Governor Newsom Appoints Leaders to Racial Equity Commission

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today announced his appointments to the state’s first Racial Equity Commission. Established by an executive order signed by the Governor last year, the Commission, developed in partnership with then-Senator Dr. Richard Pan and racial equity organizations that sponsored SB 17, will recommend tools and opportunities to advance racial equity and address structural racism, and will be available to provide technical assistance to state and local governments.

“At this moment of national reckoning on racial justice, I’m proud to appoint these diverse leaders to advise our ongoing work to ensure that all our communities have a fair shot at achieving the California dream,” said Governor Newsom.

The Governor in partnership with the Legislature has invested $3.8 million General Fund in 2023-24, and $3.1 million in 2024-25 through 2029-30, to support the Racial Equity Commission and Youth Empowerment Commission.

The Governor today announced the appointment of Dr. Larissa Estes as Executive Director of the Racial Equity Commission, and named seven members to serve on the Commission:

Dr. Larissa Estes, of Walnut Creek, has been appointed Executive Director of the Racial Equity Commission. Dr. Estes has been Director of ALL IN Alameda County since 2019. She was Manager of Community Partnerships with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals from 2018 to 2019. Dr. Estes was a Program Manager at the Prevention Institute from 2015 to 2018. She was a Policy Analyst for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission from 2013 to 2015 and a Performance Improvement Manager and Accreditation Coordinator for the Houston Health Department from 2011 to 2012. She earned a Doctor of Public Health degree in Community Health Practice from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, a Master of Public Health degree in Family and Child Health from the University of Arizona and a Bachelor of Science degree in Athletic Training from Duquesne University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $162,588. Dr. Estes is a Democrat.

Virginia Hedrick, of Carmichael, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Hedrick has been Executive Director of California Consortium for Urban Indian Health Inc. since 2017. She was a Program Coordinator for the California Rural Indian Health Board from 2007 to 2017. Hedrick earned a Master of Public Health degree from Drexel University. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Hedrick is a Democrat.

Gabriel Maldonado, of Los Angeles, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Maldonado has been Chief Executive Officer of TruEvolution since 2008. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree in Global Business from the University of Redlands and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of California, Riverside. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Maldonado is a Democrat.

Traco Matthews, of Bakersfield, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Matthews has been Chief Health Equity Officer at Kern Health Systems since 2023. He also serves as a local Pastor, an Adjunct Professor at California State University, Bakersfield, and as a community advocate for equitable housing, public safety, economic opportunities, and voting rights. Matthews was Chief Program Officer at the Community Action Partnership of Kern from 2020 to 2022. He served as a Director for Human Resources & Staff Development in the Office of the Kern County Superintendent of Schools from 2018 to 2020. He was a Public Affairs Specialist and Human Resources Specialist at Aera Energy LLC from 2012 to 2018. Matthews earned a Master of Business Administration degree from California State University, Bakersfield and a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the University California, Davis. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Matthews is a Democrat.

Jolie Onodera, of Sacramento, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Onodera has been a Senior Legislative Advocate with the California State Association of Counties since 2022. She served as Legislative Director at the California Department of Finance from 2018 to 2022. Onodera served as Deputy Secretary of Legislation at the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency from 2017 to 2018. She was Principal Consultant for the California Senate Committee on Appropriations from 2011 to 2016. Onodera was a Research Program Specialist II with the California Department of Social Services from 2009 to 2011. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Onodera is a Democrat.

Manuel Pastor, of Pasadena, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Pastor has been a Director and Professor at the USC Equity Research Institute since 2007. He served as a Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1996 to 2007 and at Occidental College from 1984 to 1996. He earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Economics from the University of Massachusetts and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Pastor is a Democrat.

Yolanda R. Richardson, of Roseville, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Richardson has been Chief Executive Officer of the San Francisco Health Plan since 2022. She served as Secretary of the California Government Operations Agency from 2020 to 2022. Richardson was CEO of Teloiv from 2016 to 2020. She served as Chief Deputy Executive Director at Covered California from 2011 to 2016 and was Chief Operations Officer at Cal eConnect from 2009 to 2011. Richardson was Chief Operating Officer at the San Francisco Health Plan from 2007 to 2009. She was Vice President of Operations at PacAdvantage from 2003 to 2007. Richardson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocational Education from California State University, Sacramento. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Richardson is a Democrat.

Simboa Wright, of Fontana, has been appointed to the Racial Equity Commission. Wright has been Vice President of SEIU Local 721 since 2021. He has served as a Wastewater Collection Worker II for the City of Los Angeles since 2001. Wright is a member of the LA Conservation Corps Board of Directors. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no compensation. Wright is a Democrat.

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