2020 Commissioners Biographies
|Isra Ahmad||Trena Turner|
|Jane Andersen||Angela Vázquez|
|Neal Fornaciari||Alicia Fernández|
|J. Ray Kennedy, PhD||Linda Akutagawa|
|Antonio Le Mons||Pedro Toledo|
|Sara Sadhwani||Dr. Russell Yee|
|Derric Taylor||Patricia Sinay|
County: Santa Clara
City: San José
Isra is currently a Senior Research & Evaluation Specialist with Santa Clara County’s Division of Equity and Social Justice. In this role, she leads the intersectional research efforts across the 7 different offices within the Division: Offices of Women’s Policy, Immigrant Relations, Cultural Competency, Labor Standard Enforcement, LGBTQ Affairs, 2020 Census and Gender-Based Violence Prevention. Previously, Isra served as the lead evaluator for the County’s Tobacco Control Program. She has worked for over 9 years in the community organizing, research and policy, to address the inequities related to adverse health impacts from tobacco products in a variety of places including, California Youth Advocacy Network, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Tobacco Related Disease Research Program at the University of California Office of the President, The Truth Initiative and her academic alma maters. Isra earned her A.A. from De Anza Community College, her B.S. in Health Science from San José State University, and her Masters in Public Health in Epidemiology/Biostatistics from U.C. Berkeley. In her free time, Isra enjoys hiking and spending time with her family and friends. She is registered to vote as No Party Preference and lives in San José.
Ms. Andersen has been a registered Civil and Structural Engineer in California since 1988. Her experience includes structural failure investigation and repair, earthquake damage evaluation and repair, seismic retrofit design and evaluation, new structure and building design, building code writing and editing, peer design review, litigation preparation, and expert testimony. She served on the board of directors of the Structural Engineers Association of Northern California, chairing the Legislative Committee, and taught FEMA classes on earthquake preparedness. Ms. Andersen has a MS in Structural Engineering and Structural Mechanics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame. Early in her career, Ms. Andersen was one of very few women in structural engineering, and pushed for diversity and inclusion throughout her professional and volunteer activities. Ms. Andersen is semi-retired and is registered with the Republican Party.
County: San Joaquin
Mr. Fornaciari worked as a researcher and manager at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore for 27 years prior to retiring in 2017. He has experience leading and coaching people, managing change, managing projects, and leading research and development programs. After retiring, Mr. Fornaciari spent a year as Foreperson of the 2018-2019 San Joaquin County Civil Grand Jury. Mr. Fornaciari holds a B.S and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA, all from the University of California at Berkeley. He is registered with the Republican Party.
County: San Bernardino
City: Morongo Valley
Ray Kennedy has worked in the field of international electoral assistance since 1990, leading large and small teams in the design and implementation of electoral assistance projects, observing elections, planning and managing election activities, mentoring election observer groups, training election staff and political party agents, drafting election laws and regulations, and serving on an election commission.
He worked at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)—a non-profit based in Washington, DC—initially managing IFES projects in the Americas and later, leading IFES’ work in collecting, organizing, and disseminating information on elections and citizen participation throughout the world, including IFES’ role in launching the ACE Project, an online encyclopedia on election administration.
Since receiving his PhD in Latin American Studies from Johns Hopkins/SAIS, he has worked primarily as a senior electoral expert in the United Nations System. He has also collaborated with The Carter Center’s Democracy Program. In parallel, he has been working for more than a decade to promote awareness and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, advising local groups in several countries as well as the Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee in Riverside County, California. Mr. Kennedy is registered with the Democratic Party.
County: Los Angeles
City: Studio City
Antonio Le Mons has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in both the non-profit and private sector—from start-ups to mature organizations with multi-million dollar budgets and marketing to community and economic development. He developed and administered contracted programs for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), state of California, and City and County of Los Angeles, in the areas of healthy homes, HIV prevention, transportation, tobacco control, and workforce development. Further, he has two decades of community-based experience and has owned and operated a personnel placement company, a personal concierge service, a psychotherapy and coaching practice, and a digital technology social enterprise, providing on-the-job training and development for transitional age youth.
Antonio is the Chief Operating Office at Skid Row Housing Trust, a permanent supportive housing development and management entity that supports people, who have experienced homelessness, prolonged extreme poverty, poor health, disabilities, mental illness and/or addiction, in living safe, stable wellness driven lives. Antonio holds a Master’s in community and clinical psychology from Antioch University and a BA in telecommunications with a business minor from Michigan State University. He is a former member of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) and served for 5-years on UCLA’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects. He is registered with no party preference.
