SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown on June 26 announced three appointments to the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant Program Advisory Panel.
The California Civil Liberties Public Education Program is a state-funded grant project to sponsor public educational activities and development of educational materials to ensure that the events surrounding the exclusion, forced removal, and internment of civilians and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry during World War II will be remembered so that the causes and circumstance of this and similar events may be illuminated and understood. The program is administered by the California State Library.
The agency is directed by statue to administer a competitive grant program to educate the public through the development, coordination, and distribution of new educational materials and the development of curriculum materials to complement and augment resources currently available on this subject matter regarding the history and the lessons of civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices that have been carried out against other communities or populations, including, but not limited to, civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices that are perpetrated on the basis of an individual’s race, national origin, immigration status, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.
The appointees are:
• Zahra Billoo, 34, of San Jose, who has been director at the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations since 2009. From 2008 to 2009, she was an employee rights advocacy extern at the National Employment Lawyers Association, where she was a Peggy Browning Fund fellow in 2008. Billoo was a law clerk at Bay Area Legal Aid in 2007 and a field organizer for the Service Employees International Union in 2006.
She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. Billoo is registered without party preference.
• Diane Miyeko Matsuda, 55, of San Francisco, who has been secretary and treasurer at the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation since 2010. She served as executive director at the John Burton Foundation from 2008 to 2016 and was executive officer at the California Cultural and Historical Endowment from 2004 to 2008, program director at the California Civil Liberties Public Education Grant Program from 1998 to 2004, and coordinator at the Osaka International House Foundation from 1992 to 1997.
Matsuda is a member of the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission and the San Francisco Japantown Foundation. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Matsuda is a Democrat.
• Dennis M. Robinson, 60, of Watsonville, who has been senior philanthropy advisor at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation since 2015 and a philanthropic relationship advisor at Dennis M. Robinson since 1997. He was regional advancement director at the Southern Poverty Law Center from 2012 to 2013 and development director at the St. Francis Medical Center Foundation from 2008 to 2012. Robinson was director of major gifts and planned giving at Chapman University from 2007 to 2008 and chief advancement officer for principal investments at the Arizona State University Foundation from 2006 to 2007.
From 2005 to 2006, he was associate vice president for institutional advancement at Earlham College, where he was director of major gifts from 2002 to 2005. Robinson was president and CEO at 3Ci Concept Consultants from 1997 to 2002; coordinator of the City of Dayton, Ohio Northwest Office of Citizen Participation from 1989 to 1997; and program officer at the United Way Area Agency on Aging from 1985 to 1989.
A member of the Coradorables Inc. Board of Directors, he is an advisor to the CEO of the Real Medicine Foundation and to the chairman of Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, USA. Robinson is a Democrat.
These positions do not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem.
For more information on CCLPEP, contact Mary Beth Barber, special projects and assistant to the state librarian, at (916) 323-9758 or [email protected]; write care of California State Library, P.O. Box 942837, Sacramento, CA 94237-0001; or visit www.library.ca.gov/grants/civil-liberties/.
Center of Controversy
Zahra Billoo was recently at the center of a controversy when interfaith organization PACT (People Acting in Community Together) rescinded its award to her due to pressure from some Jewish members, then reinstated the award after being criticized by religious and civic leaders, according to the Bay Area News Group. PACT board officers released the following statement on June 22:
“We, as PACT, sincerely apologize for our decision to rescind the award to honor Zahra Billoo for her leadership in the local community.
“In our efforts to be responsive to one set of leaders, we inadvertently participated in efforts to silence a faith leader and close partner expressing moral critique of an ongoing human rights crisis in Palestine. In fact, conversations are much needed about the injustice that occurs every day in Palestine, and its connection to the issues we work on including racism, border walls, and police violence.
“We humbly thank the many people who have been in honest dialogue with us over the past few weeks regarding the issues and our missteps. We have been in intense conversations with many faith leaders, including our own Faith in Action national leaders and black clergy, members of the Muslim, Jewish, and Palestinian communities who felt targeted and silenced, as well as others in our local community and beyond. Those conversations are ongoing.
“We have also met with Zahra to seek reconciliation. She has agreed to accept a reinstatement of the award and will speak at our 2018 luncheon. Zahra and CAIR-SFBA are valued and important partners with PACT and leaders in our multicultural community.
“Based on our discussions with Zahra and PICO California, PACT commits to:
“1. Examine PACT’s internal systems and creating structural changes to address the problems in our process and to reflect more voices, including Muslim voices, at the staff and board level as well as in our faith-based membership. We will seek, working with CAIR, to add Muslim congregations to our membership and have their representatives on our board.
“2. Facilitate the participation of a PACT delegation, including our executive director [Akemi Flynn] and key leaders, in PICO CA’s Learning Lab in Israel/Palestine.
“3. Provide training for PACT staff and grassroots and faith leaders on Islamophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Christian hegemony, and intersectionality to expand PACT’s understanding and messaging: our liberation is interconnected.
“This is about more than an award and we understand that the reinstatement accompanied with these important commitments are steps forward on the path to reconciliation. We are a principled organization, with a member base which is continually working for justice for our broader community, a community where truly #WeALLBelong.
“We are hopeful this painful situation will create deep learning and structural change within PACT and our broader community. We are grateful to many people from many different perspectives who have expressed that they are committed to working with us to make that happen.
“We look forward to working with Zahra, CAIR-SFBA, and all of you as we move forward.”