LOS ANGELES – Today, George Gascón’s campaign for Los Angeles District Attorney is proud to announce it’s all-star policy committee. In addition to the individuals below, Team Gascón is grateful to the treasure trove of brilliant individuals who continue to contribute their time, ideas, and passion to our campaign to reform and modernize the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. In the days and weeks ahead the campaign will unveil a host of policy reports detailing George Gascón’s proposals on topics ranging from law enforcement accountability, juvenile justice, to behavioral health.
Members of George Gascón’s Public Policy Committee Include:
Tara Regan Anderson
Tara has over 18 years of experience working within and closely with local and state governments to provide services and improve outcomes for individuals and families impacted by justice systems. Tara is Director of Policy at the Office of San Francisco District Attorney. Tara manages a portfolio of 25 federal, state and local grants, serves as office policy liaison for issues related to sentencing, pre-trial diversion, human trafficking, domestic violence, victim services, bail reform, and data driven decision-making. Tara transitioned to the District Attorney’s Office after serving as the Senior Planner and Policy Analyst for the Violence Prevention and Intervention Unit at San Francisco’s Department of Children Youth and Their Families.
Tara previously served as the Children and Family Programs Manager for Centerforce, a NGO/CBO working with individuals incarcerated in state prison and county jail, their families and persons recently released from jails and prisons in Northern and Central California. In her role as Children and Family Programs Manager Tara supervised the San Quentin State Prison (SQSP) Visitors Center- a multi service hospitality center for visiting loved ones; Families Moving Forward- a family reunification case management program based out of Marin County Jail; Back to Family- a family reunification case management program based out of SQSP; the LIFE mentoring program- which serves youth whom have an incarcerated parent; and Live Love Learn- a peer health education HIV prevention program working with SQSP women visitors. In addition, the Vera Institute of Justice and the Center for Restorative Justice Works have contracted Tara for her subject matter expertise and policy analysis. In 2019, Tara was appointed by the community and City Council to serve on the Oakland Police Commission.
Tara received her B.S. in Criminal Justice and minor in International Politics at Northeastern University and her M.P.P. at the Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley.
Tiffiny Townend Blacknell
Tiffiny Townend Blacknell is a lifelong resident of Los Angeles County. After graduating from Inglewood High School in 1994, she earned a BA in Philosophy from California State University Dominguez Hills and then enrolled in the University of Southern California Law School. Tiffiny received her JD from USC Law in 2002 and immediately began working as a Deputy Public Defender in Los Angeles.
Tiffiny has worked as a Deputy Public Defender for almost 17 years. She has handled misdemeanor cases, juvenile adjudications as well as complex serious felonies. Tiffiny is a married mother of three and is currently Co-Chair of the Women’s Defender Association, Past President of the Black Public Defenders Association, and on the Board of Directors for a Non Profit Re-Entry Foundation which assists formerly incarcerated people to reintegrate into their community. She is passionate about criminal justice reform and appears regularly in panel discussions surrounding criminal justice issues. Tiffiny recently joined the Political and Legislative Action Committee for the Los Angeles Public Defender Union.
Alisa Blair is a native Angelino and has been an attorney with the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office since 2003. During that time Ms. Blair has been lead trial counsel in over 50 jury trials for charges ranging from resisting arrest to first degree murder, as well as a supervisor in the office’s juvenile division. Until December of 2019, Alisa Blair most recently handled juvenile “transfer” cases, where the District Attorney is seeking to transfer minors to adult court. In 2018, Alisa was successful in keeping two juvenile clients under juvenile court jurisdiction after contested hearings. Both minors were charged with violent murders. These successes were instrumental in Ms. Blair being the 2018 recipient of the Judi Schecter Juvenile Lawyer of the Year award.
Alisa Blair attended the University of California, Berkeley where she majored in Sociology with an emphasis in Race and Ethnic relations and a minor in African American Studies. Alisa went on to attend the University of Southern California school of law where she earned her Juris Doctorate. Alisa Blair was awarded the Miller-Johnson Equal Justice Award by the law school. Ms. Blair co-authored a published chapter entitled, Race and Ethnicity as a Compound Risk Factor in Police Interrogation of Youth, and is the author of, A Guide to Cash Bail, published in the Chaos + Comrades digital magazine.
Alisa Blair is the most recent past president of the Black Public Defenders Association, Chairperson of the Law Clerk Recruitment Committee, and a member of the Public Defender Union Political Action Committee.
