UCLA Luskin Congratulates the Class of 2014

UCLA Luskin congratulated the graduating class of 2014 this morning, welcoming 51 Public Policy students, 93 Social Welfare students, and 71 Urban and Regional Planning students into the ranks of its alumni during a ceremony at Royce Hall.

Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., quoted the recently departed author Maya Angelou in his opening address to the assembled students, faculty, staff and friends of the School. “‘You can only become truly accomplished at something you love,’” Dean Gilliam said. “‘Don’t make money your goal.’

“‘Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.’”

Social Welfare graduate Brianna McCullough, earning her second degree as a Bruin, spoke of the growth she and her fellow students had undergone during their time at UCLA Luskin. “Most people think it is how we start that holds the most importance, but the piece that holds the most meaning, really, is where we end,” she said.

She highlighted the ability of individuals to instigate change in their communities, citing the founding members of the field of social welfare to show one person’s potential. “We as the future social workers of tomorrow must reflect on the foundation of our past,” she said. “What will be our legacy?”

In the audience were members of UCLA Luskin’s first graduating class of students earning certificates in Global Public Affairs. Formed in 2012, Global Public Affairs is a Luskin initiative that seeks to examine global policy issues through lectures, research opportunities, and international internships and exchanges. The students were Urban Planning’s Ana Luna, Vicente Romero de Avila Serrano, Rupinder Bolaria, Nicole Walter, Sean F. Kennedy, Catherine M. Oloo and Luis Artieda Moncada; and Public Policy’s Gabriela F. Cardozo, Corinne N. Stubbs, Ika Anindya Putri, Yaqiu Chen and Debbie Iamranond.

The keynote speech was delivered by Congresswoman Karen Bass, Democrat from the 37th District of California and the first African American woman to serve as Speaker of the California Assembly. Like many of the graduating students, Bass has advocated for foster youth and children in need, serving as co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and co-founding the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth. Her roots in Los Angeles go deep; she founded the Community Coalition in 1990, bringing together residents of the city to fight against the crack cocaine epidemic.

Representative Bass offered warm wishes of congratulations to the students and called upon them to remember their commitment to instigating positive change. Drawing on her own experience as a community organizer, she made clear that policy victories are not the final goal — true change requires sustained effort.

She shared the story of her work to get lawmakers in Sacramento to understand the role of relative caregivers — aunts and uncles, grandparents and other family members — in the lives of foster children. When colleagues were dismissive of the positive influence these relatives can have, she organized face-to-face meetings with foster children and their families so that lawmakers could hear their struggles in person. The tactic worked, and the legislation passed.

Bass said the experience taught her a lesson on the value of listening to one’s constituents. “Never lose your connection to the communities, the people and to the emotions of their struggle,” she said. “If you lose touch with the very people you are supposed to serve, you can do harm.”

Throughout, she hailed the students’ commitment to making the world a better place. “While some at other schools are earning their degrees and thinking about their own individual advancements, you have decided to change the world,” she said.

“And let me be clear, the world needs you.”

DVDs of the commencement ceremony are available for purchase through Take One Productions.

Graduating Student Profile: Adam Monaghan MURP ’14

“I wouldn’t have gotten this job if I hadn’t come to school at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs in the Urban Planning program,” says Adam Monaghan. He’s reflecting on his academic and career journey days before he crosses the stage at commencement on June 13 with his master’s degree. And, no, we didn’t ask him to say that.

The job Monaghan is referring to is with real estate development company, Community Dynamics, which teams up with municipal agencies and financial institutions to create sustainable communities that attend to the needs of residents, such as proximity to workplaces and access to transportation, schools, day care and recreation. For Monaghan, it’s an opportunity that presented itself in the last quarter of his degree program. Along with many other talented and ambitious UCLA Luskin graduates, he will be starting his new position a few days after receiving his diploma.

Monaghan’s introduction into the urban planning world was as fortuitous as it was unexpected. After graduating from Boston College with a theology degree and a penchant for travel, Monaghan left home to fulfill his two-year commitment with the Peace Corps. His assignment was in Guajiquiro, Honduras. His job was to be an urban planner – a field he knew nothing about.

“I had to look up what an urban planner was. I had no idea,” Monaghan laughs. “But it’s one of those things that just kind of works out.”

Adam talking to villagers in Guajiquiro, Honduras during his time as an urban planner for the Peace Corps.
Adam talking to villagers in Guajiquiro, Honduras, during his time as an urban planner for the Peace Corps.

