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UCLA Luskin Students Host First In-Person Event at Golden Age Park

Students affiliated with the UCLA (Un)Common Public Space group hosted more than 100 attendees on Feb. 26 to celebrate Golden Age Park, a pocket park in the Westlake neighborhood of Los Angeles that incorporates ideas championed by Urban Planning Professor Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris. The Saturday afternoon event included food, games and music provided by 45 members of the Heart of Los Angeles’ Intergenerational Orchestra. Five members of a Shakespeare troupe also performed an excerpt from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Gus Wendel MURP ’17, a doctoral student in urban planning at UCLA, said the (Un)Common Public Space group was formed in 2021 as a collective of community members, students, researchers, performers and public space activists with the goal of activating public spaces in different neighborhoods using research, performance and community-based events. Usage of Golden Age Park, which opened in 2019, had been hindered by its relative newness and by the COVID-19 pandemic. A primary purpose of the event was to build local awareness of the park’s presence and to promote its intergenerational appeal. “By creating opportunities for people of all ages to share time, space and experiences, intergenerational public spaces support engagement, learning and understanding across generations,” Wendel said. In addition to students in UCLA Luskin’s urban planning program, organizers and supporters included the UCLA Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, UCLA cityLAB, the Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust (LANLT) and St. Barnabas Senior Services (SBSS). The UCLA Urban Humanities Initiative provided additional support, as did the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation.

View additional photos on Flickr:

Golden Age Park celebration

 

Wray-Lake Helps Launch Journal’s Series on Racism and Youth

UCLA Luskin scholar Laura Wray-Lake served as co-editor of the March issue of the Journal of Research on Adolescence that features 17 papers and four commentaries that address the sweeping impact of racism and other systems of oppression on Black youth. Titled “Black Lives Matter!: Systems of Oppression Affecting Black Youth,” the special issue calls for new ways to combat racism and intersecting oppressions and improve the lives of Black adolescents. In their introduction, Wray-Lake and co-authors Dawn P. Witherspoon of Pennsylvania State University and Linda C. Halgunseth of the University of Connecticut write that the commentaries “provide a historical view and future perspective to contextualize how far we have come and how much farther we need to go in our quest to combat racism and other systems of oppression and improve the lives of Black adolescents.” The issue kicks off a series in which the journal will be focusing on dismantling systems of racism and oppression during adolescence. Wray-Lake, an associate professor of social welfare at UCLA, will also be co-editor for the second and third parts of the series, and she will be lead editor for the fourth, which will appear in the September issue of the journal.


 

Meyer Luskin Shares Insights on Responsible Entrepreneurship

Meyer Luskin, benefactor and namesake of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, spoke to UCLA students about leadership skills and responsible entrepreneurship at a March 3 gathering held in person and via Zoom. Luskin shared stories from a long and varied career in investment advising, oil and gas, rental cars, beauty schools and, ultimately, the recycling of food waste. Scope Industries, the company he has led for more than six decades, turns tons of bakery goods that would otherwise have gone to landfills into food for livestock. “Meyer is a businessman who invented a business, and that’s not common,” UCLA Luskin Dean Gary Segura said at the event. “Meyer had an idea, and his idea was to take something most people threw away and make it into something useful.” Luskin’s talk included stories from his own UCLA education, which was interrupted by a tour of duty during World War II, and his experiences facing anti-Semitism as a young businessman. Luskin advised students embarking on their careers to examine their motivations, acknowledge conflicts of interests and uphold the highest ethics. “You have to be retrospective about yourself,” he said. “You have to take time to think about what you’ve done and where you’re going and who you are and what you want.” He encouraged those blessed with success in business to act responsibly and generously. “The first principle is get good people, pay them well, think about them,” he said. “When you do something that’s right, it comes back and helps you. … It just works that way in a long life.” 

View photos and a video from the event.

A Conversation With Meyer Luskin


 

New Lab Aims to Advance Access to Affordable, Safe Water  UCLA’s Human Right to Water Solutions Lab expands research on drinking water across the nation

Since 2012, Californians have had a legal right to clean water — yet safe, affordable water is not always easily accessible throughout the state.

Issues like high water bills, contaminated water sources and outdated infrastructure complicate water access, especially in frontline communities — all against a backdrop of chronic drought in some of our most water-limited regions. Researchers are working to find solutions that make water access more just, including at a new research lab at UCLA.

To address the most pressing challenges in realizing safe, clean water throughout the country, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has launched the Human Right to Water Solutions Lab. The lab is led by Gregory Pierce, co-director of the Luskin Center for Innovation, adjunct assistant professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs and co-director of the UCLA Water Resources Group. In addition, the lab is advised by collaborators from across the nation.  

