Saturday: CETA is pleased to welcome Senator Ben Allen!
In 2014, California State Senator Ben Allen was overwhelmingly elected to represent the 26th Senate District, which consists of the Westside and coastal South Bay communities of Los Angeles County, stretching from Pacific Palisades to the Palos Verdes Peninsula and from Venice to Hollywood.
Ben serves as chair of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee as well as the legislature’s Joint Committee on the Arts. He is a member of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, the Budget Subcommittee on Education, the Natural Resources and Water Committee, the Transportation and Housing Committee, and the Veterans Affairs Committee. He is vice chair of the Select Committee on Defense and Aerospace, and serves on the select committees on California-Mexico Cooperation, Passenger Rail, Ports and Goods Movement, Refugio Oil Spill, and AB 32 and Climate Change Implementation.
In his first year in the Senate, Ben was active in a number of bold legislative initiatives. He coauthored the Senate’s climate change legislation, the most aggressive in the country, which requires California to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources, and double energy efficiency in buildings, by 2030. He authored several other bills that were signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, including:
• SB 277 (Pan/Allen), the groundbreaking bill to boost vaccination rates among schoolchildren.
• SB 637, a landmark measure regulating a hazardous form of mining that has polluted many of our state’s rivers for decades.
• SB 386, to protect veterans from pension scams.
• SB 613, improving the diagnosis, treatment and care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by updating physician guidelines.
• SB 452, fixing the implementation of Common Core science standards.
• SB 439, to increase voter turnout by authorizing voting in the two weeks preceding an election at conveniently located vote centers.
Looking ahead, Ben is leading the effort for a major electoral reform that will increase voter turnout and civic participation (SB 450), which has been touted by the Los Angeles Times editorial page. His other legislative priorities include teacher recruitment, increasing public transit funding, promoting alternative energy, toxic waste reduction, and drought relief.
Ben is a former board member, and former Board President, of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. On the School Board, he was a leader on issues of environmental sustainability, financial accountability, and community engagement. While President, he helped shepherd through a successful $385 million bond measure, which upgraded District facilities using cutting-edge environmental best practices and created good new local jobs. He helped lead the District’s negotiations with the City of Santa Monica that increased and stabilized City funding for the schools, and he supported efforts to ensure that the District provides all students with high-quality educational opportunities regardless of their background or means.
Ben was a member of the executive board of the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association, and he was Chair of L.A. County’s Committee on School District Organization. He led the successful launch of the Los Angeles Spark Program, a non-profit organization that connects at-risk middle school students with apprenticeships; and he currently serves on Spark’s Los Angeles advisory board.
While in law school, he served as a voting member of the University of California Board of Regents, and was a judicial clerk with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. As an attorney, he worked for the law firm of Richardson & Patel LLP, and previously as a litigator with Bryan Cave LLP.
Prior to his law career, Ben worked for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and then as communications director for Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY). He is now a senior fellow with the international human rights organization Humanity in Action, a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and a graduate of the Jewish Federation’s New Leaders Project. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in History; a Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge, and a Juris Doctorate from UC Berkeley. He is fluent in Spanish.
For three years prior to his election to the Senate, he was a lecturer at UCLA’s Law School, where he taught education law and policy.
Sunday: CETA is pleased to welcome Tony Plana!
Tony Plana recently starred as Ignacio Suarez, the widowed father to America Ferrera’s Ugly Betty, in ABC’s landmark, groundbreaking hit series for which he received the 2006 Golden Satellite Award from the International Press Academy, an Imagen Award, and an Alma Award. Ugly Betty was the first Spanish speaking series to be adapted to English for a major American network and received the highest ratings and the most critical acclaim of any Latino-based show in the history of television, most notably 11 Emmy nominations and a Golden Glove Award for best comedy. Previously, he also starred in Showtime’s original series, Resurrection Boulevard, and was nominated for two Alma Awards for best actor. Resurrection Boulevard was the first series to be produced, written, directed and starring Latinos, and the most awarded series in Showtime’s history including an Alma Award for the best television series of 2002. Besides current recurring roles on Alpha House, Madam Secretary, Jane the Virgin, The Fosters, The Blacklist, Colony and One Day at a Time with Rita Moreno, his latest television projects include Castle, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Meddling Mom, The Jodi Arias Story and principal roles in the soon to be released series Lethal Weapon with Damon Wayans for Fox, Start Up with Martin Freeman and Adam Brody for Sony’s Crackle and Academy Award winner Paolo Sorrentino’s The Young Pope with Jude Law and Diane Keaton for HBO.
He has directed two feature film comedies, A Million to Juan with Paul Rodriguez and The Princess and the Barrio Boy, the first Latino family film to be produced by Showtime, starring academy award nominee Edward James Olmos and Maria Conchita Alonso. The film received two 2001 Alma Award nominations for Best Made for Television Movie and Best Ensemble Acting and won the 2001 Imagen Award for Best Made for Television Movie. Plana’s television episodic debut was 2001’s Resurrection Blvd.’s Saliendo, which garnered critical acclaim, receiving a GLAAD Award for best dramatic episode of the year and a SHINE Award nomination for sensitive portrayal of sexuality. He has directed several episodes of Nickelodeon’s hit series, The Brothers Garcia, receiving a Humanitas Award nomination and winning the Imagen Award for its third season finale, Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover. He also directed the season finale of Greetings from Tucson for the Warner Brothers Network and the Halloween episode of Desperate Housewives in its final season on ABC.
As an actor Plana has starred in more than 60 feature films, including JFK, Nixon, Salvador, An Officer and a Gentleman, Lone Star, Three Amigos, Born in East L.A., El Norte, 187, Primal Fear, Romero, One Good Cop, Havana, The Rookie, Silver Strand and Picking Up the Pieces with Woody Allen. He has also appeared in the action thriller Half Past Dead with Steven Segal, & Morris Chestnut; The Lost City, with Andy Garcia, Bill Murray, and Dustin Hoffman; and Disney’s highly acclaimed GOAL, The Dream Begins! Recently released feature films include El Muerto starring Wilbur Valderama, Towards Darkness with America Ferrera, and AmericanEast with Tony Shaloub. His latest features are America with Edward James Olmos and Pain & Gain with Mark Wahlberg directed by Michael Bay.
Plana is the co-founder and Executive Artistic Director of the EastLA Classic Theatre (ECT), a group comprised of multicultural, classically trained theatre professionals. For the past 18 years, the EastLA Classic Theatre has been dedicated to serving economically challenged communities through educational outreach programs for primary and secondary schools. Through the EastLA Classic Theatre, Plana has challenged the boundaries of the teaching and learning of language through an innovative approach called Language in Play (LIP). Working directly with language arts teachers, LIP utilizes the performing arts to impact literacy skills in academically at risk and bi-lingual students.
Other accolades include two Nosotros Golden Eagle Awards for outstanding work in film and television, as well as five Los Angeles Dramalogue Awards for Theatre. In 2005 he was honored as Educator of the Year by Loyola Marymount University’s Department of Education and in 2006 received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Millenium Momentum Foundation at the Los Angeles Music Center. In 2008 he was awarded Loyola High School’s Cahalan Award as a distinguished alumnus and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Imagen Foundation. In 2009 the HOLA organization honored him with the Raul Julia HOLA Founders Award for excellence. In 2010, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa selected him as worthy of one of the highest honors bestowed by the City of Los Angeles, The Dream of Los Angeles Award for his contributions to the media arts and education. He is the proud recipient of the 2013 ALMA Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of La Raza and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers’ Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016.