After initial training and on-the-job learning through immersion and help from fellow urban planning volunteers who had interrupted their work or retirement to also join the Peace Corps, Monaghan found himself helping to draft a 10-year strategic plan for economic and infrastructure development in Guajiquiro, and managing a project to design a potable water system for 2,700 people in six villages. It was through the work that Monaghan learned he had a knack for it, and the passion.

When his stint with the Peace Corps ended, Monaghan landed in Nicaragua. He’d gone there on a surfing trip with Nick Mucha, a friend he met in the Peace Corps, and discovered that the waves were attracting scores of surfers and tourists to the small fishing village of Gigante. With his urban planning hat on, Monaghan settled in the town and spent time talking to the locals about organizing a development team. He and Mucha founded Project Wave of Optimism aimed at helping the community capitalize on the inevitable transition into a tourist destination and foster development in a sustainable way.

Key to Project WOO’s development model, Monaghan says, was that projects were voted on by the town’s residents, so that they had a voice in getting what they wanted. By fundraising through individual donors and securing corporate sponsors, Monaghan and Mucha purchased and converted a truck into a bus that would transport people easily in and out of town – something that had never before existed.

“I facilitated a process where local people were able to share their ideas about community development. It was like community organizing, which is what we did in the Peace Corps – going door-to-door from town to town. After coming to Luskin I learned that what I was doing is called ‘local participatory planning and based on the theory of communicative action in the urban planning world,’” Monaghan says.

Incidentally, his non-profit has recently opened a health center and is hosting a UCLA Public Health intern this summer. Project WOO is expanding and can also be an internship destination for UCLA Luskin students.

After completing that first development project in Nicaragua, Monaghan was on to his next job with the international development company, Chemonics International Inc., which took him to Washington D.C., Kandahar and Kabul, Afghanistan, and Gaziantep, Turkey. For those years, he oversaw various projects and teams working to repair infrastructures, improve socio-economic conditions and support community groups impacted by development projects. It was sensitive work in tumultuous areas, but the conditions for development were ripe, though often dangerous.

Monaghan recalls a harrowing experience in which a local member of his team was threatened by the Taliban. After returning home, he also learned that various locations that he frequented were later bombed or attacked by gunmen. It was around that time that Monaghan met and married his wife and began to think about graduate school.

“I saw that people were doing really cool data management and mapping with geographic information systems in Afghanistan,” Monaghan says. “I wanted the framework and the practical urban design tools like Geographic Information System (GIS). And it was a way to take a step back from the hectic work environment and learn things.”

Monaghan and his wife began checking out the nation’s top 25 Urban Planning programs – UCLA Luskin was one of them. He ultimately chose UCLA Luskin over other schools because of the location and because of key recommendations from two colleagues at Chemonics, who were UCLA Luskin graduates.

Adam stands near the bus his non-profit, Project WOO, converted for the residents of Gigante, Nicaragua
Adam stands near the bus his non-profit, Project WOO, converted for the residents of Gigante, Nicaragua.

“This has been a very ‘choose your own adventure’ kind of experience,” Monaghan says of his time at UCLA where he also worked as project manager for Luskin’s new Global Public Affairs certificate program, which just graduated it’s first set of students. With help from the Timothy Papandreou Fellowship established by Urban Planning alumnus Timothy Papandreou, which is given to students that demonstrate innovation in projects that have solved problems or helped transform communities, Monaghan’s initial goals as a student were to focus on regional and international development and to learn GIS. Instead, he ended up choosing the design and development concentration and becoming interested in real estate.

“I took Joan Ling’s real estate development and finance class in winter quarter of this year and my mind was blown. I didn’t know that real estate development was so similar to project management,” Monaghan says. It was in Professor Ling’s advanced real estate class where he met his new employer.

“My future boss served as a panelist for our final presentation in Joan’s class. I followed up with him afterwards and it turned into a job,” Monaghan explains. “If it wasn’t for Joan Ling’s classes, I wouldn’t have been in a position to even know that jobs like this existed or have the framework and skills to seek them out.”

It’s been a decade-long unconventional journey, but Monaghan is ready to take the next step in his urban planning career. Asked what advice he might have for future students hoping to secure employment upon graduation, Monaghan says with a laugh: “Planning.”

“You have to be thoughtful about your two years,” he notes. “I can’t tell you how many times I sat down – even before I started here – and planned out what I wanted to do. And once a quarter I would reassess to think about what I’ve learned, what I still need and what I have time for.”

Monaghan also encourages students to be open to doing hard work, even grunt work or things that don’t come naturally.

