HRC Board of Directors

HRC Board of Directors - New Members

HRC Welcomes New Board Members (from left to right) Darrell Lowe, Shawn Landres, Kathryn E. Jeffery, Eric Shafer and Timothy Conley.

 

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

Dr. Karen S. Gunn, HRC Board Chair and 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.

Donna Gentry, HRC Board Vice Chair and Owner, Gentry Group

Donna is an independent consultant providing marketing communications and special event services for over 20 years to nonprofit 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 nonprofit organizations may have their events posted free of charge for promotion to the community.

Dr. Jody Priselac, HRC Board Vice Chair and 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, HRC Board Secretary and Director of Community Benefits, Providence Saint John’s Health Center

Mary Luthy is the Director of Community Benefit for Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica.  Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, who in 2014 passed its sponsorship to Providence Health & Services, Providence Saint John’s is rooted in the Catholic health care tradition, which is devoted to providing leading-edge medicine with unwavering compassion and personalized care. In line with both its Catholic Mission and its responsibilities as a non-profit healthcare provider, Providence Saint John’s seeks to create healthier communities by investing in community benefit programs, with an emphasis on the poor and vulnerable.

Debra A. Farmer, HRC Board Treasurer and 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.

Chris LeGagnoux, Community Member

Chris LeGagnoux has been an education volunteer both in the classroom and on the Executive Board of the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council. She has taught regular and special education in the Santa Monica Unified School District with a Bilingual Certification in Spanish. An appreciator of music and the arts, Chris has served on the Executive Boards of both the Santa Monica High School Orchestra Parents Association and PTSA—where she co-chaired the Reflections Art Program, before working with Kids With Cameras. She and her husband have been long-time Santa Monica residents and are the parents of twin Samohi graduates. In her free time, Chris enjoys testing vegetarian recipes, hunting for vintage items, and walking in the neighborhood (dogs included).

Darrell Lowe, Captain, Santa Monica Police Department

Darrell Lowe is a 24-year veteran of the Santa Monica Police Department He is currently assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division. Throughout his career he has worked a variety of assignments He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from California State University Northridge and, a Master’s degree in Emergency Services Administration from California State University Long Beach. He is the Department’s lead facilitator for Procedural Justice and Fair and Impartial Policing training. He is a contributing author to a Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) guidebook entitled, How to Increase Cultural Understanding. Police Perspectives: Building Trust in a Diverse Nation, no. 1. Washington, DC: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

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 Intercultural Equity & Excellence District Advisory Committee of the SMMUSD.

Dr. Janet Bregar, Village Church and Interfaith Center

Dr. Bregar is currently teaching In Comparative Religions Department at Cal State Fullerton. She is also the Head Pastor of Village Lutheran Church and Interfaith Center in Brentwood where Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Sufi Muslim groups reside. Dr. Bregar was the founding chair of HRC. She is also currently an Ambassador in the Parliament of the World’s Religions and a member of CLUE -POWER a group that promotes economic equality for women. Dr. Bregar is the past vice-president and current board member of United Religious Conference at UCLA an interfaith organization that has served UCLA since 1976.

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. 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).

John Maceri, Executive Director, The People Concern

John Maceri is the Executive Director of The People Concern. With more than fifty 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.

Julie Rusk, Chief of City Wellbeing, City of Santa Monica

Julie serves as the City of Santa Monica’s first Chief of Civic Wellbeing with the City Manager’s Office.  Throughout her career, Julie has led groundbreaking, nationally-recognized efforts to tackle a range of local government social impact initiatives.  Using data, collective impact approaches and community voices, Julie developed partnerships, such as Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career network, to improve youth and family wellbeing.  Under Julie’s leadership, Santa Monica won a national innovation prize from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge to create the first-of-its-kind local wellbeing index.  In 2017, Julie began the creation of the Office of Civic Wellbeing to embed wellbeing into City government policy and partnerships.  Julie is a 2016/17 BALLE Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica with her husband, two teenage children and beloved dog.

Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D., Superintendent & President, Santa Monica Community College District

Dr. Jeffery possesses over three decades of diverse higher education experience. She is a passionate advocate for higher education and takes pride in a student-centered approach to leadership and decision-making. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration with an emphasis in Community College Leadership, an M.S. in Applied Behavioral Studies in Education, and a B.M.E. with a major in piano and minor in voice. Dr. Jeffery is very active on professional and community boards as a member of the President’s Round Table of African American CEOs, and on the AACC Special Commission on Structured Pathways. She served on the AACC Commission on Academic, Student, and Community Development, and currently serves on the Board for the SMC Foundation, the Broad Stage at the SMC Performing Arts Center, and the Santa Monica Human Relations Council.

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.

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.

Perry Roshan-Zamir, Community Member

Perry Roshan-Zamir is the vice-president and general counsel for Johnny Rockets Restaurants and has a small law practice in Santa Monica.  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.  He is a certified specialist in franchise law and currently.  Perry is a certified diving instructor and well traveled.  He is a member of the board of directors of Reef Check which is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower people to save our reefs and oceans.  He is also a member of the board of directors of the Senior Arts Foundation, based in Los Angeles.

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 Chair of the City of Santa Monica Social Services Commission, Shawn and his family live in Santa Monica, where he also serves on the Grant Elementary School Site Council 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 currently serves on the Santa Monica Bay Area Human Relations Council Board of Directors, as she has since 2005.

Sherri Lee-Lewis, Santa Monica College

Sherri Lee-Lewis is an LA native. She attended UCLA, then transferred to USC where she was a double major and received her Bachelor’s in English Literature and Communication Arts and Sciences. She received her Master’s from CSU Los Angeles in Educational Administration with a Business specialization.  Sherri is currently the Dean of HR for SMC. She also serves as a Title IX Deputy for the District. Sherri is an active member of the South Bay Area HRC, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Jack and Jill of America, Inc. – Los Angeles Chapter, the Wilfandel Club, the Sister Circle Investment Group, the Association of Chief HR Officers, and the Association of California Community College Administrators. Sherri is married to Dr. Keith Lewis, and has two sons, Jeremy and Justin.

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, Rio Hondo College, and Cal State University, Northridge. He teaches courses in Media, Film, and Hip- Hop Culture. 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 HRC and is very active with the Baha’i Faith Community of Los Angeles.