Fraser Hammersly | First 5 LA Digital Content Specialist

February 24, 2022

First 5 LA’s Board of Commissioners convened virtually on Feb. 10. The meeting marked the first of the year, and the agenda included a vote to elect Board and Committee leadership, information on mid-year budget adjustments and financial planning, First 5 LA’s executive director contract and executive leadership succession plan, and a Board learning opportunity on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Targeted Universalism. 

As is customary at the first Board of Commissioners meeting of the new year, the Board nominated and voted on Board Chair, Vice Chair and Committee leadership positions. L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was elected to retain her seat as Board Chair and Judy Abdo was elected to retain her seat as Vice Chair. To view all 2022 Board Leadership positions, click here.  

As part of the Chair remarks, Kuehl spoke on the importance of family and the ways in which First 5 LA and its Board have supported kids and families in L.A. County during the pandemic. 

“In a lot of ways, I think things have felt really out of control for the past couple of years. But First 5 has held strong to our North Star, trying to keep the image, steer the boat, stay on course. And as we know, at the very beginning of what we didn’t know was going to be such a long time dealing with COVID, we pivoted immediately to play a really critical role in the county’s ECE COVID-19 response and recovery plan,” she said. 

“No matter how long our health crisis extends,” Kuehl continued, “First 5 LA will keep up its efforts, keep working to support each other and our families, and all of our service providers who are so important to the effort.”

During the Executive Director remarks, Kim Belshé spoke about how First 5 LA is approaching its work differently to implement the 2020-28 Strategic Plan. She highlighted examples of how the organization is sharpening its focus and priority setting, integrating and aligning to address the fact that children and families exist at the intersection of different systems, and working to fully embrace its organizational values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). 

“Those three strategic priorities have really been central to our thinking about how change occurs and how First 5 LA can contribute to change at a scale that is aligned with our bold goal — our North Star,” Belshé stated.

Next on the agenda was an information item presented by Belshé on the First 5 LA Executive Director Succession Plan. To align First 5 LA with best business practices, Belshé identified the development of an Executive Succession Plan as a goal in 2021.

In the event of the executive director’s absence — whether short- or long-term, temporary or permanent — the Plan is intended to ensure continuous coverage of executive duties critical to the ongoing operations of First 5 LA. The Plan will be voted on at the March 10 Board meeting. For more information, click here.  

Richard, Watson & Gershon Legal Counsel Craig Steele provided an information item relating to the Executive Director contract. He explained how, due to fiscal uncertainties arising out of the pandemic, Belshé had declined a compensation adjustment in 2021, with the contract stating the matter be revisited in 2022. 

As part of the annual performance evaluation last year, the Executive Committee had directed Legal Counsel to negotiate an amendment of the Executive Director contract to increase compensation by 5 percent for the period Feb. 1, 2022, through Jan. 30, 2023. Under the Brown Act, any compensation adjustment must be considered and approved by the Board during an open session. Commissioners will vote on the item at the March 10 Board meeting.  

Next, Financial Planning & Analysis Manager Daisy Lopez and Finance Director Raoul Ortega presented an overview of First 5 LA’s mid-year budget adjustments, sharing how the budget has changed due to a number of factors. 

According to Lopez, one of the reasons for the adjustments is the ongoing pandemic, which is still impacting activities that had been initially proposed for fiscal year 2021-22. Other proposed adjustments to the budget are primarily driven by updated information, changing circumstances — such as revisions to project timelines —and new non-Proposition 10 funding. Examples of the latter include reimbursements for home visiting and funds from the L.A. County Department of Public Health for the African American Infant and Maternal Mortality (AAIMM) Initiative, all of which were received after the initial budget had been developed. 

The Board will approve a finalized draft of mid-year budget adjustments at the March 10 Board meeting. For more information, click here. 

Next on the agenda was a Board Learning Opportunity presented by Chief Transformation Officer Antoinette Andrews Bush, Seed Collaborative Co-Founder Evan Holland, and Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute at UC Berkeley, john a. powell.  

First 5 LA’s North Star is that all children in L.A. County enter kindergarten ready to succeed in school and life. One of the key questions that came up during the strategic plan refinement process was: How can First 5 LA balance the needs of all children while retaining its commitment to the investment value of equity and organizational value of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)? The Learning Opportunity examined this question within the context of Targeted Universalism and under the guidance of powell. 

powell, the developer of the Targeted Universalism framework and an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, housing, poverty and democracy, spoke on the definition of DEI and explained how inclusion is only possible when there is also belonging, which he defined as the nexus of inclusion, meaningful participation, and co-ownership and co-creation of systems and structures. 

“In order to co-create and co-own, individuals and groups need dignity –– both interpersonally and within group culture –– and they need power in order to participate in the process of constituting, normalizing or constructing a space, a container, a school. You need power, you need resources, you need voice,” powell said. 

Targeted Universalism, which powell also referred to as Equity 2.0, seeks to move society and systems from “exclusion” to “belonging” by creating a universal goal –– such as First 5 LA’s North Star –– and then deploying targeted strategies based on where and how people are situated within structures and culture in relation to that goal.  

Unlike targeted and universal strategies that often fail to produce equitable outcomes and can undermine a sense of belonging, powell explained how Targeted Universalism recognizes that people are situated differently due to factors such as structural inequities, historical and present-day oppression, geography, and community and organizational dynamics. Utilizing that lens, Targeted Universalism focuses on creating systems and institutional changes that generate equitable outcomes and cultivate a sense of belonging for everyone. 

“I really appreciate what you’ve shared because it makes me think about providing groups what they need, via equity, but also making sure that we have a target so that everyone hopefully gets to that goal. For me, it’s eye-opening,” Commissioner Frank Ramo said when it came time for reflections and questions.  

To learn more about the Board Learning Opportunity, click here to view the presentation.  

The next Board of Commissioners meeting is on March 10, 2022. Additional information will be available 72 hours in advance of the meeting at

Pride Month 2023: All Out with Pride

Pride Month 2023: All Out with Pride

June 2023 All Out With Pride! Words and sentiments to celebrate in 2023, as Los Angeles County lifts-up this year’s Pride Month theme in recognition of the contributions made, culture celebrated, challenges faced, voices shared, those lost, and the activism of allies...