“Do things you think you’re not good at and be a student in every opportunity. Go into everything with an open mind to learn.” But most of all, he says, have your eyes open and be tenacious.

“There are all these opportunities out there. Some have more light shined on them than others. Some you have to dig a little harder for than others. Sometimes you have to wait your turn, but when it is your turn, you have to pounce.”

Preventing Technology-Facilitated Exploitation

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation hosted a panel discussion on May 6 titled, Public Policy for Innovation in the Digital Age: Preventing Technology-Facilitated Exploitation. Information technology experts, social workers, security administrators, and researchers attended this sixth and final event of the 2013-2014 Public Policy for Innovation in the Digital Age series. The event featured speakers from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), Microsoft, and Slate.

Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC, discussed how technology has changed the face of exploitation. He noted that the Internet has made illegal images of children relatively easy to share on a global scale, multiplying what were once isolated incidents. In addition, sexual abuse of children can occur digitally and remotely, using web cameras and accomplices.

Cody Monk, Special Agent at the FBI, agreed, described the Internet as a game changer that has taken away the barrier between victim and offender. Today, the victim and offender are now sometimes connected without the victim even knowing it, he added. The offender-to-offender trading industry of images and video online has also grown tremendously in the last 5-7 years. To address this rapidly evolving problem, Monk stated that the FBI is working with public and private partners to address current trends and to exchange information on how to innovate in preparation for future trends.

One of the important challenges in addressing these issues involves the role of anonymity. For political dissidents and journalists, tools that enable Internet anonymity can play a vital positive role in fostering change and in gathering and disseminating news. However, in the hands of sex offenders, traffickers and other criminals, these same tools can be used for criminal purposes.

Infiltration is a one technique used to identify criminal use of the Internet, but Allen stated that leading law enforcement experts around the world believe it can be time consuming, expensive, and sometimes ineffective. Alternatively, many law enforcement investigators wait for offenders to make a mistake, though, by definition, this means the more careful offenders often escape prosecution.

Adrian Chandley, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft, explained that Microsoft’s PhotoDNA software is able to capture information unique to an image in a fingerprint which can then be used to find other copies of the same image even if they have been resized or saved in a different format. PhotoDNA is used by industry, law enforcement and organizations such as ICMEC to identify copies of known illegal images of children, and can assist law enforcement investigators and leading child protection organizations in identifying child pornography victims. Fingerprints of child pornography images are distributed to Microsoft and other Photo DNA users who can then find and remove matching images from their systems. Chandley explained that one major problem for industry was that only fingerprints (or hashes) for images with identifiable victims are made available, and that the much larger set of hashes for all known child abuse images are not. These hashes should be used to prevent users from encountering these images.

Amanda Hess, Staff Writer at Slate, shared a personal story of digital exploitation that exemplified another type of behavior raising complex legal questions. She explained that an anonymous person created a Twitter account dedicated to slandering and making violent threats to her.  Hess had to decide whether to treat this situation as a criminal act, or to simply disregard it as offensive. She decided to call the local police, but they did not ultimately pursue the case.  Part of the issue was blurry jurisdictional lines: the offender was unlikely to live in the same state as Hess, and police would have needed to subpoena Twitter to find out his identity. Hess suggested that perhaps another reason for the lack of action was uncertainty about what constituents illegal online exploitation of women. Nearly everyone recognizes that the exploitation of children is wrong, she said, but sexist content and exploitation of women is part of some social norms, which presents an issue that goes beyond the online space.

Cody Monk explained that experiences like Hess’s, which happen far too often, underscores how critical it is that law enforcement at all levels share information on trends, policy, and technology in order to adequately confront technology-enabled threats in strategic and tactical ways.

Preventing exploitation is critically important, and Ernie Allen expressed his view that the biggest challenge to getting more attention and resources to address this issue preemptively is to educate and inform. Trafficking is often not reported by police and is a problem that the world does not see. An additional challenge, he said, is to convince people to engage in discussions about combating these crimes. Often, corporations and policy makers do not want to think about these unpleasant and horrifying issues. But without addressing the lack of suitable legal repercussions, and without more public education of technology-facilitated exploitation, the problem will only continue to grow.

