HRC Board of Directors

Meet the individuals that make up the HRC Board of Directors and the community organizations, institutions and businesses that they represent.

HRC BOARD CHAIR
John Maceri, Executive Director, The People Concern
John Maceri is the Executive Director of The People Concern. With more than fifty-six years of work in the community, The People Concern empowers the most vulnerable among us to rebuild their lives. As a long-time community volunteer, John served on the board of the Business Alliance of Los Angeles as a member, Vice President and two-term President. He is a Past Chair of the Westside Shelter and Hunger Coalition, and served as a member of the Board of the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce. John is a past Vice President of the Board of North Valley Caring Services, and a former member of the governing board of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

HRC BOARD PAST CHAIR
Dr. Karen S. Gunn, Community Member/Business Owner
Dr. Karen S. Gunn is a psychologist with over thirty years of experience working as a consultant and educator in the public and private sectors. Her expertise lies in organizational, management and program development, leadership skills, cross-cultural and diversity issues, interpersonal communication and human relations. Dr. Gunn was a tenured faculty member in the Psychology Department at Santa Monica College and served as department chair during that time. Dr. Gunn has served as a board member for national and local organizations as well as non-profit agencies. Dr. Gunn served as the prior Human Relations Council Board Chair.

HRC BOARD VICE CHAIRS
Donna Gentry, Owner, Gentry Group
Donna is an independent consultant providing marketing communications and special event services for over 25 years to non-profit organizations, business and government. She is an active volunteer and in addition to the HRC, her volunteer efforts present and past include: Board member of the Police Activities League (PAL); OPCC (now The People Concern), Westside Family Health Center, Pico Improvement Organization and the City of Santa Monica’s Buy Local Committee. Her website santamonicabayevents.net is offered as a community service whereby local non-profit organizations may have their events posted free of charge for promotion to the community.

Dr. Jody Priselac, Associate Dean for Community Programs, UCLA
Jody Z. Priselac is one of the founding Directors of the HRC in 2004 and has been a member ever since. She has served as Vice Chair and Chair of the HRC Board. Dr. Priselac is the Associate Dean for Community Programs in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. She has over 30 years of experience as a mathematics educator, serving in many roles, including high school teacher, professional development leader, teacher educator, and educational researcher.  Her research focuses on how to change teacher practice in mathematics in urban schools and partner with communities to advance equitable education.

Mary Luthy, Retired Community Health Nurse
For 20 years, Mary managed community health programs in downtown Los Angeles at California Hospital Medical Center, St. Vincent Medical Center and Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.  For over 11 years, she served the Director of Community Benefits for at Providence Saint John’s Health Center. The Community Benefits Department collaborated with government agencies and community organizations to better serve vulnerable populations. As Director, she served as the hospital liaison for the launch of Westside Respite Health Care with The People Concern, (formerly OPCC), Venice Family Clinic, and UCLA Santa Monica. She worked closely with Emergency Department medical staff, management and staff, case management, community health outreach, and community service providers to ensure the coordination and delivery of services to those experiencing homelessness and others in needed.

HRC BOARD SECRETARY
Debra A. Farmer, President/CEO, Westside Family Health Center
Debra A. Farmer has been President/CEO of Westside Family Health Center (WFHC) since 1999. Ms. Farmer has been a tireless health advocate at the local, state and national levels for women’s health care and health care for the safety net. She is a board member of the California Primary Care Association (past board chair), the Westside Coalition – Hunger. Housing. Health and Clinic Mutual Insurance Company (current board president) and was formerly board chair of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.  Ms. Farmer’s previous professional experiences include stints at The Ahmanson Foundation and Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

HRC BOARD TREASURER
Perry Roshan-Zamir, Community Member

Perry Roshan-Zamir is the general counsel for Cabo Cantina and their group of restaurants and practices franchise law. He received his bachelors in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from USC in 1989, his J.D. From Whittier College School of Law in 1992 and his Masters in Business Taxation from USC in 1996.  Perry is a certified diving instructor, very well-traveled, and serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Reef Check, an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people to save our reefs and oceans.  Perry also serves as a member of the board of directors of the Senior Arts Foundation, based in Los Angeles.

