Human Relations Commission

Building bridges, advancing equity, promoting peace

The Human Relations Commission, a mayor-appointed advisory board, promotes intergroup peacebuilding, equity, and human rights in the City of Los Angeles by transforming community engagement and dialogue into sustainable programs and policy.

Who are we?

Speaker presenting to community group.
 

Mission

The Human Relations Commission is an unbiased City advisory board mandated to promote equal participation in the civic process through innovative peacebuilding programs, models, and policy recommendations designed to reduce discrimination, increase cultural competency, improve intergroup relations, and promote civil and human rights for all.

Vision

The HRC envisions a pluralistic civil society free of racism, discrimination, and violence, where residents may live and work in an environment of respect, mutual tolerance, and human diversity.

Values

  • Maintain neutrality in approach, engage deeply and thoughtfully in action
  • Diversity of culture and opinion should be honored and celebrated
  • Respectful and productive dialogue is a powerful tool for change
  • City processes should incorporate grassroots community input through bottom-up engagement
  • Equity and proactive inclusion is vital to any effective community program or policy

Brief History

The City HRC was established through the City Charter in 1966, following the Watts Civil Unrest and policy recommendations outlined in the McCone Commission’s report to create pathways for communication of local community concerns to city leadership. The HRC’s work has evolved over the years, exploring numerous intergroup engagement and peacebuilding models such as town halls, convening meetings, and facilitated dialogues.

Where does the HRC fit into the City structure?

The HRC powers and administrative functions are defined under Los Angeles City Charter Ordinance No. 181193, Article 5, Sec. 22.475. The HRC resides in the Community Services & Development Bureau of the Housing + Community Investment Department (HCID), which is overseen by Assistant General Manager Abigail Marquez.

It is part of the Commissions and Community Engagement (CCE) Unit, along with five other City boards advising on social justice issues. The HRC often reports to City Council’s Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights, and Equity Committee. The primary staff contacts for the HRC are Human Relations Advocate Maia Ferdman (maia.ferdman@lacity.org), and CCE Director Francisco Ortega (francisco.ortega@lacity.org).

How do we work?

Community Engagement and Advocacy: The HRC amplifies the voices and concerns of Los Angeles residents within the City government by forging pathways for civic engagement between community and government and by advocating for inclusive and equitable city policies.

Convening and Facilitation: The HRC fosters a culture of mutual understanding and trust between communities and between communities and government by bringing diverse parties together in safe and facilitated spaces for productive dialogue.

Program and Policy Incubation: The HRC elevates its engagement and convening efforts into systemic change by developing responsive, relevant, and self-sustainable programs and policies in partnership with city and community partners.

Policy Monitoring and Reporting: The HRC advises the City on issues relating to intergroup relations and human rights by identifying, collecting, and analyzing community-sourced data, and transforming data into policy briefs with actionable policy recommendations.

Meet our Commissioners

We invite you to meet our commissioners and explore how they’re working to help our most underserved communities.

Our Work

The Human Relations Commission promotes positive intergroup relations and human rights through projects and initiatives that fall under various strategic focus areas. HRC initiatives are dynamic, developing quickly and often involving various City and community partnerships. Read on to learn more about the HRC's various strategic focus areas and initiatives.

  • Responding proactively to the City's human relations needs

    • In times of conflict, the Human Relations Commission staff is deployed to listen to community concerns, identify communication barriers, and broker partnerships for the benefit of all City stakeholders.  Examples have included:
      • Throughout 2018, the HRC has been involved in mediating a conflict between community activists in Leimert Park and local business owners
      • In February 2018, the HRC facilitated a community meeting about the new development of affordable housing in Lincoln Heights
      • In 2014, the HRC mediated a conflict that resluted from the shooting of a day laborer in MacArthur Park, and the uprising over the Trayvon Martin case​
  • Promoting race equity policy in the City and racial healing between groups

    • The HRC aims to both engage city and community stakeholders in healing conversations about race, and translate these engagement efforts into prioritization and creation of far-reaching race equity programming and policy in the City of Los Angeles.
      • Creation of a curriculum businesses can use to be culturally competent and socially responsible in the communities and neighborhoods where they operate. This effort is a partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement and various community stakeholders.
      • Participation in the stewardship group of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation efforts in Los Angeles.
      • Development and incubation of embRACE LA, in partnership with Council President Herb Wesson
        • Following a City Council motion in 2015, the HRC partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Department of Cultural Affairs to develop recommendations for programs and policies that would advance racial understanding and equity in the City. The HRC conducted research through online and door to door surveys.