To learn more about strategies to encourage the growth of the digital economy while preventing the sexual exploitation of children and other criminal activity, see the new REPORT by the Digital Economy Task Force (DETF), which was sponsored by ICMEC and Thomson Reuters and comprised of leading experts from government, the private sector, academia, and think tanks. These experts included Taskforce Co-chair Ernie Allen, John Villasenor of UCLA, and panelist Cody Monk of the FBI. The DETF worked to identify a regulatory framework that fosters the growth of the digital economy, including digital currencies and alternate payment systems, while addressing anonymizing technology and the growth of “deep web” marketplaces that allow illegal commerce.

See Photos from the lecture

Mann Discusses The Changing Landscape of Food & Farming

By Adeney Zo
UCLA Luskin Student Writer

“This is a project that started the day my daughter was born…” began Charles C. Mann, a UCLA 2014 Regents’ Lecturer and award-winning author and journalist.

Despite the summer heat, the UCLA Luskin Terrace was packed with students and non-students interested in hearing Mann’s lecture on the future of food production and farming. Mann is most well-known for writing the New York Times bestseller 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created and 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (Keck Award for best book of the year). Additionally, Mann’s articles on various topics in science and technology have been published in the nation’s leading magazines and newspapers.

Mann’s lecture tackled the issue of how the global population over the past 200 years has increased exponentially without significant increase in food production nor the technology to speed up the process.

As the global per-capita income increases, people who once lived in destitution now require the resources of a middle-class lifestyle. Other significant problems include the loss of arable land (“suburbs eating up the farms”), increasing competition for water, intensification of agriculture and global climate change. These issues further feed into the need to counter growing consumption rates with drastic changes in production and farming.

“When my daughter is my age, there will be 10 billion people in the world,” Mann explained. “We need to double the food production by 2050, but we only see about a 2.4% increase [in production] each year.”

In order to combat the food crisis, researchers have proposed two general paths by which the world can increase food production. The first is to industrially produce genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that can grow significantly faster than ordinary crops. Researchers have been experimenting for years to change RuBisCO, the essential enzyme for converting carbon dioxide to glucose. RuBisCO is by nature incredibly slow and faulty, but plant growth can speed up significantly if researchers can manipulate this enzyme.

Farms in Thailand have already begun implementing this genetically engineered production system with their rubber tree farms. As the world’s number one producer of natural rubber, Thailand benefits economically from the monoculture production of rubber trees. Mann explains that converting once-diverse areas to rubber tree farms makes the most economical sense to local farmers on the short term, but these decisions have unforeseen and potentially catastrophic implications for biodiversity.

The second farming option is to transition from the large monoculture farms of today to local, diverse farms that grow different kinds of crops on a relatively small acreage of land. Mann gave the example of Lloyd Nichols’ farm outside Chicago — a farm with over 1,000 varieties of crops, high productivity and little to no chemical inputs. Nichols’ farm employs a staff of 19 people, including two people with masters’ degrees, in order to maximize the diversity and production of his farm. Mann cited this farm as an example of how the diversification of farms can potentially combat the food crisis in an ecofriendly and efficient way.

With these two options in mind, Mann reminded the audience that the future of food production relies on which path the world will choose over the next few years. He concluded: “It’s not a matter of scientific knowledge now, but a matter of human knowledge. So what will we choose?”

Professor Torres-Gil Published in New Book on Aging

Fernando M. Torres-Gil, Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy and director of the UCLA Center for Policy Research on Aging, was recently published as a contributing author of the book: The Upside of Aging: How Long Life is Changing the World of Health, Work, Innovation, Policy, and Purpose. This book, a collaboration between renowned thought-leaders in the subject and Milken Institute President Paul H. Irving, examines the changing definition of aging revolutions in genomics, technology, and medicine continue to expand the average human lifespan. Each chapter features one contributing author’s knowledge of a specific aspect of aging, ranging from the characteristics of an aging brain to the role of aging workers in society to the factors of accommodating an increasing mature population.

Through the publication of this book (and a number of other projects), editor Irving continues to advance the Milken Institute’s initiatives to “improve public health and aging across America and the world, expand capital access, and enhance philanthropic impact.”

The full list of contributing authors are as follows:

Laura L. Carstensen, Pinchas Cohen, Freda Lewis-Hall, Joseph F. Coughlin, Ken Dychtwald, Michael M. Hodin, Marc Freedman, Jody Heymann, Susan Raymond, Henry Cisneros, Steven Knapp, Fernando M. Torres-Gil, Baroness Sally Greengross, Dan Houston, Philip A. Pizzo, A. Barry Rand; with a foreword by Michael Milken.

