Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
PSR-LA is pleased to present Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with the Founders Award for championing preventive policies to protect public health throughout California. As a state senator, Ridley-Thomas’ leadership was critical in helping PSR-LA pass legislation condemning medical professionals’ participation in torture. He has also authored legislation to help prevent childhood lead poisoning and advocates for better access to healthcare for all communities.
Ridley-Thomas was overwhelmingly elected Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Second District on November 4, 2008. With nearly 2.3 million people, the Second District includes Carson, Compton, Culver City, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Lynwood, portions or all of ten out of fifteen Los Angeles City Council Districts and the unincorporated communities of Alondra Park, Athens, Del Aire, Dominguez, East Compton, El Camino Village, Florence, Ladera Heights, Lennox, View Park, West Athens, West Carson, West Compton and Willowbrook. Against the backdrop of a nationally historic election, voters of the Second District made their own mark on history by electing the first African American male ever to serve on the County Board of Supervisors.
Prior to his election to the Board, 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 and its two subcommittees on Professional Sports and Entertainment and The Economy, Workforce Preparation and Development. In addition to his chairmanship duties, Ridley-Thomas served on the Senate Appropriations, Energy, Utilities and Communications, and Health and Public Safety committees.
In January 2008, he became Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and led the Caucus in unprecedented levels of cooperation and collaboration with counterparts in the Latino, and Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucuses. 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.
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 Assembly Democratic Caucus.
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 experiment in neighborhood-based civic engagement, he is considered the founder of the Neighborhood Council movement.
Ridley-Thomas’ political career was preceded by a decade of service as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles, which followed a brief but successful five-year stint as a high school teacher. He is a graduate of Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles and earned a baccalaureate degree in Social Relations (minor in Government) and a master’s degree in Religious Studies (concentration in Christian ethics) from Immaculate Heart College. Mr. Ridley-Thomas went on to receive his Ph.D. in Social Ethics and Policy Analysis from the University of Southern California.
He is married to Avis Ridley-Thomas, the Director of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Dispute Resolution Center. They are the proud parents of twin sons, Sebastian and Sinclair who are seniors at the historic Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.