Dr. Larissa Estes

Larissa Estes, DrPH serves as the Executive Director of the Racial Equity Commission established through Executive Order 16-22. She has over 20 years of experience in allied health, healthcare, and public health with a focus on community and equity. Prior to joining the State of California, Dr. Estes served as the Executive Director of ALL IN Alameda County, a county-wide initiative established by the late Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan to address issues of poverty including basic needs, quality education, and economic opportunity that leads to self-sufficiency. Throughout her career she has served as a key author of several publications on women’s health, accountable communities for health, medical high utilization, and mental health and wellbeing. She is interested in integrating evidence-informed strategies into policy and practice across sectors that fortify equity and impact community wellbeing.

Dr. Estes has prior experience in program planning, implementation, and evaluation; maternal and child health; women’s health; mental health and wellbeing; and public health policy analysis at the federal, state, and local level. Dr. Estes received her BS in Athletic Training from Duquesne University, an MPH in Family and Child Health from the University of Arizona, and a DrPH in Community Health Practice from the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston. She is a sustaining member of Junior League of Oakland-East Bay and an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Dr. Estes also serves on the Board of Directors for the College of Behavioral Health Leadership, Black Cultural Zone Community Development Corporation (Oakland, CA), and American Cancer Society – SF Bay Area, and participates on an Advisory Committee for the Prairie View A&M School of Public and Allied Health.

Candis Bowles

As Associate Director of Disability Rights California, Candis co-supervises the legal services management team and coordinates $23 million in grant funding. As a member of DRC’s Leadership Team, Candis has coordinated innovative advocacy trainings on Disability Justice, Movement Lawyering, a national Education Equity Summit, and management trainings on Management Through an Equity Lens and Dismantling “White Supremacy Culture” in the Workplace.

Prior to becoming Associate Director, Candis managed a statewide team of advocates and staff attorneys who represent children and youth to ensure educational equity, supports and services from local school districts and service providers. Since Candis joined DRC in 2008, she has participated in a variety of advocacy efforts that have improved the lives of children. Her notable cases include Doe v. Pasadena Unified School District, which sought to end segregation of primarily students of color and foster youth with disabilities from general education campuses; and A.C. v Schwarzenegger, an action against the state for failing to provide educationally related mental health services to students following the Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto of mental health services funding. Candis has also trained hundreds of parents, caregivers, judges, public defenders, probation officers and advocates on using IEP advocacy to stop the school to prison pipeline, expulsion, truancy and discriminatory school practices that unlawfully exclude BIPOC students with disabilities from school. Candis is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley where she majored in East Asian Languages – Japanese Studies. She attended law school at the University of Southern California.

Virginia Hedrick

Virginia Hedrick is the Executive Director for the Consortium for Urban Indian Health. She is an enrolled member of the Yurok Tribe of California and is also of Karuk descent. Her prior work includes chronic disease prevention, implementation, and policy impacts of the Affordable Care Act for California tribes, as well health research. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for The California Wellness Foundation as well as the California Pan Ethnic Health Network. Virginia holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and American Indian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, a Graduate Certificate in Maternal Child Health Epidemiology from the University of Arizona, and a Master of Public Health Degree from Drexel University.

John Kim

John Kim is the President & CEO of Catalyst California (formerly known as Advancement Project California). Since joining Catalyst California in 2002, John has been lifting the voices and needs of low-income communities of color to transform systems and expand opportunities for all. Through coalition building and by utilizing innovative tools and strategies, he has helped redirect billions of public and private dollars to the most underserved communities. John oversaw the strategic direction and development of RACE COUNTS, a first-of-its-kind initiative that examines racial disparity, performance, and population impact in each of California’s 58 counties. With John’s visionary leadership, RACE COUNTS engaged hundreds of statewide community stakeholders and was featured in The New York Times, CityLab, The Sacramento Bee and various radio shows. 

