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Commissioners
  • First Supervisorial District
  • Second Supervisorial District
  • Third Supervisorial District
  • Fourth Supervisorial District
  • Fifth Supervisorial District
  • State Representative

 

 

Lourdes Caracoza, Treasurer

 

 

Commissioner Lourdes Caracoza was appointed by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis of the First District on May 15, 2015.

Commissioner Caracoza is the Director of Developmental Services, Facilities & Community Relations for Alma Family Services, an organization established in 1975 in East Los Angeles by parents to provide a comprehensive range of multilingual community based services for those with special needs including emotional, physical and/or developmental delay and their families.

Commissioner Caracoza considers herself fortunate to have grown up in East Los Angeles with a strong sense of family, community and service. Having a brother with Down syndrome allowed her to broaden her sense of community understand the importance of advocacy and foster a desire to work with the developmentally disabled.

In 1985 Alma Family Services allowed her to come in and assist and later manage the social rehabilitation program. Five years later, she left to pursue other callings in the community, but left with a continued commitment to serving the developmentally disabled.

During the next 13 years Commissioner Caracoza served on Alma Family Services’ Board of Directors and chaired for one year. Approximately11 years ago, she was asked to return to Alma to assist in the development of additional services at Centro Estrella. In collaboration with a great team, they have been able to develop support services that range from advocacy training, specialized aquatic classes, community Integration training, behavioral health services, parenting classes, and inclusive preschool, a resource library, socialization training program and support groups. This multipurpose center has been recognized as a model. Families are made up of many talents, strengths and needs, how fortunate to belong to an organization that is inclusive in trying to serve the whole family not just parts of the family. Lourdes believes it is a wonderful opportunity to play a role in the enhancement of families' lives.

 

 

 

 

Hector Ochoa, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Hector Ochoa was appointed by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis of the First District on April 28, 2015.

Commissioner Ochoa is currently an Advocate for the Southern California Resource Services for Independent Living (SCRS-IL). SCRS-IL provides a wide array of programs and services to persons with disabilities in Southeast Los Angeles County and beyond including advocacy, peer counseling, housing assistance, information and referral, personal assistance services, independent living skills training and assistive technology.

Commissioner Ochoa is involved in numerous organizations and is also a former Counselor and Event Coordinator for the California Youth Leadership Forum and the Lead Organizer for ADAPT Los Angeles. He is a true advocate by heart and profession and is dedicated to ensuring disability rights for Los Angeles County residents.

 

 

 

 

Peggie Reyna, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Margaret “Peggie” Reyna was appointed by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis of the First District on April 28, 2015.

Commissioner Reyna is the Project Director for Peace Over Violence’s Deaf, Disabled & Elder Services Program, including the Right Response Collaborative, and the “LoveMeNot” Anti-Stalking Project. Ms. Reyna holds a B.A. in Special Education with emphasis on Deafness. Herself hard of hearing from domestic violence, Peggie is a nationally recognized speaker in the fields of intimate partner violence, teen dating violence, child abuse, stalking and women’s self-defense. She is best known for her pioneering work in the Deaf and Disabled communities and has been published in “Deaf Life”, “WE” magazine and “New Horizons”.

Commissioner Reyna has made numerous media and television appearances including Silent Network’s “Off Hand”, “Good Morning America”, “Southland Today”, “L.A.In The Morning”, “The Leeza Show”, “Up Front”, “Deaf Mosaic”, “Don’t Be a Target” 95 & 96, NBC’s “Save Our Streets” and “Lifestyle Magazine”. In 1995 Peggie was chosen as a featured subject for KCET’s “Life and Times”; in 1996 Commissioner Reyna was the subject of an ABC Monday Night Movie of the Week (“Breaking Through”) and in 2000 Peggie was a featured speaker in a domestic violence/stalking education video project with “Air Tokoyo” which aired nationwide in Japan.

As an active member of the National Domestic Violence Hotline Board, Commissioner Reyna was chosen as a spokesperson for the hotline kickoff at the White House in 1996. Under her guidance LACAAW’s Deaf & Disabled Services Program was a recipient of the 1998 Crime Victim Service Award presented by the Department of Justice, Office of Victims of Crime, and in 2002 she was named a recipient of the Sunshine Lady Foundation Advocate Peace Award. In May of 2003, Commissioner Reyna received the prestigious “Angel of Peace” award from the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles. Ms. Reyna was recipient of the End Abuse Long Beach 2010 award for 25 years of outstanding service. In 2014 Ms. Reyna was given a special “Advocate Over Violence” recognition from Peace Over Violence. Commissioner Reyna is an outspoken advocate for all survivors of violence against women and children.

