, she has a unique perspective. Dominique is the child of two poets laureate … A product off hip-hop and pop. She loves talking to people from all walks of life, it’s a habit she may have perfected while attending 16 different schools by the time she graduated from twelfth grade. She’s also loves to listen and those skills have allowed her to talk to the people of Los Angeles almost every day for over two decades keeping a pulse on current events and emerging movements.


Michael BroxMICHAEL ANTHONY BROX, a retired detective and community activist, served the Los Angeles Police Department in Sex Crimes, Domestic Violence, and Auto Theft units, among others, for more than three decades. He’s the author of Being Black N Blue: A Black LAPD Veteran’s Stories of Tragedies and Triumphs.
He is married and the father of three daughters, the eldest of whom is also a police officer. The sixth of seven children in the Los Angeles area, Michael and his siblings were raised by their mother after their parents divorced. Race-based loan servicing, prevented his mother from buying a home, which meant rearing her children in the projects amid lower quality schools, fewer public resources, and higher crime rates.

Cheryl DorseyCHERYL DORSEY is a Los Angeles native and in 1980 she joined the Los Angeles Police Department. During her career, she worked exclusively in patrol and specialized units in all four geographic Bureaus within the City of Los Angeles; South, Central, West and Valley. In addition to various patrol division assignments, Sgt. Dorsey was assigned to the infamous gang unit in Operations South Bureau; known as Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (C.R.A.S.H.) under the command of Police Chief Daryl F. Gates.

An acclaimed author, retired Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Cheryl Dorsey has written an autobiography, Black and Blue, The Creation Of A Social Advocate Vol II, Sgt. Dorsey is a highly sought police expert on significant criminal justice issues making national headlines. She has been a frequent commentator on CNN, KTLA, Fox News, OWN, BET, CNN International, HLNTV, CBS, KCAL, MSNBC as well as appearing on KPCC, Democracy Now, Tom Joyner Morning Show, KJLH Frontline with Dominique Di Prima and KABC Talk Radio with Dr. Drew.

Brian DunnBRIAN DUNN is the Managing Partner and lead Civil Rights Attorney for The Cochran Firm California, the office founded by the late Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. As one of the most experienced working advocate for victims of police misconduct in the state of California, Mr. Dunn has a proven track record of victory against the largest municipalities in the state, often in the most complex and misunderstood circumstances surrounding officer involved shootings. briandunnlaw.com

Tech Panel: Black Excellence

Tech Panel: Black Excellence-Breaking Generational Barriers with Tech

Timirah James

TIMIRAH JAMES James is an influencer in the music and tech space creating awareness around STEM and diversity in tech, as well as helping others to build great technical skills and become great programmers. Timirah became a self-taught computer engineer after dropping out of college, and spent several years building iOS mobile apps for startups throughout LA. She utilizes her journey in music and passion for building, educating, and expanding the tech community to create opportunities for others.

She is best known for being a Tech Evangelist and STEM leader in the Los Angeles and Silicon Beach community, along with her active roles in the hackathon realm, and mentoring through a program that she co-founded with her mother and sister called TechniGal LA (which exposes girls and women of all ages to learning and employment opportunities in STEM via free coding workshops, panels, mentorships, etc.)

Timirah is also a noted singer-songwriter, and spent most of her life as a recording artist performing at top venues such as Madison Square Garden, The Apollo Theater, and the Georgia Dome. She even released a song about her love for technology and innovation on Spotify called “Coderitis”.

Justin Washington

JUSTIN WASHINGTON is a software engineer. He was born & raised in Detroit, MI, Justin is a musician/producer and photographer, with a professional background in Software Engineering & Product Management. As a music fiend turned techie, Justin is super passionate about the cross-section of technology & the liberal arts, artistic storytelling, ensuring seamless user experiences w/ products, and testing/breaking/evangelizing software that ultimately enriches people’s lives.


Anthony D. MaysANTHONY D. MAYS is a software engineer at Google. Raised in Compton as a foster kid after suffering physical and sexual abuse, he taught himself how to program computers at age 8 and started his career as an INROADS intern.

Perhaps best known for the short BuzzFeed documentary about his journey from Compton to Google, he is a frequent public speaker at schools and other student organizations. He was awarded the 2016 INROADS Trendsetter Award for his work promoting diversity in tech.

Anthony graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. His GPA was horrible, so don’t ask.

