OC Human Relations Commission

Orange County Seal

Founded: In 1971 as an official governmental commission by the Board of Supervisors in collaboration with the Orange County Division of the League of California Cities.

Mission: Seek out the causes of tension and conflict, discrimination and intolerance, and attempt to eliminate those causes.

Appointment Authority: Six Commissioners appointed by the OC Board of Supervisors, five appointed by the City Selection Committee staffed by the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, Orange County.  Individuals interested in serving on the Commission may contact Norma Lopez for more information at 714-480-6594.   

Role: Conducting hearings on civil and human rights issues; taking positions on challenging human relations issues; studying contentious issues relating to discrimination, intolerance and prejudice; mediating conflicts; educating institutions and individuals in Orange County about issues pertaining to change, diversity, fear and bigotry.

Commissioner’s Responsibility: Prepare for, attend and participate in the monthly meetings of the Commission. Participate in at least one committee.

Orange County Human Relations Commission meetings are held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in conference room A/B on the Main floor of Building B, 1300 S. Grand Ave, Santa Ana, 92705. Commission meetings are open to the public; guests are invited to speak during the Open Forum. The office, parking lot and restrooms are accessible to people with disabilities.


Agenda:


Commissioners:

Chair: Becky Esparza

Representing: District 2
Appointed by: City Selection Committee
Profession: Community Member
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?
It is relevant because of the issues that we are facing today.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
An OC where people are get along regardless of skin color, gender, religion, etc.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
I want to provide a voice for those that don’t have a voice & support those that have a voice.
Who inspires you?
My mother – she taught me that when there is a problem you don’t ask “what happened” but ask “how can I help”
My favorite quote & author:
“I live simply so that others may simply live.” – Ralph Kennedy

Vice-Chair: Rabbi Richard Steinberg

Representing: District 5
Appointed by: Supervisor Spitzer
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?
The Commission’s work is essential to creating and maintaining a environment of inclusion, kindness and respect for the diversity of our county.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
Very simply put – with Freedom comes Responsibilty.  #HatefreeOC is our attempt to encourage people to use their freedom to make good choices that result in people caring for one another, for eradicating hate and for lifting up the marganalized.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
It is an honor to serve Orange County in this important work and to create a world God would be proud of.
Who inspires you?
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
My favorite quote & author:
Rabbi Heschel said, “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

Bekele Demissie

Representing: District 4
Appointed by: Supervisor Nelson
Profession: Sr. Community Relations
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?   
My interest and passion stems from the need to stand and help bring awareness that we are all equal.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
This campaign represents and supports the importance of civility among our diverse communities in Orange County.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
It is my call, my interest and passion to support communities who are in most need.
Who inspires you?
My parents and the Bible teachings.
My favorite quote & author:
Book of Matthew 25:40 “What you did for one of the least of there, you did for me.”

Chief Mike Hamel

Representing: District 3
Appointed by: City Selection Committee
Profession: Irvine Police Chief
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?
Given our richly diverse community with many passionate individuals who want to make a difference in the lives of others, the work of the HRC is more important now than ever.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
#HateFreeOC looks like a County with diminishing hate crime and a genuine desire to understand and treat with respect others who are different than us.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
To represent the Orange County Law Enforcement community in a manner that breeds mutual trust, understanding and respect, while seeking every opportunity to demonstrate care and compassion for all.
Who inspires you?
People who are naturally inclined to place service before self.  .
My favorite quote & author:
“The police are the public and the public are the police.” – Sir Robert Peel

Mark Joseph Miller

Representing: District 5
Appointed by: Supervisor Bartlett
Profession: Non Profit Administrator
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?
I don’t think there is any more important work that could be done today, or at anytime, other than HRC’s commitment of building bridges of understanding and respect.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
It would be great to see a dynamic dialogue among a divierse group of people with the earnest intention of gaining new information and perspective on the community we share.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
It is a tremendous honor for me to be asked to serve the Commission.  I hope my skills and expereince are able to bring to support to HRC’s staff and respite to the people they serve.
Who inspires you?
For many years I have worked in underserved communities.  I continue to be inspired by the relience, grace and courage of the residents who lead those communities through example.
My favorite quote & author:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” –  Martin Luther King