 

 

 

Cathy Gott, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Cathy Gott was appointed to the Commission by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in March 2017.

Commissioner Gott is President of Education Spectrum, Inc., a center-based educational and social skills training center for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. Education Spectrum opened its doors in 1996 and serves more than 400 families per year in and around the San Gabriel Valley. She holds her Master’s Degree in Public Administration, specializing in Non-profit Organization Management from the University of San Francisco. Recognizing the growing need for employment opportunities for adults with disabilities, she created Danny’s Farm. Opening its doors in 2007, Danny’s Farm employs and serves persons with special needs. Named for her twenty-three-year-old son, Danny, who has autism, the Farm is a labor of love. Commissioner Gott is currently the senior consultant for government relations for ETTA, and serves on Assemblymember Chris Holden’s Special Needs Advisory Committee, and is Founder of the newly formed Major League Baseball Players Association Alumni Wives Autism Alliance.

Commissioner Gott enjoys many civic and community activities and was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Universal Preschool by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich. She has served on the California Legislative Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism’s Task Force on Early Identification and Intervention, and is an Honorary Board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Autism Speaks. She received the Most Inspirational Award in 2001 by the California State Assembly, and Woman of the Year Award in 2008 by the Los Angeles County Commission for Woman. Commissioner Gott was selected by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Commission on Disabilities to receive the Annual Access Award for her outstanding work in the community and commitment to serve those with disabilities in October 2016. Commissioner Gott and her husband, Jim, raised their children in San Marino and currently reside in the Marina del Rey. Her husband, Jim, is a former Major League Pitcher & is currently the Pitching Coordinator for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Their younger son, Nicholas (22), is a senior at Harvey Mudd College, majoring in Computer Science. Jim’s son CJ (28) lived with them as a child. Both CJ and Danny have autism.

 

 

 

 

John B. Troost, 2nd Vice President

 

 

Commissioner John B. Troost is currently the 2nd Vice President of the Commission on Disabilities appointed by Supervisor Kenneth Hahn of the Second District him in 1975. Moreover, he was re-appointed by Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke in 2000 and by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in 2015.

Commissioner Troost has served as President for the Commission from 1982-1984 and 2011-2012, was Vice President from 1980-1982 and 2nd Vice President from 2013-2015. He also represented the Commission from 1978-1982 as a member of the Citizen Advisory Committee for the Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department, during the planning stages of the Kenneth Hahn Regional Park & Recreational Area in Baldwin Hills. Presently, he serves as a representative of Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities to the Access Board of Directors of Access Services, Inc. He continues to serve as Chairman of the Education Committee for the Commission since 1978.

Commissioner Troost also serves his community as a member of two Handicapped Advisory Committees at the Los Angeles Southwest College and the Los Angeles Trade Technical College. He has served the City of Culver City as a member of their 504 Ad hoc Committee and with their Disability Advisory Committee.

Commissioner Troost holds an Associates of Arts Degree (AA) in History from El Camino College, and a Bachelor of Science Degree (BS) & Master Degree (MS) in Education from the University of Southern California. From 1989 to 1992, he worked as a Handicapped Specialist/Work Ability III, Program Coordinator at LA Trade Technical College. Since 1995, he has been a member of the Culver City Optimist Club, a service club that donates toys to hospitalized children.

Commissioner Troost has over the past four decades, worked as a Vocational Counselor for various independent living programs, and has spent several years working within California’s higher education system as a researcher, fundraiser, and teacher.

 

 

 

 

Marsha Mitchell-Bray, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Marsha Mitchell-Bray was appointed to the Commission on Disabilities by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in January 2017.

Commissioner Mitchell-Bray is the Director of Community Services and Family Supports for South Central Los Angeles Regional Center (SCLARC). She is an experienced community development professional with extensive experience in the areas of developmental disabilities and special needs policy, Commissioner Mitchell-Bray is excited to join with other stalwart advocates and community activists who comprise the Commission’s membership.

