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Fostering Leadership: 2018-2019 Senior Fellows Breakfast

UCLA Luskin hosted an opening breakfast to kick off the 22nd year of the Senior Fellows Leadership Program, a mentoring program that matches UCLA Luskin graduate students with distinguished leaders from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. This program gives students an opportunity to enhance their academic experience by connecting and establishing networks with leaders in their areas of interest. This year, Dean Gary Segura welcomed 12 new Senior Fellows, including several UCLA alumni, in addition to the 36 returning Senior Fellows, making up the largest group of Senior Fellow mentors in the program’s history. Edmund Cain, vice president of grant programming at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and returning Senior Fellow, was the keynote speaker for the Oct. 25, 2018, breakfast, which was organized by UCLA Luskin External Programs and Career Services. The event served as an icebreaker for students and their new Senior Fellow mentors, who will serve as role models for the next generation of leaders in public policy, social welfare and urban planning.

This year’s new Senior Fellow mentors are:

  • Bob Alvarez, BA ’88, chief of staff, California State Sen. Cathleen Galgiani
  • Michael Alvidrez, MA UP ’83, external ambassador, CEO emeritus, Skid Row Housing Trust
  • Cecilia Choi, foreign service officer, U.S. Dept. of State; UCLA Diplomat in Residence
  • Honorable Mike Gatto, former California Assembly member, D-43rd District
  • Seth Jacobson, MPP ’03, senior director, energy and water programs, Climate Resolve
  • Cheryl Mathieu, PhD ’05 (Social Welfare), founder and CEO, AgingPro
  • Honorable Brian Nestande, former California Assembly member, R-42nd District
  • Berk Özler, lead economist, Development Research Group, The World Bank
  • Paco Retana, MSW ’90, vice president of programs, Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic
  • Joel Reynolds, western director, senior attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council
  • Faye Washington, president & CEO, YWCA Greater Los Angeles
  • Emily Williams, MPP ’98, senior deputy for human services and child welfare, Office of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas

For more information about the Senior Fellows Leadership Program or to access a list of all past and returning Senior Fellows, click here.

View more images from the 2018-2019 Senior Fellows Breakfast.

Watts Leadership Institute Hosts Visit by Elementary School Students

More than 45 students from Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in Watts spent the afternoon of Feb. 7, 2018, touring the UCLA campus thanks to the efforts of the UCLA Luskin-based Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) and GRoW@Annenberg. The daylong adventure for the students —  known as “Keepers of the Dream” — was organized by Mike Cummings, also known as “Big Mike” or “Pastor Mike,” who is the executive director of We Care Outreach Ministries and a member of the first leadership cohort for WLI. The students started the day by visiting the middle school and high school they will attend, then traveled to UCLA, where they had lunch in the Covel Commons. The UCLA “Cub” tour, which began at the Bruin statue in the heart of the campus, was coordinated Melanie Edmond, principal of Joyner Elementary School. The group also met with Jorja Leap ’78 MSW ’80 PhD ‘88, adjunct professor of social welfare and co-founder of WLI, a 10-year initiative to build a legacy of indigenous leaders and community empowerment in Watts. Karrah Lompa MSW ’13, co-founder of the Watts Leadership Institute, also participated. She said the inspiration and sponsorship of the program by GRoW@Annenberg, a philanthropic initiative led by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, vice president and director of the Annenberg Foundation, has been instrumental to their efforts.

View a Flickr album of images from the students’ visit to UCLA:

Watts Institute Visits UCLA

Latino Issues Take Center Stage at Gubernatorial Forum Dean Gary Segura and several UCLA Luskin faculty and students play active roles in framing discussions on vital policy issues as candidates face off at Royce Hall

By Les Dunseith

UCLA Luskin was an active participant in the 2018 California Gubernatorial Forum held Jan. 25, 2018, at UCLA during which six candidates debated issues such as immigration policy, health care, education and ethics.

Dean Gary Segura spoke at a VIP reception that preceded the debate and later welcomed attendees inside Royce Hall to the forum, which was sponsored by the Latino Community Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that invests in Latino-led organizations, and moderated by anchors Jorge Ramos and Ilia Calderón of Univision, a television and media company.

The Latino electorate, whose political clout continues to grow in California, could decide the governor’s race, and a focus on issues of importance to minorities was evident throughout the forum.

“Beyond Latinos, people of color, of all varieties and histories in this nation, are systematically driven from the electoral system, neglected in every aspect of public services, targeted in an unequal justice system, and vulnerable to economic and social exploitation at every turn,” Segura said during the pre-debate reception. “In California, we know we can do better. Tonight, I hope we hear some cogent arguments as to how best to proceed.”

