California’s protection & advocacy system

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Board of Directors biographies

Public member biographies


Board of Directors biographies

Jennifer Restle, PresidentJennifer Restle

San Diego
2nd Term: 3/8/14 - 3/7/20
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Jennifer Restle
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Jennifer Restle educates and advocates on issues of diversity and inclusion. At Vassar College, while acquiring a degree in psychology, she realized the universality of the "disability experience," and after graduation, worked to create a voice for students with disabilities at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, educating administration while nurturing students through a peer mentoring program.

Now living in San Diego, Jen has expanded her skills by becoming active in the bisexual community, beginning by coordinating San Diego Bisexual Forum, then creating the first bisexual support and discussion groups at the LGBT Center. Missing her disability roots, Jen began a blog – People Aren't Broken: Disability from the Inside Out – as a means to articulate to the non-disabled world the day-to-day experiences of one woman who lives with blindness, a chronic illness and mental health issues.

South of the border, Jen had her first taste of mixing disability and sexual orientation when she presented "When Crip and Queer Collide" at a conference linked with Tijuana's annual Pride festival. Asked to join the newly formed San Diego Pride Diversity Task Force, Jen finally discovered she could combine disability and bisexuality activism into one glorious, long-term undertaking, raising awareness of bisexual invisibility while helping to develop concrete accessibility measures for the annual Pride festival. Her outside passions include the local music scene and baking the perfect gluten-free muffin.


Diana Lynn NelsonDiana Lynn Nelson, Chair

Ventura
2nd Term: 3/4/12 - 3/3/18
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Diana Lynn Nelson
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Diana Nelson is self-employed as the Managerial Accountant for A B & B Services. She has a daughter with autism, a daughter with a seizure disorder and her mother has a mental health disability.

Diana served on her local Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for several years. She is proud of the informational booths she organized at her local fair. She has been an active member of the DRC Board since 2006, first as a public member on the OCRA Advisory Council, then as a public member on the Finance Committee, and more recently as a Board member. Diana calls DRC’s work “the civil rights movement for people with disabilities.”

She lives in Ventura with her two daughters and granddaughter. Diana and her family love animals, especially their two dogs (Scooby Doo and Gabby), two Guinea pigs (Tom Cruise and Theo) and one turtle, simply known as Mr. Turtle.

 

Herb AndersonHerb Anderson, Chief Financial Officer

Oakland
2nd Term: 9/23/12 - 9/22/18
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Herb Anderson
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Herb Anderson’s enthusiasm for DRC’s work stems from his daughter, Ashley. She is a talented singer and music aficionado who is visually impaired with a learning disability. DRC provided a wealth of resources and support to Herb’s family after Ashley’s birth.

Herb currently serves as a Special Assistant for Organizational Growth Strategy to the President of Minority Television Project, Inc. (Licensee of KMTP TV, SF Bay Area channel 33). He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Alameda County Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council. The group recommends disability policy to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Herb has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. He held executive leadership positions in both the public and private sector.

 

Charles EhrlichCharles Ehrlich, Secretary

Menlo Park
2nd Term: 3/8/14 - 3/7/20
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Charles Ehrlich
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Chuck Ehrlich's interest in disability issues grows out of the experiences of his younger daughter, Jennifer. Now a college undergraduate, Jennifer has had a chronic disabling illness since junior high school.

Chuck is particularly interested in the challenges faced by those whose disabilities are "invisible." Chuck is a lawyer and business executive with extensive experience in private practice and as a senior level in-house legal counselor. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, and from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley.

After the 101 California gun killings of 1993 in San Francisco, Chuck was the originating founder of Legal Community Against Violence (now the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence), the leading national authority on the legal aspects of firearms issues.  


Lorraine Casto

San Francisco
1st Term: 12/3/16 - 12/2/19
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Lorraine Casto
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Lorraine Casto’s advocacy on behalf of her children sparked both her and their interest in helping others in the disability community. Lorraine has an adult son with cerebral palsy, a daughter with mental health disabilities and a daughter who works as an emergency room nurse. She is a lawyer in private practice at a major international law firm where she handles business litigation matters for her clients. Lorraine also serves on her office’s pro bono committee. She works with Disability Rights California and other legal service organizations to provide pro bono representation to Californians in need.