John has a long track record as a coalition-builder and facilitator of multi-stakeholder collaborations and has established a wide-range of partnerships with community-based organizations, elected officials, governmental agencies, academic researchers, and foundations across the state. Over the years, he has developed advocacy and research initiatives on community health, governance reform, community engagement, voting rights, K-12 and early education, and public finance. Under his leadership, many of these initiatives have transformed how large public institutions allocate funding and provide programs and services to California’s underserved communities. 

John currently serves on the boards of California Budget and Policy Center, California Calls and has recently been appointed to California’s inaugural Racial Equity Commission. 

Gabriel Maldonado

Gabriel Maldonado is an activist, long-time community organizer, founder and Chief Executive Officer of TruEvolution. Founded in 2007, TruEvolution is a health and justice organization serving LGBTQ+, youth, seniors, and people living with HIV in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Formerly a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS under President Barack Obama, Gabriel has worked in public, private, and industry spaces having served on the national advisory board for ViiV Healthcare, and advisory groups for Merck & Co and Gilead Sciences. Gabriel was the Co-Chair of the National HIV Prevention Conference in 2019 and has served previously on the board of directors for regional and global organizations. Currently, Gabriel serves on the Board of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, the 2nd largest Planned Parenthood affiliated in the U.S, and in 2023 was appointed as an inaugural Commissioner by CA Governor Gavin Newsom to the Commission on Racial Equity.

Maldonado earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and Global Affairs from the University of California Riverside and his MBA in Global Business from the University of Redlands. Inspired by the Civil Rights and community organizing movements in Compton, where he was raised, Gabriel has made a 15+ year career and impacted his community through HIV prevention, mental health, housing services and most recently as housing developers building transitional housing facilities in Riverside County.

Traco Matthews

Traco Matthews is the Chief Health Equity Officer (CHEO) for Kern Health Systems (KHS). Working with the Executive team, he provides leadership in the design and implementation of KHS’s business strategies, stakeholder relationships, and community programs to ensure health equity is prioritized and sustainably addressed. Traco brings extensive leadership skills, a strong vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and deep community connections to this critical position in Kern County’s local Medi-Cal managed care plan.

His efforts to improve communities have been recognized via multiple awards and appointments. He serves as a Gubernatorial Appointee for both the California Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA) and the state’s new Racial Equity Commission. Traco continually seeks to improve culture, processes, and outcomes through his work at KHS and in the community. He uses his experience in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to contribute human-centered strategic analysis, effective leadership development, and expertise in building trust with Kern Family Health Care members and other important stakeholders including providers and community partners. 

The passion that drives Traco in his work at Kern Heath Systems also shapes his commitment to the community in his personal life. He teaches business courses at California State University, Bakersfield, provides mentoring for leaders on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and serves as a local pastor and community advocate. He graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in economics in 2001, and from California State University, Bakersfield, with an M.B.A. in 2017. He is happily married to his wife of over 20 years, Dr. Jessica Grimes, a community college district administrator. Bakersfield, CA serves as the home base for their frequent travels and life adventures. 

Jolie Onodera

Jolie Onodera is currently a Senior Legislative Advocate with the California State Association of Counties, where she has served since 2022. She was the Legislative Director at the California Department of Finance from 2018–2022, where she advised the Director of Finance and the Governor’s Office in the evaluation and implementation of legislative issues affecting the budget and the state’s fiscal condition. Ms. Onodera was appointed as the Deputy Secretary of Legislation with the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency from 2017–2018. Prior to her appointment, she was Principal Consultant with the California Senate Committee on Appropriations from 2011–2016, where she covered public safety, judiciary, and human services issues. Ms. Onodera was a Research Program Specialist II with the California Department of Social Services from 2009 – 2011. Ms. Onodera also previously served as a bank examiner for the California State Banking Department. Ms. Onodera earned her B.A. in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Manuel Pastor

Dr. Manuel Pastor is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He currently directs the Equity Research Institute at USC. Pastor holds an economics Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is the inaugural holder of the Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change at USC.

