SMBLA

BOARD MEMBERS

JUANITA PALACIOS- SIMS

JULIE RUSK

DR. DEBRA MYERS

JENNELL MAZE​

KIETH COLMAN

BARRY A. SNELL - CPA

JONATHAN GREGORY

ERIKA MITCHELL

BRENDA SUTTONWILS

JUANITA PALACIOS - SIMS

Juanita V. Palacios-Sims is of Cuban and Colombian descent and speaks fluent Spanish. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the International Society of Black Latinos (ISBL) a 501 (C)(3), founded on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10). Mrs. Palacios-Sims has a vast professional portfolio as an Accountant in the Entertainment Industry for many years, a Business Manager for varies Music Salsa Groups, and currently a has a Travel Agency, Beyond Cuba Travel, travel around the world and a is also a Travel Consultant specializing in travel to Cuba. She graduated from the University of Phoenix where she received her Bachelors of Science Business Administration and Management degrees. In 2012, Palacios-Sims graduated from the Los Angeles African-American Women’s Public Policy Institute (LAAAWPPI) at USC. Her degrees, experiences and skills-set have contributed to the continuing success of several companies.

JULIE RUSK

Julie is a strategic leader focused on social impact partnerships leading towards equity and wellbeing for all. In July 2020, after more than three decades in local government and nonprofit leadership positions, Julie co-founded Civic Wellbeing Partners, a startup project designed to advance and spread wellbeing leadership and practices. Julie led the City of Santa Monica's award winning work to define, measure and actively improve community wellbeing including Santa Monica’s wellbeing index. Prior to this, Julie developed and led the City’s Human Services which included a diverse portfolio of social, health, cultural, education, affordable housing, recreation, and placemaking initiatives. She has pioneered nationally recognized efforts to tackle complex social issues, including homelessness and youth violence, bringing compassion to her work. She led Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career Initiative and spearheaded Santa Monica’s winning submission for the 2016 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health prize. She received the League of Women Voters “Women Who Shape Santa Monica” (2015) award. She is a 2016/17 Fellow with Common Future (formerly Business Alliance for a Local Living Economy) and was named to the 2017 List of Top 25 Influencers by ELGL (Engaging Local Government Leaders).

DR. DEBRA J. MYERS MD

Debra J. Myers, MD is a graduate of Harvard Medical School. She has a private practice of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in West Los Angeles and serves adults and adolescents. She was a Biology major at Stanford University and did a residency in Internal Medicine at Stanford Medical Center. Her training in Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Medicine was at UCSF. While on the faculty at Wayne State University School of Medicine, she earned an MS in Biostatistics and Clinical Research Design at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She began training as a Candidate in Psychoanalysis at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. She combined medical training with her humanistic interests and lifelong interest in the human mind when she began training as a Candidate in Psychoanalysis at the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis in Los Angeles. During her psychoanalytic training, she spent five years as a volunteer telephone counselor at the Didi Hirsch Suicide Crisis Line. She spent two years as an intern-therapist at the Valley Community Clinic, a facility for the underserved. Dr. Myers received her Psy. D. from ICPLA in May 2020.

 

JENNELL MAZE

Jennell Maze is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with 15 + years of experience working in a range of dynamic settings. These environments include but are not limited to Los Angeles County Department Mental Health as a Mental Health Clinical Supervisor, University of Southern California as an Adjunct Professor for nearly 10 years, and Beach House Treatment Center utilizing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy focused on drug and alcohol addiction, trauma, process addictions, co-occurring disorders and chronic pain. She has a Masters in Social Work and a Bachelors of Arts and Psychology.

KEITH COLEMAN

Keith Coleman is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar with mediaX at Stanford University, an interdisciplinary research and thought leadership program. As Chief Strategy Officer Emeritus at the Tesla Foundation, a science and technology think tank centered on autonomous systems, his leadership focused on combinations of robust data characteristics and technical educational mentorship to identify and nurture talent, enhancing human potential for invention. A governmental affairs and economic research intermediary, his role advanced strategy that examined the nexus between policy and innovation. This agile oversight is cited in the Stanford Graduate School of Education podcast Schools In – “Preparing Students for an Automated Future.” At the University of Pennsylvania, he engaged in applied positive psychology that drives transformative learning to promote human performance and well-being. He serves on the Executive Council for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership of Southern California (AMP SoCal): a U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment, Aerospace and Defense Supply Chain initiative co-led by the City of Los Angeles and USC. Keith received a BA in Economics from Stanford University, studied at Stanford-in-Oxford/Magdalen College, earned an MA in Applied Positive Psychology from University of Pennsylvania. He is a Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs (SA&E) alumni investor, mentor and adviser to startups.