HRC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ana Maria Jara, City of Santa Monica Council Member & Community Member

Ana Maria Jara, a native from Guatemala, C. A. is a proud mother of four daughters, has six grandchildren. Has lived in Santa Monica for almost 40 years and worked at Santa Monica College for over 25 years. In January 2019, Ana was appointed to the Santa Monica City Council.  Throughout her career, she has been a tireless advocate for smart and inclusive solutions to issues of inequality in Santa Monica. Ana has served on numerous boards and organizations playing a vital leadership role to impact the lives of youth and families in Santa Monica. Her first entry into civic engagement was as an advocate with The Quiet Minority. Since then, she has served on PTSA as a member and co-chair, participated as District Advisory Committee member for multiple groups, and co-founded various district-wide committees. Before being appointed to serve on the City Council, she served as Chair on the Commission of the Status of Women and the Social Services Commission.

Cynthia Rose, Santa Monica Spoke
Cynthia Rose is the Director of Santa Monica Spoke and co-founder of the Santa Monica Safe Streets Alliance working to make Santa Monica a safer and better place to live, walk, bike, work, and play through community engagement, education and encouragement. She is a dedicated community advocate focused on collaborations to establish policy and infrastructure for safer walking and biking as means for creating more environmentally sustainable, equitable and healthy community. In addition to her local advocacy, she is currently Board Chair of the California Bicycle Coalition and previous board member of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and Sustainable Streets. Cynthia is a certified cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists.

Donald J. Zelaya, City of Santa Monica Information Services
Donald has been with the City of Santa Monica since 2015 in various departments and currently woks for Information Services. Donald is a member of the Government Alliance on Race & Equity (GARE) network whose mission is to promote and institute equity in local government. He has long been involved in social justice efforts beginning from when he worked in an access and retention community center for historically underrepresented students. Donald is passionate about community empowerment and being an active community member. He currently serves on the City of Los Angeles, Sylmar Neighborhood Council where he chairs the outreach and community engagement committee. Donald holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from University of California, San Diego with a minors in Political Science and Urban Studies and Planning. 

Eric Shafer, Senior Pastor, Mt. Olive Lutheran Church
The Rev. Eric C. Shafer is Senior Pastor at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica. He has helped open the Bruin Shelter (now called “Students4Students” Shelter) at Mt. Olive, the first shelter for homeless college students on the west coast and has been involved in the relaunch of the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council.  His previous positions include Senior Vice President for Odyssey Networks in New York City and Director of Communion for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in Chicago. Shafer has taught in South Africa and Madagascar and made multiple trips to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Gary Avrech, Community Member/Business Owner
Gary Avrech was born and raised in Southern California. He owns and operates Go Graphics & Printing Company, which he founded in 1982. He is the founder and Executive Director of Community Productions Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that assists other organizations that help those in immediate distress. He graduated from SMC and served as President of the Associated Students and Student Member of the SMC Board of Trustees. He has also served in many volunteer roles, including President and Member of the SMC General Advisory Board; Chair and Board Member of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Westside Coalition; Vice President and Board Member of the Santa Monica-Venice Branch of the NAACP; Chair and Member of the SMMUSD Intercultural Equity & Excellence District Advisory Committee.

Janet Gollery McKeithen, Senior Pastor, Church In Ocean Park
Janet Gollery McKeithen holds a Bachelors degree from Humboldt State University and a Master’s of Divinity from CST. In her 20’s, she was the Executive Director of SSP, a program where high school students help repair the homes of Native American families. In Inyo County, she worked with mothers who were addicted to Meth and directed the “Healthy Families” program. She is an ordained elder in the UMC, served as the Consultant for Immigration and Refugee Ministries, and has helped create Latch-Key programs, english classes, spanish classes, a senior citizen center and the Western Methodist Justice Movement. She is a founding member of the Committee for Racial Justice, and the President of the Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council. She is an Advisory Committee member for Climate Action Santa Monica, and has recently helped launch Young People Creating Change (YPCC). Janet was a member of the SMMUSD Special Education District Advisory Committee (SEDAC) for 10 years and currently serves on the GoSaMo Transportation Management Organization.

Julie Rusk, Chief of City Wellbeing, City of Santa Monica
Julie is the City of Santa Monica’s first Chief of Civic Wellbeing.  Throughout her career, she has spearheaded responsive government policy and innovations to improve community outcomes through creative partnerships, social impact initiatives and civic engagement. In 2017, she created the City’s first Office of Civic Wellbeing within the City Manager’s Office after leading the City’s winning government innovation proposal to develop a local wellbeing index from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Santa Monica’s 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health prize. Ms. Rusk was a 2016/17 Fellow with Business Alliance for a Local Living Economy (BALLE); was named to the 2017 List of 25 Top Influencers by Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL); and is currently a Senior Fellow with UCLA’s Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities.