Pierce and his research team have helped to guide California’s efforts to provide safe drinking water for all residents, as well as develop a plan for the first statewide low-income water rate assistance program in the nation. Now, the new lab is expanding its work across the country to support policy, advocacy and civic leadership solutions to improve water access, quality and affordability — the three key pillars of the human right to water.

“As lab director, I hope to cultivate a space to collectively improve access to clean water,” Pierce said. “This lab builds on the Luskin Center for Innovation’s broader goals to collaborate with community leaders and policymakers who can use our research to advance environmental equity.”

The lab has three objectives:

  • Advance fundamental research on water access, quality and affordability solutions
  • Support and amplify the efforts of community, scholarly and policy partners working to realize the human right to water
  • Make data and training resources collected or generated through research more useful to the public

The new Los Angeles County Water Governance Mapping Tool illustrates the lab’s dedication to making data more accessible and useful for the public. Developed in collaboration with community-based organizations and the Water Foundation, this interactive visualization tool provides information about Los Angeles County’s complex network of water systems, each managed by a separate set of decision-makers and policies.

“We’re hoping to support Angelenos to understand where their water comes from and who is managing it,” said Peter Roquemore, a researcher in the lab and at the Luskin Center for Innovation. “There are more than 200 different community water systems in the county — it’s a complex system. This information can help hold water system leaders accountable to provide clean and affordable drinking water.”

The Human Right to Water Solutions Lab builds on the work of the Luskin Center for Innovation’s water program, which, under Pierce’s leadership, has grown over the past seven years from a single staff member to a team of more than 15 staff and students producing research to advance water access and equity. 

Map of Los Angeles County water districts

Visit UCLA’s new Los Angeles County Water Governance Mapping Tool to search an address and access information including:

  • Name of the water system that supplies water to the address
  • Names of board members who direct the policies of that water system
  • Demographics, tenure, and pay of individual board members
  • Methods for selecting board members, including eligibility and election cycles
  • Average cost and relative affordability of water from the system
  • Safety and quality of water from the system
  • Water operator qualifications

Callahan Named Co-Executive Director of Luskin Center for Innovation

Colleen Callahan MA UP ’10 has been appointed as co-executive director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. She served as the founding deputy director for 12 years, playing an integral part in building the research center from the ground up. The new role reflects Callahan’s experience, the growing trajectory of the center and its goals for the future. In this expanded position, Callahan plans to increase strategic engagement and partnership initiatives to maximize the center’s impact on public policies and other environmental innovations for the health of people and the planet. “It’s both an exciting and daunting time to step into this role,” Callahan said. “Bold action on the climate crisis is urgently needed. I’m humbled to have this opportunity to expand the center’s collaborations with frontline communities, policymakers and others to help advance solutions.” With 18 years of experience in social entrepreneurship, environmental policy and urban planning, Callahan will amplify the work of the Luskin Center for Innovation’s 20 faculty affiliates, 12 full-time staff, and more than 25 part-time researchers and consultants. The new executive director position will enhance the center’s leadership structure, with Greg Pierce sharing the executive leadership role with Callahan. In addition, V. Kelly Turner and Pierce, faculty in the department of urban planning, are leading the center’s research programs as co-directors. Together, they bring a shared commitment and strong capacity to advance evidence-based and equitable environmental policies. Rounding out the team will be a new faculty director in the coming year. 

Read full story


 

Dean’s Message

And in the blink of an eye, five years has come and gone.

This is my 11th Forum column. I write after an extraordinary period of change in the world, and at UCLA Luskin. We do our work in the world, on real problems facing real people, families and communities. When I arrived five years ago, I made a commitment to embrace and enhance the School’s well-established mission of helping, of doing good in the world. I believe we have kept that promise, and each day I am stunned to see the astounding efforts of my colleagues in implementing that vision through research, training and action.

Five years ago, I could not have envisioned the pandemic, the insurrection and the myriad crises of these last two years. New challenges and new opportunities, daunting and exciting at the same time, have emerged from this upheaval. Out of the old will emerge new patterns, changed institutions, terrible losses and unanticipated opportunities. Exactly what those will look like is hard to foresee. But the Luskin School will certainly be trying.

What can UCLA Luskin do to enhance our understanding of COVID-19, of the political upheavals of the last years, of the social changes being set into motion by both? In this issue, we highlight ways in which Luskin research has immediate impact on the world around us.

Our work on inequality and displacement is never more needed than now, when the homelessness and affordable housing crises collide with large-scale economic struggle during the pandemic, and
a 40-year growth in income inequality.

Our work on housing and transportation can certainly inform our understanding of the “great resignation” or the withdrawal of substantial segments of the workforce from active participation. There is very little question that priorities have shifted for millions of Americans, less willing to work for minimum wage, less willing to take that second job (or, for couples, third job), less willing to

commute for hours a day. The death of hundreds of thousands of our countrymen, the 18 months of remote work, clearly reshaped choices.