Link to the publishing company’s product page:

http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118692039.html

 

Bridget Freisthler & UCLA Researchers Judge International Science Competition

By Adeney Zo, UCLA Luskin Student Writer

Associate Professor of Social Welfare Bridget Freisthler recently participated as a judge for the Nation Institute of Drug Abuse’s Addiction Science award competition. She was one of three judges from UCLA who are NIDA grantees.

Each year, the Nation Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) sponsors the Addiction Science award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest science competition for high school students. As a part of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NIDA works to support various programs on drug abuse policy and research around the world.

The winning project, submitted by Lily Wei Lee, is titled “Assessment of Third Hand Exposure to Nicotine from Electronic Cigarettes.” Lee measured the amount of residual nicotine in various surfaces, produced by electronic cigarettes, in order to analyze how non-users can become exposed to nicotine.

Judges for this year’s Addiction Science Award included NIDA-funded researchers from UCLA: Associate Professor of Social Welfare and Faculty Affiliate for the California Center for Population Research Bridget Freisthler, Ph.D., Keith Heinzerling, M.D., and Mitchell Wong, M.D., Ph.D.; and NIDA’s Sheri Grabus, Ph.D.

To read more about the event, go here: http://www.drugabuse.gov/

 

Who is at Fault When a Driverless Car Gets in an Accident?

Autonomous vehicles are the talk of the town, especially since Google hosted its first-ever media event showcasing its “self-driving car” earlier this week. But while Google is demonstrating that the technology for autonomous cars exists, the question of liability remains.

Last year, several news outlets including the San Diego-Union Tribune and Wall Street Journal asked whether liability issues could stymy consumer access to autonomous cars.

In his latest paper for the Brookings Institution Center for Technology Innovation published in April 2014, Public Policy professor John Villasenor says this shouldn’t be the case. He argues that existing product liability law is well equipped to adapt to new technology and handle most of the issues that could arise.

Villasenor explains his findings in The Atlantic saying:

“Thanks largely to the tremendous technological change that has occurred since the middle of the last century, products liability has been a dynamic, rapidly evolving area of law. Notably, when confronted with new, often complex, questions involving products liability, courts have generally gotten things right…

…while the specific fact patterns will vary, in products liability terms, manufacturers of autonomous vehicle technologies aren’t really so different from manufacturers in other areas. They have the same basic obligations to offer products that are safe and that work as described during the marketing and sales process, and they have the same set of legal exposures if they fail to do so.”

The Washington Post noted Villasenor’s paper in their own analysis, which concludes that autonomous cars can be a boon to safety rather than a minefield of liability risks.

The New York Times also quoted Villasenor in their article about driverless cars and various issues like law-breaking and liability.

Villasenor concludes his paper by offering guiding principles for legislation that should and should not be enacted. To read his full paper, go here.

 

UCLA Engineering’s mobile plant hits the road to treat polluted water

Written by Bill Kisliuk, UCLA Newsroom 

“A rolling water treatment plant designed by UCLA researchers made a pit stop on campus this week before heading north to the San Joaquin Valley, where it will help address California’s inadequate water supply.

The first of its kind, the plant, installed in a 40-foot cargo container, is designed to desalinate and purify as much as 27,000 gallons of agricultural runoff and groundwater a day. That’s equivalent to the average daily water use of about 90 U.S. families.

The technology was developed by Yoram Cohen, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and director of the UCLA Water Technology Research Center, and Anditya Rahardianto, assistant researcher in UCLA’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability…”

Read full article here.

For more media coverage about the Rolling Water Treatment Plan go here:

Blumenberg Named White House ‘Champion of Change’

White House Honors “Champions of Change” for Transportation

WASHINGTON, DC – Tomorrow, the White House will honor eleven local heroes who are “Champions of Change” for their exemplary leadership to ensure that transportation facilities, services, and jobs help individuals and their communities connect to 21st century opportunities. These individuals are leading the charge across the country building connectivity, strengthening transportation career pathways, and making connections between transportation and economic growth.

Across the Federal government, the Administration has been dedicated to providing “ladders of opportunity” for all Americans, by investing in connecting communities to centers of employment, education, and services, and is calling for greater emphasis on those initiatives supporting this outcome. Recent research has found that social mobility varies by geography, and poor transportation access is a factor preventing lower income Americans from gaining higher income levels than their parents. Transportation plays a critical role in connecting Americans and communities to economic opportunity through connectivity, job creation, and economic growth. Recognizing social mobility as a defining trait of America’s promise, access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation is critical.