Alex Busansky is the president and founder of Impact Justice, a national innovation and research center based in Oakland, CA and Washington, DC, which works to create a more humane and restorative system of justice in the United States.
Alex began his career as a prosecutor at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. He later worked for the US Department of Justice in Washington, DC, where he investigated and prosecuted cases across the nation involving excessive use of force by federal, state, and local law enforcement and corrections officers and racial and religious hate crimes. In 2002 he served as counsel to Senator Russ Feingold on the US Senate Judiciary Committee and worked on a broad range of juvenile justice, criminal justice, and national security issues. Alex joined the Vera Institute of Justice as executive director of the Commission on Safety and Abuse for America’s Prisons two years later, and was the founding director of the Vera Washington, DC office. Alex also served as an adjunct professor at American University School of Law, co-teaching the Prosecution Seminar. He joined the National Council on Crime & Delinquency as president in 2010. During his tenure, Alex led the organization to become a leader working at the forefront of criminal justice reform. In 2011 he served as a member of the Los Angeles County Commission on Jail Violence.
Alex earned his Juris Doctor at the Georgetown University Law Center and received a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He lives in the Bay Area with his wife and children.
Erwin Chemerinsky is the Dean of Berkeley Law and an expert in constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation.
He is the author of twelve books, including leading casebooks and treatises about constitutional law, criminal procedure, and federal jurisdiction. He also is the author of more than 200 law review articles. He writes a regular column for the Sacramento Bee, monthly columns for the ABA Journal and the Daily Journal, and frequent op-eds in newspapers across the country. He frequently argues appellate cases, including in the United States Supreme Court.
In 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017, National Jurist magazine again named Dean Chemerinsky as the most influential person in legal education in the United States.
Cristine Soto DeBerry
Cristine Soto DeBerry is a policy strategist, specializing in generating and implementing cutting edge criminal justice reform.
As the two-term Chief of Staff for San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Cristine oversaw the staff and operations of one of the country’s largest prosecutors offices. With over twenty years of legal and policy experience she guided many successful large-scale reforms including developing the nation’s first proactive mass record clearance for marijuana convictions, creating the nations first “blind charging” tool, creating a national model for investigating police shootings and use of force and drafting the nation’s broadest record clearance bill. Cristine also played a central role in the drafting and passage of Proposition 47 (drug and theft reforms) and assisted with Propositions 34 (death penalty) and 36 (three strikes). These efforts have resulted in San Francisco returning to record low incarceration levels while maintaining historic crime reductions not seen since the 1960s.
Cristine career achievements to bring economic and social justice to the communities she serves are driven by her life experience as an immigrant and daughter of single teenage mother. Her previous work includes, serving as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s Deputy Chief of Staff, overseeing his policy teams, legislation and initiatives. Cristine started her career as a labor organizer and a public defender in Los Angeles. Throughout her career she has engaged in substantial community leadership through nonprofit organizations. She is a board member of the Center for Employment Opportunities, the Association of Marin Latino Attorneys, Summit Criminal Justice Think Tank and serves as a director for the Southern Marin Fire District.
Joseph is a public servant, community leader and LGBTQ+ activist. Prior to becoming an LA County Deputy District Attorney, he served as a high school teacher and criminal defense attorney.
Joseph was the first progressive candidate to challenge Jackie Lacey in her 2020 bid for re-election. He represents a generational shift within the DA’s office, challenging the same politics as usual and building a movement to reclaim the District Attorney’s office for the people.
In November 2019, Joseph withdrew his candidacy for DA to support George Gascon, recognizing that the movement to change the DA’s office and bring it into the 21st century would be best accomplished by Gascon. Joseph remains committed to making the DA’s office more fair, accountable, and accessible to all communities.
Dr. S. Rebecca Neusteter has dedicated her career to advancing equity in the criminal justice system. Her work has spanned the country, focusing on reducing justice system contact, disparities, and collateral consequences as well as enhancing public safety, participation, and opportunities. Rebecca served until recently as the Vera Institute of Justice’s director of policing.
Previously she served as director of research, policy, and planning for the NYPD. Prior to that position, Rebecca served as director of criminal justice for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, research associate for the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, director of criminal justice programs for The Doe Fund, senior analyst for the NYC Office of Management and Budget, and deputy director of planning for the Center for Employment Opportunities.