Tamia JamesTAMIA JAMES is an Undergraduate Graphic Design Student at Santa Monica College, and an Intern at KJLH for the “Front Page with Dominique DiPrima” show. She was first introduced into tech as a freshman in high school, and has since gone on to build and design several mobile applications and websites, participate in hackathons and coding programs and communities such as GirlsWhoCode and TechniGal LA. Tamia was also a featured speaker at VidCon 2018, where she spoke on today’s impact of tech and social media realm on Gen Z.

Tamia is also a noted dancer and choreographer, and was recently selected to attend the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, CA.

Man Up!

Man Up!

Facilitator: Ron Turner
Moderator: Kevin Nash

Wes HallWES HALL is an Arthur Vining Davis Fellow, An Aspen Institute Scholar, An Educational Consultant to the Los Angeles Unified School District, Author, and Weekly Radio Talk Show Host. In 2018, the Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Organization honored his commitment to improving the lives or young men of color and presented him with their “Community Hero’s Award.”

In 2012, Mr. Hall co-created the Young Men of Color Initiative for the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is comprised of the annual conference series, the Village Mentoring Movement, and Gathering of Great Minds. He currently heads the initiative for the District.. His extensive work transforming the lives of young men of color garnered him an invitation to the White House where he met with White House representatives and other mentoring organizations from throughout the country.
Wes Hall is a Renowned Keynote Speaker. He has presented to audiences across the country including St. Louis, Denver, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Rochester, Chicago, and New York City. Mr. Hall is a 30-year on-air radio broadcast veteran. He has broadcasted in some of the top markets in the country including North Carolina, Virginia, and California. He is the Host of the “You Are the Money Radio Show.” The show airs live every Thursday on Accelerated Radio.

Reginald BassREGINALD BRASS You might say Reginald Brass has been a Prince and a Pauper in his day. From VP of a successful million-dollar security business to unemployed and locked-out dad, Reggie rolls with whatever life hands him and makes the most of it. From his bitter divorce and heated custody battle he founded My Child Says Daddy (MCSD), a parenting organization dedicated to including father’s in the rearing process. Reggie has focused on MCSD and seems to be making a difference. Parents of all cultural, economic and social backgrounds come to his organization for support and advice. “I help people accept their responsibility, but primarily I make them realize the child’s interest is first,” Reggie explained in a recent parenting meeting. Reggie has taken the tim_e to learn the court system in regards to custody and his dedication is paying off. He received his Doctor of Letters from St. Stephens Educational Bible College and has received several commendations for his work including the Community Architect Award from the Honorable Gwen Moore in the 4th District. Devoting all of his time to this cause, Reggie teaches and counsels out-of-wedlock parents at the Saint Anne’s Maternity Home and the Mini House in Los Angeles. He was also the co-sponsor of the Public Community Forum on Child Support, now held annually, and was appointed by Supervisor Michael Antonovich of the 5th District to the Commissioner for Los Angeles County Child Support Advisory Board. Reggie has made MCSD a force to contend with being the only father’s group invited to participate in Governor Wilson’s “Father Summit” held annually and speaking to the Writer’s Guild on the portrayal of father’s in sitcoms at the recommendation of California Dept. of Social Services Director, Eloise Anderson. Featured in print, radio and television media his appearances are endless including the LA Times “Conversation with Reginald Brass”; L.A. Sentinel “Divorced and Unwed Fathers”; KCBS Channel 2; MSNBC with Ed Gordon; ; KABC Nightline with Ted Koppel and TBN 700 Club. His community involvement includes being a member of the Pregnant Minor Task Force of the Sex Equity Commission; Community Resource Person for the Director of Community Affairs of the Governor’s Office; and sitting on the Senate Select Committee on Teenage Pregnancy of Senator Teresa Hughes. When asked what’s next, Reggie responds, “I’m not trying to change the world, I just want to make a difference for the children.”

Andy PriceANDY PRICE, Talk-Show Host and Author. I love the idea of being a part of this, for many reasons. Over the last 20 years I’ve been a part of all sorts of forms on relationships conversations research for my book and personal interviews on relationships. It’s how I got the nickname the love doctor… I also think it’s important for men to talk about relationships with each other and share what they’ve learned. Uplifting the community and making our brothers and sisters aware of health issues and how to deal with them are all very positive and necessary goals.

TODD GARRAWAY, End Stage Kidney failure survivor!