For the past 15 years, Commissioner Mitchell-Bray has served South Los Angeles via the regional center. South Central Los Angeles Regional Center is one of 21 private, non-profit centers contracting with the State of California, specifically with the Department of Developmental Services, to provide diagnosis, evaluation, case management and life-long planning to individuals who have been assessed as being developmentally disabled. During her tenure at SCLARC, she has been responsible for an extensive outreach and public awareness campaign regarding the agency’s services. She formally launched the agency’s housing, fund development and public relations initiatives in which she rebranded the agency’s collateral materials. Additionally, Mitchell-Bray has organized all of the center’s legislative activities, including its yearly forums and Town Hall meetings.

Commissioner Mitchell-Bray played an integral role in the successful completion of SCLARC’s new headquarters—Legacy Plaza. The project was designed to enhance the regional center’s ability to serve while providing adequate space for SCLARC’s 250 employees and 100 consultants. As the newest member of the Los Angeles County Commission on Disabilities, she hopes to continue to assist in increasing public awareness while serving all stakeholders with disabilities living in Los Angeles County.

 

 

 

John R. James, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner John R. James was appointed to the Commission on Disabilities by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky of the Third District in September 2009 and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl on May 5, 2015. He served as 2nd Vice President in 2010-2013.

Commissioner James is a Professor of Counseling and Assistant Director of the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S) at Pierce College. He is very knowledgeable on the Americans with Disabilities Act and has been working in the Disabled Student Service programs at Los Angeles Mission and Pierce College for over 18 years. Commissioner James is also a member of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges and of the Pierce and Mission College Advisory Board on Disabilities.

Commissioner James has earned Masters in Education from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor in Geography and Urban Studies from California State University in Long Beach.

 

 

 

 

Maggie Soleimani, Commissioner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vacant

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carlos Benavides, President

 

 

Commissioner Carlos Benavides was appointed to the Commission by Supervisor Don Knabe of the Fourth District on June 15, 2014.

Commissioner Benavides is the current President of the Commission and Chair of the Patient Advisory Council at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (Rancho).

Commissioner Benavides has a passion for life and independence is shared with newly injured patients as a Peer Mentor with Rancho's Know Barriers program. He is also an accomplished graphic artist and digital photographer and has exhibited his work in several art galleries nationally. He is proud to serve as the County of Los Angeles 4th District representative on the Commission on Disabilities, and will work tirelessly to ensure access to life for all.

 

 

 

 

Katherine George Chu, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Katherine George Chu was appointed to the Commission by Supervisor Janice Hahn of the Fourth District in March 2017.

Commissioner Chu currently conducts quality assessment interviews using the National Core Indicators (NCI) assessment tool as part of the Quality Assessment Project with the State Council on Developmental Disabilities. The core indicators are standard measures used across states to assess the outcomes of services provided to individuals and families. Indicators address key areas of concern including employment, rights, service planning, community inclusion, choice, and health and safety. This data is collected through face to face interviews with adult Regional Center clients.

Commissioner Chu has spent decades serving children and adults with disabilities. As a teacher, she taught fifth and sixth graders with challenges in the areas of socialization, language development and peer relations at a private school for K-12 students with social and communicative disabilities. Through Easter Seals In-Home Services, Commissioner Chu provided programs for adults who were not able to attend day programs due to behavioral and/or chronic health challenges. She also assisted day program clients in gaining work experience through community volunteer service. In 2013, Commissioner Chu was awarded Woman of the Year for the City of Cerritos from Assemblymember Cristina Garcia for community advocacy and volunteer service through Special Olympics, where she served on the Special Olympics of Southeast Los Angeles Board. Commissioner Chu has a 22-year-old son with Autism.

 

 

 

 

Michelle Anne Babitz, Commissioner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edward A. Colley, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Edward A. Colley was appointed to the Commission on Disabilities by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich in August 2011.

Commissioner Colley is a retired Captain from the United States Air Force. He teaches the Air Force Junior ROTC program at Valencia High School in Santa Clarita. He serves as the Board Vice President for Pleasantview Industries, a program for developmentally disabled adults and is on the elected Board for the Castaic Lake Water Agency. Commissioner Colley has earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, and holds both a California Teaching credential and a School Administration credential.