County: Los Angeles
City: La Canada Flintridge
Sara Sadhwani is an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College specializing in American politics, racial and ethnic politics, and public policy. Her research has been published in the peer reviewed journals Political Behavior, California Journal of Politics and Policy, and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. Her analysis of Asian American and Latino voting behavior in California elections has been featured in the Washington Post and Vox, and in PS: Political Science and Politics, where she argued that institutional innovations such as the California Citizens Redistricting Commission led to increases in Latino and Asian American representation in the state legislature and U.S. Congress. She is currently a faculty fellow at the USC Schwarzenegger Institute where she co-authored a policy report
Professor Sadhwani earned her doctorate in political science from the University of Southern California and a bachelor of philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to academia, Prof. Sadhwani worked for nearly a decade advocating for the rights of immigrants at social justice organizations such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and the California Immigrant Policy Center. She is registered with the Democratic Party.
County: Los Angeles
City: Los Angeles
Currently an Investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Mr. Taylor has served California communities for over twenty-five years. As an Investigator, Mr. Taylor ensures that investigations are completed in a just and equitable manner in a wide variety of categories ranging from assaults to computer crimes. Mr. Taylor received his B.A. in Accounting from Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and a master’s degree in Crime, Law, and Society from the University of California, Irvine. Mr. Taylor is an active volunteer in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley areas, serving as a mentor and coach among other duties. Mr. Taylor is registered with the Republican Party.
County: San Joaquin
Pastor Trena Turner is the Executive Director at Faith in the Valley; a multi-cultural, multi-faith community organizing network in the San Joaquin Central Valley. Faith in the Valley builds power among historically excluded communities to act together for systems and policy change for racial, economic and environmental equity. Pastor Trena Turner is a Summa Cum Laude (2006) graduate from American Intercontinental University, B.S. in Management and Organizational Behavior. She is active within her local ministry as an ordained minister and member of the Pastoral staff. She spent 25 years in management within the telecommunications industry, managing call centers and supporting internal sales enablement teams to drive effective business communications. Pastor Turner has been married since 1978, has two adult children and seven amazing grandchildren. She is registered with the Democratic Party.
County: Los Angeles
City: Los Angeles
Angela M. Vázquez brings to her work a tenacity for ensuring equity for historically marginalized communities, families, and children, especially as their life opportunities are impacted by their race/ethnicity, trauma and poverty. She has spent the last nine years in education and child welfare public policy, convening local and statewide stakeholders, facilitating policy development and implementation discussions for children as a Policy Analyst at Advancement Project and later as the Associate Director for FosterEd California. Currently, Angela is a Policy Director at The Children’s Partnership, covering a legislative and policy portfolio that includes children’s mental health and child welfare.
Angela received her Masters Degree with Honors in Social Work in Community Organizing, Planning, and Administration from the University of Southern California after graduating cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with a BA in Psychology. She also serves on the Board of Trustees at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena.
Alicia Fernandez is currently a Senior Special Agent supervising a team of Special Agents that conduct internal affairs investigations. With over 30 years of experience working for the State of California, she understands the intricacies and has direct knowledge and experience in the following areas: internal affairs investigations, fraud and background investigations, auditing, budgeting, procurement, contracting, educational fiscal services, project management, and investment operations.
She is a first generation Mexican-American, raised in a Delta farming community. She is bilingual and multicultural with a passion for equity in education for all children. She has been a School Board Trustee for the past 14 years, and was the first Hispanic School Board Trustee elected, even though the district’s student population was 50% Hispanic. Prior to becoming a School Board Trustee, when the local elementary school was closed, she became a founding member of a charter school in order to provide education to the community children, which consisted of a large percentage of English learners and/or socioeconomically challenged students. This was the first charter school in Yolo County.
She has recently been involved in redrawing the district trustee boundary areas which required reviewing the latest census data, associated mapping, and relevant Education Code language.
She received her Bachelor of Science and Master in Business Administration degrees from CSU, Sacramento.
She is registered with the Republican party.
