Planners of Color for Social Equity host 3rd annual Youth Conference ELARA students showed growth in their return to Luskin for the Urban Planning Youth Empowerment Conference.



By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde

Luskin Student Writer

A helicopter hovered over Jesus Palalia’s neighborhood, shining the light over him as he walked home from working with his mom. He recalls the frightening experience as normal when he was younger, growing up in a ‘ghetto’ neighborhood.

Now, an 11th grade student at the East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy (ELARA), Palalia is thinking about a career in youth criminology, inspired by what he has learned through the Urban Planning Youth Empowerment Conference held by the Planners of Color for Social Equity, or PCSE, at UCLA Luskin. This is his third time attending the conference.

Palalia said that though he doesn’t think he wants to pursue urban planning as a career, he enjoys learning about it because it has exposed him to new ideas about his community. Palalia said he thinks the conference has shown him how communities and bad neighborhoods can affect youth.

“I like that I get to be creative and work with other people,” Palalia said.

ELARA is one of three high schools in the nation with a focus on urban planning and design that participate in the conference each year.

The conference aims to spark high school students’ interest in urban planning, urging them to question their surroundings and giving them the knowledge to better understand the subject. Since its first year in 2013, the conference has grown and made a stronger impact for students who now make their second and third visits to UCLA for the conference.

In a series of workshops, students now quickly write lists of residential, industrial, commercial and institutional areas on a white paper, not forgetting to include areas that serve underrepresented communities. Students write down the words ‘temporary shelters,’ and ‘community centers,’ planning where to place them on a map outlined by tape on the floor. In workshops, students independently think about the placement of each building, making sure to separate residential areas from industrial and thinking about what would serve the community the best.

Annette Moreno, a 9th grade English teacher, said she noticed students were more engaged at this year’s event.

“(In the past) students wouldn’t know what to say,” Moreno said. “Now they are really engaged and they have more experience.”

Diana Diaz, a counselor at the event, said she was surprised to learn new things about her community from the conference and the students, who discussed things such as food deserts and the pollution in their communities after the conference was over.

Edber Macedo, a first-year urban planning student and co-chair of the PCSE, and a three-year volunteer on the conference project, said he became interested in the organization because of his interactions with the students.

Though the organization aims to empower youth, Macedo said the students have been able to teach volunteers and urban planning students more about the lived experiences of the problems they try to solve.

“You forget you’re talking to high school students. They are really bright,” Macedo said, recalling his surprise as he would have conversations with the students.

When asking students what types of things they would like to see in their neighborhoods, Macedo said students responded by saying they want more green space, 24-hour fitness centers and Starbucks, giving him a different perspective about the way urban planning approaches communities.

“It’s amazing to have students from underrepresented communities to come and learn about urban planning through a critical lens,” he said.

Macedo said he also wants PSCE to aim to improve access to graduate school for underrepresented students. When he talks to the students about graduate school, Macedo said he sees they’re already concerned about not being able to afford it and not feeling like they would fit in.

“We want to demystify the college experience,” he said. “That’s why we have this conference at UCLA. To show students that in a couple of years, they can physically be here.”

Jiovani Huerta, an 11th grade student who participated, said he enjoys seeing the campus and learning about each building in terms of urban planning.

“UCLA is a great university,” Huerta said “Once you come here, you can be someone great.”

Though students have enjoyed the youth conference and have shown improvement in just three years, teachers said they want to see the program grow from being an isolated event to extending throughout the school year.

“In most cases, this doesn’t come back into the classroom,” Diaz said. “It would be good to have after-school programs or training for teachers to bring urban planning into the classroom.”



Study: Asian American Electorate Expected to Double by 2040 New data collected by the Center for the Study of Inequality predicts an increase in Asian American political power in the next 25 years

By 2040, there will be over 6 million more registered Asian American voters in the U.S. than there are today, an increase of more than 100 percent and proof that Asian Americans are one of the fastest growing electorates.