Lorraine received a B.A. in Economics from San Jose State University and graduated from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2005. She lives with her husband and son in Campbell, California. She enjoys spending time with her adorable toddler granddaughter and the rest of her family.

 

Elizabeth Barrios Gomez Elizabeth Barrior Gomez

Los Angeles
1st Term: 3/6/15 - 3/5/18
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Elizabeth Barrios Gomez
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Elizabeth is a parent and an advocate. Elizabeth is committed to working tirelessly to impact change within underserved communities through advocacy, training, and empowerment. She is currently a CA-LEND trainee Fellow at USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and is a graduate of Partners in Policymaking. Elizabeth is a member of the Local Advisory Committee on Self Determination for Westside Regional Center. She has over 14 years of substantial managerial experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as owned and operated her own business in Beverly Hills. Elizabeth received her B.A. from Woodbury University and lives in West Los Angeles with her husband Fernando and their sons, nine-year-old Oscar Antonio, who has Down syndrome, and eight year-old Diego Antonio.

 

Scott Keller

San Diego
1st Term: 3/11/17 – 3/10/20
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Scott Keller
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Scott Keller describes himself as a “proud and passionate” member of the Deaf community nationwide”. He was born Deaf and comes from three generations of Deaf family members.

Scott formerly worked as the program manager for a daytime recovery center. It serves Deaf adults in San Diego County who struggle with alcohol/drug addiction, mental health disabilities and homelessness. He said it is important to him to serve on the DRC board because “it’s imperative to have an organization like this to give Californians with disabilities a voice”.

He graduated with Bachelors’ degrees in communications and English from Gallaudet University, the only university for the Deaf in the world. Scott recently obtained his Masters’ degree from the University of San Diego’s leadership Studies field. “I hope to use these degrees to help me be a leader in my community.”

Scott has family throughout the United States, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Wisconsin, Ohio, West Virginia and Boston.


Richard Krzyzanowski

South San Gabriel
1st Term: 3/11/17 – 3/10/20
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Richard Krzyzanowski
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Richard Krzyanowski has both professional and personal connections to the disability community. For more than 16 years, he has worked as a mental health advocate, organizer and educator, focusing on ending stigma and promoting social justice.

Richard lived most of his life with an undiagnosed mental health disability. “A crisis caused by severe depression ended my 20-year career in journalism. But I also learned that there were supports available to help me manage my disability. It still takes work. However, now I have the tools I need to stay healthy. Best of all, my new career lets me help others with similar challenges.”

He joined the board of Disability Rights California in 2017, and sits on the Legislation Committee and the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Advisory Council. Richard also sits on the boards of the California Association of Mental Health Patients’ Rights Advocates and the California Association of Mental Health Peer-Run Organizations.

He is a member of the Client and Family Leadership Committee of California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission; and belongs to the Patients’ Rights Committee of the California Mental Health Planning Council.

Richard lives in the Whittier Narrows area of Los Angeles County.


Judy MarkJudy Mark

Los Angeles
2nd Term: 9/23/12 - 9/22/18
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Judy Mark
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Judy Mark has a 20-year-old son with autism and serves as an active volunteer in the disability rights community. She is a member of DRC's Legislation Committee where she helped lead the successful effort to enact the Self-Determination law signed into law by Governor Brown in 2013. She is currently the Government Relations Co-Chair of the Autism Society of L.A.

Judy is a lecturer at UCLA in the Disability Studies Department, teaching a course on Autism and Neurodiversity. She also teaches a graduate course on Disability and Inclusion at California State University Long Beach.

Judy’s previous professional experience includes over 30 years of work with non-profit organizations providing expertise in policy, communications and development, and she spent most of her career in Washington, DC with national advocacy organizations representing immigrants and low-income families.

 

David OsterDavid Oster

Torrance
2nd Term: 9/21/13 - 9/20/19
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: David Oster
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

David Oster is an advocate for people with disabilities. He is a program coordinator for his local chapter of People First of California, South Bay and Harbor Area. He is the director of the non-profit People First Foundation.