In addition to Segura, many other staff and faculty members affiliated with the new Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA were on hand. Several students, including representatives from all three departments at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, were seated on stage behind the candidates.

The night’s first question was about deportation policy, and it was posed by UCLA medical student Marcela Zhou and recent UCLA graduate Erick Leyva, whose educations have been directly impacted by the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program that the Trump administration rescinded late last year.

Gubernatorial front-runners Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa both took advantage of the opportunity to publicly voice their support of DACA recipients and to stress agreement with California’s pro-immigrant stance in general, including its sanctuary state status.

Under California’s new law, state and local law enforcement officials are prohibited from sharing undocumented individuals’ information with federal immigration authorities. The policy directly contradicts the Trump administration’s frequent portrayal of ethnic, cultural and racial differences in a negative light.

“We don’t tolerate that diversity, we celebrate that diversity,” said Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor.

 

 

Forum guests were greeted at the forum’s entrance by about 50 UCLA students demonstrating outside Royce Hall, calling on the gubernatorial candidates to support protections for all undocumented individuals — not just DACA participants.

At one point, Villaraigosa waded into the crowd and declared his support for their viewpoint. As the former Los Angeles mayor walked up the steps to enter the building, the students chanted, “Say It Inside!” — an effort to prod Villaraigosa to go on the record in support of undocumented immigrants.

Soon into the debate, he did just that. “They’re saying, ‘no to deportations.’ And I agree. They said that we should say it in here, and we should say it. We are tired of deportations,” said Villaraigosa before invoking in Spanish the rallying cry among many pro-immigrant activists. “Aqui extamos y no nos vamos!

The two Republican candidates at the forum, businessman John Cox and Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), both oppose California’s sanctuary status and said the state’s support of undocumented workers undermines the needs of U.S. citizens. Their statements often led to boos from the crowd, and Allen, in particular, generated loud objections from the audience when he expressed full support for the policies of President Donald Trump.

In strong contrast, the four Democrats often drew cheers with rebukes of Trump and his administration’s policies.

“California was built on the back of immigrants,” California Treasurer John Chiang, a Democrat, said. “Fundamentally we’re about dignity, decency and respect for all people. That is the heart of America, and we want to be that shining [city] to send a signal to President Trump that you’re dead wrong.”

Democrat Delaine Eastin, a former state schools chief, drew loud applause when she referred to Trump as an “orange-haired misogynist racist.”

To boost the numbers of Latinos pursuing higher education, Eastin suggested expansion of childcare and child development programs. She and other Democratic candidates also advocated for free college tuition.

“The best crime prevention program is education,” Eastin said.

Responding to a question about California farmers, Eastin called for a long-range water plan and better treatment of agricultural workers. Cox said he sympathized with Central Valley farmers and supports a seasonal worker program “to have people come in and get the work done.” Once crops are picked, however, he said the workers should go back to their countries.

The issue of single-payer healthcare prompted a testy exchange between Villaraigosa and Newsom, who favors improvements to the state’s proposed single-payer health-care legislation. Villaraigosa disagreed, saying he is concerned the idea lacks concrete funding.

“That’s defeatism,” Newsom shot back.

Near the end of the forum, one of the most dramatic moments took place when moderator Ramos returned to the question of undocumented immigrants. He reminded the crowd of the two DACA recipients who had opened the night’s questioning.

“Would you deport them?” Ramos pointedly asked the candidates.

In response, Chiang, Newsom, Villaraigosa and Eastin all said no, and that they would work to protect them. Even Cox said no, though he qualified his response by calling for stronger border security.

Catcalls from the audience greeted Allen when his turn to answer came. “As the next governor of the state California,” he began, “I will follow immigration law …”

Ramos gestured to Zhou and Leyva seated behind him, and they moved to center stage. As Allen walked over and shook their hands, audience objections grew louder.

“Yes or no? Yes or no?” the crowd chanted after Allen dodged a direct answer by saying Republicans plan to include DACA protection as part of immigration reform.

Shouts from the crowd erupted. As the two young people shifted uncomfortably just inches away, Ramos asked again, “Would you deport them, Mr. Allen?”

“That’s not the job of the governor of the state of California,” Allen declared. “Our president is working on a deal right now to protect your status in exchange for border security and a comprehensive immigration plan …”

The crowd grew even louder, drowning out Allen. “Make him leave! Make him leave!” some shouted.

View a Flickr album with additional photos.