That finding is just one of the results of a new report coauthored by Paul Ong, a professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy at UCLA Luskin with a joint appointment in Asian American Studies. The study explores the implications this growing segment of the population has for the U.S. electorate and upcoming political races through detailed demographic estimations.

According to the report, which augmented information from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Asian American electorate will double to 12.2 million in 2040, a 107 percent increase. Due to their growing numbers, the Asian American population will have the potential to play a key role in tight presidential elections and close political decisions. The report is the first in a series of publications throughout the year that are expected to cover a broad range of topics including culture and multigenerationalism.

The report was prepared in partnership with the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), a national organization committed to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office. The report was coauthored by Elena Ong, a consultant to APAICS.

“These results provide a context for understanding the relative size and potential impact of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), as well as the current and future roles of (the population’s) leaders in serving two of the fastest growing racial populations in America,” Paul Ong said.

“This study shows that Asian Americans will have a growing presence and stronger voice in our national debates for years to come,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (HI), the first Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate. “I look forward to continuing to work to grow the pipeline of Asian American leaders who will amplify the voice of our community and continue the fight to overcome the challenges we face.”

Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27.), the Chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, commented, “As AAPIs become more engaged in the political process, it is important now, more than ever, that our government both represents and responds to the needs of our diverse communities.”

In the report, the term Asian American is defined in diverse terms ranging from solely Asian to multiracial Asian Americans with mixed backgrounds in terms of culture, ethnicity, nativity and other factors. According to the report, multiracial Asians will have a larger growth rate of 130 percent versus Asians alone, who are expected to grow by 75 percent.

“Electoral candidates will need to understand that the Asian American vote is not a monolith,” the report says. “They will need to understand the political concerns and priorities of Asian Americans are both unique and complex, shaped in part by age, nativity, multiracial and other evolving demographic composition.”

Changes within the Asian American population could also have an impact on the electorate beyond the 2016 presidential election cycle. For instance, while the younger, U.S.-born Asian American population aged 18 to 34 currently constitutes the majority of Asian American voters, the report estimates that by 2040, 57 percent of registered Asian American voters will be over the age of 34.

“(Knowing this information) would help elected officials reach out to Asian American voters in a language, and in a communication preference, that is in tune with the Asian American voter’s immigration status and age-cohort,” Ong said.

According to the report, the difference in race and age may suggest that the growing population will have different needs, including more emphasis on foreign policy, international relations, trade and immigration to accommodate for the concerns of foreign-born Asian American adults.

In 2015, 44 percent of naturalized Asian American registered voters are over the age of 55, but by 2040, 53 percent will be, according to the study. As a result, the youth and middle-aged share of the political landscape will decline. Older, naturalized Asian American voters are likely to demand different needs, such as native-language registration forms, town halls, e-booklets and ballots in order to vote.

Conversely, authors suggest that populations under 34 are likely to share U.S. values and advocate for issues such as equality, health care affordability and college affordability, among others.

“Given the enormous diversity by age and nativity, along with ethnicity and nationality and socioeconomic class, there is a daunting challenge of creating a common political agenda that unites Asian Americans into an effective and cohesive voting bloc,” the report said.

Though the report focuses on political implications, the impacts of the demographic shifts can be extrapolated into other areas of governance. Among other things, these projections are important for understanding the social, cultural and economic dimensions affecting the development of public policies such as new educational programs, English as a Second Language programs, and occupational and social programs for Asian American citizens of all ages.

The report, titled “The Future of Asian America in 2040,” is available via the Center for the Study of Inequality, a research center headed up by Paul Ong and housed at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and APAICS. Commentaries are also hosted there from elected officials and scholars exploring the dynamics of race and politics in America today.

An Officer and a Graduate Student Lr. Michael Fonbuena's commitment to UCLA Luskin



By Angel Ibañez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

When second-year Public Policy student Lt. Michael Fonbuena searched for programs offered by the Navy to earn his graduate degree while continuing his career in the service, he found the Career Intermission Program and chose to attend UCLA Luskin.

The program was implemented in 2009 and gives service members the opportunity to take a one- to three-year break to pursue personal or professional growth and return to active duty following the hiatus.