Similarly, our expertise in these areas cannot help but inform the changing nature of work and workplaces after nearly two years of remote employment for many. Telecommuting pre-dates the pandemic, but these last two years have revolutionized our understanding of what tasks require in-person labor, and how supervisors can effectively monitor those working from home. Clearly some of this work was not ideal, but we discovered that some workers did just fine! In this context, hours of commuting and parking costs are hard to justify when they don’t improve productivity or enhance service.

Our expertise on health and health care disparities, disruptions in the insurance market, depression and mental health challenges, and lack of services to the poor, to marginalized communities and the homeless is made more urgent in the wake of clear and undeniable effects of this inequality on Los Angeles and beyond. We have witnessed wildly uneven mortality rates, testing and vaccination efforts, and untreated morbidities that have made a terrible situation worse for those who have the least.

Communities of color, among those most disadvantaged in the pandemic, have also seen their political voice weakened by vote dilution and voter suppression, and by a history of the use of the criminal justice system as social regulation. The UCLA Voting Rights Project at Luskin may be coming to a courtroom near you as we fight to protect the franchise and American democracy. When those most disadvantaged take to the streets in frustration, they are likely to face hostile law enforcement and attempts at suppression. Minority experiences in the U.S. justice system have historically been problematic under the best of circumstances and even more so in these times of social stress and the ongoing tragedy of unjustified killings. Thankfully, these events, too, are the subject of inquiry in all Luskin departments.

The distinction between the Luskin School and much of academia is reflected in words written by Marx 133 years ago in his 11th Thesis on Feuerbach: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Gary

In Support Social justice, equity and diversity are among the priorities for new gifts, fellowships and other initiatives

SHAH IS FIRST RECIPIENT OF GILLIAM CHAIR IN SOCIAL JUSTICE

When the Luskin School formally presented its fifth and newest endowed chair to Professor Manisha Shah in November, former Dean Frank Gilliam and benefactors Meyer and Renee Luskin were in attendance.

The Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr. Chair in Social Justice, which was created by the Luskins as part of their naming gift to the School in 2011, is now fully funded. It will provide financial support for Shah’s research throughout her five-year term as holder of the chair.

Gilliam, who is the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, said he was honored to have his name attached to an award focusing on social justice.

“Meyer and Renee have ambitious goals about how to change the world and how to make it a better place,” Gilliam said. “At the core of that commitment is social justice: What, in a democracy, are you going to do about vast inequality?”

He pointed to a statement by sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois that the so-called color line is the great American dilemma. “Whether it’s African Americans or Muslims, Latin Americans or Asian Americans, it’s about integrating all people into the society and determining the rules upon which entry to society will be considered legitimate,” Gilliam said.

Dean Gary Segura credits Gilliam with codifying social justice as a unifying theme among the disparate departments that were rolled together decades ago into one school of public affairs.

“Frank is very much the dean that put the social justice stamp on the School,” Segura said. “The Luskin School we know today came into existence as a social justice-oriented entity because of his ingenuity.”

The Luskins have also endowed three other chairs benefitting professors at UCLA Luskin, Segura noted. One provides funding to research projects under his direction as dean. Another funds the research endeavors of the director of the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy, a position held by Ananya Roy since it was founded five years ago. The third supports the director of the Luskin Center for Innovation, a position held by JR DeShazo prior to his departure in August to become a dean at the University of Texas. A search for DeShazo’s permanent replacement is underway. The fifth endowed chair at UCLA Luskin is the Marjorie Crump Chair in Social Welfare, currently held by Ron Avi Astor.

Segura said all these chairs were funded with gifts of $2 million to $3 million to provide funding in support of academic research endeavors. UCLA Luskin does not currently have any endowed chairs of another type offered at UCLA in recognition of gifts at the $5 million level. Those chairs include salary support for a recipient.

Shah is a professor of public policy who joined the UCLA Luskin faculty in 2013. Her scholarship tends to focus on issues of health equity and exploitation of disadvantaged people around the world, and she is the director of Global Lab for Research in Action at
UCLA Luskin, which she founded in 2019.

So, what is it like to have one’s name attached to an endowed chair?

“As with any sort of institutionalized thing like this, the naming of a school or a professorship or a scholarship is significant because it goes on in perpetuity,” Gilliam said, smiling broadly. “If somebody has the misfortune of asking one day who Frank Gilliam was, and they go back and discover who I was and what my connection was to the Luskin School, then that story gets told again.”


Jacqueline Waggoner, left, and Lourdes Castro Ramirez will co-chair a newly created Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee on the UCLA Luskin Board of Advisors.

