Our Statewide Role

First 5 LA believes the case is clear that policy makers must prioritize young children in policy and budget decisions – because our future success as a state depends upon it. Nearly half of the state’s children live in, or near, poverty. California is first in per prisoner spending, but 46th in per pupil spending in education. California continues to prioritize spending on programs for residents when problems are most acute – treatment services, child welfare, incarceration, school remediation – and lags the country and the world in spending on access to proven prevention programs like quality early learning and home visiting programs for new parents.

The impacts of ignoring our children are clear: statewide, only 45 percent of third graders read at grade level and child care can cost parents as much as in-state college tuition at the University of California. It will take grit by decision makers and elected officials to address these challenges.

First 5 LA, as part of the network of First 5s throughout the state, will help by sharing what we have learned since our inception, by bringing parents, community members, and diverse partners together to help create lasting solutions, and by advocating for investments in proven early childhood systems and supports for California’s youngest children.

First 5 LA’s structure and staffing have been designed to better enable us to advance our goals and focus on those policies and resources that will yield the greatest benefits for kids in L.A. County. Our Board of Commissioners provides guidance and direction to our leadership and staff to implement our Strategic Plan.




Kim Belshé

Kim Belshé

Executive Director

John Wagner

John Wagner

Executive Vice President, Center for Child and Family Impact

Peter Barth

Peter Barth

Chief of Staff

Antoinette Andrews-Bush

Antoinette Andrews-Bush

Chief Learning Officer, Office of Equity, Strategy and Learning

Charna Widby

Charna Widby

Chief Government Affairs Officer, Office of Government Affairs and Public Policy

Gabriel Sanchez

Gabriel Sanchez

Chief Communications Officer, Office of Communications

Kim Hall

Kim Hall

Chief Data Officer, Office of Data for Action

Becca Patton

Becca Patton

Director, Early Care and Education

Diana Careaga

Diana Careaga

Director, Family Supports

Lee Werbel

Lee Werbel

Interim Director, Communities

Tara Ficek

Tara Ficek

Director, Health Systems

Carl D. Gayden

Carl D. Gayden

Senior Director, Workplace Management

Galina Collins

Galina Collins

Director, Human Resources & Talent Management

Jasmine Frost

Jasmine Frost

Interim Chief Operating Officer, Center for Operational Excellence

Jennifer Eckhart

Jennifer Eckhart

Director, Contract Administration & Purchasing

Raoul Ortega

Raoul Ortega

Director, Finance

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