Veteran Services

Veteran Services

Facilitator: Ron Turner
Moderator: Dennis Tucker – Metro Veteran Affairs

Mental Health

Mental Health

Dion SliderDION SLIDER is a suicide survivor, fat whisperer (fitness trainer), addiction specialist, homeless advocate, mentor, poet, and self proclaimed “Worlds sexiest Grandfather” He is known for long winded answers to thought provoking questions like where’s the bathroom? This stay at home father is also known for his amazing pancakes, procreation skills, and a beautiful wife (hence the skills), but is also crazy about self love, fatherhood, OURstory, and this beautiful struggle called life. He lives in the hills of Southern Cali with “ the muse”, five Kings/Queens in training (the chirren), and two non-threatening dogs.

WILLIAM D. PARHAMWILLIAM D. PARHAM, PH.D., ABPP is a Professor in the Counseling Program, Interim Associate Dean of Faculty and Past-President of the Loyola Marymount University Faculty Senate. He has devoted his professional career to teaching, training, clinical, administrative, and organizational consultation venues.  The interplay between sport psychology, multiculturalism/diversity and health psychology represents the three areas of professional emphases with which he has been most associated. He is a licensed psychologist, Board Certified in Counseling Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) and Past-President of the Society of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association where he also is recognized as a Fellow in Divisions 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), 45 (Society for the Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race) and 47 (Exercise and Sport Psychology).

In addition to his administrative duties Dr. Parham teaches five courses including: Trauma Counseling: Theories and Interventions; Multicultural Counseling; Foundations of Counseling; Lifespan Development and Social, Emotional and Behavioral Functioning and serves on department, School of Education and university committees.

For most of his professional career, Dr. Parham has focused on working with athletes across organizations (e.g., National Basketball Association; National Football League; Major League Baseball; United States Olympic Committee; United States Tennis Association; Major League Soccer, UCLA, UC Irvine) across levels (e.g., professional, elite, amateur, collegiate and youth) and across sports (e.g., basketball, football, gymnastics, softball, baseball, track and field, tennis, golf, swimming, volleyball, figure skating). He also has worked with performance artists in drama, theatre and music. Dr. Parham is also serving currently as the inaugural Director of the National Basketball Players Association Mental Health and Wellness program.

Dr. Parham’s emphasis on personal empowerment, discovering and cultivating innate talents and looking for hidden opportunities in every situation are trademark foci. He is widely known through his scholarship and conversations with domestic and international audiences for his work on the interplay between sport psychology, trauma, multiculturalism/diversity, and health psychology. His participation on local, state and national boards, committees, task forces, and positions of governance adds to the visible ways in which he has tried to make a difference.

Building Generational Wealth

Building Generational Wealth

Moderator: Lori Gay (NHS-LA County)
Constance Anderson (PCR)
Tamera Rucker – Insurance



JACK LIGHTSYJACK LIGHTSY is a product of the Los Angeles performing arts breeding ground, the Ebony Showcase Theatre Arts Academy, Locke High School, the arts mega, a UCLA fine arts specialty graduate. His music and play writing work has partnered with Prison Fellowship Ministries with maximum, security clearance, to present his life-changing stage plays. He has professional experience and credits in practically every facet of he entertainment business: SAG film and television credits, A-List commercial acting credits winning a highly recognized “Clio Award.” Stage Production credits including Alicia Keys Hollywood Bowl Live, over 20 music songwriting credits, and a host of stageplay writer, director, producer credits.

For the last 21 years, he’s been the Production and Program Director with the Rites of Passage, a faith-based boys mentoring program.

ALONZO WILLIAMSALONZO WILLIAMS also known worldwide as “Lonzo the Godfather of west coast hip hop”. His multiple roles in the early days of west coast hip hop ranging from being a pioneering dj, club owner, label owner “Kru-Cut records”, promoter, group leader of the World Class Wreckin Cru and now the author of the book N.ot W.ithout A.lonzo has made him one of today’s most authoritative figures in west coast hip hop. It was once said by an east coast writer that “the name came up so much in various articles we always thought it was two Lonzo’s”. Establishing himself as a dj in 1977 Lonzo has over 40 years of experience in the entertainment game including 6 night clubs, hit records and hundreds of dj sets all while discovering Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Michel’le, Afroman and more. The Godfathers favorite saying is “if it came outta Compton it came through me”.