FUNDING CAMPAIGN TIED TO EQUITY LAUNCHES AS BOARD WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS

The UCLA Luskin Advisory Board welcomed six new members to start the academic year: Lourdes Castro Ramirez, Andy Cohen, Brien Kelley, Travis Kiyota, Alex Rose and Wendy Wachtell. Castro Ramirez and continuing board member Jacqueline Waggoner are urban planning alumnae, and they will co-chair a newly created Equity, Diversity and Inclusion committee. The committee will focus on confronting disparities, driving equity and creating greater access in the field of public affairs. To kick off this initiative, Castro Ramirez and Waggoner created a matching gift campaign to encourage others to join them to support this cause. Funds raised during the campaign will go toward the Urban Planning Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Fund. The fund seeks to diversify the field of planning, providing two kinds of support: funded internships with nonprofit community organizations that otherwise could ill afford to provide a paid internship; and student fellowships, allowing students to devote more time to learning instead of having to hold down a job or being saddled with an unsustainable debt load. For more information, contact Nicole Payton at npayton@luskin.ucla.edu.


Research grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation will seek to broaden the understanding of issues affecting Latinos.

KELLOGG GRANT WILL SUPPORT LATINO-FOCUSED RESEARCH DATABASES

The UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to support a pair of new research databases that will become available to policymakers, scholars and the public as resources for broadening understanding of issues affecting the Latino community.

“As the largest nonwhite minority group in the United States,
Latinos are integral to building a prosperous future for all Americans,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of LPPI. “Yet Latinos face significant barriers to economic opportunity, political representation and social mobility. This funding will enable us to reliably collect data that brings Latinos and the issues that impact them out of the shadows
and to create real policy solutions that build a truly inclusive economy and democracy.”

The first of two databases, the Latino Data Hub, will contain verified data on demographics, socioeconomics and civic participation that will help decision makers promote policies that benefit Latino communities. It is intended to become a go-to resource for national, state and local data, and it will also include statistics and information on climate change and the environment, economic opportunity and social mobility, education, health and housing.

The second database, the Latino Research Redistricting Hub, will help identify how the drawing of state and federal electoral maps affects Latinos. The hub will be a resource for officials engaged in redistricting decisions with a goal of ensuring fair representation in politics and government for the nation’s diverse Latino communities.

“Before we can address inequity, we must tell the truth about our conditions, and that is what data does,” said Cicely Moore, program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “We are proud to invest in creating tools that help us see our biggest challenges clearly and identify equitable solutions that enable us all to thrive.”


FIRST GROUP OF YAROSLAVSKY FELLOWSHIPS AWARDED

The inaugural group of graduate fellows to receive support from the Barbara Yaroslavsky Memorial Fund recently met virtually with their benefactor, Zev Yaroslavsky, to share experiences and talk about their futures.

The fellows include students working toward graduate or doctoral degrees in public policy, social welfare or public health at UCLA, or any combination thereof. Their areas of expertise and concentration include mental health as it relates to chronic disease, refugees in connection with forced migration and human rights, family services, and health and mental health across the lifespan.

Zev Yaroslavsky, whose long career in public service included time as both a county supervisor and city councilman in Los Angeles, is now on the faculty at UCLA Luskin. He established the fellowship with support from friends and family after the death of his wife in December 2018, honoring her legacy of advocacy and commitment to health care for all.


URBAN PLANNING FELLOWSHIP CIRCLE FINDS SUCCESS

The recently created Urban Planning Fellowship Circle has raised $53,350 to benefit urban planning students impacted by the pandemic, surpassing its goal of $50,000 with more donations on the way.

Led by co-chairs Joan Ling MA UP ’82 and Nicole Vermeer MA UP ’96,  a group of Urban Planning alumni banded together to help the next generation of urban planners weather a challenging year.

Other committee members were Toni Bates ’82, Alice Carr ’95, Robert De Forest BA ’99, MBA ’06, MA UP ’06, Nancy Lewis ’77, Reagan Maechling ’05, Katherine Perez ’97, Michele Prichard ’89, Anson Snyder ’90, James Suhr ’87, Yasmin Tong ’92 and Dwayne Wyatt ’83. Staff support was spearheaded by Robin McCallum, department manager.

The UCLA Luskin Development team is looking to replicate this model for the other departments. Anyone interested in making a similar impact to benefit students from public policy or social welfare may contact Laura Scarano, associate director of development,
at lscarano@luskin.ucla.edu.


CENTER FOR INNOVATION FUND HONORS DESHAZO

JR DeShazo

A campaign has been created to seek gifts in honor of JR DeShazo to the student fellowship fund for environmental justice.

Former UCLA Professor DeShazo, inaugural director of the Luskin Center for Innovation, became the dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in August. The student fellowship fund seeks to reflect the spirit of his enduring contribution and the Center for Innovation’s long record of support for hundreds of students during his tenure, helping to shape the next generation of policy.

