Speakers: Environmental Health Challenges Facing South LA

Angela Johnson Meszaros
Angela Johnson Meszaros is General Counsel at Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles where she works to ensure that public health professionals are engaged in environmental public health policy and supporting community-based efforts to protect public health. Angela has nearly 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: litigation in federal and state court; filing regulatory challenges; educating state legislators and their staffs about the impact of state legislation; providing community legal education; providing community technical assistance in campaign development, strategic planning, fundraising, document analysis, and regulatory agency operations; testifying before relevant committees, boards and commissions; serving on agency policy workgroups; engaging in media advocacy; and mediating negotiations with a wide range of stakeholders. Angela’s efforts have been focused on policy development, implementation, and enforcement in a variety of environmental issues including: the impacts climate change policy on communities of color, enforcement of the provisions of the Clean Air Act, enhanced public participation in environmental decision-making, reducing childhood lead poisoning, defending against destructive freeway siting, stopping inappropriate siting of sources of air pollution, understanding land use policies and their impact on community health, reducing health impacts of air toxics from mobile and stationary sources, and air permit development and compliance.

Angela is currently co-chair of the Environmental Justice Advisory Committee on the Implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32); the Chair of the Board of the Economic Roundtable, a non-profit organization that conducts research and implements programs that contribute to the economic self-sufficiency of individuals and communities; a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technology, a non-profit that designs and fights for policies that promote global warming solutions and increased reliance on clean, renewable energy sources for California and the West; and a member of the California State Bar. She holds both a degree in philosophy and a law degree from the University of Southern California.

Arsenio Mataka
Arsenio Mataka was appointed by Governor Edmund G Brown Jr. in December 2011 to serve as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs at the California Environmental Protection Agency. Prior to joining CalEPA, Arsenio served as directing attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. from 2010-2012, were he fought for justice alongside some of the most exploited communities in our society.

Arsenio’s involvement with environmental justice issues began at home with his parents and later with the Great Valley Center, where he provided extensive outreach and capacity building services to rural and underserved communities. In 2008 he served as an American Bar Association diversity fellow in environmental law in the office of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Arsenio graduated from Sacramento State University with a Bachelor’s degree in History, and went on to receive his Juris Doctor from Humphreys College Laurence Drivon School of Law. Arsenio lives in the Oak Park community of Sacramento with his wife Jessie.

– See more at: http://www.calepa.ca.gov/about/Bios/Mataka.htm#sthash.KtHmSlVS.dpuf

Carlos Juarequi
Carlos Jauregui, Community Organizer: At SAJE Carlos organizes South Central residents to fight for their rights against abusive landlords and to have a voice in the development of their community. Carlos joined SAJE in November 2012 with years of organizing experience. Carlos worked on political campaigns, non-union worker organizing, union worker organizing and member representation with Unite Here. His assignment locations included Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Orange County, Las Vegas, Pittsburgh, PA and Dallas/Fort Worth TX. Trained in “bottom up” organizing, Carlos is a true believer in leader recruitment and training. He enjoys winning campaigns that seem impossible.

Diego Emestica
Diego Emestica is a Community Health Promoter at Esperanza Community Housing. He graduated with a Bachelor in Public Health Promotion from Cal State University, Northridge. He is currently working with the Healthy Homes Project to provide a holistic health model to the South Los Angeles Neighborhoods.

Felix Aguilar
Dr. Aguilar practices Family Medicine in Los Angeles, where he once served as chief medical officer at South Central Family Health, a local federally qualified health center, and as the Director of the Child Health & Disability Prevention Program at the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. He has also served the community by providing medical care at an urgent care facility, and as the director of a domestic violence shelter. He was previously the President and CEO at UMMA Community Clinic, where he works to provide underserved communities in South Los Angeles with high-quality health and social services through UMMA’s comprehensive family medical care, mental health services, and health education programs.

Dr. Aguilar received his M.D. from the University of California, Irvine, and holds a Masters in Public Health from Tulane University and a Masters in Healthcare Management from Harvard. He was trained in Family Medicine at Harbor-UCLA, and in Preventive Medicine at the California Department of Public Health. Dr. Aguilar is also a Fellow at the American Academy of Family Physicians and at the American College of Preventive Medicine.