Rebecca holds several appointments, including trustee of Friends of Island Academy, a nonprofit organization that supports and brings opportunity to youth during and after their time in New York City jails; Research Advisory Board member of the Police Executive Research Forum; and Research Advisory Committee member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Rebecca holds a PhD in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of the Graduate Center, City University of New York, an MS in urban policy analysis and management from the Milano Graduate School of the New School University, and a BA in sociology from Chapman University.
Chris Newman is the Legal Director and General Counsel for the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), a national member-based organization headquartered in Los Angeles.
He started working with day laborers in 2002 when, while in law school, he volunteered nearly full-time to open and build El Centro Humanitario para los Trabajadores, a day laborer worker center in Denver, Colorado. Upon graduating, he received an Academy of Educational Development New Voices Fellowship, and in 2004 he became NDLON’s first attorney. Since then, he has helped develop and coordinate all aspects of NDLON’s work to protect day laborers’ civil, workplace, and human rights throughout the United States. Over the years, Chris’s work integrating law & organizing has been widely emulated, and he has mentored and opened opportunities for young lawyers and organizers throughout the country.
Chris currently teaches a class on the law and politics of immigration within the Department of the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at UCLA. He is a Transatlantic Forum on Migration and Integration fellow at the German Marshall Fund. He earned his J.D. with honors from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.
Heidi Segal has devoted her professional and a much of her personal life to public service and social justice. She began her career in New York City where she worked for the Legal Aid Society as a public defender and as a capital defense attorney. She later redirected her focus to advancing policy reforms throughout the country at the Vera Institute of Justice; first as an associate director of their State Sentencing and Corrections Program, and later as the founding director of their Youth Justice Programs. She also had the opportunity to consult there on a variety of projects including work done with district attorneys’ offices to study and reduce disparity in discretionary decision making.
Upon moving to Los Angeles with her family in 2008, Heidi began consulting with non-profits, assisting in strategic planning, organizational management, and risk assessment and containment. She has also continued to advocate for reforms advancing racial and economic equity and reducing bias in juvenile justice, child welfare, sentencing and corrections, and access to housing.
She has served on the board of Homeless Healthcare Los Angeles, and served and chaired the board of New Los Angeles Charter School. Currently she sits on the executive board of Temple Israel of Hollywood, the leadership of the Black and Jewish Justice Alliance, and is on the Oversight Committee for the North American Board of Reform Judaism and as the vice chair for the Commission of Social Action for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Heidi received a law degree from New York University and a BA in political science and sociology from Vassar College.
Stephen Rohde is a constitutional lawyer, lecturer, writer and political activist. He is the Chair Emeritus of Bend the Arc, previously the Chair of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, a founder and current Vice-Chair of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Chair of Death Penalty Focus. He is a past president of the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
Michael Romano teaches criminal justice policy at Stanford Law School and is the director of the Three Strikes and Justice Advocacy Project.
He has written several academic and popular-press articles on criminal sentencing reform, recidivism and reentry, and mental health issues in the criminal justice system. He is the principal author of the Three Strikes Reform Act of 2012 (Proposition 36) and actively represents inmates serving life sentences for nonviolent crimes in state and federal courts across the country. In 2015, he partnered with the Obama White House and U.S. Dept. of Justice to support the president’s initiative on executive clemency. In 2019, Governor Newsom appointed him as the inaugural chair of the California Penal Code Revision Committee. He has received numerous honors and awards, including being named as one of California’s top lawyers. His work has been profiled in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Economist, and in the award-winning PBS documentary, The Return.*
*For ID purposes only
George Gascón grew up in Los Angeles after his family immigrated from Cuba. An army veteran, Gascón served as a Los Angeles Police Department Officer for 30 years, rising to the rank of Assistant Chief of Operations. In 2006 he became Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona, where he stood up to the hateful and anti-immigrant policies of then Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. In 2009, then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom appointed Gascón Chief of Police. Newsom turned to Gascón again in 2011 when he tapped him to be District Attorney to fill the seat vacated by an outoing Kamala Harris who had been elected Attorney General. During his tenure Gascón implemented reforms that are being duplicated across the country while overseeing violent crime and homicides drop to rates not seen in 50 years. After being elected to two terms, Gascón returned to Los Angeles to care for his elderly mother and to be closer to his two daughters and grandchildren in Long Beach. Gascón is married to Fabiola Kramsky, a three-time Emmy Award winning journalist and recipient of the “Premio Nacional de Periodismo,” the highest recognition given to journalists in Mexico.