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event is closed to press but will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 10:00 am EST on May 13, 2014. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

Dr. Evelyn Blumenberg Ph.D. UP ’90, Professor and Chair of Urban Planning, UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs 
Los Angeles, CA

Professor Evelyn Blumenberg’s research examines the effects of urban structure—the spatial location of residents, employment, and services—on economic outcomes for low-wage workers, and on the role of planning and policy in shaping the spatial structure of cities. Evelyn has investigated the travel behavior of special population groups including low-income adults, immigrants, and youth; the effects of the economy on the travel behavior and transportation assets in low-income communities; and the relationship between residential location, automobile ownership, and employment outcomes among the poor. Evelyn is recommended for Ladders of Opportunity because her current research examines (1) travel behavior of low-income adults; (2) the transportation expenditure burden; and (3) the relationship between transportation and the economic outcomes of low-income families.

Josh Baker, General Manager, Radford Transit, New River Valley Community Services
Blacksburg, VA

Josh is the leader of a major investment in the development of a brand new Public Transit system in the City of Radford, Virginia. He pioneered the concept and worked with community leaders, local university administration, state officials and the Federal Transit Administration to garner support for a much needed community service. Josh dedicated his work and time over the course of three years to help make the new service a reality. It’s the first time in over 30 years there has been any transit available to the City of Radford, and it was badly needed. Radford Transit has grown rapidly providing over 325,000 passenger trips annually, even providing transfer connections throughout the entire region. Now residents can move effortlessly and reach their destinations within and between the communities of Radford, Pulaski County, Montgomery County and the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg.

Dan Burden, Director of Innovation and Inspiration, Walkable and Livable Communities Institute
Port Townsend, WA

Dan Burden is the Director of Innovation and Inspiration for the nonprofit Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. For more than 35 years he has worked to inspire leaders in 3500 cities on ways to design cities for people first; still accommodating the auto. His work helps define the future of transportation; and is now celebrated with thousands of new innovations giving full support to walking, bicycling, transit, and living in place; driving less, enjoying life more. Dan has proven his ability to energize leaders of towns and cities to help them frame and focus on their assets, get beyond their barriers, raise the bar in design of place. He has an ability to help them focus on their values and become believers in their future, achieving their hopes and dreams, and once momentum is gained, expand to the rebuilding of their entire community.

Anthony Chiarello, President and CEO, TOTE
Princeton, NJ

Anthony has led TOTE to build the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered container ships in the world; TOTE is the first maritime company in the U.S. to convert its entire fleet to natural gas. As a result of his vision and leadership, natural gas suppliers are now creating distribution networks in major U.S. ports, making gas available to all transportation modes in those markets. Natural gas powered ships will achieve emissions reductions far below even the world’s most stringent regulatory standards. These emissions reductions will have long-lasting and far-reaching positive effects on the health and safety of citizens along the U.S. coastline, particularly in Washington, Alaska, Florida, and Puerto Rico where TOTE ships are part of the critical domestic supply chain. As the adoption of natural gas fuel spreads, air emissions will be lowered along the coastline as part of the North American Emissions Control Area, and additional environmental benefits will accrue in ports, on roads, and rail lines.

Greer Gillis, Area Manager of Parsons Brinckerhoff
Washington, DC

Greer Gillis is the Washington, D.C. Area Manager of Parsons Brinckerhoff, where she oversees transportation services staff in managing various infrastructure, planning, and design projects as well as leading client relations management, business development, and financial oversight for activities in the metropolitan Washington DC area.     She is the Vice President of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) Washington, DC chapter and serves as National Chair of its “Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation” Awards Committee.  She is also a past President of the Women’s Transportation Seminar International’s Washington, D.C. Chapter. Throughout her career, she has served as a role model and advocate for building a diverse transportation workforce.

Marilyn Golden, Senior Policy Analyst, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Berkeley, CA

For over 25 years, Marilyn Golden has led national system-change efforts that broaden the rights of people with disabilities to transportation. Marilyn has played a key role in federal policy development in the interconnected areas of transportation and architectural barriers. She has been a strong advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) throughout all the stages of its proposal, passage, and implementation, as well as a forceful watchdog through its many stages of regulatory interpretation and the regular challenges to its strong mandates. Her advocacy has been focused on a broad range of transportation issues—including fixed route buses, all forms of passenger rail systems, ADA complementary paratransit, privately-funded over-the-road buses, taxis, airport shuttles, as well as air travel. As a national transportation advocate, she has led the struggle for many of the policy victories during and since the ADA to provide better public transportation for people with disabilities. Marilyn served on the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board from 1996-2005 as a very strong and effective advocate for the interests of people with disabilities.