Fonbuena was attracted to UCLA Luskin for its unique location and the range of policy challenges engaged by the School, as well as the interdisciplinary focus that would bridge his passion for international issues.

When he first arrived at UCLA Luskin he came in knowing what he wanted to study, but his interests quickly expanded as he was exposed to new ideas.

“I came in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do and what my interests were,” Fonbuena says, “but by expanding outside of my comfort zone and taking courses I hadn’t exactly intended, I have gained tremendous interest in several new topics.”

One of these new topics has been cybersecurity, and its legal implications, both within and outside of the military framework.

“Currently I am finishing a course in the Law School on cyber law and policy which has greatly piqued my interest not only in the security implications of cyber, which is of great interest to the military, but also on the legal ramifications of things we hear about on a daily basis,” Fonbuena says.

Such classes benefit greatly from students with unique backgrounds. As a sailor and a Naval Academy graduate, Michael has brought a unique viewpoint to many of his classes.

“I remember a few classes with Professor DeShazo where I felt I was able to provide insight on a personal level that some in my cohort might have found useful—specifically on the case study of the Tailhook scandal, and in general discussing what it was like working within such a large bureaucracy at the Department of Defense,” he says.

The intersection of ideas from its students with diverse backgrounds is at the center of UCLA Luskin’s mission to cultivate change agents who will advance solutions to society’s most pressing problems.

Fonbuena has benefited from this exchange, he says, and he will keep as he pursues his career.

“It really taught me that everyone brings something different to the table and can add valuable input. It’s a valuable lesson that I will take back to the Navy with me.”

Another unique resource Michael believes has helped him develop as a person and expand his knowledge of issues has been the guest speakers that come to UCLA Luskin, including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

“I honestly feel that by not taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from these individuals, students are doing themselves a huge disservice, both personally and professionally,” Fonbuena says.

As his time at UCLA Luskin is coming to an end, Michael says his experience has reinvigorated him.

“My experience here has recharged my batteries and left me with a desire to utilize the tools I’ve learned to make the Navy a better organization in any capacity I can,” he says.

“I developed a diversity of thought which I lacked prior to attending Luskin, which in the future will enable me to see problems through a wider lens and make more thoughtful and diverse decisions.”

Urban Planning student awarded prestigious David L. Boren Fellowship The $24,000 fellowship will fund Phoebe Brauer’s studies and research for her master's thesis in Burma

By Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
Luskin Student Writer

Urban Planning student Phoebe Brauer was awarded the prestigious David L. Boren Fellowship for $24,000 and will be taking the opportunity to travel to Burma to conduct research for her master’s thesis.

Boren Fellows live in countries around the world, immersing themselves in language and culture to fluently learn a variety foreign languages in the span of 12 weeks to 24 months.

The fellowship is an initiative of the National Security Education Program, which provides funding opportunities for students interested in federal national security to learn foreign languages in underrepresented regions critical to U.S. and national security interests around the world. The NSEP aims to create a larger pool of qualified U.S. citizens to work internationally for federal national security.

Along with the funding she will receive to travel to Burma and study a foreign language, Brauer will be given the opportunity to work for at least one year in the federal government after she graduates.

In a press release, David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma and a former senator who played a key role in the creation of the program, said he thinks future leaders should have a deep understanding of the rest of the world, its cultures and languages.

Previous award recipients and alumni of the program have worked in the federal government.



Aaron Panofsky Explores Controversies in “Misbehaving Science” The Public Policy professor's book explores the roots of simmering battles in science


Aaron Panofsky, a professor of public policy with an appointment at the Institute for Society and Genetics, recently published his book “Misbehaving Science: Controversy and the Development of Behavior Genetics.” The book analyzes the causes and consequences of controversies surrounding behavioral genetics, often leading to debates about race and inequality.

In a recent interview with UCLA Luksin, Panofsky discusses his findings and how science and policy come to be at odds with one another, tracing behavior genetics to its origins and analyzing five major controversies in the field.