The effort reflects the Luskin Center for Innovation’s commitment to supporting first-generation Bruins, students of color and other emerging environmental leaders via two types of fellowship opportunities:

  • one providing paid opportunities for students to collaborate with community-based organizations to advance environmental justice;
  • the other expanding opportunities in the center for students to conduct research that shapes environmental policy.

 

Alumni Notes

CELEBRATING THE CLASS OF 2020

The Luskin School welcomed students and alumni back to campus with a series of celebrations and orientations to launch the new academic year. The 10th annual UCLA Luskin Block Party on Sept. 23 drew a record crowd as students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters such as Meyer and Renee Luskin gathered on Dickson Court North to connect with one another after an 18-month stretch of remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The week wrapped up with an exclusive reception, above, for Class of 2020 graduates in the School’s public policy, social welfare and urban planning programs at the Luskin Conference Center for a celebration of their academic achievement.


Therese Agnes Hughes MA UP ’99

ALUMNA RECOGNIZES WOMEN IN THE MILITARY

Author and photojournalist Therese Agnes Hughes MA UP ’99 grew up in the military with a father who served in World War II, so her respect for people in service started at
a young age. She lived in far-flung places such as Guam and Hawaii as a result of her dad’s career.

Later, with two children still in school, she came to UCLA Luskin. After a break from her studies in 1997 for a kidney transplant, she came back to finish her education.

After graduating, she worked at the AmeriCorps Vista Clinic in Venice, California, and met women soldiers returning home from Iraq. She found that these women were not being appropriately recognized. After later working with California Congresswoman Linda Sánchez to raise awareness of issues specifically affecting women, Hughes started her own business to help female veterans.

It became evident to Hughes that many of those veterans had served ably beside male counterparts without being similarly recognized. This was true within her own family: Her mother volunteered for the Navy but never told Hughes about the experience.

In May 2010, Hughes quit her job and began her project to start telling women’s stories through photographs and quotes. Her first step was to ask to connect to veterans.

She eventually gained enough funding to travel to Washington, D.C., for five interviews, but only one person showed up. But this didn’t stop her work. Later, with an assist from UCLA Luskin’s Michael Dukakis, she was connected to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Duckworth was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Once Duckworth was on board as an interviewee, Hughes’ project flourished, and she has interviewed more than 800 women since 2011. They include Brigadier Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, the first woman to be a four-star general.

By the time she had reached 60 interviews, Hughes said, she became aware that many of the women would go back to service “in a heartbeat.”

Her work has culminated in the book, “In a Heartbeat: Military Women WWII to Present.” Hughes hopes that young women of today can look at the women she has profiled and “see someone who looks like them and say, ‘I can do military service.’ ”

Hughes said she learned at UCLA Luskin not to be afraid to ask for help, and never to stop following up. She learned to look at the world through a prism, seeing many ways to do something. Those skills are not taught in a typical urban planning master’s program, she said.


Álvaro Huerta ’03, MURP ’06

ALUMNUS BECOMES A HARVARD FACULTY FELLOW

Álvaro Huerta ’03, MURP ’06 has been appointed as a Harvard faculty fellow.

The son of working-class Mexican immigrants and a product of public housing projects in Los Angeles, Huerta said he is honored to become a Harvard fellow.

He is additionally “eternally grateful to UCLA and my former professors and mentors, like the late professors Dr. Leo Estrada and Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones. Given that there are few Chicano urban planners and historians in the academy, I will maximize my Harvard position to show that for those of us who hail from America’s barrios like Boyle Heights, we, too, can teach and mentor graduate students at elite spaces.”


Jennifer Payne BA ’87, MSW/PhD ’11

ALUMNA IS FIRST WITH SOCIAL WORK PH.D. AT KENNEDY KRIEGER INSTITUTE

Jennifer Payne BA ’87, MSW/PhD ’11 is the first social work researcher with a doctorate ever to be hired at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins. Quite a few people with MDs and Ph.D.s had been hired there in psychiatry and psychology, but no social work researchers with a Ph.D. — until now.

Payne conducts research at the Kennedy Krieger Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress. She joined a newly formed Neuropsychology of Social Injustice Center at Kennedy Krieger, which is in Baltimore.

She developed a culturally tailored model to address African American racial trauma based on an evidence-based intervention called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The center wants Payne to start a culturally based ACT clinic at Kennedy Krieger and to teach others across the nation and around the world about the model.

Payne is also an assistant professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with a primary appointment within the Department
of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

She was also recently named as the 2021 recipient of the NACSW Diana Garland Award for Clinical Practitioner Excellence.


Susan Nakaoka ’91, MSW ’99, MA AAS ’99, PhD UP ’14, left, and Nicole Vazquez MSW/MPP ’09

 

MSW ALUMNAE SERVE CALIFORNIA CHAPTER OF SOCIAL WORK ORGANIZATION

The National Association of Social Workers: California has two organizers from UCLA Luskin Social Welfare: Susan Nakaoka ’91, MSW ’99, MA AAS ’99, PhD UP ’14, and Nicole Vazquez MSW/MPP ’09.