Laura Rosenbaum, Community Member
Laura is an active volunteer in Santa Monica, serving on the boards of the Human Relations Council and the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica.  Professionally, she is director of retail banking marketing at OneWest Bank.  She is the mother of two sons and two grandsons, and enjoys studying the earthworks and culture of the Hopewell Indians of Ohio.

Lindsay Call, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Santa Monica
Lindsay Call serves as the City of Santa Monica’s Chief Resilience Officer, overseeing the City’s Office of Emergency Management. Lindsay focuses on building the City’s “community resilience” program to better prepare the local population to recover from events ranging from acute emergency incidents, like earthquakes, to long-term chronic challenges, such as climate change. Over the past ten years, Lindsay has served various public health and emergency management agencies, specializing in serving vulnerable populations. She has spent much of her life volunteering, including for Kansas City’s ANYTOWN social justice youth program. Lindsay holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from American University in Washington, DC and a Master’s of Public Health from UCLA.

Michele Wittig, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, CSUN
Michele Wittig has been engaged in community organizing and activism since the 1960’s at the University of Illinois, from which she received the Ph.D. in experimental psychology. During four decades as a CSUN professor, she taught research methods; published research on acculturation, prejudice reduction, justice and intergroup relations; and conducted program evaluations for human rights organizations.  Her work in Santa Monica has addressed homelessness, educational opportunity and policing equity.  She has been an expert witness on employment discrimination and a consultant to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Geneva) and to the British Red Cross.

Misti Kerns, President/CEO, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism
Misti Kerns, President/CEO of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism (SMTT), joined SMTT in 1997 and has served in her current role for 17 years and is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and a Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME). Kerns founded the ‘I AM Santa Monica’ program, which has certified over 3,000 local employees and community members as official Santa Monica ambassadors. She is an active member of the Santa Monica Human Relations Council, Santa Monica Pier Corporation Board of Directors and the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce and serves on local, state and national tourism boards. Kerns has been a resident of Santa Monica for over 22 years, and resides in the city by the sea with her husband and daughter.

Nat Trives, Coalition for Engaged Education
Nat arrived in Santa Monica in 1949 and he attended Lincoln Jr. High School, SAMOHI and SMC.  He married Ida Smith on July 3, 1955 and they are the proud parents of Dr. Toni Trives, Chair of the Modern Language Department at SMC. She has two sons, Tristan and Tanner who are the center of the family’s love and affection. Nat has enjoyed a wonderful career in public service as a member of SMPD, Professor Emeritus in Criminal Justice CSULA, former Mayor of Santa Monica, Deputy Superintendent at SMC and a volunteer on more than twenty NPO Boards.

Natalya Zernitskaya, Community Member
Natalya was born in Belarus and moved to San Francisco with her family as a child. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Economics from University of California, Santa Cruz, she decided to relocate to the Los Angeles area and found her community in Santa Monica. In addition to her full time job as a Due Diligence Analyst in the financial services industry, Natalya is currently the President of the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica; and has served as Treasurer and Webmaster for the organization in the past. She was also previously the Secretary of the Administrative Board of Directors for the Church in Ocean Park. Occasionally, she freelances as a Stage Manager for theatrical productions in the Los Angeles Area. Natalya is passionate about human rights and advocating for positive change in her community, with a particular focus on the issues of housing, social justice, and women’s rights.

Shawn Landres, Ph.D., Community Member
Connecting people, ideas, and resources, Shawn Landres, Ph.D., has earned international recognition for his leadership in social innovation and interreligious engagement. A widely published essayist and editor whose work has been featured by the Obama White House and covered by TIME, the Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, Shawn is the co-founder of Jumpstart Labs, an active partner in early-stage ventures and social enterprises, and Senior Fellow at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Currently Chair of the Los Angeles County Quality & Productivity Commission and a member of the City of Santa Monica Planning Commission, Shawn and his family live in Santa Monica, where he also serves on the SMMUSD Financial Oversight Committee and the Airport2Park Foundation advisory board.