Dr. Chiarina Piazza

Representing: District 4
Appointed by: City Selection Committee
Profession: Associate Dean, Pre-Licensure Programs, College of Nursing West Coast University
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?   
Given the palpable tensions fostered by our current political climate, it is an imperative that we “go back to the basics” of civility and human kindness.  OC Human Relations Commission is in a unique position to address these tensions and conflicts with the goal of eliminating them because that is the bedrock of our mission.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
A #HateFreeOC begins with me and my will every day and in every moment to overcome my own implicit biases so I may reach out to those who look, think, feel, and believe differently from me in an effort to learn and understand them and their story.  In that way, their story becomes mine and mine becomes theirs.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
The centrality of the Commission’s work very much resonates with me, as its mission has been part of my personal philosophy–to build a united world, respecting and valuing diversity. Most importantly, my legacy to my children is to continue imparting the basic tenets of universal brotherhood through concrete acts and activities.
Who inspires you?
One day, it’s the student, the mail carrier, the nurse and the next day it’s a fellow Commissioner, the small business owner, the homeless shelter volunteer to name a few.  All they have in common is the fervent desire to live and prosper in a county free from injustice, fear and hatred.  They inspire me.
My favorite quote & author:
“So never lose an opportunity of urging a practical beginning, however small, for it is wonderful how often in such matters the mustard-seed germinates and roots itself.” – Florence Nightingale

Dr. Kerry Reynolds

Representing: District 2
Appointed by: Supervisor Steel
Profession: Licensed Therapist

How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?   
The Commission’s work is very significant in terms of affecting the current and future culture (and heart) of Orange County.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
A HateFree OC looks like a “paradise” where all races, religions, socioeconomic levels, political and gender identities, and various competing organizations live and work together in peace and understanding. It’s a place where human souls express their distinct disagreements and differences with integrity, mutual compassion, tolerance and respect.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
I am part of the HRC because one of my life’s commitments has been to “share the blessings.”  Because Orange County has been home for over three decades and has provided numerous opportunities for personal and spiritual growth, economic prosperity, business and social connections and more, I desire to give back through SERVICE to the county I love.
Who inspires you?
Mother Teresa has always inspired me because of her spiritual strength, her unlimited and unwavering love, and her self-less service to others.  Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has also been a role model of forgiveness– transcending impeding prejudice and negative circumstance, and not allowing “victimship” to influence her spirit, character, or success.
My favorite quote & author:
A favorite leadership quote is from President Abraham Lincoln. “As a leader, you cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”

Elliott Singer

Representing: District 1
Appointed by: City Selection Committee
Profession: Automobile Manufacturer Financial Analyst
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?
It is important because it offers hope where perhaps there was none. And it is a venue for reaching out and addressing social issues that can lift us up or drag us down as a community.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
Where there is universal access to unbiased facts that allow for better decision making and a more positive course of personal actions. And merely in that process we can all be lifted to a higher plane.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
To give back for the bounty of Orange County that I have been blessed to enjoy.  To be a part of something that makes a positive difference in my community.
Who inspires you?
The person I turn to when facing important, life altering, circumstances has to be my father. His life, exemplified by an adherence to moral clarity,  leading to just doing the right thing,  has been the standard by which I measure myself to this day.
My favorite quote & author:
“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”   – Buddha

Sean Thomas

Representing: District 5
Appointed by: City Selection Committee
Profession: President of PLIS Inc.
How relevant or important is the HRC’s work today?
It’s very important because we need to make sure that people feel safe and come together despite our differences.
What does a #HateFreeOC look like to you?
I would like to see a County where people can respect each other’s differences, connect with each other, and learning to accept differences.
Why are you part of the OC Human Relations Commission?
I am part of this Commission because I feel that our work is vital in bringing people in our community together peacefully.
Who inspires you?
John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., my parents & Jesus Christ.
My favorite quote & author:
“The rights of man stem not from the generosity of the state but from the hands of God.” – JFK

Letters From Our Supporters:

From Korean Community Services: “We respect the work of OC Human Relations and understand that they are the leading organization in addressing hate crimes and other issues that affect our community. OC Human Relations is a highly professional organization that we look to partnering and coordinating with as it relates to outreach to the Korean community and plan to continue to do so“…click to read the full letter.

 

From the Orange County Community Housing Corporation: “On behalf of the 40 year old Orange County Community Housing Corporation, we wish to note the considerable admiration and value we hold for OC Human Relations. Our board has benefitted over the years from the services of OC Human Relations from their work in our communities with diverse populations as well as with our many police departments.”…click to read the full letter.

From Chief Raul Quesada, Anaheim Police Dept: “On behalf of the Anaheim Police Department, I hereby express our support for the tireless efforts of OC Human Relations in their mission to foster and enhance relationships and mutual understanding to improve the lives of individuals and families throughout Orange County”…click to read the full letter


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For more information contact Commission Director, Norma Lopez, 714-480-6594