Hugo Lujan
Hugo Lujan was born and raised in East Los Angeles and is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Cruz. His organizing background is rooted in facilitating educational spaces where community knowledge and identity is affirmed and harnessed as a powerful tool for social justice. Previously, Hugo worked as an educator at a student led/student facilitated class at UC Santa Cruz entitled Engaging Education. He also participated in organizing students and workers at UCSC around fair and livable wages. As a youth, he organized with East LA community for im/migrant rights for the first May 1st march in downtown Los Angeles, and around LGBTQ rights for youth in K-12 schools.

Lizzeth Henao Rosales
Lizzeth Henao Rosales is a social justice advocate with extensive experience working with vulnerable populations in Los Angeles. Immigrating from Colombia with her family at a young age, Mrs. Rosales grew up in metro-city Los Angeles and attended local public schools including Belmont High School, at the time one of the largest and most under-performing high schools in the country. She was awarded a full scholarship to Harvard University where she earned an undergraduate degree in international relations, focusing on the political and economic development of emerging countries. She returned to Los Angeles after graduation and has spent her entire professional career in the non-profit sector working to increase access and opportunity for low-income communities of color. Her work has included creating and implementing education and college preparatory programs for inner-city youth at the Bresee Foundation; protecting low-income tenants’ rights in housing and eviction matters at the Eviction Defense Network; and most recently, working on air quality, environmental justice, and equitable development advocacy in land use and transportation planning at the Natural Resources Defense Council and in her current role as Assistant Director of Equitable Development at Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE).

Malcolm Carson
D. Malcolm Carson is General Counsel and Policy Director for Environmental Health at Community Health Councils (CHC). In that capacity, Mr. Carsonsupervises the organization’s environmental health policy advocacy work and provides organizational and programmatic legal counsel and advice. Malcolm has more than fifteen years of professional experience in the areas of land-use and environmental planning, community development, mobility and transportation equity, public finance, organizational capacity-building, landlord-tenant law, and social enterprise. Prior to CHC, Mr. Carson worked for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA), first as a staff attorney and then as Managing Attorney for the South Los Angeles Office. Malcolm’s practice at LAFLA focused on improving quality of life for residents of low-income communities through legal representation, policy advocacy and community education. In his role as Managing Attorney, he also supervised attorneys in the Community Economic Development and Employment Law Units and participated in management decisions affecting the organization. After completing his undergraduate degree summa cum laude at Howard University, Mr. Carson obtained a Juris Doctorate in Law and a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. Past employers include the National Economic Development and Law Center, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, and the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. Mr. Carson serves or has served on a number of boards and commissions, including the California State Building Standards Commission, the City of Los Angeles Transportation and South Area Planning Commissions, the Southwest Area Empowerment Congress Neighborhood Development Council, the I-710 Corridor Advisory Committee and The California Endowment’s South Los Angeles Building Healthy Communities Initiative Governing Council.

Maria Espinoza
Maria is a single mother of four who has lived in Jordan Downs for nine years. She is a community leader who has volunteered in many programs including the LAPD Newton Station’s PAL and Cadet programs where her children have learned leadership skills and sportsmanship. She has become a key leader in her community both fighting evictions and demanding environmental justice from LA’s Housing Authority. Her efforts have helped secure additional testing for lead, arsenic and other contaminants in the residential areas of Jordan Downs.

Mark Glassock
Mark Glassock is the Director of Special Projects at the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, a non-profit organization with a mission to build healthier, stronger, and safer neighborhoods through the creation of urban parks and community gardens exclusively in low-income communities of color. In this role, Mark oversees the Land Trust’s nearly $10 million capital development portfolio of parks and community gardens, land assessment and acquisition, and urban agriculture and stewardship programs. Before the Land Trust, Mark worked at Community Health Councils and the International Training Center for Health where he focused on distilling complex and technical information into understandable elements for a wide range of audiences. Mark’s experience also includes nearly 4 years of international development work including service as a Peace Corps Volunteer managing a Ugandan health center’s community health program. Mark’s core understanding of health and justice was cultivated early in his career when he worked for the Needle Exchange program in Seattle providing counseling services to individuals often forgotten by policy, services, and funding. Mark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington.

