Virtual Learning Session – Reimagine. Reclaim. Redefine Healthy Communities.

August 2020

The pandemic has unveiled the underbelly of the broken systems that plague America, which has revealed to many Americans that these systems have been instrumental in keeping communities of color at a perpetual disadvantage. While there have been many advocates doing systems change work to create healthier communities for people of color, there seems to be new momentum for a promising movement to make sustainable and positive change. In South Central, conversations about defunding police departments and pandemic economic recovery plans are at the forefront of ideas in reimagining a healthy community; however, community advocates will vouch that there are many areas that need to be addressed as well. The purpose of this learning session is to talk to stakeholders in philanthropy, government, and community organizing to unpack how to reimagine what a healthy community looks like and to share the many ways the South Central community can reclaim and redefine their community.

Guest Bios

Chief Equity Officer of the Los Angeles Department of City Planning

With more than 30 years of experience and most recently holding the title of Principal City Planner, Roble will help craft City Planning’s Racial Equity Action Plan that will better guide diverse outreach and engagement that informs 35 distinct communities during the City Planning process.

Appointed by the Director of Planning Vince Bertoni in response to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Executive Order No. 27 on Racial Equity in City Government, Roble has a robust history of serving various community groups around Los Angeles. His experience includes managing visions for South, Southeast, and West Adams-Baldwin Hills-Leimert communities. Part of his work helped address racial injustice, equity, as well as economic disinvestment. His leadership in over 20 projects has helped bolster affordable housing and sustainable communities. Most recently, he oversaw projects of significant importance to the South L.A. community, including the redevelopment of Jordan Downs from 700 units of public housing into a 1,073 unit, mixed-use, mix-income neighborhood with a full-service grocery store, commercial and community services, and more than five acres of parks and open space.

Co-Executive Director, La Defensx

Eunisses Hernandez is a policy advocate and campaign strategist with over 5 years of experience in working with local and state legislators, system actors, and communities most devastated by criminalization, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration. As a native of Los Angeles, the daughter of immigrants, and loved one of the people with mental health needs and substance use disorders Eunisses knows the detrimental impacts that criminalization has on immigrants and communities of color.

These experiences inform Eunisses analysis and policy development. Eunisses has been a leader in helping develop and implement sentencing reforms and sentence enhancement abolition policies. Her efforts have led to the repeal and reform of some of the most devastating tough on crime policies in California. Most recently, she has been a leader in the JusticeLA jail fight that stopped a $3.5 billion dollar jail plan in Los Angeles County.  Eunisses has extensive experience in developing and implementing alternatives to incarceration. Most recently, she was appointed as a voting member to the Los Angeles County Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group and Co-chair of the Community Based System of Care AD HOC.

Eunisses is an alum of the Women’s Policy Institute Local Government and State Policy fellowship programs. In 2017, she was named one of the 40 Under 40 Emerging Civic Leaders by the Empowerment Congress and the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas. Eunisses holds a BA in Criminal Justice from California State University, Long Beach, and currently resides in Los Angeles.

Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Los Angeles

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.

Key Topics of Discussion

  • Reimagining the meaning of a healthy community
  • Racial Justice and Racial Equity as key elements to a healthy community
  • Budget Advocacy for residents
  • Zip code and life expectancy
  • “Equity Checklist” for LA City planners
  • Strategies to reclaiming the South LA community
  • Fighting for policy change and implementation
  • Reimagining city planning, land use, and the city budget with South LA resident advocacy
  • Building people power with residents for residents
  • Environmental Justice and the cumulative impact of Environmental Racism
  • Defining a healthy South LA community
  • Transforming oppressive building structures into community resources
  • Inclusive solutions centering South LA residents to create a healthier community

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