Recently the Godfather of west coast hip hop founded the non profit organization “The Lyrical Revolution” that works with new artist to assist them with their careers and to hopefully bring back responsible lyrics to hip hop. The Godfather can also be heard doing his podcast on Youtube call Lonzo presents G.A.M.E. grown ass man enlightenment. He can also be seen currently in the  HBO documentary “United Skates”.

ROOSEVELT BROWNROOSEVELT BROWN is an award-winning product and fashion design professor currently teaching at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. With over 10 years of teaching experience and 20 years of industry expertise, Roosevelt has held key leadership rolls in helping to develop the next generation of industry leading fashion and product designers.  He has also developed successful casual and lifestyle footwear programs for top NY brands.


Tyrone Davis TYRONE DAVIS is a Southern California native, active in the fitness community for over 20 years. He has coached numerous individuals, at different levels of fitness, well beyond their perceived fitness potential. His number one objective is to inspire you to live a healthy/active lifestyle and be better tomorrow, than you are today.

As a fire captain and fitness coach, Tyrone possesses the ability to quickly assess, identify and set goals for success. His custom designed programs will help you meet your individual fitness goals. Custom boot-camp classes such as the “LIFEAHOLIK Hour of Power” and “LIFEAHOLIK Water Works” are also available for individuals and small groups and are designed to put the fun in fitness.

The community based LIFEAHOLIK Yoga Experience Tyrone produces is a unique, interactive and comprehensive session designed to get students in touch with their authentic self by providing effective tools to manage stress, anxiety and other factors that impede efforts to live your best life.

A former contestant on CBS’ Survivor-Nicaragua, Tyrone’s active lifestyle and passion for fitness has earned him the moniker “LIFEAHOLIK” from his friends. Since his years as a college basketball and football player, he continues to live an active lifestyle without limits. A finisher in several 100-mile bike races and triathlons, including the Malibu Tri, he is well versed in endurance training. On any given day, Tyrone may be found surfing, cycling (road/mountain), snowboarding or kayaking. He is also a yogi, spin/cycling instructor, skier (snow/water), scuba diver, swimmer and mud runner.

The very epitome of a LIFEAHOLIK, Tyrone will guide you in maximizing your life through interactive and thoughtful wellness experiences.


Sports Legends

Sports Legends

Facilitator: RON TURNE
Moderator: JIM HILL / KCBS/KCAL 9 Sports Anchor
LUCIOUS ALLEN, Hall Of Fame Basketball player
MACK CALVIN, Hall of Fame Basketball Player



Facilitator – Shannice Johnson

GAVIN MATHIEUGAVIN MATHIEU is a Los Angeles based graphic designer, entrepreneur, director and brand consultant. Since February of 2016, he has been the Creative Director for the 4HUNNID lifestyle brand of which he co-founded along side his friend and musician, YG. As a consultant, MATHIEU has touched the careers of artist like NIPSEY HUSSLE, DOM KENNEDY, YG and companies such as ADIDAS, SB PROJECTS and UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP. In March of 2019, he officially launched his new creative company, SUPERVSN Studios, a creative space and collective that is focused on creating thought provoking products, content and experiences that inspire creativity.



Moderator: Kevin Nash

Kevin Nash


Zo Williams

ZO WILLIAMS is a self-published author, relationship coach, television and radio personality. A student of world religions, Zo is a passionate and opinionated dynamo who offers revolutionary thoughts about the breakdown of social systems and institutions and how they impact human relations within the urban/alternative community. Dubbed as “Tupac meets Deepak,” or the “The Hip Hop Dr. Phil,” Zo lends a unique perspective to the relationship coaching world.

Zo got his professional start as a music executive. Having worked with a myriad of Hip Hop and Pop Music heavyweights at Loud and Maverick Records over the years, Zo began noticing the thematic shift in music content. Recognizing that this shift could be traced back to some of the negative nuances in how his generation related to one another and ultimately the world, Zo felt called to be of service. He set out on a path that would pool his life experiences, literary skills, and independent studies backgrounds together. As a result, Zo Williams has emerged as a highly sought after relationship coach and one of the premiere authorities on relationships and the Hip Hop Community (Generation X.)

Currently, Zo can be found hosting his own show, The #ZoWhat? Morning Show, which is under the TradioV.com network. He also can be heard on The Corey Holcomb 5150 Show. Zo has appeared on several television shows including, Spitfire, a hip-hop roundtable show with rap legend Kool Mo Dee and as a panelist on TV One’s, Black Men Revealed. Zo Williams is currently working on the follow up book to his 2015 release, The Relationship Dismount, The Holographic Relationship.

