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Gascón introduces first Black advisory committee


Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced this week the creation of an African-American Advisory Board, which will advise the DA’s office on policies, priority issues and best practices related to the African-American community and the criminal legal system.

“Although there have been milestones in civil rights, we still have a long, long way to go on the road to ending racism and discrimination in our criminal legal system,” Gascón said in a news release. “Our new advisory board creates a precedent for my office to truly listen and learn from the African-American community.”

Members of Gascón’s African-American Advisory Board will meet regularly, conduct outreach and work to improve diversity and inclusion within the DA’s office.

The African-American Advisory Board members are:

— Charity Chandler-Cole,  CEO of CASA/LA, Court Appointed Special Advocates for youth impacted by the foster care and juvenile justice systems. She also serves on the Los Angeles County Commission on Children & Families as co-chair of its Racial Justice Committee.

— Aurianna Angelique, a social activist, community leader and youth advocate. She is the founder of the Los Angeles social empowerment nonprofit organization, R.O.C. ERA.

— Donna Brown, cofounder of the Encouragement Project after the murder of her youngest son. She leads and facilitates a grief and loss workshop at her church, has held sessions on gun violence at survivor retreats on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and is involved with the Transformative Justice Symposium.

— Marcus Huntley, a deputy public defender handling felony trials for the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. He is vice president of the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Union Local 148 and a past president of the Black Public Defenders Association.

— Tim Kornegay, director of LiveFree California Coalition, where he manages a statewide coalition of 20 Black-led organizations engaged in community violence reduction and police accountability.

— Ramona Merchan, D.S.W., M.S.W., L.C.S.W., works for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services as an administrator and is currently working on Family First implementation to strengthen prevention services for youth and families in Los Angeles County and reimagine child welfare to a system of well-being.

— Erica Robinson, president of Health Matters Clinic (HMC), a nonprofit organization designed to reduce barriers to optimum health by connecting health systems, businesses and communities. She is a member of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE).

— Eduardo Soriano-Hewitt, has more than 20 years of experience in public policy development and implementation in the City of Los Angeles, state and federal legislative affairs.

— George A. Turner Jr., trial attorney for the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office. He has tried more than 50 cases, ranging from charges as violent as murder as complex as identity fraud. He is a past president of the Black Public Defenders Association.

— Bernita Walker, chief executive officer and co-founder of Project: PeaceMakers, Inc., a Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence (D/IPV) program located in South Los Angeles. She is a Violence Prevention Practitioner, an Intimate Partner Violence Survivor and a retired Deputy Sheriff for Los Angeles County. She also co-founded the Jenesse Center, a shelter for battered women and their children.