Pastor’s research has generally focused on issues of the economic, environmental and social conditions facing low-income urban communities – and the social movements seeking to change those realities. 2021 saw the publication of two new books, Solidarity Economics: Why Mutuality and Movements Matter (co-authored with Chris Benner) and South Central Dreams: Finding Home and Building Community in South L.A. (co-authored with Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo). His previous 2018 book, State of Resistance: What California’s Dizzying Descent and Remarkable Resurgence Means for America’s Future was lauded in a New York Times review as “concise, clear and convincing.”

Previously, Dr. Pastor served as the Director at the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII). He has received fellowships from the Danforth, Guggenheim, and Kellogg foundations, and grants from the Irvine Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, the W.T. Grant Foundation, The California Endowment, the California Air Resources Board, and many others.  Pastor speaks frequently on issues of demographic change, economic inequality, and community empowerment and has contributed opinion pieces to such outlets including the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Sacramento Bee, and The Hill, among many others. He has previously served as a Public Member of the Strategic Growth Council in California, as a member of the Commission on Regions appointed by California’s Speaker of the State Assembly, and as a member of the Regional Targets Advisory Committee for the California Air Resources Board.

Pastor received the Liberty Hill Foundation’s Wally Marks Changemaker of the Year award for social justice research partnerships in 2012. He received the Champion for Equity Award from the Advancement Project in 2017 for his work with community-based organizations fighting for social change. In 2022, Pastor was elected to the American Academy for the Arts and Sciences for his work in Public Affairs and Public Policy.

Yolanda R. Richardson

Yolanda R. Richardson serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP). In this role, she works collaboratively with the SFHP Governing Board to set the strategic vision and provide executive leadership for the #1 Medi-Cal Managed Care Plan in San Francisco. Ms. Richardson cultivates SFHP’s strong partnership with Providers, hospitals, and community partners to deliver quality whole-person care to the Medi-Cal members of San Francisco County and ensures financial stewardship and stability for SFHP’s nearly $1.0 Billion operational budget.

Ms. Richardson joined SFHP in April 2022 as Chief Executive Officer. As a cutting-edge health care leader, she brings tremendous vision, operational excellence, and passion to her work. Ms. Richardson previously served as SFHP’s Chief Operations Officer from 2008 through 2009, working to improve the Healthy San Francisco program in its first year of operation. She also oversaw the implementation of San Francisco’s employer spending requirement, which became the San Francisco City Option program. Subsequently, Healthy San Francisco was recognized by President Obama in February 2009 for its creative and effective methods of delivering health care to the underserved.

Prior to joining SFHP as CEO, Ms. Richardson served as the Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency, appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020. As Secretary, she oversaw the Department of General Services, the California Department of Technology, California Department of Human Resources (CalHR), the Franchise Tax Board, the Census Office, the California Victims Compensation Board, the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Fi$Cal, CalPERS, CalSTRS, and the Office of Digital Innovation. In this role, she was deployed to assist with government operations crises across multiple agencies, including serving as the Governor’s “Vaccine Czar” to accelerate the administration of the state’s vaccine supply between January and June 2021.

Ms. Richardson is the winner of many prestigious awards including Public Administrator of the Year (American Society for Public Administration, 2020), was honored as 1 of 5 “Warrior Women Leading the Fight Against COVID-19” (California Women Lead, 2021), was named as one of the 50 Important African Americans in Infrastructure (Journal of Black Innovation, 2021), and received the Trailblazer Hall of Fame Award (California Black Women’s Collective, 2022).

Angelica Salas

Angelica Salas is an immigrant from Durango, Mexico.  She came to the United States as a child to reunite with her parents, who came to provide a better life for their family.  Angelica comes to her understanding of immigrants and immigration first hand, she and her entire family lived in the country undocumented, experienced deportation, and were able to legalize their status.  In 2008, Angelica became a U.S. citizen.  She makes Pasadena, California her home, the first city she arrived at as a child.  She is married to Mayron Payes, an immigrant from El Salvador, and has two children Ruben and Maya Payes.