Commissioner Colley and his wife Kathy both live in Canyon Country and have six children. Three of their children are military veterans: Their son, Army Captain Alan Colley has served two-year long tours in Iraq and Uganda; daughter Carolyn is a disabled Air Force veteran; and son, Army Private First Class Stephen Colley died at Fort Hood, Texas shortly after returning from Iraq. Both Ed and Kathy are Peer Mentors with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (T*A*P*S).

 

 

 

 

Steve Miller, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Steve Miller was appointed to the Commission on Disabilities by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich in November 2010. He was the 5th District Award Recipient at the 2007 Commission on Disabilities Access Awards Luncheon.

Commissioner Miller born in Los Angeles, California, grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He graduated from Canoga Park High School and Pierce College. He earned his Masters degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Following Commissioner Miller’s post-graduate studies in the design and evaluation of social service programs, he served as Principal Program Evaluator for the Santa Barbara County Probation Department. During his research, he discovered that a number of people on probation or parole were developmentally disabled adults, who had unintentionally become involved with the criminal justice system. Commissioner Miller began to build the means for people with disabilities to participate more positively in society.

Commissioner Miller's career has been dedicated to assisting people with disabilities, by establishing programs leading to employment and independent living for thousands of Californians with developmental disabilities. Since 1990, he served as Executive Director of Tierra Del Sol Foundation a community integration program, which has grown to serve more than 470 men and women in the San Fernando Valley and North Los Angeles County.

Commissioner Miller retired from Tierra Del Sol in 2014. During his tenure, he helped the agency move into a leadership role in demonstrating the truly significant contributions that people with disabilities can make to society.

 

 

 

 

Rita Tomassian-Hopkins, Commissioner

 

 

Commissioner Rita Tomassian-Hopkins was appointed to the Commission on Disabilities by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich on October 13, 2015.

Commissioner Tomassian-Hopkins is currently the Foundation Executive Director for The Campbell Center a nonprofit organization located in the City of Glendale, CA. The mission of The Campbell Center is to provide developmentally disabled adults the opportunity-through residential, vocational and educational programs-to participate in mainstream community life and attain their highest levels of independence.

Commissioner Tomassian-Hopkins is dedicated to ensuring that all people with disabilities in Los Angeles County are well served. She is the former Executive Director of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the former Executive Director of the Los Angeles Chapter of the March of Dimes and the former Executive Director of the Southern California Affiliate of Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization.

 

 

 

 

Dee H. Pinchbeck, Commissioner, Little People Representative

 

 

Dee H. Pinchbeck, Fifth District Commissioner was appointed in 2015. Served in the early 1970's with the Glendale Unified School District as an advocate for troubled teens and helped establish an Outreach counseling program in the Glendale Unified School District. She became a Paralegal until becoming disabled with a crippling form of Rheumatoid Arthritis Returned to U.C.L.A. while working with Jane Small as an advocate. She works with families stricken with severe arthritis and lupus. Currently works with Helping Hands for the Blind.

 

 

 

 

 

Wan Chun Chang, Commissioner, State Department of Rehabilitation

 

 

Commissioner Wan Chun Chang was appointed to the Commission on Disabilities in July 2007 and represents the State Department of Rehabilitation (DOR).

Commissioner Chang is currently a District Administrator for DOR in the Van Nuys/Foothill District. Commissioner Chang began her career with DOR in 1977 as a Vocational Rehabilitation trainee and became a Rehabilitation counselor in 1978. She was promoted to Senior Rehabilitation Counselor in 1987 and to Rehabilitation Supervisor at the East Los Angeles office in 1996.

Commissioner Chang is a strong consumer advocate, active community partner and inspiring leader with over 30 years of experience in serving people with disabilities, and outstanding working knowledge with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, she is experienced in establishing and maintaining community liaisons with organizations, such as the Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, LAUSD-TPP, Department of Mental Health, and community colleges. Furthermore, Commissioner Chang brings experience from working on three local Work Source Centers: Metro-North, Chinatown and the Chicana Center.

She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fu Jen Catholic University and a Masters Degree in Guidance - Industrial and Community Services from Eastern Kentucky University. In 2006, Commissioner Chang was granted Rehabilitation Counselor Certification status.

Commissioner Chang has served on the LA City Commission on Disabilities and the Advisory Board for Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling at Cal State University at Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles City Council has recognized Commissioner Chang for her contributions to careers and technical education in the City of Los Angeles. The Mayor of Los Angeles has given her recognition for her services to the community.