Panofsky will discuss the book in an April 30 webcast.

Your book, “Misbehaving Science,” looks at the field of behavioral genetics as a way of showing how scientific consensus — or the lack thereof — and cross-disciplinary relationships can influence the progress of knowledge. What made behavioral genetics the right topic for this kind of study?

At some level, controversy is inherent to science, that’s what distinguishes it from other forms of culture. Scientists propose findings, explanations, and theories, and others try to tear these down. Historians and sociologists have focused on occasions when this process fails to go smoothly. For example, perhaps what’s at stake is not a fact but what counts as a fact, what a method is capable of demonstrating, what evidence is meaningful, or who is even a legitimate participant in a scientific debate. On such occasions…there is a breakdown in the mutual trust and common standards necessary for Popper’s machine to keep running smoothly. So sociologists and historians have been interested in the social processes that get the scientific machine running again.

Behavior genetics—the field devoted to studying genetic influences on intelligence, personality, mental illnesses, criminal behavior, etc.—is interesting from this perspective because it has remained controversial since its founding as a field fifty years ago. The field’s researchers have managed to have productive careers despite there being across this entire period fundamental disagreements across science about the validity of the scientific tools behavior geneticists use and the inferences they make. Behavior genetics is thus an anomaly from the tradition above—controversies must either be resolved or science will grind to a halt. In behavior genetics the scientific machine keeps turning though controversy persists, and my book tries to explain why.

Why is behavioral genetics such a controversial field of study?

The effort to link behavior to biology has always been controversial because it is political. If social status is linked to biology, perhaps inequality is natural rather than caused by exploitative relationships. These ideas are associated with eugenics and scientific racism. Perhaps social problems can be addressed through genetic testing and differential treatment, or perhaps there’s very little to be done and investments in school and social welfare are just wasted money.

Behavior genetics was founded in the 1960s (with) the hope that (it) could be studied separate from politics, racism, and eugenics. But in 1969, educational psychologist launched a national debate… to argue that programs to decrease racial inequality like Project Head Start were doomed to fail because genetically determined differences in intelligence. That controversy…turned a once-cooperative multidisciplinary space into an archipelago of mutually distrusting groups of scientists with opposed scientific purposes.

Many people have suggested that behavior genetics has inherently controversial ideas. But other fields…neuroscience, for example, have much more successfully resisted politicization. I argue that behavior genetics’ problem is due to this unfortunate history, which (fragmented the scientific community and) led to ambiguous intellectual and scientific norms.

Have recent technologies such as genetic sequencing and computer modeling reduced the chaos or further fanned the flames?

Behavior genetics…have long been based on studies using twins and adoptees to separate effects of “nature and nurture” without ever measuring DNA. Molecular technologies were supposed to correlate DNA directly to behavior, but…there have been no discoveries of genes for normal range behaviors accepted widely by scientists. Instead (these molecular methods) have gained importance and have been used to warrant increased investments in costly molecular research. At the same time, facing the highly reductionist approach of molecular geneticists, behavior geneticists have moderated their approach and spoken more of environmental effects on behavior. This new focus has made their research more acceptable to a wider population of social scientists—but fundamental disputes about the field’s methods (haven’t) been resolved.

What lessons can this episode teach us about other areas where policy and science intersect?

Behavior genetics is a high public profile…but its direct policy impact has been limited thus far. As far as I’m aware, there are no implemented behavior genetics informed educational or child welfare policies. I think this is a good thing because the idea that genes limit what societies might do to reduce inequality or improve education is at best too controversial to act upon responsibly.

But I worry that behavior genetics may culturally influence the ways people think about policy objectives in less than salutary ways. There’s evidence that behavior genetics findings could make people more fatalistic about the effectiveness of interventions and diminish their support whether or not the intervention might actually be effective.

Behavior genetics has also helped promote the idea that interventions might affect individuals in different ways. Some have argued that this suggests giving individuals more choices could be more effective than necessarily investing more in problem areas. This too could lead to a kind of policy fatalism. The direct and indirect impacts of behavior genetics ideas on policy are another area I hope to think about more in the future.

