Councilmember-Elect Nithya Raman Announces Transition Advisory Team and Key Staff

On Tuesday, City Councilmember-elect Nithya Raman announced five members of her volunteer Transition Advisory Team, and that her co-campaign managers Jessica Salans and Meghan Choi will be leading her City Hall office staff.

In a message to supporters and friends, Raman wrote that Miguel A. Santana, Sarah Dusseault (outgoing Councilmember David Ryu’s former chief of staff), Victor Narro, David Abud, and Jose Roberto Hernandez will be advising her during her first few months in office.

“I’m so thrilled to announce the members of my Transition Advisory Team, who are generously donating their time and expertise to our office during this crucial moment,” Raman wrote in a message to supporters and the press. “Together they represent a wealth of knowledge, ranging from the inner workings of the City and County and how to get things done, to understanding intimately the most urgent needs of working Angelenos. They will be advising us into the first months of my tenure, and we are so grateful for them.”

Among the team members, Raman announced:

  • Miguel A. Santana has more than 30 years of public service experience working at the County and City of Los Angeles and in the non-profit sector. In 2021 Miguel will start his new role as the President and CEO of the Weingart Foundation.

  • Victor Narro is a nationally known expert on the workplace rights of immigrant workers. He has been involved with immigrant rights and labor issues for many years, and is currently Project Director for the UCLA Labor Center.

  • Sarah Dusseault has more than 20 years of public service experience as a policy expert and problem solver working at the City of Los Angeles and numerous campaigns, including serving as Chief of Staff in Council District 4 from 2015-2018. Sarah serves on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission. Appointed by Supervisor Solis, she is outgoing Commission Chair and is currently Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance Reform.

  • David Abud is a Senior Organizer at KIWA, originally from San Luis Potosí, Mexico. A graduate of Columbia University, over the past 10 years he has worked on immigration issues, prison abolition, electoral campaigns, and community organizing in New York, Tijuana, Mexico City, Guatemala, Honduras and Southern California.

  • Jose Roberto Hernandez is Chief of Staff and Organizing Director for KIWA. Born in El Salvador, he has worked in the labor movement since 1992, as well as on immigration issues, international affairs, economic development, and community organizing.

Local neighborhood leaders were pleased to see Santana and Dusseault on the list of advisors.

“I was very glad to see Sarah Dusseault and Miguel Santana on Nithya’s team. The HPHOA’48 has not worked with Mr. Narro, Abud or Hernandez,” wrote Cindy Chvatal, president of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, to residents last night.

Further, Chvatal wrote:

“Sarah has a wealth of experience working with Los Angeles City Departments the CD4 neighborhoods and their leadership organizations. She is very well versed in our concerns and issues and extremely adapt in how to address them in an effective and collaborative manner.

Miguel Santana was the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Los Angeles for seven years including during the Great Recession. As noted in a recent interview with TRP Mr. Santana understands the “reality of operating under revenue-starved city budgets. Santana urges thoughtful planning and focused priorities as the city responds to the virus and the fiscal quagmire ahead.” Mr. Santana played an important role in the very first of HP concrete infrastructure street repairs. In 2015 as COA his office facilitated the transfer of available CD4 discretionary funds that were used to repair some of our most egregious (100 year old) intersections.

The Hancock Park Homeowners Association’48 looks forward to working with the Nithya and her new team.”

“Nithya is very lucky to have both Sarah and Miguel. I know them both. They will both bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the transition,” Marylin Wells, housing advocate and founder of Stories from the Frontline, told the Buzz.

At the same time, however, there was some curiosity among local residents about Raman’s apparent emphasis on immigration expertise.

“I am certainly glad Sarah Dusseault is there with all her experience with CD4 and LAHSA,” said Helen Eigenberg, a housing advocate and Hancock Park resident. Eigenbeg said Miguel Santana made sense to her as well, but she didn’t quite see the how the other team members’ experience in immigration would help Raman transition into the job of city council.

Allison Schallert, a 30 year resident and housing advocate, said she wonders what kind of office Raman is preparing to open.

“What about the logistics of serving the needs of the home owners, business owners; the complications of saving businesses, and helping people pay their rent?” Schallert asked the Buzz. “She isn’t even addressing the minutiae of the office, the street & sidewalk repair, the party houses [and] construction violations.”

Not surprisingly, local leaders are concerned about the transfer of knowledge about local issues. As we reported yesterday, Councilmember Ryu said his staff is working on providing a smooth transition for Raman’s staff, and Raman acknowledged this in her message to supporters.

“The transition process is already underway,” she said. “We have been talking to City Hall staff, who are assisting in getting us up to speed. I’m also very grateful to Councilmember Ryu and his team, who have made themselves available to ensure that the handoff from one office to the next is as seamless as possible.”

Jessica Salans
Meghan Choi

Meanwhile, heading up Raman’s office staff, the Los Feliz Ledger reported last week that Jessica Salans and Megan Choi will be sharing the post of chief of staff for Raman. Choi and Salans served as co-campaign managers for Raman.

In 2017, Salans and Choi also founded Ground Game L.A. to support Salans’ grassroots city council campaign for CD13 in 2017 against Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell.

“Meghan and I will be joint chiefs of staffs, though we haven’t chosen the formal title,” Salans confirmed to the Buzz. And she added that Jesse Zwick will serve as  communications director.

Raman will be participating in several events this week. Tonight, she is joining LAUSD School Board member Jackie Goldberg, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez and Professor Najeeba Syeed for KIWA’s annual fundraiser to discuss progressive polices for Southern California. Tomorrow evening, Raman will be joining Councilmember Mike Bonin for a panel discussion organized by Healthy LA Coalition, to discuss rent and mortgages relief for Angelenos. Click the images below for more information.


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About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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