BOARD OF DIRECTORS BIOS
The Officers of IAOHRA are elected at the annual meeting and shall serve a term of two years beginning with the adjournment of the annual meeting at which they have been elected and until their respective successors are elected and qualified.
Robin S. Toma is Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations Commission, appointed in 2000. He also serves as the head of the Human Relations Branch holding the position of Assistant Director of the department of Community and Senior Services, County of Los Angeles. Under his leadership, the agency is working to transform prejudice into acceptance, inequity into justice, and hostility into peace. By building community capacity and focus in key areas, racialized gang violence has been lessened. Through demonstration projects in high schools, the power of integrating human relations strategies into school campuses have brought about greater inclusion, harmony, reduced fighting and conflict, and improved academic performance. The Commission’s signature annual report on hate crime in the county has shown a long term trend downward in hate crime until recent years, while the Commission has invested in hate violence prevention community partnerships and training peacemakers through the countywide dispute resolution program.
His published writings include A Primer on Managing Intergroup Conflict in a Multicultural Workplace, Day Laborers Hiring Sites: Constructive Approaches to Community Conflict (co-author with Jill Esbenshade), and he contributed a piece on racialized gang violence in the book Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America’s Future.
Robin serves as First Vice President on the board of directors of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA), and was President of and is on the Board of the California Association of Human Relations Organizations (CAHRO). He’s been a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs since 2009, and had the privilege to be part of the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Session on Human Rights Commissions and Criminal Justice (2006-2008), and the Kellogg National Fellowship/Leadership Program (1994-97). He was appointed by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to serve on the California State Advisory Committee (2012 to present), and helped create and serves on the L.A. Unified School District’s Commission on Human Relations, Diversity and Educational Equity. He served three years on the national interim leadership team of the Within Our Lifetime Network for Racial Equity and Healing.
In August 2014, Robin spoke in Geneva on the review of the U.S. Government’s compliance with the treaty to eliminate racial discrimination (CERD), and was an invited adviser to the Obama Administration’s delegation to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, for the U.S. first-ever presentation on its human rights record as part of the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review process in November 2010. He was also invited to serve on the official U.S. Delegation to the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
Robin is the son of Americans of Japanese and Okinawan ancestry; his mother and her family spent World War II imprisoned in the U.S. internment camps solely because of their Japanese ancestry. Robin’s paternal grandfather was an immigrant Okinawan sugar cane plantation worker in Maui. Robin grew up in the Echo Park/Silver Lake neighborhoods of L.A., attending LAUSD public schools. He received a B.A. with highest honors in Sociology and honors in Economics from University of California at Santa Cruz; and a J.D. degree and M.A. degree in Urban Planning from UCLA. Robin is fluent in Spanish, having studied and worked in Barcelona for two years, and was a teacher in L.A.’s public schools.
Prior to working at the Commission, Robin was a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California for almost 7 years, and litigated a wide range of human rights and civil liberties cases in federal and state courts.
1ST VICE PRESIDENT
Nashville native Beverly L. Watts was appointed the Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission in July 2007. Prior to her current appointment she served as Special Advisor to the Chair at the U S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission responsible for state and local relations. She has more than 30 years of experience in civil rights enforcement and education in the public and private sector. She served as the first Executive Director of the National Fair Housing Training Academy in Washington DC.
Beverly has served as the Executive Director of the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights; Director of Management Advisory Services for the Ralph G. Moore and Associates; Regional Director of Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and Executive Director, Illinois Minority and Female Business Enterprise Council and as one of the first Title IX coordinators in the country during her tenure at the US Office for Civil Rights. She was an adjunct faculty member at Spalding University. She has made presentations to numerous organizations on civil rights, diversity, and leadership at the national and international level.
Beverly is a Past President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA) where she represented IAOHRA throughout the US, Canada and at the UN World Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa. She currently serves as the IAOHRA Southern Region Representative and Annual Conference Planning Chair. She has served as Chair of Women Executives in State Government and currently serves as the Mission Advisor to the Cable Board and on the board of the YWCA of Middle Tennessee and is a life member of the NAACP.
Beverly is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2014 NAACP Frances Dancy Hooks Award, 2014 ECHO Dreamers Award, 2014 YWCA Carrie Hull Award, the City of Louisville Martin Luther King award and induction into the KY Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
She is a graduate of Tennessee State University, Southern Illinois University, and has completed Executive leadership programs at Duke University and the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government.
