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Eight selected to serve on Encinitas Equity Committee

Encinitas welcoming sign
(Charlie Neuman)

Group to offer advice on housing, public safety, transportation and environmental justice

A new committee tasked with offering city officials advice on equity issues will have eight community members with widely varying backgrounds and job experiences.

“This is an impressive group of people,” Mayor Catherine Blakespear said of the 16 applicants.

She selected eight of them, saying that number, plus herself and Councilwoman Kellie Shay Hinze, will make up a group of 10 people — a size she called both workable and meaningful.

As the city’s mayor, Blakespear has the authority to select the candidates and the council then votes on whether to approve her recommendations. Last week’s vote to approve was unanimous, though councilmen Tony Kranz and Joe Mosca said they wished Blakespear had included applicant Dan Vaughn, the director of St. Andrew’s Interfaith Shelter program and the president of the Olivenhain Town Council.

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t find a spot for him as a member of the faith community here in Encinitas,” said Kranz, who initially attempted to make a substitute motion to change the mayor’s list.

Blakespear told him she wanted people with many different perspectives on the new committee, and Hinze noted that the committee meetings will be open to the public, so all of the applicants will be able to attend them even if they weren’t selected as committee members. The group’s first gathering is planned for May 18.

The new committee members are:

  • Allison Blackwell — a chief diversity and inclusion officer at Danaher Corporation who has 25 years of experience working as a labor and employment attorney;
  • Joanie Corrales — an office manager at Ocean Knoll Elementary School who’s lived in Encinitas for more than 50 years and is her school’s lead contact person for many assistance programs, such as Operation School Bell;
  • Sara Langill — an Encinitas resident who is the diversity and inclusion manager at San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and co-founded EncinitasEats and Ride on Encinitas to help the community during the pandemic;
  • Mario Ordonez-Calderon — a Mexican-American of Mayan descent who has lived in Encinitas for six years and founded Un Mar De Colores, a nonprofit that provides free surfing instruction to children of color and other under-served youth;
  • Ross Ridder — a city Parks and Recreation Commission member and a former Air Force officer who spoke to the council about his experiences as a gay man and how he feels there is hope for the new equity movement given how society’s attitudes toward gay people have changed in recent decades;
  • Robin Sales — a retired clinical social worker who is a member of the Encinitas4Equality’s public safety group, serves on the NAACP’s Joint Police Accountability Task Force, speaks Spanish fluently and is a longtime volunteer at the Community Resource Center;
  • Marlon Taylor — a 14-year Encinitas resident who was elected to the Encinitas Union School Board last year, serves as president of the Seagate Village Homeowners Association, is vice president of the Encinitas4Equality group and works as a diversity and inclusion advisor for a San Diego company;
  • Mali Woods-Drake — the president and co-founder of the Encinitas4Equality community group who has lived in Encinitas for seven years, works for the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West union and told the council that she considers herself a “lifelong activist for social justice” because her parents were community organizers who worked in Mississippi when she was born.

The new city-sponsored committee will be tasked with providing advice on ways to “create safe, healthy, accessible, and inclusive opportunities for everyone who lives, works and visits Encinitas,” its purpose statement declares. It will offer suggestions to the city to help it plan and prioritize projects, as well as “frame how we work with our communities and public safety personnel; define how we recruit and develop our employees; guide our efforts to compile and interpret data and set up expectations for stakeholders and sub-contractors that work with us.”
Blakespear and Hinze put forward the idea of creating the committee earlier this year, saying they wanted to create a space where people who are active in various diversity-related issues could come together and build on the community engagement that’s occurred since last summer’s racial justice protests.

—Barbara Henry is a freelancer writer for The San Diego Union-Tribune


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