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March 14, 2024: George Gascón Launches First Interfaith Advisory Board in L.A. County District Attorney History

Media Relations Division
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LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today the creation of the office’s first-ever Interfaith Advisory Board. The Interfaith Advisory Board is the sixth advisory board Gascón formed since he took office in December 2020. The advisory boards provide a space for open dialogue with an eye towards creating a more inclusive, safer, and trusting relationship with communities countywide.

“Faith-based organizations have long been at the forefront of social justice movements, advocating for the rights of marginalized and underserved populations,” District Attorney Gascón said. “Our County is a rich tapestry of cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds, and it’s imperative that our criminal justice system reflects and respects this diversity.

“Our first-ever Interfaith Advisory Board comes at a time when religious racism, discrimination, and hate crimes are still prevalent throughout our communities and the nation. Our new board will advise my office on policies and practices that promote fairness, inclusivity, and cultural competency.”

The advisory board will meet regularly to provide input on addressing faith-based hate crimes, conduct outreach to diverse spiritual communities, and advise the District Attorney on matters pertaining to interfaith perspectives in the pursuit of equitable justice. They also will work to improve diversity and inclusion within the office itself.                                               

The founding members of the Interfaith Advisory Board include:

  • Rabbi Sharon Brous, is the senior and founding rabbi at IKAR in Mid-Wilshire. In 2013 she blessed President Obama and Vice President Biden at the Inaugural National Prayer Service and returned in 2021 to bless President Biden and Vice President Harris, and then to lead the White House Passover Seder that spring. She sits on the faculty of the Hartman Institute-North America, the national steering committee for the Poor People’s Campaign, and the advisory board of Dayenu, a Jewish Call to Climate Justice.
  • Rabbi Dr. Aryeh Cohen, is a rabbi and professor at American Jewish University and a former chair of the Rabbinics Department in the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. His research and scholarship sit at the intersection of Talmud, Jewish ethics, and social justice activism. Rabbi Cohen is a co-convener of the Black Jewish Justice Alliance (BJJA), a member of Clergy for Black Lives, and serves as a commissioner on the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission.
  • Rabbi Susan Goldberg, is the founder of Nefesh, a progressive spiritual community in L.A.’sEastside focusing on revitalizing the area’s Jewish community. A fourth generation Angeleno, she led the renewal of the historic Wilshire Blvd Temple in Koreatown and Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park. She has designed and facilitated workshops for organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, spearheaded a pilot program supporting youths in the L.A. County foster care system, and is a national board member for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice.
  • Rabbi Heather Miller, is the founder of Keeping It Sacred (KITS), a global community dedicated to the exploration of sacred texts, the practice of meaningful rituals, and the pursuit of social justice. She is involved with NewGround Muslim-Jewish Partnership, the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis, the Los Angeles Board of Rabbis, and the Interfaith Presidents Council and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. She has served as spiritual leader for congregations across the nation including the world’s first LGBT-founded Jewish synagogue. 
  • Rabbi Sarah Hronsky, is the senior rabbi at Temple Beth Hillel in Valley Village, North Hollywood. Named “the Inclusive Leader” by the Jewish Journal, she is a fellow of the three-year Rabbinic Leadership Initiative of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem. She received the 2023 Pioneer Women Award from the City of Los Angeles, which recognizes individuals who have dedicated a significant part of their lives to promoting gender equality and advancing the status of women and girls.
  • Najeeba Syeed, is the inaugural El-Hibri Endowed Chair at Augsburg University and the Executive Director of Interfaith Institute at Augsburg. Professor Syeedhas also served as an Associate Professor of Interreligious Education at the Claremont School of Theology and Associate Professor of Muslim and Interreligious Studies at Chicago Theological Seminary. She is recognized as a leader in peacebuilding and social justice-based research and practice and was named Southern California Mediation Association’s “Peacemaker of the Year” in 2007. 
  • Tahil Sharma, is an interfaith activist based in Southern California born to a Hindu father and a Sikh mother. He is the regional coordinator for North America at the United Religions Initiative, serving dozens of grassroots interfaith communities. He also serves as an interfaith minister in residence for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, is a board member for Sadhana: A Coalition of Progressive Hindus and is a member of the Racial Justice and Religion Collective at Aspen Institute’s Religion and Society Program.
  • Mary Stancavage, is a dharma teacher with a deep commitment to engaged Buddhism. She is co-chair of the board of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE) and founder of Undefended Dharma. She is part of the Meditation Coalition, committed to ethical behavior and social justice. She has served as executive director of the Mind Body Awareness Project in Oakland and is part of the Guiding Teachers’ Council at Insight Community of the Desert.  
  • Elder Joe Paul, is vice president of the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership. Elder Paul is a seasoned reentry professional working with ex-offenders, high-risk adults, and community service and faith-based organizations. He is an ordained elder and has served as director of Political and Civic Affairs for the honorable Bishop Noel Jones for the past 9 years. He is a commissioner for the Inmate Welfare Fund, for Sheriff Robert Luna. Since his own reentry more than 25 years ago, Elder Paul has devoted his life to public service.
  • Pastor Stephen “Cue” Jn-Marie, is a former hip hop recording artist and the founding pastor of Church Without Walls/The Row Church, located in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. Pastor Cue is also affiliated with the Black Jewish Justice Alliance (BJJA) and is a Co-convener of the Black and Brown Clergy and Community coalition. His work includes helping to address unjust public policy issues in Los Angeles, as well as advocating for the rights of the unhoused, immigrants, Muslims, and other marginalized peoples.
  • Rev. Dr. James Thomas, Assistant Professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA and Pastor of Living Word Community Church, blends academia and spirituality to address societal issues. He attended Fuller Theological Seminary where he was appointed as Special Advisor to the President on diversity and is a former Benjamin Mays Scholar. As President of the San Fernando Valley NAACP and co-founder of Clergy for Black Lives, Rev. Thomas empowers communities and is a dedicated champion of social justice and lived equality.
  • Rev. Gary B. Williams, is the pastor at St. Mark United Methodist Church in the heart of South L.A. An ordained elder in the California Pacific Annual Conference, he is co-chair of the CLUE Justice Board of Directors. He has served on the General Board of Church and Society’s Advisory Team; chairs the Cal Pac Conference Committee working to End Mass Incarceration and was past chair of Strengthening the Black Church Conference Committee. He founded the Full Circle Recovery Ministry, a group working to end gun and gang violence in South L.A.
  • Rev. Ivory R. F. Brown serves as pastor of Brown Memorial Temple Church of God In Christ, located in Pomona, where he was co-pastor from 1997 to 2003. He is CEO of Project: Caring and Sharing (PCS), the community service arm of the church. Pastor Brown is also deputy director of the Church of God In Christ’s National Prison, Jail and Hospital Ministry. He was featured in Ebony/Jet magazine’s “People to Watch” in 1996.

Learn more about each member of the LADA Interfaith Advisory Board here.