Two Los Angeles County leaders are assuming roles on the First 5 LA Board of Commissioners in 2015. Here, they share their vision for First 5 LA during the coming year.
Los Angeles County Mayor Michael Antonovich, Chairman
In his fourth time serving as Chairman of the First 5 LA Commission, Los Angeles County Supervisor and L.A. County Mayor Michael Antonovich identified oral health, nutrition, and prevention of child abuse and neglect as priorities he brings to the Commission’s work this coming year.
"As Chair, I will work with the Commission to support countywide investments that will impact a greater number of children and families to support our goal to keep kids safe from abuse and neglect, and provide for the overall oral health and well-being of our County's children who represent our future,” Antonovich said.
The Mayor stated that poor oral health is the most common chronic childhood disease, and can lead to learning difficulties, self-esteem issues, and eating problems, in addition to more dangerous conditions caused by bacteria and infection.
Mayor Antonovich highlighted the importance of public/private partnerships, and engaging with the faith-based community, local leaders and child advocates to establish effective service delivery systems for young children and families. Mayor Antonovich also called upon First 5 LA to establish a foster youth career development internship program, similar to one he initiated last year within the County, to provide much-needed workforce training and experience to help emancipated foster youth transition to self-sufficient adulthood.
Judy Abdo, Voting Member, Appointed by Sheila Kuehl, Third District
A Santa Monica councilmember from 1988 to 1996, Judy Abdo served two terms as that city's mayor. She is the former Director of Child Development Services for the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District.
Abdo’s current community service includes: member and former Secretary, Metropolitan Water District Board of Directors; member, Superintendent Advisory Committee, Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District; and member, Steering Committee, Santa Monica Early Education and Childcare Task Force.
Commissioner Abdo answered the following questions:
1) What does the opportunity to become a First 5 LA Commissioner mean to you?
I’ve almost always focused on a very local level on issues related to children 0-5, and this will give me a chance to look at the issues on a regional level. My particular experience in related fields has been in both education and child care and administration of preschool and child care programs. I’m interested in how First 5 LA impacts those areas regionally.
2) What areas of concern among children 0-5 and their parents are of greatest interest to you? Why?
I’m particularly interested in the 0-3 age range because I think that prevention is the best way of changing lives for the better, so I think that the younger we can have an effect, the better they will be. Young families, in particular, have many needs because it’s a new world for that child and that family and we should be doing everything we can to prevent problems. I’m particularly concerned about child abuse and domestic violence in general. And of course I’m interested in health and mental health and all the related issues.
3) What are your aspirations as a Commissioner for First 5 LA?
It’s hard to know at the beginning just what my role can be, but I have experience in budgeting during times when income is going down both from a city and a regional perspective. I happened to serve on the city council during a time when there was much less money coming in, and have been on boards of agencies that have had to grapple with much less funding. I’m hoping my experience with that will help.
Other Board Changes
In other moves for the new year, Commissioner Philip Browning became the Vice Chair of the Commission. Commissioner Cynthia Harding became an Ex Officio (non-voting member), while Commissioner Marvin Southard became a voting member of the board.