City: Huntington Beach
Linda Akutagawa is President and CEO of LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics). A passionate social entrepreneur for over 25 years and beneficiary of LEAP’s leadership programming, she is a believer in the value, and urgent need, for diverse, equitable, and inclusive leadership. Through LEAP, Linda has dedicated herself to continuing the cycle of leadership development and inspiring Asian and Pacific Islanders to step up to leadership roles across sectors, industries, and communities.
She is the Chair of the Alliance for Board Diversity and an appointed member of the California Department of Insurance Diversity Task Force. She is also a member of the Asian/Asian American Institute Advisory Board at California State University at Los Angeles as well as a Board member of the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council.
She’s a nationally recognized speaker and facilitator on leadership, diversity, equity, and inclusion, nonprofits, and board governance. Linda received her B.S. in International Business with a minor in Economics from California State University at Los Angeles. She has a Certificate in Nonprofit Board Consulting through Boardsource. She is married and a furmom to her cockapoo and aunty to eleven nephews and nieces. She is registered as No Party Preference.
Pedro Toledo serves as the Chief Administrative Officer of Petaluma Health Center (PHC), a nationally-recognized, award-winning, federally-qualified health center committed to ensuring that all people in Sonoma County have access to high-quality, prevention-focused, patient-centered health care. Pedro joined PHC in 2014. Over that time, PHC has opened 7 additional health care delivery sites and with an annual operating budget of over $60 Million has become one of the largest non-profit organizations in Sonoma County, employing almost 500 individuals who work across ten health clinic sites. Prior to joining PHC, Pedro served as the Director of Community and Government Relations for the Redwood Community Health Coalition, the network of community health clinics in the Northern California counties of Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Yolo. He serves on the board of numerous organizations, including the Redwood Empire Food Bank, the Sonoma County Workforce Investment Board, and the National Association of Community Health Center (NACHC) Agricultural Committee. Pedro has received multiple community recognition awards, including Sonoma 4Cs Children’s Champion Award, MillerCoors Lider of the Year award, National Alliance on Mental Illness Hero in the Fight Award, and the North Bay Business Journal’s Forty under 40 recognition. Pedro grew up in Alameda, CA. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and master’s degree in Sociology from Stanford University, a law degree from Cornell University Law School in Ithaca, NY, and a master’s in healthcare services administration from Georgetown University. He resides on Sonoma County.
A century ago, Dr. Yee’s ancestors left southern China for “Gum Saan” (“Gold Mountain”). They settled in Oakland, where his parents and then he and his brothers were all born and raised.
He graduated from Oakland High School, UC Berkeley (BS), Dallas Theological Seminary (ThM), and the Graduate Theological Union (PhD), where his research focused on sociolinguistic aspects of liturgical and free worship. He has taught mostly for Fuller Theological Seminary and especially enjoys teaching his class on Oakland for St. Mary’s College.
He’s the author of Worship on the Way (2012), which explores worship in Asian and South East Asian North American churches. He pastored a church for ten years and is active in his present multicultural church community, which wrestles tangibly with matters of social justice, class & race, cultural contextualization, community redevelopment, crime & safety, recovery, re-entry, and homelessness.
He’s a longtime history docent at the Oakland Museum of California, with a special interest in the state’s indigenous peoples. He was the first board secretary for Habitat for Humanity East Bay (now East Bay/Silicon Valley). An avid marathon runner, he volunteers with Running for a Better Oakland, a youth sports and scholarship program.
He lives in Oakland with his wife, Dr. Lisa Yee, who is a physician at a community health center. He is registered with the Republican Party.
County: San Diego
With nearly 30 years of community-building experience, Patricia Sinay launched Community Investment Strategies, a consulting firm that ensures that her clients create a positive and equitable impact in their communities. Patricia’s experience includes working with nonprofits and community leaders from the United States, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, and Central Europe. Her clients include corporations, grantmakers, associations, and nonprofits. She served as a “tenured” lecturer at UCSD, teaching public service for more than 13 years. In 2015, the Encinitas Union School District board appointed her as a trustee where she served for two years. Before starting her own business, she promoted civic engagement at The San Diego and The San Francisco Foundations. She began her career by contributing to the work of various international civil society organizations in Washington, D.C.
Patricia is a founding member of the Latina Giving Circle San Diego and is an active member of the League of Women Voters North San Diego County, MANA de San Diego, and San Diego Grantmakers. Currently, Patricia serves on the governance committee at Community HousingWorks and on the philanthropy council at San Ysidro Health. Patricia is a Latina immigrant with degrees from UCLA and The American University.