Daphne Izer, Founder, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT)
Lisbon, ME

Daphne Izer founded the nonprofit safety organization Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT) after losing her son Jeff in a fatigue related truck crash that killed three other teenagers and seriously injured a fourth. Daphne has worked tirelessly to advance truck safety in order to help prevent other families from suffering a similar, devastating loss. PATT has focused its efforts on reducing truck driver fatigue, seeking a requirement for the use of technology to accurately record truck driver hours behind the wheel and reduce falsification of driving logs, and to promoting safe trucking. Recently, PATT took another step toward realizing its goal of requiring electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial trucks when the FMCSA released the NPRM for the ELD rule. This May, as PATT marks its twentieth anniversary, Daphne is recognized for her instrumental work in bringing attention to the urgent need for change in truck safety policy and programs, with a focus on reducing truck driver fatigue.

Flavio Leo, Deputy Director, Aviation Planning and Strategy, Massachusetts Port Authority
Newton, MA

Flavio has played a key role applying innovative transportation technology to enhance airport safety, security and equitable access at MassPort Airport in Boston. This includes the implementation of aircraft related noise mitigation strategies for the surrounding urban communities and the greater Boston region , leading to an enhanced quality of life. Through his leadership, transparency and enhanced public participation, he has established a relationship with over 30 diverse communities, which have had a long history of engagement with Massport and the FAA. He has been the leader and “face of Massport” on an innovative program to address airport noise and other safety and technology improvements, which can be applied nationwide.  Flavio was selected for his leadership and coordination for the implementation of a set of noise reduction strategies created with extensive community participation and implemented that will reduce aircraft noise impacts to the greater Boston area including to nearby disadvantaged communities.

Susan Park Rani, President, Rani Engineering
Minneapolis, MN

Susan Park Rani is an inspiration and a role model for women, minorities, immigrants, and virtually anyone with a desire to pursue the American Dream and start their own business. As a leader in the transportation field, she has demonstrated that opportunities in this industry are widespread and growing—and open to all who wish to acquire the necessary skills and participate. Rani, born in South Korea, moved with her family to the United States as a child, speaking no English. She ultimately obtained a degree in civil engineering, and in 1993, at the age of 34, founded one of the first woman-and-minority-owned engineering firms in Minnesota where she grew up, with just two employees. Over the years, the company has been involved in a number of high-profile transportation projects, and today, Rani Engineering employs 50 people, the company grosses over $5 million a year, and anticipates doubling in size within the next five years. In 2012, Rani Engineering was named the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Contractor of the Year by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Big John Smith, Transportation Director, Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes, Joint Business Council
Fort Washakie, WY

For the past 25 years, “Big John Smith” has served as the Transportation Director for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes’ Joint Business Council on the Wind River Indian Reservation in central Wyoming.  Big John is also the Rocky Mountain Regional Representative on the Tribal Transportation Committee, and the Executive Director of the Intertribal Transportation Association. Big John has succeeded in improving the reservation’s transportation infrastructure (highways and bridges), has led the effort to dramatically cut alcohol-involved crashes and fatalities on the Wind River Reservation.  He has worked with tribal leaders to toughen tribal laws to enhance seat belt compliance, and has led the effort to use positive messaging to educate drivers of all ages about the dangers of drinking and driving.  His love for the people of Wind River has been instrumental in building relationships with tribal, local, county, state and federal partners to save lives.

Wanda Vazquez, Regional Traffic Safety Liaison, Rincon Family Services
Chicago, IL

Wanda Vazquez has been an active mentor and trainer for Hispanic advocates in the Chicago area helping them become certified child passenger safety technicians. As a motivational instructor, she teaches students how to correctly install car seats and help families understand the importance of safe transportation for their children. Once the training is completed, the students become nationally certified and are able to staff car seat inspection stations or participate in community events. Statistics show that Hispanic children are at a greater risk than non-Hispanic children for injuries and death in traffic crashes because their restraint use is low. Often times this is because their parents are from home countries where car seat use is not the norm. By training Hispanic advocates on how to correctly install car seats and the value of occupant protection, they can in turn go into the Hispanic community where they are welcomed and are able to teach families the importance of keeping their children and themselves safety secured whenever they travel. Ms. Vazquez also served as the Diversity Representative on the National Child Passenger Safety Board and was instrumental in translating materials into Spanish and ensuring that the concerns of the Hispanic community were heard. Wanda is a recommended Champion for her active role as a mentor and trainer for Hispanic advocates in the Chicago.