Jeshana Avent-Johnson DR. JESHANA AVENT-JOHNSON is the Founder of The Intimacy Seminars™ and Psychological Services, a private practice located in the Inland Empire area of Southern California. She is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the state of California and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and Professor.  Dr. Avent-Johnson has a rich and diverse training background including inpatient/outpatient, individual, family and group therapy in hospital, community mental health, college and juvenile detention settings.  Dr. Johnson has worked with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, adolescents and adults from honor roll to parole.

Dr. Avent-Johnson specializes in Couples,  and Sex Therapy. Dr. Avent-Johnson uses a Systems-Based Therapy that focuses on helping you reach your relational potential by increasing your capacity for intimacy and passion, in the process of resolving sexual or relationship related issues. Her clinical  experience has been significant in helping individuals and couples develop and evolve within the therapeutic process.  Her approach will provide you with a window into yourself, your partner and your relationship, thus, causing personal growth and a higher level of differentiation.  Dr. Avent-Johnson is warm and supportive, yet challenging and direct. Dr. Avent-Johnson will assist individuals and couples in “holding onto self while maintaining relationships with others”. Dr. Johnson’s Intimacy Seminars has been requested and given in many Churches, organizations and homes across the county. Her ability to orbit people into action has been life changing for many.

Miyume McKinleyMIYUME MCKINLEY, LCSW was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In 2004 she obtained her B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana. After graduating, Miyume relocated to Los Angeles, CA and obtained her Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in Community Mental Health from California State University Dominguez Hills.

Miyume McKinley, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and has worked over 15 years in the field of social services and mental health. She has had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including group homes, schools, community based therapy programs, private psychotherapy practices, non-profit organizations, EAP programs, hospitals, dialysis centers, and maternity homes. In addition to providing psychotherapy, Miyume has developed and facilitated trainings/workshops that promote the importance of mental and emotional health.

The Challenges of African Centered Maleness

Conversations with CSUDH PresidentDr. Thomas Parham

Thomas ParhamThe Challenges of African Centered Maleness “Males Struggling with a sense of Identity.” CSUDH President, Dr. Thomas Parham, a nationally recognized speaker in the areas of psychological nigrescence, specifically on identity development, African psychology and multicultural counseling.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D. is a family man who resides in the Southern California area with his wife, Davida. Dr. Parham is the 11th president of California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), a highly diverse, metropolitan university primarily serving the South Central and South Bay areas of Los Angeles County. Established in 1960, CSUDH is one of the 23 campuses that comprise the California State University system, the largest system of public higher education in the nation.

Dr. Parham previously served as vice chancellor for student affairs and an adjunct faculty member at the University of California, Irvine, where he had been since 1985. Prior to his role as vice chancellor, he served as assistant vice chancellor for counseling and health services, Counseling Center director, and director of the Career and Life Planning Center at UCI. Early in his career, Dr. Parham also held an appointment on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Dr. Parham grew up in Southern California and received his bachelor’s degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine, his master’s degree in counseling psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, and received his Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is licensed to practice psychology in California.

Spread the Word

Spread the Word



2020 Stay Woke

2020 Stay Woke

Steven Bradford

STEVEN BRADFORD brings a lifetime of experience to the California State Senate. In over two decades of public service – first as a Gardena City Councilman, then as a State Assemblyman and now as a State Senator – Bradford has proven himself to be a great citizen activist. He views himself as a public servant and not a politician. Public service was instilled in him by his parents who taught him the value of giving back to the community.

Prior to his service in local and state government, Bradford was a Public Affairs Manager for Southern California Edison, as District Director for the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald and as Program Director for the LA Conservation Corps.

He made history when he became the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council. Over the 12 years that he served on the City Council, he presided over robust job and economic growth, along with a balanced budget for the city. When he was elected to the Council, the City of Gardena was on the brink of bankruptcy and was $27 million in debt. There was no money in the bank and employees had not been given raises in over seven years. By the time he left Gardena’s City Council, they had eliminated the debt, had $8.5 million in reserve, gave employees raises without raising taxes or cutting services, and secured millions of federal dollars for various improvement projects for North Gardena- something that had never happened prior to him being elected to the Council. As a former solid waste director, he brought those skills to bear in helping   negotiate some of the lowest trash rates in the county while serving as a City of Gardena councilmember.

