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Mayor Gloria Announces Appointments to the Commission on the Status of Women


Friday, August 26, 2022


SAN DIEGO In commemoration of Womens Equality Day today, Mayor Todd Gloria announced his appointments to the newly-revived Citys Commission on the Status of Women. In doing so, the Mayor also nominated former U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis to serve as the Commissions Chair.

Despite tremendous progress toward gender equality, theres still a lot of work to be done to ensure women have equal access to opportunity throughout their lives, and cities can play a role in leveling the playing field on that front, said Mayor Todd Gloria. With their diverse experiences, expertise and passions, these commissioners will advise City leaders to ensure women are supported in City policies and decision-making.

In addition to Davis, Mayor Gloria is appointing Laurie Black, Marlyn Carrillo, Dr. Lakeya Cherry, Wendy Urushima-Conn, Susan Davis, Gail Friedt, Joy Utomi Hartmann, Solange Jacobs, Sophie Tarazi, Dana Toppel and Natasha Wong to the Commission on the Status of Women.

Laurie Black is president and CEO of LJ Black Consulting and president of RS Lawrence Development. She is a former president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, Chief of Staff for former U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Schenk and Port Commissioner from 2007-2009. She has also previously served on the Citys Board of Library Commissioners, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Board of Trustees of the University of California, San Diego. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a minor in Women's Studies from San Diego State University. Ms. Black is a resident of Bankers Hill. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2023.

Marlyn Carrillo is the Communications Director at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. Before holding this position, she served as a Press Secretary in the U.S. House of Representatives, News and Social Media Director at KTDO Telemundo, and News Editor and Social Media Director at KRUX 91.5 FM. She brings extensive experience as a press and digital media specialist and has also founded a women's art collective with members in over 30 cities. Ms. Carrillo earned a B.A. in Mass Communications and a B.A. in Spanish from New Mexico State University. She also holds an M.P.A from San Diego State University. Ms. Carrillo is a resident of Normal Heights. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2024.

Dr. Lakeya Cherry is an executive leadership coach who has dedicated her career to the growth and development of individuals and the organizations they serve. Dr. Cherry is a Partner at Evolution, Silicon Valley's premier coaching, consulting, and investment firm for start-ups & high-growth companies to drive long-term, holistic success, and CEO of Lakeya Cherry LLC, an executive coaching and consulting business. Previously, she was the Chief Executive Officer of The Network for Social Work Management an international organization dedicated to strengthening and mobilizing diverse social impact leaders through education, leadership development, networking, and community building for nine years. Dr. Cherry earned a Doctorate in Social Work from the University of Southern California, an M.S. in Social Work from Columbia University, and a B.A. in Psychology and Legal Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Dr. Cherry is a resident of North Park. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2023.

Wendy Urushima-Conn is president and chief executive officer of the Epilepsy Foundation. She has more than 25 years of experience in community outreach, fundraising and marketing. Previously, she served as president and CEO of the Asian Business Association and associate executive director of the Center for Community Solutions, where she was the chief fundraising and marketing officer focusing on sexual assault/domestic violence intervention and prevention. Ms. Urushima-Conn also worked for over a decade at KGTV/10News as a community affairs manager, promotion manager, and a weather and traffic reporter. Ms. Urushima-Conn is a resident of Rancho Bernando. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2024.

Susan Davis is a former U.S. Congresswoman, who represented the City of San Diego in the House of Representatives for 20 years. Prior to her service in Congress, she served as a member of the California State Assembly and a member of the San Diego Unified Board of Education. Throughout her public service career, Ms. Davis has been a champion for education, veterans and womens rights. She earned her B.A. from the University of California Berkeley and a masters degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Davis is a resident of Kensington. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2023.

Gail Friedt has over 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry with leadership experience in pharmaceutical drug development from early development through commercialization. Her areas of expertise include nephrology, critical care, solid organ transplant, hepatology and rare diseases. She has maintained certifications as a Critical Care Registered Nurse and Certified Research Associate. Ms. Friedt is also a retired Captain in the United States Navy Reserves. She earned her B.S.N. from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, and her masters from the University of California, Dominguez Hills. Ms. Friedt is a resident of Hillcrest. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2024.