2ND VICE PRESIDENT
Carol Johnson, J.D., M.A., is Executive Director of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission – the only state agency in Arkansas specifically charged with protecting civil rights. The Commission is a quasi-judicial, regulatory, enforcement agency which receives, investigates and otherwise resolves fair housing/ fair lending complaints and is the sole civil rights enforcement agency in the State of Arkansas.
Director Johnson has worked under the Administrations of Governors Huckabee, Beebe and now serves in the Cabinet of Governor Asa Hutchinson. Since becoming Executive Director in 2005, Johnson was instrumental in building the Commission from its infancy stages and transitioning it from a newly formed capacity-building organization under HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program to a fully functioning and highly recognized fair housing and fair lending civil rights enforcement agency.
During her tenure at the agency, Director Johnson has resolved numerous fair housing and fair lending cases and has assisted many Arkansas municipalities in creating and/or amending existing ordinances to comply with zoning requirements, including the City of Hot Springs, the City of Jonesboro and the City of DeWitt.
Director Johnson is a leader in creating fair housing/fair lending education programs and training opportunities for those in the housing community and regularly trains housing providers, architects, property owners, managers, developers, consultants, appraisers, attorneys, municipalities, non-profits organizations, home-seekers and others on applicable fair housing/fair lending laws and regulations. Ms. Johnson has designed three 8-hour fair housing/fair lending training courses currently being offered by the Commission: Fair Housing: Management; Fair Housing: Design and Construction; and Fair Housing: Legal Updates.
A licensed attorney, Director Johnson has worked in various areas of administrative, civil and criminal law, and held a clerkship with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office. Director Johnson previously worked with the Arkansas Workers’ Compensation Commission performing de novo reviews of Administrative Law Judge decisions and with the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services litigating child dependency-neglect cases. Additionally, Director Johnson is a former Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Garland County, Arkansas.
Director Johnson holds a B.S. from Texas Christian University; an M.A. from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock; and a J.D. from the William H. Bowen School of Law.
H. Alex Bautista, Deputy Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights. Bio Coming Soon.
Chairman, Prince Georges County Maryland Commission, 2008-current
Owner, 1st Class Enterprises 2008-current
Born and raised in Milner, Georgia, Merrill Smith, Jr. was elected treasurer of IAOHRA at its 2015 annual conference in Birmingham, Alabama. Smith introduction to civil rights began at a very young age when his family took part in a Civil Rights March in Zebulon, Ga after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in 1968. That experience is what Smith credits with shaping his commitment to Civil Rights through activism, volunteering and participation.
Mr. Smith has served on the Prince George’s County Maryland Human Relations Commission since 2008. Since joining the commission, he has served in various capacity including Vice-Chair, Interim Chair and was appointed Chairman by Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III and approved by the County Council. In his role as Chairman, he is head of what is considered one of the most significant quasi-judicial agencies of its type because of its statutory independence. The Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission has been enforcing Civil Rights for the past 45 years.
Smith, is the owner of 1st Class Enterprise, a home services company which he founded after leaving the corporate sector after 25 years. During those 25 years, Smith has served in various roles including Vice-President of Training and Store Operations (Atlanta, Ga), Regional Vice-President-Chief Operating Officer ProEx (Chicago, IL., Minneapolis, MN.) where he oversaw 2000 employees and a budget of some 100 million dollars and Regional Manager (Beltsville, MD).
Smith believes that volunteerism is a responsibility of each citizen and is a key component of serving the public good. That sense of responsibility is a driving factor for his commitment to commitment to social, economic and human justice.
Mr. Smith is a 1983 graduate and alumni of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He also holds a Lean Six Sigma Certification from Villanova University and has attended and participated in numerous conferences and training ranging programs related to civil rights, process management, social inclusion.
Additional, Smith is a life member of The Ohio State University Alumni Association, The Association of the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the NAACP, the Woodmore Civic Association amongst others.
Perhaps most importantly for Smith is a motto of volunteering more, doing more and giving more of oneself for the benefit of others, both known and unknown to you!