How can policy makers and the public help the scientific community avoid these pitfalls and advance knowledge?

One of my basic arguments is that…whether scientists in a specialty take seriously the mutual scientific competition with each other and the cultivation of social ties, boundaries, policing, etc. affects the style and quality of research and commitments to group responsibility. I worry that trends in the management of science…may be pushing scientific fields in the wrong direction. Interdisciplinary science may promote innovation through novel combinations of expertise, but it may also undermine the kinds of disciplinary structures that help build robust fields in the long run. The rush to promote interdisciplinarity may lead fields to experience problems like behavior genetics has faced over the long term.

What perspectives have your colleagues in science shared with you about this research?

Not many yet! I look forward to their feedback as more people get to read the book.

How We Drink Affects Child Abuse or Neglect Research conducted by Social Welfare professor Bridget Freisthler shows that drinking at parties, with family or friends has varied effects on child neglect



Social Welfare professor Bridget Freisthler released a study on March 24 examining how various drinking habits contribute differently to child abuse or neglect.

In the past, Freisthler has studied how accessibility to alcohol is related to crime and child abuse, as well as how services can reduce these effects. According to a national study, alcohol is a factor in more than 11 percent of child neglect cases, but little is known about how alcohol use is related to neglectful parenting. Neglect is defined by federal legislation as failure to give minimum care that meets a child’s physical needs or is failure to take precautions to ensure child safety in and out of the home.

Most research on this subject has focused on alcohol dependence, abuse and quantity consumed, not on drinking frequency or contexts. Freisthler and her co-authors Jennifer P. Wolf and Michelle Johnson-Motoyama attempted to fill this gap by examining five different drinking contexts and how it does or does not contribute to child neglect.

The study found that frequency of drinking (how often a person drinks), but not volume of drinking (how much he or she drinks), is related to higher likelihood of supervisory neglect, but lower likelihood of physical neglect. In other words, frequent drinkers are more likely to fail to provide adequate care for their children. Heavy drinkers, on the other hand, are more likely to leave their child unsupervised at home or in a car.

The social contexts in which parents drink each played distinct roles in child neglect, according to the study. Those who drank more often with friends, for instance, were more likely to leave their children home alone during the past year, while drinking with family was instead more positively correlated with unsafe monitoring of children. Interestingly, frequency and continued volumes of drinking in any context were not found to be related to parents’ reports of insufficient food or heat in the house.

Freisthler’s findings are significant, especially during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, because it urges researchers, communities and social workers to look more deeply into the social mechanisms behind child abuse and neglect. Freisthler and her co-authors suggest future studies to understand the temporal relationship between drinking and neglect as well as more close examinations of parents’ routines and patterns to discover the nuanced interactions between alcohol consumption and neglect.

In addition to her research, Freisthler leads the Spatial Analysis Lab in the department of social welfare and the Child Abuse and Neglect Social Ecological Models Consortium. The drinking study is funded by NIAAA grant number P60-AA006282.

UCLA Team Honored in National Design Competition National competition held in Washington D.C. for senior housing complex


By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

A team of UCLA Luskin and Architecture students took home a $10,000 prize as runner-ups in the US Department of Housing & Urban Development’s “Innovation in Affordable Housing” competition.

Each of the final four teams have been competing since November to present their design at the finalist event in Washington D.C. The UCLA team submitted a design for a senior high-rise focused on sustainability and healthcare solutions, adding innovative features such as a rooftop community garden and digital literacy intergenerational programming. According to the HUD’s press release, the jurors “felt that the team demonstrated a deep understanding of the senior population and its needs.”

After advancing to the finalist round in February, the four competing teams traveled to New Orleans to visit the Bayou Towers competition site and tour the surrounding city of Houma. With this site visit, they were able to visualize how their designs could potentially apply to the building, and gain a greater understanding of the community they were serving.