 

Social Welfare Revises Academic Program Updated MSW curriculum includes three new concentrations and a leadership component designed to launch students on lifelong, impactful careers helping people who are the most vulnerable

By Stan Paul

A newly revised Master of Social Welfare curriculum at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs comes with an expectation: “We expect you to use your career to make a huge difference,” said Fernando Torres-Gil, professor of social welfare and lead instructor of a new leadership component.

Social welfare has a long tradition at UCLA going back to the 1940s and a highly regarded national reputation of training multiple generations of social workers, and the purposeful changes have been made with a fresh focus and expanded goals for the two-year graduate professional program.

“It’s a new program in the sense that we have a new curriculum and new areas of concentration,” said Laura Abrams, professor and chair of social welfare at UCLA Luskin, explaining that the changes are designed to greater utilize the strengths and expertise of faculty and provide specialized and enhanced in-depth training to students.

Each new concentration allows students to delve deeply into an area of focus and, at the same time, to prepare graduates for leadership positions locally, nationally and globally throughout the course of their careers. They are:

  • Health and Mental Health Across the Life Span
  • Social and Economic Justice
  • Child and Family Well-Being

“I think we have to prepare social workers to be the best possible thinkers, leaders, educators, activists they can be.”

— Laura Abrams, professor and chair of social welfare

 
 


Some things will remain the same because the need for social workers is as relevant as ever, if not more, according to Abrams. “We are obviously incorporating some of the same principles,” she said of the program and its “overarching mission” to train the next generation of social work practitioners and leaders in the field, champion the development of knowledge for the social work profession, and strengthen social institutions and services in Los Angeles and beyond. “Everything has to be grounded in, ‘How do we engage clients and communities? How do we help solve some of these social issues like homelessness, kids who have social and emotional issues in schools.’ It’s not that we are focusing on a different set of issues, we are just refreshing our curriculum and making it more up-to-date.”

In addition to the course on leadership that the entire cohort of first-year students will be taking this Winter Quarter, Abrams said all first-year courses have been revised and updated.

“These are all new and they have been rolling out this year,” she said, adding that the divisions between “micro” and “macro” practice — or the distinction between clinical, or direct, practice and community practice — have made way for a more generalist practice approach.

“We realized that most social workers do a little bit of everything,” said Abrams, explaining the reasoning behind the shift to the new concentrations, which come with new faculty searches and hires to augment them. “Within each of those areas students should be expected to get a grounding in policy as well as practice.”

In addition, students will receive more training in research and statistics. So, like their peers in UCLA Luskin’s other graduate programs in public policy and urban planning, they will be working on yearlong capstone projects that mix qualitative and quantitative work, as well as opportunities to take on group projects.

The programs will still be flexible enough to allow students to take electives from the School’s other programs.

“We’ve always kept in mind that we are embedded in a school of public affairs with top-notch public policy and urban planning programs where we have the opportunity to be interdisciplinary, and we need to be,” Torres-Gil said. “It’s all part of the overall Luskin School mission that we’re making a difference, our graduates are special, they’re unique, they’re going places and the Luskin School is UCLA’s tool to train those that are going to be involved in those real-world problems and issues and make a big difference.”

The leadership aspect of the training seeks to guide students in “their ability to impact social change, to be sophisticated policy advocates and to plan for a career where they will exercise leadership at all levels, whether they are starting off as a clinician or as a lower-level eligibility worker in a large bureaucracy,” Torres-Gil said. “Over time we expect them to move up the ranks, whether it’s a CBO (community-based organization), nonprofit, public bureaucracy or practice,” he added.

Torres-Gil said that this approach is important for a number of reasons, including exerting power and being influential in areas traditionally dominated by arenas such as business, journalism, economics, communication and political science.

“Social workers are grounded in understanding, intuitively and right there at the front lines, how issues affect people, and so we want to be more upstream and train social workers to understand what it takes to be an effective social change agent and leader,” even though terms like “influence” and “power” may “go against the grain of the social work profession that wants to focus on social justice and social equity,” he said.

Other reasons include managing and assuming leadership roles in a career that may last decades and involve a number of different jobs or positions. With the idea of longevity in mind, Torres-Gil, who also serves as the director of the Center for Policy Research on Aging at UCLA Luskin, said it is impossible to pack everything into a single program, but “here are the attributes, those competencies, capabilities that I need to build a greater ability to be effective and to make social change.”

Torres-Gil continued, “So we want to make sure the MSW part of the Luskin School has that same mindset; we’re not just any graduate school, we’re UCLA, we’re Luskin and over time people are going to say, ‘If you want to make a difference, if you want to be a power player, if you want to be an elite leader who is seen as a go-to person or whatever the issue is, get a UCLA MSW.’ That’s the aspiration.”

