League of Women Voters of Los Angeles 2015 - 2016 Board of Directors
Martha Sklar, President
Martha Sklar was born in Havana, Cuba and immigrated to Detroit, MI when she was eight and a half years old. Martha has a BA and MA in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Mathematics Education. She taught mathematics at high school and community college levels. Later she entered administration and was Dean of Academic Affairs at Los Angeles City College until her retirement eleven years ago. Upon joining the League she served on both the LWVLA and the LWV Ed Fund Boards. She previously served as Treasurer of LWVLA for six years and is currently co-President of the League with Maria Montero. She has two sons, Benjamin and Jonathan.
Mona Field, 1st Vice President
Mona Field retired from a long career teaching Political Science at Glendale Community College. She also served 4 terms on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, helping oversee the operations of the nine colleges in the nation's largest community college district. During her 16 years on the LACCD Board, she served twice as Board President. She is author of a widely used college textbook (California Government and Politics Today, 14th ed), and has written numerous articles on California politics, labor issues, environmental concerns and much more. Mona currently volunteers with the LWVLA, the Executive Service Corps and the Los Angeles Leadership Academy.
Crissi Avila, 2nd Vice President
Crissi Avila has been an active Real Estate Agent in the City of Los Angeles since 2004 and is now working with the collective, Realty. In 2009 she started her own company CnC Group LLC partnering with other investors to provide above average returns in real estate during the financial downturn. Crissi has been a resident of LA since her beginnings and has volunteered with many local community groups and organizations. She started in the 1990's with the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Political Committee and helped elect local officials. Later she worked with the California Clean Money Campaign as the Pasadena Coordinator and sat on the Board of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council. She is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, earning a BA in Communications and is very excited to be the 2nd Vice President of the Board of the League of Women Voters, Los Angeles!
Jodi Doane, Secretary
Jodi Doane is a native of Chicago and was an active board member of the League of Women Voters of Chicago from 2012 until she relocated to Los Angeles in August 2015. She is committed to social justice and performing tikkun olam, repairing the world. She fights for youth development, common sense gun laws, sensible juvenile justice practices, fair and compassionate immigration, self-sufficiency through employment, and animal welfare; and against human trafficking. She assists non-profit organizations across the nation in their efforts through program development, board training and grant writing.
Michelle Dennis, Treasurer
Michelle Dennis participated in the local government public policymaking process in varying roles and policy arenas for 38 years: at Los Angeles County (1965-1978) as urban planner; public welfare budget analyst and director of welfare research; budget analyst in a county CAO's office; Health Department contracts administrator; budget director of a county mental health agency; and as a private sector financial consultant to various public agencies (1979-1983). She was also Director of Finance/City Controller for the City of Santa Monica, California (1983-2003).
She served as president of the League of California Cities Fiscal Officers Department during FY 2000/2001. She was on the Board of Directors of the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO), and she is a Past President of the statewide Utility Users Tax Technical Task Force.
She has a BA in Political Science (1964), an MPA (1965) from UCLA, and completed all requirements except dissertation for a doctoral program in Public Administration at the University of Southern California (1981). She is also a Certified Public Finance Officer. Michelle studied under Professor A.G. Ramos at the University of Southern California and assisted him in the preparation of his book, The New Science of Organizations: a Reconceptualization of the Wealth of Nations. She has published in Administration & Society, the National Tax Journal, and her article "Beyond `Root' and `Branch': Towards a New Science of Policy Making" was published in Brazil in the book Politicas Publicas E Desenvolvimento, Bases epistemologicas e modelos de analise [Public Policy and Development: epistemological grounds and frameworks for analysis]. She has taught public administration at the University of Southern California, the Universidade Federal De Santa Catarina, Brazil, and at the Luskin School of Public Affairs at UCLA (2004- 2015). Michelle Dennis is transgender and formerly was Charles M. (Mike) Dennis.
Carol Eisner, Communications Chair
Carol Eisner is a publicist with 20+ years of experience across a wide range of industries, topics and issues. Carol obtains press coverage and has garnered national visibility for clients on outlets like CNN, Fox News,The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Tavis Smiley Show, Link TV, Huffington Post, Voice of America, Los Angeles Business Journal, KCET-TV, and local news outlets.
With respect to social change, Carol has garnered coverage on issues like healthcare, children's health ("First Five"), global water issues, diabetes, ("Diabesity" from Random House). Many of her author-clients have books associated with university-based publishers including Yale University Press, Columbia University Press, and Oxford University Press. Eisner has also worked on one of the most highly visible national criminal murder cases of 2014. Carol has also been involved with high-profile live events on Capitol Hill, working directly with members of Congress.
Passionate about her work, Eisner began her career at Paramount Studios on production staff for "Star Trek: The Next Generation" during its first five seasons. A member of the Writers Guild of America, she also serves on the advocacy committee of the American Diabetes Association, which takes her to Washington every other year, and is a board member, NCMNetwork ((Nonprofit Communications & Media).
Harriet Borson, Unit Coordinator
Harriet Borson graduated from UCLA with a degree in education and from CSUN with an MA in Child Development/Education Psychology. She taught in LAUSD and in BHUSD. She was a member of the LWV in Los Angeles and then in Beverly Hills in the sixties and seventies. She has always been an involved advocate for the education and health of children and families. Harriet was a long time member of the California State PTA Board serving on the Legislation Action Committee and was Director of Legislation for eight years. During that time she chaired the CSPTA participation in many State Ballot measures. Since rejoining LWV in 2009 she chaired the National Education study 2010-2011, has presented ballot Pros & Cons, been active with the Voter Service Committee and the Program Committee and is a member of the Education Committee. Harriet served on the LWVLA Board and LWVLA Education Fund Board 2013-2115. She has two sons and is grandmother of two grandsons who attend Eugene Oregon Public Schools.