Joy Utomi Hartmann is a Deputy Attorney General in the Criminal Appeals, Writs, and Trials section of the California Attorney Generals Office. As a criminal prosecutor for the State of California, she handles felony appeals and habeas corpus petitions in state and federal courts. She recently completed her service as a board member of the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation and is also involved in the Lawyers Club, and San Diego County Bar Association. Ms. Utomi Hartmann serves on the University of San Diego School of Law Alumni Association Board of Directors, where she is co-chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee and co-founder of the Advancing Black Leadership and Scholarship in the Law fund. Ms. Utomi Hartmann is a resident of Linda Vista. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2023.

Solange Jacobs is a seasoned marketing executive with more than two decades of experience leading technology companies' product marketing, corporate communications, and brand marketing initiatives. As Chief Marketing Officer for Arena Analytics, she oversees all aspects of marketing, including product marketing, sales enablement and corporate communications. Prior to Arena Analytics, Ms. Jacobs held a series of marketing leadership roles in companies delivering data and analytics, video streaming, consumer electronics and video software solutions, including VizExplorer, NeuLion (now Endeavor Streaming), Rovi Corp (now TiVo) and DivX. She holds an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and an Executive MBA from Quantic School of Business and Technology. Ms. Jacobs is a resident of El Cerrito. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2024.

Sophie Tarazi is an attorney and San Diego native with experience in civil litigation and human rights research and advocacy. She earned her law degree with academic honors from Columbia Law School, where she served on the editorial board of the Columbia Journal of Race and Law and conducted research on fair trials for the Clooney Foundation through Columbias Human Rights Clinic. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington University in St. Louis in Political Science and Anthropology. She previously worked for the International Rescue Committee in San Diego as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. Ms. Tarazi is a resident of Tierrasanta. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2023.

Dana Toppel is the Chief Operating Officer for Jewish Family Service of San Diego. She has over two decades of experience as a nonprofit executive and leader. Prior to her time at Jewish Family Service, she was the Director of Programs and Services at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. Ms. Toppel is the current chair of San Diego for Every Child, a Commissioner for the California Commission on Aging, and a Community Advisory Board member for the San Diego Union-Tribune. She holds a bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin, a masters degree in social work and a masters degree in business administration from San Diego State University. Ms. Toppel is a resident of Del Cerro. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2024.

Natasha Wong is an international law attorney who began her career in San Diego as the Executive Director of the Chinese Service Center. She is the co-founder of San Diegos first fully licensed Chinese bilingual preschool and is the current Superintendent and former Principal of the Chinese School of San Diego. She holds law licenses in the State of California, the District of Columbia and is also on the Roll of Solicitors for the Supreme Court of England and Wales. Ms. Wong was also appointed by the County Board of Supervisors to serve as a trustee of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association. She holds a bachelors degree in Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctorate from Whittier Law School, and a Master of Law in International Law from the University of San Diego, School of Law. She will be serving a two-year term ending April 5, 2023.

The above appointments are subject to City Council approval. Once appointed, the commissioners will help address the needs of women in the San Diego area and recommend programs designed to alleviate any inequities that may confront women in social, economic and vocational pursuits.

Women have made and continue to make significant contributions to society, said Councilmember Dr. Jennifer Campbell, representative for District 2. I applaud Mayor Gloria for nominating a diverse group of dynamic women. I look forward to seeing how these women will advocate for all women in San Diego.

The Commission on the Status of Women was first established in 1973 as the Advisory Board on the Status of Women to advise the Mayor, City Council and other agencies of City government. To learn more about the commission, visit Mayor Gloria revived the Citys Commission on the Status of Women, which had been inactive for more than two decades, this past spring.

I am proud that we as a City are taking issues concerning women and girls seriously including looking at ways to eliminate inequities in our local laws and practices, said Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, representative for District 5. I thank the proposed commissioners in advance for their hard work and dedication that they will put in to make our City a more equitable place for all.