Leadership Academy

Commission

The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners (The Commission) was established by the City Charter in 1999 as a policy-setting and oversight commission for the Neighborhood Councils and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

The Commission is comprised of 7 Commissioners appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council to 5 year terms. The Commissioners are all from diverse backgrounds and geographic areas of the City of Los Angeles. The Commission holds regular public meetings the 1st Tuesday and 3rd Monday of each month and may also hold special meetings to conduct business.

The Commission ensures that the City Charter and the Neighborhood Council Plan are realized by setting policies with the aim of making Neighborhood Councils diverse, inclusive, and representative of all community stakeholders. The Commission believes strongly that the individuality of Neighborhood Councils should function as a catalyst for change in addressing the needs of their communities.  By increasing access to City government and City services through the network of local Neighborhood Councils, the Commission strives to increase quality of life for everyone living in Los Angeles.

If you would like to contact the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners, please call us at (213) 978-1551 or Email Us.

Karen Mack – Central Los Angeles – Board President

Karen is founder and Executive Director of LA Commons, an organization dedicated to promoting Los Angeles’ diverse neighborhoods through locally based, interactive, artistic and cultural programming. 

LA Commons has implemented community art projects, tours and classes in communities throughout LA and in partnership with organizations such as the Central American Resource Center, the South Asian Network, Thai Community Development Center and UCLA.

Prior to her work with LA Commons, she served as a Public Service Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where she researched the role of culture in community building. Karen’s appointment at Harvard followed work as the Vice President of Program Development and Planning at Community Partners, an organization that provides developmental support to start-up nonprofits throughout Los Angeles County.

While on staff at Community Partners, she developed a wide-range of initiatives including the incubator services program and organizational partnerships with institutions such as the California Wellness Foundation and the California Endowment. She holds an MPA from Harvard University and an MBA from the John Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

She is currently president of the board of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative and an appointed member to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Cultural Plan for the City of Los Angeles.

Len Shaffer – South Valley – Vice President

Since becoming a resident of the San Fernando Valley in 1971 Leonard Shaffer has volunteered in many capacities. His participation in neighborhood organizations began in 1972 when he first joined the Tarzana Property Owners Association and he has continued to be an active member of the Board of Directors.

He became interested in the idea of neighborhood councils after attending a series of conferences sponsored by the USC Public Participation Project prior to the passage of the 1999 Charter. He attended several city-wide meetings presented by the new Department of Neighborhood Empowerment for the purpose of formulating the plan mandated by the Charter. In 2002, as chair of the formation committee, he led the effort to form a neighborhood council in Tarzana. In January 2002 the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners certified the Tarzana Neighborhood Council. Leonard is currently the Vice-Chair of the Tarzana Neighborhood Council.

Leonard expanded his participation from Tarzana to the City of Los Angeles. In 2004 at the Congress of Neighborhoods the USC Collaborative Learning Project conducted a session that explored the idea of a permanent Congress of Neighborhoods. That session evolved into a series of meetings that existed until January 2005 at which time USC announced that they would no longer be able to support the program. Neighborhood council members present voted to continue meeting with the goal of the creation of a continuous city-wide Congress of Neighborhood Councils. Leonard was chosen to facilitate the new group. In February 2005 he participated in the formation of what eventually became the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, a group that he chaired almost continuously until January 2012. In 2006 he was appointed to the Neighborhood Council Review Commission where he served as a member of the Commissions Executive Director Search Committee, as chair of the Budget Committee and a member of the ad hoc committee on grievances. He is a participant in the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils and has been a member of its executive committee.

Leonard retired from the practice of law after 35 years as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney. He keeps active in the law field by helping fellow ham radio operators as a Volunteer Council for the American Radio Relay League. He has taught several classes concerning criminal justice at the University of Phoenix.

Victor Medina – Harbor – Commissioner

For over six years, Victor Medina has contributed to the Gang Alternatives Program’s (GAP) vision, “To prevent young people from joining gangs.” Victor is currently in the Public & Governmental Affairs Department as Community Outreach Coordinator for GAP. His responsibilities include coordinating the company’s community outreach and stakeholder management activities, with a focus on maintaining essential relationships with various community leaders and businesses.

Prior to his current position, Victor was the STEP UP! After School Program Manager for four years. He was responsible for managing five after school program sites, supervising the After School Program staff members, coordinating staff scheduling with the lead staff members, keeping an inventory of program supplies, providing grant proposal and attendance data, tracking and submitting staff payroll time sheets, conducting staff meetings and trainings, attending Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell Branch meetings and trainings, work and working directly with the Director and Assistant Director of Education to meet all programmatic components. Among these positions he has also taken on other roles within the Learning Office and the GAP organization.

Victor is a graduate of GAP’s Junior Executive Program (JEP), and he completed the Senior Executive Training Alliance (SETA) program as well. These programs prepare GAP staff for greater leaderships and decision-making roles within the organization.

Working with children has been very rewarding for him. He always says, “Children are my favorite kind of people. They are true to themselves and live totally in the moment.” He enjoys witnessing the excitement they feel when they accomplish something by themselves or create something they are proud of. He feels really lucky to be a part of that. He uses his experience as both a father and long-time childcare provider to guide and enrich the children he works with through creative and fun learning, imagination, and positive reinforcement. He desires to inspire others to achieve success by obtaining their goals in life. He enjoys camping, being outdoors, soccer, and sharing a variety of hobbies with other staff members.

