For Immediate Release: February 9, 2023
Contact: Marlene Fitzsimmons
Ushering in a new era for the organization, L.A. County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell has been named Chair of First 5 LA’s Board of Commission, and DCFS Director Brandon Nichols as Vice-Chair
LOS ANGELES – Today, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell was unanimously elected as Chair of the First 5 LA Board of Commissioners during its first meeting of the new year. Supervisor Mitchell’s appointment comes soon after the organization welcomed Karla Pleitéz Howell as the new executive director in early January and adopted a refined North Star in November 2022.
Elected unanimously as the Commission’s Vice-Chair is Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services Director, Brandon Nichols, who oversees a workforce of nearly 9,000 staff members in 20 regional offices who provide family centered and child focused protective services. Nichols has been with the Department for more than 25 years and has advocated on behalf of children to ensure child safety, advance race equity efforts, and provide accessible, quality support to families.
“First 5 LA is an organization with tremendous opportunity to create meaningful change and impact the lives of children today and for generations to come,” said Supervisor Mitchell, who was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors representing the Second District in November of 2020. “I care deeply about the communities that I have the privilege of representing, especially the youngest children and families of this county. As Commission Chair, I am honored to work alongside my fellow commissioners and the First 5 LA team and to lean into the power of partnerships to ensure all children have access to the essential resources and support they need to thrive.”
Mitchell has been a vocal champion for children and families throughout her career. In 2016, she became the first African American to Chair the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. As State Senator she authored and helped pass the California Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act, which aims to reduce pregnancy-related preventable deaths, severe illnesses, and associated health disparities through implicit bias training. Additionally, she sought to join the national movement to recognize the high number of African American infant and maternal deaths by putting forward a motion to declare April 11-17 Black Maternal Health Week and April 16th the Day of the Black Infant for Los Angeles County, which was unanimously approved. Most recently, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Mitchell to expand access to doula services for mothers and families across L.A. County and support the growth of the doula workforce to be more representative of communities most in need.
“Supervisor Mitchell is a proven changemaker, enacting and driving forward significant policy and budget decisions that center the needs of families and young children, especially those furthest from opportunities,” said Karla Pleitéz Howell, First 5 LA Executive Director. “As we welcome Supervisor Mitchell as our Commission Chair, we are excited by the leadership, experience and passion she brings to the work, and we look forward to achieving together impactful change needed for our youngest children to thrive.”
Prior to her service on the Board of Supervisors, Mitchell served seven years in the State Senate and two years in the State Assembly. Additionally, she served for seven years as the Chief Executive Officer of the L.A.-based nonprofit Crystal Stairs, which supports tens of thousands of area families and child care providers with care and learning opportunities. She also served as a Consultant to the Senate Health Committee, and as a legislative advocate for the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
The First 5 LA Board of Commissioners is comprised of 17 members – nine voting, four ex-officio, four alternates. The Board includes voting members appointed by each of the L.A. County supervisors and the L.A. County departments of Children and Family Services, Public Health and Mental Health. The Board also includes representatives from other educational, children and family-centered organizations throughout L.A. County. The Board of Commissioners meets on the second Thursday of each month unless otherwise indicated on the public calendar. All meetings are open to the public and agendas are posted at least 72 hours in advance. To learn more visit www.first5la.org/our-board/.
About First 5 LA
As the state’s largest funder of early childhood and an independent public agency, First 5 LA works to strengthen systems, parents and communities to support the safe and healthy development of young children guided by our North Star that every child in Los Angeles County will reach their full developmental potential throughout the critical years of prenatal to age 5. Learn more at www.first5la.org. For latest news and information, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.