Angelica joined CHIRLA in 1995 and became CHIRLA’s Executive Director in 1999.  In her role, she has transformed CHIRLA into a mass membership immigrant-led organization that empowers immigrants and their families to win local, state, and national policies that advance their human, civil, and labor rights.  She has grown CHIRLA into one of the nation’s largest and most effective immigrant rights organizations that organize, advocates, educates, and provides legal services to all immigrants. She has spearheaded ambitious statewide and national campaigns to expand immigrant rights. She has helped found organizations and coalitions to advocate for immigrant workers, youth, and families.  Among her achievements include: winning in-state, financial aid and grant programs for California’s undocumented students, establishing day-laborer centers that become national models, winning drivers’ licenses for undocumented drivers, decoupling local police departments from immigration enforcement, expanding access to immigrant legal services and winning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Angelica is a state and national leader in the advocacy for immigration reform and immigrant justice.  She was instrumental in the formation of Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), two of the country’s largest immigrant rights coalitions.

Angelica is a recognized grassroots leader that plays a national leadership role in all major immigration reform campaigns. She serves as a national spokesperson for immigrant communities and immigrant rights campaigns. Angelica has sought expert responses from Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Univision. Telemundo, NPR, etc. Recently, Angelica’s work led to the House of Representatives passage of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 and the Dream and Promise Act of 2021, a bill to give people with DACA and TPS a path to citizenship.

She graduated from Occidental College with a B.A. in History and a B.A. in Sociology in 1993.  In 2007, Occidental College awarded her an Honorary Doctorate for her many contributions making her one of the youngest persons to earn such an honor in the college’s history. Angelica serves on Board of Directors for California Wellness Foundation, National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), America’s Voice, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, UNITE-LA, and is Californians for Human Immigrant Leadership Action Fund (CHIRLA Action Fund).

Dr. Luke Wood

Dr. Wood became Sacramento State’s ninth president on July 16, 2023, returning to his alma mater at age 41, as the youngest person ever to lead the University. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at Sac State, then a Master of Education and doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Arizona State.

Dr. Wood served as a professor and administrator, including vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity at San Diego State before becoming Sac State president. He has authored 16 books and published significant research focusing on racial inequality issues in education.

Simboa Wright

Simboa Wright was destined become a champion of working people since his birth at MLK Jr. Hospital in the City of Compton. Wright currently serves as the Vice President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 721, which at 98,000 members and growing is the largest public sector union in the country. Wright is quick to point out that his core values drive his efforts to fight for racial and economic justice. As SEIU Local 721 Vice President, Wright has led the charge on the establishment of the groundbreaking City of Los Angeles Targeted Local Hire program and the union’s backing of the 1,000 Strong program, which open doors for underserved groups to access good jobs and higher education. He has spent more than 20 years as a civil servant with the City of Los Angeles and has served on the board of the LA Conservation Corps, where he first got involved with public service as a teen.

Whatever the cause, be it fighting for livable wages or now serving on the California State Racial Equity Commission, if it involves uplifting and improving the lives of Californians, Wright is sure to be front and center.

Ashley Gerrity

Ashley Gerrity (she/her) is the Senior Program Analyst on the Racial Equity Commission team supporting the development of the Racial Equity Framework and coordinating Commission meetings and activities. Ashley brings over five years of experience working with elected officials, several levels of governmental bodies, and nonprofit organizations. Ashley comes from a background climate, transportation, and wage justice. Prior to joining the Racial Equity Commission team, Ashley worked at The Greenlining Institute, a nonprofit leading on racial equity work through research and policy advocacy. As the 2022-23 Transportation Equity Fellow, Ashley led advocacy efforts to maximize California’s clean air and electric vehicle investments into communities with the poorest air quality and the most to gain from these programs. In previous roles, Ashley has developed equity reports and provided recommendations for embedding equity within government systems, including providing recommendations on better engaging community and other stakeholders.

Ashley holds a B.A. in Geography and a B.S. in Society & Environment from the University of California, Berkeley. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ashley is the daughter of small business owners. In her free time, Ashley enjoys getting outdoors with her family and dog Shiloh, exploring new coffee shops with friends, and creating mugs and other functional ceramics.