The city of Santa Clarita announced Friday 16 people had been selected to serve as members of its Human Relations Roundtable, which aims to eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination.
More than 80 people applied to join the roundtable, which is facilitated by the city and the William S. Hart Union High School District, and those selected underwent two rounds of scoring from a five-member panel, according to a news release the city issued.
The independent panel consists of Dr. Claudia Acosta of College of the Canyons; John Musella, president and chief strategist of The Musella Group; Peggy Stable, who co-founded PFLAG Santa Clarita in response to a lack of information and support for the local LGBTQ community; Jim Ventress, who served as the CEO of the SCV Boys and Girls Club for more than 30 years; and Kieran Wong, a city Parks and Recreation commissioner.
The members, who are expected to start meeting this month, are Amanda Andrew, Cassidy Butow, Gloria Locke, Ignacio Garcia, Jeffrey Thompson, Jenny Ketchepaw, Lauryn Valley, Leticia Trujillo, Manuel White, Marc Winger, Paul Butler, Paul Nelson De La Cerda, Reham Kassem, Renee Marshall, Ronald Smothers, and Tere La Giusa. Two Hart youth members are expected to be selected and join the group, according to the city.
Mayor Pro Tem Bill Miranda is the chair, and Mayor Cameron Smyth is the alternate.
“The background, variety of experiences and passion for change demonstrated by each of these individuals will cultivate the ideal environment to work collectively for the benefit of our community,” said Smyth in a prepared statement. “I look forward to seeing this group develop and take tangible steps toward accomplishing their mission.”
Both Smyth and Miranda had previously met with several residents advocating for civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, where activists pressed on the importance of reactivating the roundtable as soon as possible. They had also urged for a “civilian review commission” that would function as “a board to research and report on best practices tailored to the needs of the city of Santa Clarita,” according to a document they presented to the city listing recommendations.
“The work this group will be taking on will help create a more inclusive Santa Clarita. Through celebrating our differences, backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, ages and beliefs – we will be able to embrace the diversity that makes our community unique and special,” Miranda said, in part, in a prepared statement.
The group, along with roundtable co-chair and Hart board member Cherise Moore and Hart district representative Marianne Doyle, will aim to “encourage and assist our community to eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination and to promote inclusion, understanding and appreciation of human differences” via meetings, activities and events, read the city news release.