Abrams noted that the curriculum revamp started “long before the last presidential election, but I think there’s a lot more challenges that are going to be happening, especially in vulnerable communities.”

In sum, “I think we have to prepare social workers to be the best possible thinkers, leaders, educators, activists they can be,” Abrams said. “So they have to be armed with the tools of theory, they have to have tools of research, they have to have tools of practice.”

Details about the new Plan of Study are available on the UCLA Luskin website.

Guiding the Next Gen of Leaders UCLA Luskin welcomes new and returning Senior Fellows from the public, private and nonprofit sectors

By Stan Paul

For more than two decades the Senior Fellows Leadership Program at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs has matched the School’s students with professionals.

UCLA Luskin Public Policy, Social Welfare and Urban Planning students have enhanced their academic experience with real-world, practical applications by making direct connections with individuals working in their areas of interest.

This year is no exception. Now in its 21st run, the program has fielded an outstanding class of fellows representing a wide range of professional expertise. The 2017-18 class includes a former U.S. Congresswoman, a current U.S. Foreign Service officer, the president of a popular local news media and cultural outlet, and an advocate for children’s rights.

“We are particularly proud of this group of Senior Fellows in part because it’s one of the largest groups of new and returning fellows,” Dean Gary Segura said in his opening remarks at an Oct. 26, 2017, welcome breakfast marking the kickoff of the 2017-18 Senior Fellows. “We are overwhelmed by your generosity. More importantly, we are overwhelmed by your willingness to share some of your valuable time with the next generation of leaders in Los Angeles and beyond. And, I mean by that, the 575 young people that make up the student body of the Luskin School of Public Affairs.”

Among the returning Senior Fellows is David Carlisle, president and CEO of Charles Drew University of Medicine. Carlisle, who also is an adjunct professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, served as keynote speaker for the gathering at UCLA’s Faculty Center.

“This is one of the most wonderful activities that I do every year … and I look forward to coming back because of the interaction with young people that this program provides,” Carlisle said to Luskin student mentees, faculty, staff and guests.

In his presentation, Carlisle, who has served as a Senior Fellow since 2007, stressed the continued importance of the mentor program. In an economic sense California is experiencing a “golden age,” Carlisle said. But “we are still challenged by meeting demands cultivating personal capital in the state of California and the United States … human capital. And, there are too many places in our state where people are still challenged to participate fully in the economic engine that is the state of California.”

For second-year Master of Urban and Regional Planning student Sonia Suresh, an interest in affordable housing development and working with homeless populations led to her choice of Anita Nelson as a Senior Fellow mentor. Nelson is the CEO of SFO Housing Corporation, a Los Angeles-based organization committed to providing housing and support services for homeless and low-income people.

“We had a great conversation on our backgrounds and interests, as well as the type of affordable housing her organization builds,” said Suresh, who is also a member of Planners of Color for Social Equity at UCLA Luskin. “We have set up a day for me to shadow her and her development team.”

Second-year Master of Public Policy student Bei Zhao and first-year urban planning student Alexander Salgado were partnered with returning fellow Steven Nissen, senior vice president, legal and governmental Affairs, for NBC Universal.

Zhao, a native of China who has worked in investment banking in Beijing, said that the breakfast and mentor program provided the opportunity to talk about participants’ backgrounds and professional experience. She said she was amazed by Nissen’s experience bridging the private, public and nonprofit sectors, “which is also the direction I want to build for my own career.” Zhao said she hopes to apply her public policy and finance experience in the public sector of a nonprofit organization.

Nissen and his mentees have already planned on continuing their conversation. “At the end of the breakfast, he invited us to visit NBC Universal for further meetings … which shows his generosity for the future generation,” Zhao said.

The Senior Fellows Leadership Program is part of the Luskin School’s Leadership Development Program which is led and organized each year by VC Powe, director of career services and leadership development.

In addition to Nelson, new members of the Senior Fellows are:

  • Elizabeth Calvin, senior advocate, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
  • Rick Cole, city manager, city of Santa Monica
  • Efrain Escobedo, vice president, civic engagement & policy, California Community Foundation
  • Christine Essel, president and CEO, Southern California Grantmakers
  • Jennifer Ferro, president, KCRW
  • Anne Miskey, chief executive officer, Downtown Women’s Center
  • Erica Murray, president and CEO, California Association of Public Hospitals
  • Rick Nahmias, founder/executive director, Food Forward
  • Seleta Reynolds, general manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation
  • Michelle Rhone-Collins, executive director, LIFT-Los Angeles
  • Lynn Schenk, former Congresswoman, California 39th Congressional District
  • Dan Schnur, director, American Jewish Committee; former director, USC Unruh Institute of Politics
  • Heather Joy Thompson, diplomat-in-residence based at UCLA Luskin; Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department
  • David Wright, CEO, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power

More information on the Senior Fellows Leadership Program, Senior Fellow bios and a full list of returning Senior Fellows are available online.