David, who has autism, was a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit involving cuts to IHSS and helped pass California’s self-determination law. He believes all people should be able to choose the services they receive, rather than a service coordinator choosing for them. David has served on the DRC board since 2011, an experience he describes as “awesome!”

David is a native of Southern California and lives in Torrance.

 

Hector Ramirez

Hector Ramirez

Canoga Park
1st Term: 12/3/16 - 12/2/19
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Hector Ramirez
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Hector Manuel Ramirez is a lifelong disability rights advocate. He is a Latino Chiricahua Apache who has Autism and Bipolar Disorder. Hector works with county, state and national organizations, and policy makers to create legislation to reduce mental health disparities, especially for racial and ethnic communities.

His work also include presenting at the United Nations and collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For two decades, Hector has volunteered and held board positions with NAMI, Special Olympics and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. He is a member of the advisory committee of the Mental Health Workforce Education and Training with the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). Hector has also been a member of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission for the past five years, where he has served on the Services Committee.

He wanted to serve on the DRC Board because the organization helped him leave the state hospital and pursue his education. “I want to advance DRC’s mission to support the notion that disability rights are human rights.”

Hector holds a PhD in neurochemistry, and has a background in communications and psychology. As a single man, having no biological children, he describes himself as a “Dancle,” that is a dad plus uncle”.

 

 

Pamela Romano

Pamela Romano

Torrance
1st Term: 9/17/16 - 9/16/19
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Pamela Romano
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Pam Romano’s interest in disability issues stems from helping a family member who had mental health disabilities as a child. She became even more involved in the issue when former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger took away funding for county mental health programs through the schools. “Any child with a disability should be entitled to a free and appropriate education,” Pam said.

Before joining DRC’s Board, Pam was a public member of the PAIMI Council (Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness). Pam said she was particularly interested in joining the DRC Board because she believes it is important that all people with disabilities have a voice, especially children with mental health disabilities.

Pam is an Office Manager for Cook’s Doors and Windows. She has 34 years in the industry. She is married with two grown children.

 

Dennis Wall

Reedley
1st Term: 12/3/16 - 12/2/19
Contact: board@disabilityrightsca.org or
Disability Rights California
Attn: Dennis Wall
1831 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Dennis Wall is passionate about advancing the welfare of those with disabilities. He is a retired County Patients’ Rights Advocate from Tulare County who uses mental health services. His personal experience is what drives him to help those in need.

Dennis was active in his community as a county mental health case manager, crisis intervention worker, church elder, and by helping men in recovery using Christian-based recovery principles.

“I feel privileged to serve as a member of the DRC Board of Directors. It’s a great opportunity to stay connected to those experiencing the stigma and suffering what comes with a mental health diagnosis.”

Dennis, who majored in landscape horticulture, is a retired landscape contractor. He is also an owner/operator of a nursery business. He has been married since 1971, has two children, and five grandchildren.

 


Public member biographies

Eric Heckman

1st Term: 12/5/15 - 12/4/18
Legislation Committee

Shakita Jones

1st Term: 8/18/16 - 8/17/19
Program and Planning

Esther Kelsey

1st term: 3/6/15 - 3/5/18
OCRA Advisory Committee

Elizabeth Kimble

1st Term: 9/20/14 - 9/19/17
PAIMI Advisory Council

Ann Wai-Yee Kwong

1st Term: 4/20/17 - 4/19/20
Program and Planning

Howard McBroom

1st Term: 3/6/15 - 3/5/18
OCRA Advisory Committee

Deaka McClain

1st Term: 3/6/15 - 3/5/18
Program and Planning

Michelle Seyler

1st Term: 12/7/16 - 12/6/19
Legislation Committee

Emily Wu Truong

1st Term: 4/21/16 - 4/20/19
PAIMI Advisory Council

Patricia Wells

1st Term: 9/17/16 - 9/16/19
PAIMI Advisory Council

Sam Woolf

1st Term: 4/26/17 - 4/25/20
PAIMI Advisory Council