Both have been involved with a critical race studies course at UCLA.

Nakaoka is currently a visiting professor at Cal State Long Beach. Vazquez is the former field director and chair designee for Cal State Dominguez Hills’ MSW program, and currently is running Vazquez Consulting.

Recently, Laura Abrams, chair of Social Welfare at UCLA Luskin, and Vazquez spoke about critical race theory in social work on the podcast, “Doin’ the Work: Frontline Stories of Social Change.” They discussed the history of CRT, honoring the scholars of legal studies who developed it. They noted the conclusion of CRT that the law is not neutral and historically has been used to oppress people of color and others from marginalized groups.

Dean’s Messages on Remote Instruction to Start Winter Quarter UCLA Luskin modifies operations as part of COVID-19 health and safety efforts on campus amid the rapid spread of Omicron variant

January 10 update:

Friends:

I hope this note finds you all safe and well.

On Friday, you received the campuswide Bruin Post extending our period of remote instruction through Friday, Jan. 28, with our return to campus on Monday, Jan. 31. In my meeting with senior Luskin School leadership Wednesday, we anticipated such a development this week, but the chancellor opted to act sooner as case rates and circumstances made the 18th implausible and unadvisable. Even without a full complement of students on campus last week, the case numbers were shocking. This is the right decision.

For staff or faculty who need to come to campus, please follow the directions of the university with respect to masking, vaccination boosters, testing and so forth, and complete the daily symptom monitoring.  If you come to campus for any reason, please use that opportunity to submit a test to the campus system.

In the interim, our policy of suspending in-person events is extended up to the Jan. 31 return. Planning for all events AFTER Jan. 31 should continue, but always with a cautious eye toward deadlines, financial implications and the changing public health circumstances.

As always, I deeply appreciate your fortitude and resilience during this very challenging period for the School and for the globe.

Dec. 30 email to the UCLA Luskin community:

Friends:

By now you’ve likely seen the Bruin Post sent last Tuesday, informing us all that the winter quarter will begin with remote instruction through the Martin Luther King Holiday. As of now, we will return to the classroom on Jan. 18, 2022.  This date, of course, is dependent on evolving public health conditions. Staff working remotely should continue to do so. Staff working in person or hybrid should speak directly with their supervisor regarding School and departmental needs and each unit’s plans.

Please note the new testing and vaccination requirements detailed on UCLA’s COVID-19 resources page.  In brief, everyone should receive the booster as soon as eligible, all personnel (students, faculty and staff) will require a baseline test before returning to campus, and all will require once or twice weekly testing through UCLA testing systems. More details are available on the linked web pages.

Some thoughts:

I am as disappointed as you that we have once again had to step back from the normal (or nearly normal) conduct of university business and our daily lives. Our primary concern at this moment is the health and safety of our team and our students. We have succeeded in the last year beyond our wildest imaginations despite the many challenges presented by the epidemic — thanks to your creativity, your adaptability, your perseverance, and your hard work. We have admitted and trained more students, won more extramural grants, and we have spread the word of our important work to our largest audience ever.

I know this has come at a cost … all of us are stressed and tired. And I am sorry to say that I have to ask you to take on this challenge again, at least until we can return.

Here is how I’d like to proceed in the interim:

Instructors: I think a sober assessment of the current public health information suggests that we should prepare for a period of remote instruction that lasts beyond Jan. 18.

  • Exceptions to the in-person suspension are allowed under guidance provided in a follow-up Bruin Post of Dec. 28.
  • Additional guidance for course instructors is available in a separate Bruin Post sent Dec. 30.

Staff: As I suggested, you should confer with your manager regarding safeguards. However, I am instructing staff managers to use remote work to the fullest extent possible. The campus has NOT closed and we will require minimal staffing in the building unless it does, but we should meet only the most urgent needs with in-person work.

Meetings: Same as the fall, any meeting which CAN be held remotely SHOULD be held remotely. We are all accustomed to Zoom meetings now.

Events: Guidance from the campus has allowed events to continue but imposed a more restrictive safety protocol.  On my own authority, all UCLA Luskin in-person events should be canceled (or re-platformed) through Jan. 17. Assuming the return to in-person instruction on Jan. 18, we will follow the campus’ new guidance, which includes testing, masks and an indoor eating ban. We will reconsider event plans after Jan. 18 as new information becomes available.  The new campus safety protocols include:

  • One of the following testing options is acceptable upon onsite check-in.
    • Proof of negative antigen test within 24 hours
    • Proof of negative PCR test within 48 hours
    • On-site negative rapid test (we have the supplies)
  • Masks are required.  Recommend surgical/procedure or N95/KN95 masks (we have the supplies)
  • Indoor eating should be avoided, when feasible.