Sheila Banani, Baha’i Community Member
Sheila Banani has been a homeowner in Santa Monica since 1966. She is a graduate of UCLA, with a B.A. in Sociology and an M.A. in Urban Planning: Public Policy & Social Development. She was an elected member and Chair of Santa Monica Baha’i Assembly from 1966-2016. She taught Sociology at Santa Monica College from 1974-1979. Sheila was also a Santa Monica Recreation & Parks Commission member from 1976-1980. She worked in the Santa Monica City Hall Advanced Planning Department as a Planner in 1981. Sheila is a published poet and writer, with a poem featured in the anthology “When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple.” Sheila currently serves on the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council Board of Directors, as she has since 2005.

Stephanie Cohen, District Director, West/Metro LA
Stephanie Cohen serves as Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s District for West/Metro Los Angeles. She is responsible for overseeing community engagement, events, programming and constituent services for the communities spanning from Venice and Santa Monica to East Hollywood and Los Feliz. Prior to joining Supervisor Kuehl’s office, Stephanie served as Deputy District Director to California State Assemblymember Richard Bloom where she was instrumental in creating educational opportunities for stakeholders related to homelessness, the Affordable Care Act/healthcare, veteran’s affairs and education. She served as Assemblymember Bloom’s liaison to religious communities and planned the Legislature’s Annual Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony in coordination with the Legislative Jewish Caucus. She is the founder of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, and continues to serve on its Board of Directors as well as on the Board of LACER Afterschool Programs. Stephanie graduated from UCLA with degrees in Political Science and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Tara Baraukas, Executive Director, Community Corporation of Santa Monica
Tara has worked to create innovative and sustainable affordable housing for 19 years. She serves as the Executive Director of Community Corporation of Santa Monica, a nonprofit affordable housing owner and development organization based in Santa Monica. In this role she oversees the management of 1,700 units of affordable housing, housing development, resident services, maintenance and administration of 80 staff. Previously, Tara developed affordable and permanent supportive housing throughout the state of California. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for SCANPH, a nonprofit membership organization that advocates for effective affordable housing policy throughout Southern California. She also serves on the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center Advisory Council, the UCLA Ziman Affordable Housing Advisory Council, and the Board of Friends of Katherine Johnson STEM Academy.

Tara Pomposini, Santa Monica Family YMCA 
Tara Pomposini’s entire career has been with the YMCA and includes the YMCA of Pittsburgh and Burbank before coming to the Santa Monica Family YMCA. Tara believes that each person has unique and special gifts to develop and share, and that lasting personal and social change can only come about when we invest in our children, our community, and our health. Under Tara’s leadership, the Y launched its Community-Based Health Initiative, offering Livestrong, diabetes prevention, balance, and arthritis programs. Tara served on the YMCA of the USA National Board, National Committee on Membership Standards, Y-USA International Committee, and the National Y-USA Safety Task Force. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the California State Alliance of YMCAs whose purpose it is to harness the power of our collective strength to impact our local communities through advocacy, public policy, and program initiatives. Tara earned a BS in Community Development from Penn State University and has a Master’s in Human Services in Organizational Leadership and Non-Profit Management from Springfield College. 

Timothy Conley, President, 67 Entertainment
Timothy Lee Conley is an LA-based Filmmaker, Professor and Administrator. He currently serves as the Executive Producer and Owner of 67 Entertainment. Timothy also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Santa Monica College, teaching courses in Media and Film Studies. Timothy is the Director of Media and Communications for the USC Office of Religious Life. A retired professional athlete, Timothy had the privilege to play in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks. He has a true passion for grassroots community organizing. Timothy currently serves as a board member with the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council and is very active with the Baha’i Faith Community of Los Angeles.

Lt. Thomas McLaughlin, Santa Monica Police Department 
Lieutenant Thomas McLaughlin has been a member of the Santa Monica Police Department since 2001. Lt. McLaughlin currently serves as the Officer-in-Charge of the Criminal Investigations Division, where he is responsible for overseeing all investigative and administrative work of the division. During his time as a police officer, he spent time working in patrol, detectives, narcotics, field training officer program, internal affairs, and was on loan to a federal task force. For the last seven years, Tom has been the Legal Officer Liaison to the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office, where he assists with civil rights inquiries. Lt. McLaughlin has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University, Long Beach and a Master’s degree in criminal justice from Chapman University.