The presentation, judging, and award announcement took place on April 21, 2015 at the Final Four Jury and Award Presentation in Washington D.C. The UCLA team was composed of members Laura Krawczyk (MURP ‘15), Edith Medina Huarita (MPP ‘15), Precy Agtarap (MURP ‘15), John Whitcomb, and Luis Ochoa.



Robert Putnam talks about OUR KIDS: The American Dream in Crisis Robert Putnam discusses how socioeconomic mobility is becoming increasingly difficult, threatening low-income populations.



By Stan Paul

“We were poor and didn’t know it.” This is the consensus of America’s “class of 1959” says Robert Putnam, Harvard scholar and prolific author of such well-known titles as Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community; Making Democracy Work; Better Together: Restoring the American Community; and, co-author of American Grace.

Putnam spoke April 21 at the Luskin School of Public Affairs about his latest book, OUR KIDS: The American Dream in Crisis, which begins with a semi-nostalgic look back at the small American town where he grew up – Port Clinton, Ohio.

But, Putnam’s look back is less a wistful recollection than a sobering contrast to the “upward mobility” that, he argues, was more available to more people than now.  And, Port Clinton is representative of every town across America where now the so-called American Dream appears to be slipping away from a greater number of lower-income people, specifically young students.

During his noontime talk — sponsored by the Luskin School’s Center for Civil Society and Center for the Study of Inequality — Putnam offered numerous examples of the benefits of “who your parents happen to be” today. Fundamentally, “that’s wrong,” he said, citing that even the ability to afford and the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities, and develop marketable “soft skills” today is predictive of a higher paid job in the future.

To the class consensus he adds in his book, “In fact, however, in the breadth and depth of the community support we enjoyed, we were rich, but we didn’t know it.”

Robert Putnam is the Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.


Urban Planning Alumna Revitalizes Communities Viviana Franco leads a non-profit that revitalizes communities through green space renewal.

By Angel Ibanez
UCLA Luskin Student Writer 

For Viviana Franco, the lack of green space in communities was something she noticed early in her life.

Growing up, Franco lived near vacant lots that were left as a result of the construction of Interstate 105 in Hawthorne, California. 

By her teens, Franco was being sent to attend high school in Torrance where she began to notice differences between the areas around her school and her home.

“It’s the first time in my life I had questioned, why is it that when I go home there’s a ton of liquor stores but when I’m at school I can walk to a park?” she says.

The reflection of her surroundings ultimately revolved around the lack of green space, leading her to pursue potential solutions. She asked herself, “What can I do to change this landscape?” and knew she needed more resources to answer it.

When she first came to UCLA as an undergraduate student, a graduate student introduced Franco to geographic information systems (GIS), and saw it as a tool to illustrate aspects of inequity. This new way at looking at communities and her experience growing up in a community with a lack of green space led her to pursue a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the Luskin School of Public Affairs. 

At Luskin, she started to learn the tools she needed to improve access to green spaces for low-income communities. When she took a class on public space, she began to look at the underlying aspects of the green spaces she was pursuing.

“I couldn’t believe you could study parks,” Franco says of the course taught by Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, professor of Urban Planning and associate dean at Luskin.

Through the course, Franco began to look at the impact parks could have on communities. They “were social and cultural spaces that were incredibly important to create healthy communities.”

The classes and the influential professors she studied under led her to center her graduating capstone project on a vacant lot beautification study focusing on the effects vacant lots have on an individual’s livelihood.

By the time she crossed the stage at Luskin in 2005, Franco was firmly committed to the issue. In 2008, she was profiled by the Los Angeles Times documenting her fight as an “activist” to turn an empty parcel of land near her childhood home into a park. Using the research she had done for her capstone project, Franco had founded From Lot to Spot, a non-profit dedicated to green space renewal. Since her battle over the Hawthorne space, (which she eventually lost), Franco and her non-profit has been able to transform a number of communities.

One of these communities is Lennox, California, an unincorporated community in Los Angeles County and one of the poorest and densest areas in the state. It was here that From Lot to Spot helped create a community garden where families can grow their own food. Franco says one mother in the community took her kids to the garden to show them their food comes from, ultimately changing the way they looked at food in their home. 