Martha Dina Arguello
For the past 32 years, Martha has served in the non-profit sector as an advocate, community organizer, and coalition builder. She joined PSR-LA in 1998 to launch the environmental health programs, and became Executive Director in November 2007. She is committed to making the credible voice of physicians a powerful instrument for transforming California and our planet into a more peaceful and healthy place.

Martha grew up in the Pico-Union area of Los Angeles. At the young age of 14, she made a lifelong commitment to effect social change after seeing her friend killed by a school security guard. While working as a health educator in the 1990s, Martha had an epiphany — she realized that although early detection can prevent death from breast cancer, it does not prevent breast cancer, which has been increasingly linked to the exposure of environmental toxicants. Since that realization, Martha has dedicated her career to the environmental justice movement, and has lectured nationwide on the use of precautionary principle policies.

As a coalition builder, Martha has emphasized the need for local grassroots advocacy working in partnership with statewide policy actions. She is an active board member of numerous organizations, including Californians for Pesticide Reform, the California Environmental Rights Alliance, and Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy. She also co-founded the Los Angeles County Asthma Coalition and the Coalition for Environmental Health and Justice, and was appointed to Cal/EPA’s Environmental Justice Committee and the California Air Resources Board’s Global Warming Environmental Justice Advisory Committee.

Maya Douglas, Ridley-Thomas’s Office
Maya Douglas joined the office of Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas in January of 2014 as an Office Assistant/Field Representative. In this role, she is responsible for assisting with legislative programs, policy initiatives, constituent relations, and media/press communications. Ms. Douglas comes to the 54th District with extensive experience working with nonprofits since graduating from CSU Dominguez Hills, where she obtained her B.S. in Business Administration. She has experience in marketing, administration as well as working with some of the hardest to serve populations throughout Los Angeles and is proud to use that expertise in service to the residents of the 54th Assembly district.

Monika Shankar
Monika Shankar joined PSR-LA in March 2013, bringing with her over 10 years of professional programmatic and research experiences cultivated in both the nonprofit, academic and private sector. In her current role as Health & Environment Associate, she directs programs focusing on climate change and healthy land use by mobilizing and engaging health professionals, community groups and advocates in policy advocacy. Additionally, she is deeply committed and engaged in the social and environmental justice movements, as well as improving the conditions of low-income communities and communities of color.

Prior to joining PSR-LA, Monika worked with a team of community planners and environmental justice activists at the Ironbound Community Corporation, whose goal was to create a safe, healthy, thriving and sustainable neighborhood in a primarily immigrant section of the Newark, NJ. Through collaborations with community members, local organizations, city officials and environmental experts, the team addressed both at the local and policy level ways to resolve a multitude of issues including air pollution from incinerators and a local port, diesel exhaust from trucks, land pollution from over 50 contaminated industrial sites, and the remediation of one of the dirtiest rivers in the US; the Passaic River.
Monika holds a BA in spanish and philosophy from Loyola Marymount University, and a MA in international urban development from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy (The New School).

Nourbese Flint
Nourbese Flint serves as a program manager with Black Women for Wellness (BWW). Here, she directs reproductive and environmental health policy, organize community advocacy and manages reproductive justice programming. Nourbese also serves on the steering committee with Californians for a Healthy and Green Economy (CHANGE), where she strategically looks at the political landscape and helps design efforts to build power and address toxic chemicals as it relates to reproductive health through elections, legislative efforts and community politics.

Before joining BWW, Nourbese studied women’s health in both Spain and Cuba and journalism in Scotland. Nourbese communication’s background includes serving as communication director for the Center of Women’s Health and Human Rights, as well as reporting for KPFK evening news in Los Angeles. Nourbese has a Masters of Arts in Women’s Health from Suffolk University, where she specialized in health disparities as it relates to media influence. In addition, Nourbese is a proud alumnus of San Jose State University, where she majored in Broadcast Journalism and African American Studies.

Nourbese is a founding member of Trust Black Women; a national coalition dedicated to increasing respect and support of Black Women and is an active member of the Women’s Intercultural Network.