Research: Since the campus is not closed, there is no suspension of research activity at this time, though restrictions on in-person meetings apply. Research center and institute leaders are encouraged to consider the reinstatement of remote work for any research or administrative staff whose effectiveness should allow for remote working.

Students: Just so you know, the campus would like students to return by Jan. 9 and would welcome their return Jan. 3. The leadership feels like we will have a better handle on the public health issues and vaccine/testing compliance among students when they are in residence, and steps have been taken to assure the availability of quarantine beds should they be necessary.

My first concern remains our collective safety and well-being, and I want all of you to know how deeply I appreciate your great work.

All these headaches notwithstanding, I hope all of you and your families enjoy a joyous and SAFE new year, and I will see you soon.

All the best,

Gary

Gary M. Segura
Professor and Dean
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

A Warm Welcome to UCLA Luskin

The Luskin School welcomed students and alumni back to campus with a series of celebrations and orientations to launch the new academic year. The 10th annual UCLA Luskin Block Party on Sept. 23 drew a record crowd as students, alumni, faculty, staff and supporters such as Meyer and Renee Luskin gathered on Dickson Court North to connect with one another after an 18-month stretch of remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Health protocols remained in force during Welcome Week, which included graduate student informational and networking sessions and an open house for undergraduates focusing on the public affairs major. The week wrapped up with an exclusive reception for Class of 2020 graduates in the School’s public policy, social welfare and urban planning programs.

View UCLA Luskin photo galleries from:

10th Annual Block Party

Graduate Student Orientation

Undergraduate Open House

Class of 2020 Celebration

Events

Brainstorm with UCLA: Statement of Purpose

UCLA’s Master of Public Policy department is hosting a virtual statement of purpose brainstorming session. This session is for prospective students who would like to begin to conceptualize their statement of purpose. The workshop will:

*Educate prospective students on the statement of purpose structure and flow of ideas
* Interact with Admissions Officer and current MPP student
* Participants will leave the workshop with a skeleton outline of their statement of purpose

This is an interactive webinar and participants will be asked to share-out ideas. Please have with you a piece of paper and pencil/pen for you to brainstorm. RSVP to receive zoom link days prior to the event.

InterActions LA: Quality Transit Neighborhoods

InterActions LA: Inspiring Quality Transit Neighborhoods

The inaugural InterActions LA conference will discuss the opportunities to enhance neighborhoods given the sweeping $120 billion investment to expand Los Angeles’ transportation system. While “transportation transformation” headlines abound, the on-ground picture is different: Change to the necessary complementary elements is harder to see and come by.

We will explore how today’s opportunity can address decades-old inequities among people and places throughout the region. Based on existing research, we know that new transit stations alone will not improve lives. A suite of complementary approaches—station area design, neighborhood connectivity and amenities, and progressive land use policies—are required to move toward a more inclusive Los Angeles region.

InterActions LA will pair the latest academic thinking with real-world examples of positive and progressive change—an essential exchange to address the interconnected needs of improving transportation and mobility around current and future transit stations.

Who should attend:

Students
Community-based organization members
Community advocates
Non-profit staff
Planners and policymakers
Planning and policy professionals

About the conference:

Presented by the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, InterActions LA is an annual conference dedicated to advancing regional growth and equity in Greater Los Angeles. Bringing together a diverse community from multiple sectors, this half-day event provides an opportunity to discuss and engage in the most pressing regional issues today. InterActions LA seeks to ignite conversation, exchange ideas, and provide knowledge on topics at the intersection of how people live, move, and work in the Los Angeles region.

‘Researching Between the Lines’

The second annual student research conference hosted by the D3 Initiative, “Researching Between the Lines,” allows student researchers and Diversity Development Grant recipients to share their work around issues of diversity and social justice. This is part of a larger effort to bring social justice and equity research and events as the top priority for our School’s academic study agenda.

The conference will include presenters and panels from D3’s 2017-2018 grant recipients who have either engaged in research or utilized grants to support project-based workshops and educational events benefiting Luskin students. We will have empanadas for lunch. We hope you can join us!

Flash Point 2017: Twenty-Five Years After the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising

Part of the Meyer and Renee Luskin Lecture Series

Since April 29, 1992, the city of Los Angeles has not been the same, with racial tension peaking and riots sparking across the city making it clear that drastic change was being demanded in the relationship between police officers and racial minorities. Twenty-five years after the LA Uprising, there is still a question of the treatment of people of color and the socio-political factors in Los Angeles.

As our city continues to navigate modern activism, it is crucial to reflect on the history of political and social organizing that has created the Los Angeles of today. Join us as we utilize art and media to examine the socio-political factors that provoked the 1992 LA Uprising and its impact in the racial and economic climate in LA and across the US today.