        • The HRC incubated the embRACE LA concept, which involves 100 dinner dialogues about race in homes across the City. Read its report here.

        • Council President Wesson partnered with Community Coalition to implement the embRACE LA program in April 2018.

  • Building bridges between communities and law enforcement

    • The HRC aims to foster meaningful engagement and trust-building between Los Angeles law enforcement and communities around complex neighborhood problems – especially those related to race, gender, culture, and social status – and ultimately translate this trust into sustained and systemic policy or programs that transform police-community relations.
      • Development and pilot of a dinner dialogue program that can elicit honest community feedback about police-community relations and ultimately help inform the Police Commission’s policies.
      • Convening of the Boyle Heights Trust Collaborative (BHTC), a partnership between government and community entities dedicated to building trust in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights. For example, the BHTC is running “Platicas,” or dialogues between police officers and community members.
  • Bringing religious groups together and promoting pluralism

    • The HRC is dedicated to supporting initiatives in the City of Los Angeles that support the development and celebration of interfaith relationships and alliances.
      • The HRC has hosted the City’s Interfaith Iftar since 2010 in partnership with the Mayor’s Office. This event brings together interfaith leaders from across Los Angeles to honor exceptional Angelenos who contribute to their communities, learn about and observe Ramadan together, and build relationships across faith groups. See photos from the 2018 Interfaith Iftar here
      • ​Support for the City of Los Angeles Day of Religious Pluralism in partnership with the Mayor’s Office
      • ​Longstanding partnership with and support for NewGround: A Muslim-Jewish Partnership for Change
  • Supporting opportunities for young people around human relations

    • The HRC believes in the potential of young people to effect enormous positive change in their communities and beyond. The HRC therefore supports programs and policies that empower youth to become civically engaged and capacitate them to effectively grapple with issues relating to intergroup relations and human rights.
      • Exploration of various partnerships with existing and new programs for young people to experience intergroup dialogue and learn about historical issues related to diversity and inclusion
      • From 2010-2016, the HRC managed the Youth Ambassador program, which educated young people about ways to engage in the political process. The program included skill building workshops, mentorship, and a trip to Washington D.C.
  • Protecting the human rights of immigrants

    • Immigration is an incredibly important and central issue in today’s political climate, particularly here in Los Angeles. The HRC seeks to respond to this issue using its unique lens, focusing on protecting and advocating for the civil and human rights of immigrants, and complementing other City efforts to address this national issue in the process.
      • Currently, the HRC is developing an Immigration Forum that will convene City and community leaders who are heavily engaged in immigration work to address the various gaps in human rights protections for immigrants, and deliberate over possible City approaches to filling those gaps.
  • Advocating for the rights and voices of transgender individuals

    • The HRC launched the Transgender Advisory Council (TAC) out of a longstanding Transgender Working Group. This board of community leaders advises the City of Los Angeles on issues important to the transgender community. For example, the TAC prepared an activities report that was presented to the Arts, Entertainment, Parks, and River Committee on November 29, 2017. Read more about the important work of the TAC.

Learn More

Follow Us

Keep up with the HRC on Facebook and Twitter! Make sure to check out our Photo Gallery as well.

You can also subscribe to receive our meeting agendas regularly by checking "Human Relations Commission" at this link.

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Calendar

Meeting Agendas & Minutes

The Human Relations Commission invites you to attend our events and our board meetings. Please join us at our monthly meetings, usually held on the second Wednesday of every month at 12:00 p.m. in Room 1060, City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Meeting agendas are generally finalized one week in advance. Find meeting agendas here and meeting minutes here.

Contact Us

Join us at our monthly meetings, usually held on the second Wednesday of every month at 12:00 p.m. in Room 1060, City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For more information, please contact (213) 808-8533 or HCIDLA.HRCinfo@lacity.org, or maia.ferdman@lacity.org. For all Media Inquiriesteresa.singson@lacity.org.