Nourbese currently sits on the board of the California chapter of the National Organization for Women as well as serves as the vice president of the local south Los Angeles chapter of NOW. Nourbese also sits on the board of Access Women’s Health Justice located in Oakland California and serves as the co-chair of girls policy for the California Women’s Agenda.

Patricia Ochoa
Patricia Ochoa is the Deputy Policy Director for Coalition for Clean Air, focusing on addressing regional air quality issues from the freight sector of the goods movement. After graduating from California State University Northridge, Patty was inspired to focus her career on environmental justice as a way to address social and institutional inequities that create barriers to community empowerment. Patty’s professional background is in improving land use planning as a means to address environmental and health issues that create social disparities.

Paul Rosenfield
Paul Rosenfeld, Ph.D. is an environmental chemist and has over 15 years experience conducting remedial investigations, risk assessments, and developing cleanup programs for sites impacted by chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons, dioxins/furans, pesticides, PCBs, perchlorate, heavy metals, and asbestos. Dr. Rosenfeld conducts contaminant fate and transport modeling in all environmental media and is a specialist regarding the analysis and modeling of airborne contaminants. Dr. Rosenfeld has provided consulting expert support for numerous environmental litigation projects and has prepared expert reports for litigation concerning groundwater and surface water impacts from contaminants in public water systems across the nation. Dr. Rosenfeld has served as a Lecturer with UCLA’s School of Public Health, where he taught courses to medical doctors regarding human health risks of exposure to environmental contaminants. He publishes and presents frequently at nationally-recognized conferences on the environmental occurrence and human health consequences associated with emerging contaminants, such as chlorinated solvents, atrazine, 1,2,3-trichloropropane, PBDE, and PFOA. He is also a recognized and well-published expert in areas of odorant speciation, odor abatement, and consulting services for the biosolids and composting industries.

Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer
Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. most recently, the Director of Asset Management for the City of Los Angeles was elected in November 2012, to represent California’s 59th Assembly District. His history of public service includes serving as Chair of the LA County Small Business Commission, an Assistant Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles and Vice President of SEIU’s (Local 721) Los Angeles Professional Managers Association.

The Jones-Sawyer family were early pioneers in the civil rights movement. His uncle was one of the “Little Rock Nine”–high school students who braved violent mobs to integrate Little Rock Central High School in 1957; one of the most important and documented events in our nation’s history.

Jones-Sawyer earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and completed the prestigious Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government program, for senior executives in state and local government.

Jones-Sawyer also served as chair of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, USC Black Alumni, New Frontier Democratic Club and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. He is the divorced father of three; Reginald, Jr., Lauren and Evan.

Rudy Espinoza
Rudy Espinoza is the Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), a community development laboratory committed to building sustainable communities in urban areas. Rudy specializes in identifying profitable investment opportunities in low-income communities, researching the informal economy and its innovative entrepreneurs, building private/nonprofit partnerships, and training the working poor to participate in the socio-economic revitalization of their neighborhoods. Rudy has worked at Emerging Markets Inc. and the AARP Foundation where he used his skills to design and manage place-based initiatives with financial institutions, foundations and regional non-profits. Most recently he was a Senior Program Officer at Senior Program Officer at Community Financial Resource Center (CFRC), a Community Development Financial Institution in South Los Angeles where he provided micro-loans and business assistance to street vendors and other informal entrepreneurs. He serves on Board of Transportation Commissioners for the City of Los Angeles, the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Development Fund, the Board of Directors for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and on the Leadership Board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Rudy holds degrees in Business Administration and Urban Planning.

Thelmy Perez
Thelmy has been a community organizer in South Central LA since 2006 and currently holds the position of coordinator for the LA Human Right to Housing Collective, a City-wide tenant/housing organizing coalition in Los Angeles. Thelmy was born in San Salvador, El Salvador and migrated with her family to California in the early 80’s. In 2003 she received a degree in sociology from UCLA and soon after returned to El Salvador where she volunteered with the internationally recognized human rights organization, Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niños y Niñas Desaparecidos. It was then and there that she decided to pursue a life dedicated social justice. She is the lead organizer in the Collective’s Jordan Downs Campaign.