Details on the Wally Marks Commissions Training Program Summit as Liberty Hill Preps Upcoming Environmental Track

by Crystal Shaw on July 28, 2016

On May 13th, 2016, Liberty Hill Foundation kicked off its 2016 Commissions Training Program with an all-day Summit on Los Angeles County Governance and Commissions. A record-number ninety-nine guests were in attendance, including current City and County of Los Angeles commissioners, Community Funding Board members, Liberty Hill staff, Emerging Leaders alumni and cohort members, and advocates from various community organizations across Los Angeles. Having such diverse and key stakeholders in the room created a rich learning environment and provided a fruitful networking opportunity for guests.

The Summit was facilitated by Joanna Kabat and featured expert guest speakers, Maria Brenes, Jennifer Epps-Addison, Joan Ling, Torie Osborn, Sharon Rapport, and Sissy Trinh in various sessions throughout the day. With the large number of guests in the room, each participant was carefully seated at an affinity table, led by a table captain, in order to cultivate meaningful conversation and build relationships. This concept was well-received by guests, as participants enjoyed their breakout conversations and the format of interspersing presentation content with debrief discussions at their table.

Participants gained significant insight into the opportunities and challenges of commission service in the county of Los Angeles and how community groups could influence equity through these civic bodies.  Guests left with a charge to “change the rules of the game,” and “look at commissions and boards as strategic places to advance inside-outside advocacy strategies.” Participants left motivated and optimistic about starting on their course of action to getting appointed, but even more importantly, left with a sense of being part of a larger community fighting for equity.

All participants left the training with a better understanding of who has power within Los Angeles County governance, and more importantly, participants walked away with a deeper understanding of justice and equity priorities in the region. The training was fruitful for Community Funding Board members who were able to glean new information about the landscape in Los Angeles and meet a wide range of advocates working on these issues. In addition, guests left with a better understanding of how community groups can influence commissions for an equitable LA. This theme was continually emphasized throughout the day, and folks understood that there were many “justice and equity pathways in different and varying commissions.” Almost all participants believed they gained a stronger understanding of strategies to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis.

Guests understood the connectedness of other key social justice issues to the homelessness crisis and the importance of “taking a comprehensive approach,” as one guest described. The majority of participants gained insight on how to work with county insiders and walked away with clear steps and strategies for engaging in boards and commissions work.  Throughout the day, it was clear that commissioners enjoyed the content of the day and found the table topic discussions useful for gaining knowledge and building relationships.

Some Key takeaways from the summit:

“As a newcomer, it's been invaluable to hear, learn, from an incredible group of organizers. My table was incredible. I'm humbled, recharged, transformed.”

                - Training Participant

“It's just so great to be in a room of folks who feel the same about advancing justice and fostering equity and inclusion. Sometimes I feel crazy and I'm beating a dead horse with fighting for such issues… Then I get in a room like this filled with people fighting the good fight and feel encouraged and re-energized.”      

                  - Ivory Chambeshi, 2016 Cohort for Emerging Leaders

“I really appreciated how the panels led to table discussions and the intentionality of the table seating to make those discussions generative.”

                - Training Participant

In less than a week, August 4th, the next session in the Wally Marks Training Program will kick off. The focus will be Environmental Justice in Los Angeles: Oversight and Accountability.  This moderated panel and discussion will feature contributions from Darryl Molina Sarmiento, Southern California Program Director for Communities for a Better Environment, Joseph Lyou, President and CEO of Coalition for Clean Air and Governor's Appointee on the South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board, Susie Shannon, President of the City of Los Angeles Health Commission, and will be moderated by Daniela Simunovic, Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager at Liberty Hill Foundation.



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