He was raised in the Harbor Gateway where he currently resides. He is a committed resident of the City and County of Los Angeles where he believes you don’t have to leave the neighborhood you grew up in to find a better life. This belief has led him on a lifelong path to fight for a just society where people have a real opportunity to pursue their dreams.

Lydia Grant – North Valley – Commissioner

Lydia Grant is a Board Member on the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council and has been active on land use and educational issues citywide, countywide, and even statewide as a Board Member for Parent Revolution which advocates for expansion of the Parent Trigger laws across the country.

Lydia has fought for safety issues at local schools and has worked to organize communities and to empower them with information and training on how to advocate on behalf of their children and their schools.

The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners is comprised of seven members appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council with the responsibility of policy-setting and oversight for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Neighborhood Councils. The Commission ensures that the City Charter and the Neighborhood Council Plan are realized by setting policies with the focus of making Neighborhood Councils diverse, inclusive, and representative of all community stakeholders.

“I have always been a big supporter of Neighborhood Councils and I believe in their power,” said Lydia, “and I’m very honored and excited to be working with Neighborhood Councils at this level. The system has an opportunity to make a big difference in the City and to give a voice to its residents.”

Joy Atkinson – South Los Angeles – Commissioner

Joy Atkinson is a private consultant specializing in developing and implementing community outreach programs.  She served as a consultant for California Speaker Karen Bass, specializing in outreach to the African American press, the community at large, and with The Speaker’s Clergy Alliance.

Through her work with GeM Communications Group under the direction of former Assemblywoman Gwen Moore, Joy has prepared community outreach proposals and coordinated public relations/community outreach programs. Through Alescia Buford & Associates, Joy has worked on press relations and administrative support for Fortune 500 companies in their corporate responsibility programs. For 16 years Joy Atkinson served as Chief of Staff for Former Assemblywoman Gwen Moore.

Upon graduation from the University of Southern California, Joy started her professional career as a Deputy Probation Officer for the County of Los Angeles and became active in the Probation Officers Union Local 685. Joy recently completed her Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Her political passion comes from lessons learned from her politically and community conscious parents, Eddie and Antoinette Atkinson.  Joy’s father was the first African American to run for a seat on the Los Angeles City Council and reach the general election.  At the age of 12 she learned the sorrow of losing an election but the thrill of just being in the political process.

She served as President of New Frontier Democratic Club; serves as chair of the political involvement committee of the Los Angeles African American Women’s PAC; is a delegate to the California Democratic Party; and is the Executive Director of the L.A. African American Women’s Public Policy Institute that is a public policy, leadership, and civic engagement program focusing on minority women, For eight years Joy worked with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the non-profit Empowerment Congress. The Empowerment Congress is a major project involving citizens in civic engagement.

In March of 2002 she was appointed by Mayor James Hahn as a commissioner with the South Los Angeles Area Planning Commission and served as President for 1½ years. In November 2003, she was appointed by Mayor Hahn as a commissioner with the Los Angeles City Planning Commission.  She became the first local planning commissioner to serve on the citywide planning commission. In June 2009, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed Joy as a commissioner to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Permit Review Panel. Named by Mayor Eric Garcetti, she is now privileged to serve as a commissioner on the Board of Neighborhood Commissioners.

Olivia Rubio – East Los Angeles – Commissioner

My fellow Angelinos, it is with deep humility that I wish to express my gratitude to our Mayor and his staff for the nomination to serve you in the capacity of Commissioner for the Board of Neighborhood Councils.

It is not long ago that I decided that the best way to serve my community was joining the neighborhood councils. I was motivated to run for the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council to advocate for the delivery of resources for our historical community and cultivating community pride. As a Budget Advocate, I was proactive, ensuring that our public funds were being used efficiently and that informed steps were taken to reduce the city’s budget deficit particularly in the least disruptive way to vital city services.

I want to serve as a bridge that will bring like-minded people together, who are conscious of the community and ready to work in unity to develop and promote ideas that will improve the quality of life. This is a unique opportunity because Neighborhood Councils are the embodiment of a citizen-based local government. Neighborhood Councils essentially are a grass-root effort to promote civic engagement and a responsive government.

Utilizing a collaborative approach, I want to involve our youth on volunteering in local activities to improve their community and keep them away from activities harmful to their development.  I want to build alliances with schools and non-profit organization to promote volunteering as an expression of a shared value and deepening understanding of public life. Neighborhoods youth are not immune to the ills of struggles and violence.  As a teenager being involved in community organizations made the difference keeping me out of harm’s way.  I volunteered in the local library and Boys and Girls Club sharing my interest in literature tutoring children with reading and grammar and nurturing them into growing to be responsible members to the broader society.

The Board of Neighborhood Commissioners is comprised of 7 members appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by City Council. We have responsibility of policy-setting and oversight for the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and Neighborhood Councils. The Commission ensures that the City Charter and the Neighborhood Council Plan are realized by setting policies with the focus of making Neighborhood Councils diverse, inclusive and representative of all community stakeholders.

I am grateful for this opportunity that the Mayor has granted me, since it has been my dream to serve my community and I am thrilled to do so as Commissioner.  I am committed to doing all I can to improve our local government, working with citizens and advancing this great city to a place that we can ALL be proud to call home.