Bradford was elected to the 51st State Assembly District in a Special Election in 2009, reelected in 2010, and reelected again in 2012, but this time to the newly created 62nd District. While in the Assembly, he rose to prominence by becoming Chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, which had jurisdiction over electricity, natural gas, telecommunications, private water corporations and other issues related to commerce.  In his role as chair, Bradford garnered national attention by presiding over hearings investigating devastating power outages across California.

In Senator Bradford’s first year in the State Senate in 2017 he had 11 bills signed into law by Governor Brown. These laws improved public safety, transportation, worker’s compensation, the environment, and education. In addition to the legislative accomplishments, Bradford secured $11.3 million in the state budget for Compton Community College and helped secure a $35 million grant to Watts Rising for affordable housing, green space, and local workforce development. This legislative session, Bradford authored 21 measures making their way through the legislative process. He has served as Chair of the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and was appointed Chair of the Senate Banking and Financial Institutions Committee.


Mark Ridley-ThomasMARK RIDLEY-THOMAS, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Second District. Since he was overwhelmingly elected in 2008, and reelected in 2012 and 2016 to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Mark Ridley-Thomas has distinguished himself as an effective leader for more than two million Second District residents. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas authored and led LA County’s unprecedented effort to end homelessness through Measure H.  He is a board member of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission and LA Care, the nation’s largest publicly operated health plan.

Prior to his election to the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas served the 26th District in the California State Senate, where he chaired the Senate’s Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development. While in the Senate, he served as Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus in 2008 and led the Caucus in unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration with counterparts in the Latino and Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses.

Mark Ridley-Thomas was first elected to public office in 1991 and served with distinction on the Los Angeles City Council for nearly a dozen years, departing as Council President pro Tempore. He later served two terms in the California State Assembly, where he chaired the Jobs, Economic Development, and Economy Committee and Chaired the Assembly Democratic Caucus. His legislative work addressed a broad range of issues with implications for economic and workforce development, health care, public safety, education, budget accountability, consumer protection and civic participation.

He is widely regarded as the foremost advocate of neighborhood participation in government decision-making by virtue of his founding of the Empowerment Congress, arguably the region’s most successful 27-year initiative in neighborhood-based civic engagement. Ridley-Thomas’ political career was preceded by a decade of service as the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles (1981-1991).

The Supervisor graduated from Manual Arts High School (Class of 1972) and then earned BA and MA degrees along with secondary and adult education credentials from Immaculate Heart College. Supervisor Ridley-Thomas went on to receive his Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the University of Southern California focusing on Social Criticism and Social Change.

He is married to Avis Ridley-Thomas, Co-Founder and Director of the Institute for Non-Violence in Los Angeles. They are the proud parents of Sinclair and Sebastian, both Morehouse Men. Sinclair earned an MBA degree at USC’s Marshall School of Business, works in the investment banking industry, and resides in San Francisco with his wife Shaunicie, an attorney, and 2-year-old son Duke Flynn. Sebastian formerly represented California’s Fifty-forth Assembly District (12/05/13-12/31/17). He will now turn his attention to political empowerment, millennial civic engagement, and training a new generation of leaders throughout the state of California as Chief Strategist for the African American Voter Registration, Education, and Participation Project while completing an MSW in Social Change and Innovation at USC’s Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

HERB J. WESSON grew up in Cleveland, Ohio leaving the mid-west for Los Angeles, California in his 20’s on the advice of his ailing father. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, Wesson held several jobs before pursuing his passion for public service. After volunteering on local campaigns and eventually rising to the position of Chief of Staff to then-Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Wesson decided to run for office himself.

He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1998 and elected by his peers in 2002 as the Speaker of the California State Assembly, only the second African-American to hold the prestigious post. Among his accomplishments Wesson authored legislation to regulate vehicle tailpipe emissions aimed at curbing global warming. Wesson a Democrat, was hailed as a bi-partisan leader who was able to work with then-Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to balance the state’s budget and place two long-term budget-balancing initiatives on the ballot.

Wesson currently serves as the first African-American in the history of Los Angeles to hold the position of President of the Los Angeles City Council. In his capacity Wesson chairs several committees including the Rules, Elections, Intergovernmental Relations, and Neighborhoods (REIRN) committee, Board of Referred Powers committee and the Ad Hoc committee on the 2024 Summer Olympics. He is the Vice Chair of the Ad Hoc committee on Comprehensive Job Creation.