Sharon L Aikins, Board Director
Sharon L. Akins owns and operates Precision Management Solutions, LLC, a professional business management consulting firm with particular expertise in transformation strategies involving the trading and operational processes within investment banking global markets.
Sharon has over twenty-five years experience in the securities and investment industry working with such firms as HSBC, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, NASDAQ OMX, Oracle, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, UBS, Salomon Smith Barney and Prudential Securities. She has effectively combined her experience with principles of efficiency, strategy development and execution and program management. She delivers to her clients a vision of both top-down and bottom-up approaches to managing everyday business processes, regulatory change initiatives and pivotal business strategies.
Sharon's current focus is managing the strategy and development of risk and compliance programs across several financial institutions, a major stock exchange and two third party vendor providers in response to the changing global regulatory environment. Sharon has expert knowledge of the regulations and changes prompted by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 ("Dodd-Frank").
Ms. Akins also has extensive not-for-profit experience. She was a Campaign Associate at the United Way of New York City, a charitable health and human services organization, where she organized and managed a $5.5 million dollar fundraising campaign from New York State Employees and local chapters of national unions. She has been a volunteer at the Fresh Air Fund, where she served for three years as a career mentor and fundraiser, serving as a role model for underprivileged youth. Sharon has also participated for several years as a Junior Achievement volunteer teaching economics and the fundamental principles of money and investing to seventh, eighth and ninth grade students.
Sharon is a 1988 graduate of Vassar College, where she majored in both political science and economics and a 1992 graduate of the University of Baltimore, School of Law.
As a second generation American, Sharon inherited the principles of a strong work ethic, unwavering tenacity and good old-fashioned congeniality from both her parents and grandparents. Sharon spends her time split between homes in West Hollywood, CA and New York, NY.
Elizabeth Vitanza, Board Director
Elizabeth Vitanza was born and raised in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. She earned a BA in French at Ohio State University and moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to earn a doctorate in French and Francophone Studies at UCLA. She has taught French at Marlborough School since 2008.
The first election she voted in was Bush v. Gore, which helped her understand that every vote counts. Between class, Elizabeth is now working on increasing civic engagement with her students by teaching them how to pre-register to vote and be informed voters in elections at all levels of government.
She lives in Glendale with her husband and son
Sheana Knighton, Board Director
With more than a decade of experience in entertainment-based communications and public relations, Sheana Knighton currently serves as Director of Communications at Principal Communications Group, a media and entertainment focused communications firm in Los Angeles. An east coast native, Sheana moved to Los Angeles in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Public Relations from Ball State University.
She began her volunteer service as a Chapter Advisor for the UCLA chapter of Gamma Phi Beta with a focus on developing leadership skills among college-aged women. Sheana has also volunteered with Girls on the Run, an organization aimed to build confidence within young women through running; Habitat for Humanity and is an avid advocate for rescue animals.
Kathleen Stokes, Board Director
Kathleen Stokes was born in the South, and attended school in Memphis and Nashville (Vanderbilt U.). After graduation, she moved to Washington DC, working in MD state government. Kathleen and her husband later moved to Chicago IL where she returned to school to study Computer Science at DePaul University, specializing in large relational databases. Her subsequent career in IT allowed her to travel all over the country, eventually moving back and forth among Chicago, Los Angeles, and France. In the Chicago suburbs she joined the League of Women Voters, in Park Ridge and later in Downers Grove, serving at different times as President, Co-president, Publicity Chair, Voter Services committee, and Board member at large. Kathleen also served as Chair of the Park District Referendum Committee, and Nominating Committee Chairman and President of the School Board Caucus, among other volunteer civic activities. Her last LWV position was in Downers Grove, Illinois, as co-chairman of the committee to eliminate election gerrymandering. They collected signatures for petitions in two separate campaigns, modeling them on what she learned earlier as an LWVLA member (Los Virgenes unit). After retirement she moved to North Hollywood, and joined the Valley unit of the LWVLA, presently serving on the Community Policing Committee.
Nancy Watson, Board Director
Nancy Watson has worked with government and non-profits across Los Angeles County and the U.S. to strengthen public health systems for children and adults and is currently at First 5 LA. She led local and state-coalitions to strengthen the safety net in Los Angeles and pass state legislation as a Policy Director at Community Health Councils (CHC). She also engaged elected officials, policy experts, advocates and community groups to develop the South LA Health Equity Scorecard, a report that provided recommendations to improve residents' health resources, environmental conditions and safety to create a healthier South LA. She has developed and managed staff teams and was part of CHC's senior management responsible for strategic planning, fundraising, and other operations. At First 5 LA, she works with grantees and partners to improve services, leadership and advocacy to promote the well-being of young children. She served on the California Hospital Assessment and Reporting Task Force subcommittee from 2006-2009. Nancy became an active member of the League of Women Voters Los Angeles in October 2016 and is a volunteer on the Development Committee. She has a Master of Social Work and a BA in Psychology. Nancy enjoys sports and cultural activities and has a 5-year old daughter, Cadence.
Virginia Wexman, Board Director
Virginia Wexman moved to downtown Los Angeles four years ago after retiring from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was Professor of English and Art History. She is the author of several books on film as well as numerous articles in scholarly journals and the popular press. At UIC she initiated and chaired the University's program in Moving Image Arts, and she was President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies from 1993-95. Her BA, MA and PhD are all from the University of Chicago. After moving to Los Angeles, she became fascinated with the challenges the city faces, especially in the realms of housing and transit. Since joining the League in 2016, she has presented Ballot Pros and Cons, participated in interviews with state legislators, and helped to register voters. She also serves on the League's Homeless Action Committee.