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
Jean M. Kelleher is Director of the City of Alexandria’s Office of Human Rights. Ms. Kellerher has been with the Alexandria Office of Human Rights since May 2000. Before that, she was a Managing Attorney at Legal Services of Northern Virginia, the region’s legal aid program.
Ms. Kelleher graduated from Connecticut College, did postgraduate work at Georgetown, and received her law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University. She has been a litigator and an administrator of pro bono, lawyer referral and children’s law programs. In 2007 she became a Certified Public Manager through the George Washington University/COG (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments) Institute for Excellence in Public Leadership. She serves on the City Manager’s Management Team and on the City Council’s Legislative Committee. She is a past President of the Alexandria Bar Association, served on the board of directors of the Bar Foundation, and has represented Alexandria on the Virginia State Bar Council and Executive Committee.
Ms. Kelleher she serves on the Board of Trustees of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, and served on the Virginia Bar Association Commission on the Legal Needs of Children. She was selected to serve on the Professionalism faculty of the Virginia State Bar, served as an instructor/mentor in the City of Alexandria’s Leadership and Management Institute (LMI), and teaches at COG (Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments).
Tamie Tatum-Dixon, Department Head, City of Anderson Human Relations. Tamie Dixon-Tatum has extensive experience in the fields of Office Management, Office Policies, Procedures, Payroll, Marketing, Human Resources, Public Relations, Radio & Television Broadcasting, Teaching and Municipal/Community Partnerships. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Telecommunications and a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs. Ms. Dixon-Tatum is a former employee of both DRA and Guide Lamp, as well as a former Union Member of Local 662 and Local 663. Her experience, expertise and education make her a well-rounded individual and professional.
Tamie is currently involved in numerous community programs such as the Strengthening Families Program through Intersect, and she is a youth, community, education and equal opportunity advocate. Currently, she works for the City of Anderson as the Human Relations director, and a guest radio personality for Vision for Success and the Bill Jackson Show for WHBU 1240AM/103.7FM. Previously, Tamie worked in Madison County Superior Court 2’s Juvenile Division as the Juvenile Case Manager for the Reclaiming Futures Program and the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office as Office Manager under Thomas Broderick Jr. She has also worked for The Crossing Education Center as the Community & Business Development Coordinator which helped to match youth with job training and community service opportunities.
In addition to her extensive employment and educational background, she has spearheaded the Ollie H. Dixon Back-To-School Picnic and Parade for nearly 25 years. This program has provided school supplies for thousands of disadvantaged children throughout Madison County for over two decades.
Tamie Dixon-Tatum works tirelessly to serve the community as a youth, education, community and equal opportunity advocate as well as a multi-media professional.
Rue Landau, Esquire is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) and the Fair Housing Commission (FHC). Prior to her appointment, Rue was a senior attorney in the Housing Unit at Community Legal Services (CLS) in Philadelphia. At CLS she specialized in landlord-tenant law with a focus on public and subsidized housing. In 2002, she authored a chapter entitled, “Criminal Records and Subsidized Housing: Families Losing the Opportunity for Decent Shelter,” for Every Door Closed, a publication addressing the barriers facing parents with criminal records. In September 2006, she was named a Pennsylvania Lawyer on the Fast Track by American Lawyer Media. During her tenure at CLS, Rue was an active member of the Philadelphia Bar Association where she served as co-chair of the Municipal Court Committee and as a member of the Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Rue has served on the boards of Bread and Roses Community Fund, the Women’s Medical Fund and Liberty City Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Democratic Club and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation (PHDC). She currently serves on the board of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA). She now serves as Director of the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency.
Dr. Alisa Warren, Executive Director, Missouri Commission on Human Rights. The advancement of equality in our society has been a career cornerstone for Dr. Alisa Warren. Since January 2008, Dr. Warren has served as the Executive Director for the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR), a state agency housed in the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Under her leadership, MCHR works diligently to prevent and eliminate discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Her dedication to fighting bias and promoting inclusion manifests itself in her extensive efforts, through education and outreach initiatives, to bring greater understanding about anti-discrimination laws to the four corners of her home state of Missouri and the nation. Building networks between government, business, and advocacy groups is a main focus for Dr. Warren; she believes that vibrant community partnerships are key to advancing social justice — and she strives to foster and strengthen those vital connections as a means to broaden fundamental freedoms.