 

5th Annual Rishwain Award Recognizes Innovation in Social Justice Work

One of the things UCLA Alumnus Brian Rishwain ’87 finds rewarding is getting to honor and validate students doing important work.

That’s why he has given for the past five years to fund the Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Award presented by the UCLA Luskin Center for Civil Society. The award recognizes two UCLA students who demonstrate an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit to social justice work.

“Knowing how special this recognition is in inspiring these students to forge ahead is most fulfilling,” Rishwain says. His hope is that it will encourage more outstanding examples of social change and innovation by UCLA students.

Rishwain, a successful entrepreneur and former attorney, has always been passionate about social justice. In addition to creating the award, he’s also been active in helping underserved communities.

Rishwain says recognizing students and learning about the creative things they are doing to serve communities around the world has also inspired him and given him joy.

Take the previous winners, for example. African Studies alumna Krista Barnes produced a humanitarian film and media project to encourage and empower Congolese refugees to return home; Law student May Thi Nguyen helped build a coalition of advocates to aid commercial fisherman in her hometown of New Orleans in the wake of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; Education graduate student Lawrence Grey Berkowitz came up with a reinvented music class to help keep arts in low-income neighborhood schools; and Betzabel Estudillo, as a social welfare student, helped provide mental health services and support for undocumented students and youth who suffer from anxiety, depression and substance abuse stemming from their legal status.

“Incredible,” says Rishwain. “It has made me want to continue to grow the award to have a larger and larger impact on the recipients and their causes.”

The two recipients of this year’s award will be receiving $5,000 each – double the amount in previous years. And that award is well-deserved by this year’s impressive winners: dentistry student Ryan T. Brennan and Urban Planning student Connor Johnson.

Dentistry student Ryan T. Brennan

Ryan Brennan was selected for his work connecting nonprofit clinics, Homeless Not Toothless and MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), withUCLA dental students to provide monthly clinic sessions free of charge. Over 520 dental procedures for 232 needy patients were donated over the past year.

Brennan’s exemplary entrepreneurial work resulted in the clinic sessions being added to the UCLA School of Dentistry curriculum, and faculty members volunteering to cover the students working in the clinics. Most importantly, the clinic sessions will continue after Brennan graduates as part of the UCLA ASDA Community Service Committee.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be recognized for all of the hard work I’ve put into these clinics,” Brennan says. He found out about the award from a dentistry school email, and was drawn in by the social justice element.

Brennan says the award will help him to continue finding ways to improve dental treatment for those in need. His plan, after completing his residency at the University of Florida in endodontics, is to run a nonprofit that provides dental care to those who can’t afford it.

“This award really helps to show the rewards of working in social justice and finding new ways to improve health care for those who need it,” he says.

Urban Planning student Connor Johnson has a similar desire to help men and women who are living in poverty or are homeless. His win recognizes his work as founder of social enterprise Would-Works, which gives men and women living on Skid Row the chance to earn money for a specific goal.

Urban Planning student Connor T. JohnsonJohnson had been working with people living in poverty since his year of service with AmeriCorps in 2009. He noted that many of the people he met on Skid Row would say, “I would work if I could.” He decided to give them that chance.

Through Would-Works, individuals with immediate needs, like a pair of glasses, can come in and set goals to earn money for it.  The individual is trained in wood-working, then becomes a Would-Works artisan hand-finishing and packaging wood products, like cutting boards, that can be sold. When the individual has worked enough hours (one hour is worth ten credits, and a credit is worth one dollar), Would-Works gives him or her a check to be used toward that initial need, and provides a certificate showing that the individual has demonstrated basic work skills.

Johnson applied for the Rishwain award when a friend saw a flyer with the words “social justice” and “entrepreneurship” and suggested that Would-Works would be a good fit.

“The award is a great acknowledgment of the work we have done so far and affirms my commitment to continue to grow Would-Works,” Johnson says of  the honor. He plans to expand his current charter to serve more people. This includes expanding the product line and increasing retail presence.

“My vision for Would-Works in the future is to have charters in multiple U.S. cities and continue to empower men and women to move out of homelessness or maintain housing,” Johnson adds.

The 5th Annual Rishwain Social Justice Entrepreneurship Awards is Tuesday, May 13 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, 3rd Floor Terrace.

The keynote speaker is Tanya Tull, president & CEO of Partnering for Change. The event is open to all UCLA students, faculty, staff and guests. Lunch will be provided.