BARRY A. SNELL - CPA

Barry Snell is a certified public accountant and business leader with extensive ties to the Santa Monica community and its educational institutions. Mr. Snell has served as a Trustee for Santa Monica Community College (SMC) since 2014 and served as Chair of the Board in 2018. In May of 2020 he was elected to the State California Community College Board of Trustees which sets policies for all 115 community college districts In California. Mr. Snell was previously a member of SMC’s Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, which oversees the college’s implementation of bond measures approved by Santa Monica-Malibu voters. Snell is currently the Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of Downtown Santa Monica, which works to assist the City of Santa Monica on planning, development, and policies to promote the area’s economic stability, growth, and community life in downtown Santa Monica. He also was selected by Santa Monica City Council to serve on the Santa Monica Pier Board in 2011. Mr. Snell’s current community involvement also includes serving on the Financial Advisory board for the Santa Monica Education Foundation. Prior to serving on the SMC Trustee Board, Mr. Snell served as treasury of Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS), and the Steering Committee for Santa Monicans for Renters Rights (SMRR). Mr. Snell was an elected member of the Board of Education for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District from 2006 to 2010, Snell served as its President in 2009. He is also the former Vice President of Health and Safety and former Vice President of Community Relations of the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Executive Board, and has served as President of the African American Parent Student Staff Support Group for Santa Monica High School. Mr. Snell is also a member of the board of directors for the Century Community Charter School (a middle school in Inglewood, California). Mr. Snell’s CPA firm resides in Culver City and he has more than 40 years of accounting experience primarily in the area of taxation, litigation support anD trust & estate.

JONATHON GREGORY

Jonathan Gregory is an experienced leader in the corporate and non-profit sectors. Presently, he serves as the Chief Executive Officer of RMX Resources, LLC, an independent oil and gas company in La Habra Heights, CA, and an independent director of Royale Energy, where he was previously the CEO and Vice-chairman. From 2005 to 2012, Mr. Gregory was an Executive Vice President with Texas Capital Bank and head of the bank’s Houston Energy Banking Group.
In 1992, Mr. Gregory co-founded with Dr. Rudy Rasmus, senior pastor of St. John’s Downtown, Houston, Texas, Bread of Life, Inc. a non–profit corporation which continues to impact the lives of Houston’s homeless and disenfranchised population. In 1994, Mr. Gregory took a one-year sabbatical from his banking career to serve as Bread of Life’s first Executive Director. He is also a past director of Small Steps Nurturing Center, a non-profit organization that provides early childhood education for economically at-risk children in Houston’s inner-city.
In 2018, Mr. Gregory and his wife, Connie and son, Samuel relocated to Santa Monica, California. Today, Mr. Gregory serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Calvary Baptist Church, Santa Monica and on the advisory board of the Center for Compassionate Leadership. The Center for Compassionate Leadership is an organization dedicated to advancing compassionate methods of leadership by integrating best practices of modern leadership, evidence-based science, and contemplative wisdom.
Mr. Gregory is a native of Beaumont, Texas and received an undergraduate degree in finance from Lamar University in Beaumont in 1986.

ERIKA MITCHELL

Erika Mitchell has previously served as the Senior Branch Director for the Santa Monica organization of the Boys & Girls Clubs. From 2009-2017 she served as the Branch Director of JAMS Clubhouse where she managed a new, stand-alone facility at John Adams Middle School in partnership with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. During her tenure, she built and nurtured partnerships with more than 20 different firms, institutions, city departments, organizations and clubs that support middle school students. Erika has served as a member of the Santa Monica- Malibu Educational Collaborative for nine years and was a former member of the Santa Monica Youth Resource Team. She also served as an Executive Board Member of the Sierra Madre Chapter of the Professional Association and joined Women in Leisure Services, Chi Kappa Rho, Inc. Most recently, served as the Vice- President of the Los
Angeles County Parks Foundation.

BRENDA SUTTONWILLS

Brenda Suttonwills is currently the Director of the Learning Environment and Academic Affairs at UCLA School of Law. She is also the Co-Chair for the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Section and Co-Chair for the Labor and Employment Committee Diversity Neutral Track. Ms. Suttonwills serves on the Scholarship Committee and Mentoring and Community Outreach Committee for the Langston Bar Association. Her education and honors include: BA Drake University, Des Moines Iowa Major: Journalism; Minor Business Management; JD UCLA School of Law National Black Law Journal, Women’s Law Journal; Nancy Mintee Public Service Award; Los Angeles African American Women Public Policy Institute – Women in Action Award
2011. Her community service and civic engagement highlights include being a Chairperson for the Los Angeles Hotel Diversity Task Force, supervising pro bono attorneys, assisting homeless persons with various legal issues and agency referrals in South Los Angeles, and being a volunteer at the Homeless Youth Project and at the First AME Los Angeles Legal Clinic.

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