“Seeing where their food comes from caused them to change their eating habits and be more conscious of how they buy food for their family,” she recalls. 

118th and Doty

118th and Doty

In 2012, From Lot to Spot was finally able to help bring a pocket park to the City of Hawthorne – at the same address where she was previously denied a park, 118th and Doty, but on the other side of the 105 Freeway. It was in this park where a family from the community began to exercise together for the first time, because they felt safe enough to walk on the small walking trail created.

“Seeing small transformations like that show that these spaces do matter,” Franco says.

Franco credits Urban Planning professor Leobardo Estrada for being an influential and encouraging figure while she was at Luskin and in developing From Lot to Spot.

“What began as a one-woman crusade has become a formidable organization forged on her passion for making working neighborhoods better,” said Estrada.

Franco hopes to continue to work together with communities to make sure they are empowered by their spaces and hopes From Lot to Spot will continue to revitalize communities.


LA, CA Leaders Discuss Breaking the Stained-Glass Ceiling Luskin Leadership Development Program hosting Diversity in Leadership Conference on April 25.

diversityBy Alejandra Reyes-Velarde
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

On Saturday, April 25, UCLA Luskin hosted a Diversity in Leadership Conference to give students the opportunity to hear from top professionals about how to  break through a multi-colored glass ceiling and develop leadership skills as potential future leaders.

VC Powe, executive director of external relations, hosted the event under her Leadership Development Program. She says the conference was really organized around interest expressed by Luskin students.

“Last year students discussed hosting a women in leadership conference, but when I met with the committee this year, the students expressed a desire to open up the discussion to focus not just on women, but to all underrepresented groups,” Powe said.

Following a welcome address by the Commissions Appointment Secretary from the Office of Governor, Mona Pasquil, students participated in two panels with several Luskin Senior Fellows and leaders in Los Angeles County. The panel discussions were moderated by Val Zavala, the vice president of News and Public Affairs at KCET.

The day’s keynote address was delivered by Congresswoman Karen Bass.

Allyson Ly (MSW ‘15)  who was part of the conference planning committee said it is important for students who want to become advocates, policy makers and leaders to learn how others have been successful in similar areas of interest. The event allows students to learn about how they can be leaders while in a minority group whether that is in terms of race, sexual orientation, or any other combination of factors.

“It is important to learn how to advocate for individuals who may be in the minority, underserved or forgotten about, to help their voices be heard. I think students will come out motivated by the panelists and determined to find ways to acquire skills needed to become leaders in their field,” she said.

Ly said she is interested in learning about the struggles diverse leaders have faced and how their personal identity, values, history and present circumstances have influenced them throughout their careers.

Veronica Calkins, also a planning committee member said she thinks students should think about where they stand in terms of leadership skills to help them set goals as aspiring leaders. As future social workers, students have a lot of potential power to help the community and shape the lives of others, she said.

“Many students who enter the school of public affairs intend to help people who do not have large voices in society,” Calkins said. “ This conference will help individuals learn how to be better leaders for themselves and how to coach clients in our professional careers.”

Below is the breakdown of the panels and its speakers:

Panel 1:  Breaking the Stained-Glass Ceiling

  • Monique Earl, Deputy Controller, Los Angeles Office of the Controller

  • Torie Osborn, Principal Deputy for Policy/Strategy, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; Senior Fellow, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

  • Jennifer Thomas, Captain, Los Angeles Police Department

  • Alan Toy, Executive Director, Westside Center for Independent Living

Panel 2: Defining Leadership: How to become a great leader

  • Patricia Costales, Executive Director, The Guidance Center

  • Hon. Richard Katz, Founder, Katz Consulting, Former CA Assemblymember; Senior Fellow, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

  • Gillian Wright, Vice President, Customer Services, Southern California Gas Company

  • Hon. Betty Yee, CA State Controller

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Luskin School of Public Affairs in rooms 2343 and 2355. Students interested in attending should register here.