The events will include two panels featuring a discussion of the evolution of community organizing as well as the role media, particularly film, has played in creating and reflecting social change. There will be a gallery displaying a variety of art inspired by the Uprising and a follow-up discussion with the artists. These events will be a co-program with the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

Register Here

*Registration is required, but does not guarantee seating. Seating is first come, first served. Early arrival is suggested.*

Participant Biographies

Friday, April 28th

11AM-5:15PM Sa-I-Gu: The Los Angeles Uprisings 25 Years Later – Witnessing the Past, Envisioning our Future

The UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will be hosting this day of panels, Keynote Address, and a CrossCheck Live to examine this historic event from multiple perspectives including community retrospectives, contemporary analyses, and forward-thinking dialogue that contemplates the future of Los Angeles.

Location: Luskin Conference Center, 425 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, CA 90095

RSVP

 

Friday, April 28th – Sunday, April 30th Art Gallery

Featuring the work of Grace Misoe Lee, Patrick Martinez, Grace Lee, and Visual Communications

Friday 4PM-7PM

Saturday 11AM-7PM

Sunday 11AM-4PM

Location: Little Tokyo Community Place, VIDA, 249 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA

 

Saturday, April 29th

2PM-4PM Screening followed by a Panel

The documentary Wet Sands: Voices from LA by filmmaker Dai Sil Kim-Gibson explores the aftermath of the Uprising through a Korean American perspective. It will be followed by a panel on the evolution of community organizing since the Uprisings.

Panelists:

Abel Valenzuela – Professor of Chicano/a Studies (moderator)

Dai Sil Kim-Gibson – Independent Filmmaker and Writer

Charles Burnett – Director, Producer, Writer, Editor, Actor, Photographer, and Cinematographer

Funmilola Fagbamila – Adjunct Professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles, Scholar, Activist, Playwright, and Artist

Alison de la Cruz – Director of Performing Arts and Community Engagement at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center

Tani Ikeda – Filmmaker, Executive Director of imMEDIAte Justice

Robin D.G. Kelley – Professor of US History at UCLA

Ayuko Babu – Founder and Executive Director of the Pan-African Film Festival

Location: JANM, National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, Tateuchi Forum, 111 North Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

4:30PM-6PM Panel on Media and Social Change 

For better or for worse, our community vision and self-image has been shaped by — and in some unfortunate instances, tainted — by the way communities of color have been portrayed in mass media and popular entertainment. In this special conversation we will assess whether progressive change can be enacted by a paradigm shift in how we are portrayed onscreen, in print, and in other forms of commercial and independently-produced communication.

Panelists:

Phil Yu – Angry Asian Man, Blogger (moderator)

Justin Chon – Independent Director, Writer, Actor

Renee Tajima-Pena – Filmmaker

Ananya Roy – Professor and Inaugural Director of the Institute of Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Gay Theresa Johnson – Associate Professor of Chicano/a Studies

Jenny Yang – Writer, Comedian

Location: Japanese American National Museum, Aratani Central Hall, 100 North Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

8PM-10PM Screening followed by Q&A

Presented by UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, GOOK is a film set during the LA Uprising that explores families and relationships between Korean and African American communities. It will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.

Buy Tickets

Location: Japanese American National Museum, Aratani Theatre, 100 North Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

Sunday, April 30th

2PM-3PM Artist Talk

Panelists:

Grace Misoe Lee – Graphic Artist

Patrick Martinez – Artist

Grace Lee – Independent Producer, Director, and Writer

Location: Little Tokyo Community Place, VIDA, 249 South Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA

 

Presented by The Luskin School of Public Affairs
In partnership with Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin, Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, UCLA Asian American Studies Center, UCLA Center for EthnoCommunications, UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, UCLA Department of History, UCLA Institute of American Cultures, UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Visual Communications

 

Luskin Diversity Recruitment Fair

Join us at the Luskin Diversity Recruitment Fair!

Learn about graduate programs in the Luskin School of Public Affairs and how your education in Public Policy, Social Welfare, or Urban Planning can lead to a career in public service and social justice. Sessions include financial aid and statement of purpose workshops, current student panels, and admissions information.

PROGRAM
9:30am | Registration and Breakfast
10:00am | Welcome & Speakers
10:30am | Departmental Workshops
11:15am | Alumni Panel
12:00pm | Lunch
1:00pm | Departmental Breakout Sessions, including Statement of Purpose Workshops, Fellowship Workshops, and Campus Tours.
3:30pm | Closing Reception

Registration is Required! 

Click here to RSVP by December 1, and receive more information about our event. Registration is free and required.

This event is co-hosted by the Luskin Leadership Development program, the Departments of Public Policy, Social Welfare, and Urban Planning, and the following student groups: Social Welfare Diversity Caucus, Policy Professionals for Diversity & Equity, Planners of Color for Social Equity.