‘A Mission I Can Embrace’ New Dean Gary Segura discusses his first 100 days, and why UCLA Luskin is the ‘right fit’ for him

By George Foulsham

On Jan. 1, Gary M. Segura began his tenure as Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

In a Q&A conducted soon after his appointment in October, Segura, professor of public policy and Chicano studies at UCLA and the former Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy and professor of political science at Stanford University, discussed his new role and how excited he is to lead the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

First of all, congratulations on being named the new Dean of the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Can you tell us your initial reaction when you got the news?

Segura: I was stunned, in fact, and really quite surprised to hear the news. I was in Europe at the time and I’m a little embarrassed to say that I was on a beach when Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh called me. But he was in Europe too, so we were in the same time zone, and it worked out OK. But I was really quite surprised and very, very pleased.

Can you share with us your initial thoughts on what you hope to accomplish when you get started, maybe in your first 100 days at the Luskin School?

Segura: I’m not a physician — I’m not that kind of doctor — but my first rule is to do no harm. There are a lot of very good, wonderful and exciting things going on here. And my first step would be to find out what I need to do and where I can be helpful to enhance, enlarge and grow the existing areas of strength in the school. My second step will be a pure information-gathering one.

I need to know the faculty. I want to know what their interests are, what they think we can do better, what they think is working well. And, also, test out a few ideas in terms of how we might broaden the footprint.

In the coming years, we will see any number of important opportunities and changes come to the Luskin School. I want to be certain to figure out how to make opportunity for growth or renewal a win-win for everyone. I think the first 100 days will be a lot of information gathering and a few trial balloons floated, and we’ll see if they get shot down or if they actually make it to the ceiling.

The Luskin School’s previous full-time dean, Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., believed that Luskin prepared students for the future by providing them with a “change-agent toolkit.” Do you see Luskin continuing that role of helping our students become change agents?

Segura: I would say I see Luskin continuing and extending that role, with the possibility of some additional programs at Luskin. I want to create an environment where we have a huge cadre of students who are going to engage the community as it exists. This is purposeful social science. This is the idea that understanding what’s happening in the world is only useful to the extent that we can then take it and make the world — at the individual level, at the family level, at the community level, at the nation level and maybe even globally — somewhat better than we found it before. So I definitely believe in engaged learning, the idea that the tools they get at UCLA Luskin can be brought to bear on their life goals and their own communities and families.

You are steeped in Latina/o, gender, political and all minority issues. How has your academic background informed and prepared you for your new role as Dean here?

Segura: This society is changing in ways that are unprecedented. In 1950, this society was 90 percent white. When Ronald Reagan was president of the United States in 1980, this society was 80 percent white. In the last national census, it was 63.7 percent white, non-Hispanic. And, in the next census, that number is likely to be around 60 percent. At the same time, we’ve had a revolution in gender relations in the United States over the last 50 or 60 years. So heterosexual white males, who have so dominated American society in all of its facets — whether it be governance, business, industry — those individuals comprise only about 30 percent of the national population. We have relatively little understanding of the other 70 percent. The traditional social sciences and even some of the public affairs and public policy folks in the world have devoted less attention because they were not the holders of power.

What we’re seeing now is a gigantic change in the composition of the United States at every level. And I think preparing our students — many of whom come from that 70 percent — to engage in an America that fundamentally looks different than the one you and I grew up in is an important change. My particular research interests speak to that, but I’m certainly not alone in that interest and expertise. There are others in the school and others on campus and that’s a primary concern.

Finally, any special message you’d like to share with our students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors?

Segura: I’m very excited to be here. When you look for opportunities to take a leadership role, many of them look like just administrative roles, basically file cabinet management.

I didn’t want that. I wanted an administrative role where I believed in the mission of what I was doing. Here, we have three wonderful departments, an array of research institutes, all of which are dedicated to the improvement of the quality of life, of people living in the United States and beyond, especially in the Los Angeles basin. That’s a mission I can embrace and get behind and something I can actually bring something to personally. This was the right fit for me. I hope I can do my best to help everyone achieve the goals that they have for their time here at Luskin.

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