As chair of REIRN, the Council President facilitates the empowerment of Neighborhood Councils while finding new and innovative ways to engage the public and promote civic engagement.

During his tenure as Council President, Wesson has presided over monumental policy initiatives making Los Angeles a better place to live, work, and raise a family. Not only have local policy initiates which include raising the minimum wage, pension reform, immigration reform and consolidating city elections to increase voter turnout positively affected local residents, but in many cases the city’s actions have spurred state and national responses and served as a model for similar policies.

In 2015, Wesson began championing chronic homelessness, an issue that has always been close to his heart, and one of the most difficult problems facing most major cities in America. The problem is especially acute in Los Angeles where African-Americans comprise 39 percent of the homeless population. Wesson oversaw a $1.2 billion ballot initiative and ultimately rallied the city in 2016 to support the proposal with nearly 80 percent of Angelenos voting in favor of the measure.

Wesson is also committed to greening our planet while giving back to the community. Wesson co-founded OurCycle LA, a City of Los Angeles administered program refurbishing salvage computers and donating them to deserving families. Since the program’s creation in 2015, Wesson has personally donated thousands of computers and access to wireless internet, minimizing the city’s electronic waste footprint, and bridging the digital divide in Los Angeles.

Wesson is married and the proud father of four sons and grandfather to four grandchildren.  He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Dr. Samad

DR. ANTHONY ASADULLAH SAMAD became the Executive Director of the Mervyn Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute on the campus of California State University, Dominguez Hills, a non-partisan research think tank studying the history of African Americans in politics in California and the social, political and economic effects of public policy on African American communities. Author/columnist/scholar, He is the author of six books, numerous scholarly articles and editorial commentaries. From 1991 to 2015, Samad’s various weekly editorial commentaries have contributed over 1,100 articles to newspapers and cyber websites nationwide. He still contributes selected editorial commentaries to Ebony.com. Dr. Samad retired in 2018 as a Professor of Political Science and African American Studies in the Los Angeles Community College District (East Los Angeles College) since 1996. Samad has a Bachelor of Arts degree (Communications) from Cal State University at Los Angeles, Master of Arts in Public Administration (Public Finance specialization) from the University of Southern California, a second Master of Arts Degree, in Political Economy and Ph.D. in Political Science from the Claremont Graduate University’s School of Politics and Economics. Dr. Samad is also President of Samad and Associates, a strategic planning/urban affairs firm founded in 1991 that specializes in the management of public policy, formulation of economic development, urban culture studies & assessment of race issues. Dr. Samad’s civic engagements and community involvements include serving as Managing Director and host of the Urban Issues Forum of Greater Los Angeles—a popular bi-monthly public affairs forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com). For the past 19 years, “the forum” has hosted over 125 of the nation’s top newsmakers including then Senator (now President) Barack Obama. Dr. Samad is also a past President of both the Los Angeles NAACP (1988-89) and 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, Inc. (2007-2009) and is a past National Officer, Platinum Life Member and a Distinguished Service Member (highest honor) of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. Of his six books, he has had three national bestsellers; Souls For Sale: The Diary of An Ex-Colored Man (Kabili Press, 2002), and 50 Years After Brown: The State of Black Equality In America (Kabili Press, 2005) and Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom (Kabili Press, 2007). is a book of affirmations targeting young black males. His fourth book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture (Kabili Press, 2012), is a critical critique of American society in the “new normal” .21st Century that contrasts societal changes since the 20th Century and the culture clashes that have ensued. His most recent book publishing is entitled, March On, March On Ye Mighty Host: The Comprehensive History of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (1914-2013). Dr. Samad is also the Director, Writer and Co-Producer of the 2016 documentary, What Of The Day, on the 100 year society changing contributions of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. His sixth book, A Thousand Times “NO,” To The Status Quo, is due out in Summer, 2019. His second screenplay, What Really Matters, a short film on the struggles of generational consciousness premiered in March, 2018. His latest film, Dymally: The First Of His Kind, on the life of California’s first black Lieutenant Governor, the late Congressman, Mervyn Dymally, which premiered at the Pan African Film Festival in February, 2019.

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Cal State University Dominguez Hills
1000 E Victoria St,
Carson, CA 90747
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