Throughout her career, Dr. Warren has worn many hats, all fashioned after a common theme: equal opportunity for all. Her professional positions are many and distinguished: Director of Diversity Initiatives for the University of Missouri- College of Engineering; Executive Director for the Missouri Community Service Commission; Missouri Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity; Director of the State of Missouri Supplier Diversity Program; and Minority Contracts Coordinator for the State of Missouri Division of Design and Construction. Dr. Warren has appeared as a subject matter expert in the field of human rights and social justice on numerous television and radio programs, trained thousands of people on human rights laws and diversity and inclusion, and served as a keynote speaker at local, state, and national events.
A proponent of education for the advancement of civil rights, her own education uniquely establishes a strong basis for her expertise in the field. Dr. Warren holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Missouri- Columbia College of Human Environmental Sciences, (May 1986); Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Missouri- Columbia, Truman School of Public Administration, (August 1995); and a Ph.D. in Applied Social Sciences in the area of Community Development and Social Disparities from the University of Missouri- Columbia, (December 2009).
Dr. Warren has been actively involved with a number of organizations such as: the Board of Directors and the 2nd Vice President for the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies; the U.S. President’s Initiative on Race “A Day of Dialogue”; Chair of the Missouri Human Rights Conference; Governing Board for Central Missouri United Way; Board of Directors for the Girls Scouts of the Missouri Heartland; Missouri Sociological Association; State of Missouri Personnel Advisory Board; the Association for the Study of African American Life and History; Strategic Leadership for State Executives at the Duke University Governors Center; Advisor to the University of Missouri National Society of Black Engineers; Mentor for the Lincoln University Minority Women’s Leadership Program; Missouri Association for Blacks in Higher Education; and, Chair of the State of Missouri Diversity Council.
Dr. Warren has received many awards and recognitions including: the Martin Luther King, Jr. State Celebration Commission “Women Who Dare to Dream” Distinguished Humanitarian Award; the King Center Certification for Nonviolence; and, the NAACP Roy Wilkins Award to name a few.
Gwendolyn Wiggins, ESQ., MBA is the Human Relations Official for the City of Orlando. She has worked for local governmental agencies in the Kissimmee/Orlando, Florida area for over 25 years. Prior to joining the City of Orlando’s Office of Community Affairs and Human Relations as the Human Relations Official in June of 2016, she had previously worked for the City of Orlando for ten years in the City Attorneys Office and in the Office of Human Relations. The last four of those ten years she held the position of Assistant Director of the City of Orlando’s Office of Human Relations.
She left the City of Orlando in July of 2010 to pursue a law degree. While attending law school she continued to stay involved with promoting anti-discrimination laws by performing EEO law trainings, diversity inclusion trainings and civil rights presentations for the FBI, Orange County Public School System and various other entities. She also worked part-time during the first year of law school for a local solo practice employment law attorney. She graduated from Florida A&M College of Law in 2014 and was sworn into the Florida Bar as an Attorney at law in 2015.
Prior to returning to the City of Orlando in June of 2016, she practiced as a private attorney in the area of employment, criminal and family law. She is also a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family and County Court Mediator and has been a County Court Mediator for the Ninth Circuit (Orange & Osceola Counties) since 2007. She has been an adjunct instructor at various local colleges in the Orlando area since 2001. She currently is an adjunct professor at the Maitland, Florida Campus of Strayer University where she teaches both business and law classes.
She holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.), Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Bachelors of Art in Organizational Management and an Associate Degree (Paralegal).
James L. Stowe (Jim) serves as the Executive Director of the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights. Mr. Stowe is a native of Belmont, North Carolina. Jim and his family relocated to Montgomery County Maryland to serve as the 4th Director of the Office of Human Rights. The agency, established in 1960, provides leadership to the people of Montgomery County and works toward eliminating racism/discrimination; identifying and resolving community tensions; and educating the citizens about cultural diversity. These efforts culminate in our goal of Creating a Culture of Service and a Climate of Fairness and Inclusion.
The office has a rich legacy of human right advocacy and professional competency and continues today as one of the premiere civil and human rights agencies in the nation. Under Jim’s leadership the Office has sets it sights on even greater engagement in the community and heightening professional standards for all involved with the office.
Jim has been instrumental in developing new program initiatives and re-positioning the office for success in the 21st Century. These programs include increased emphasis in enforcement productivity and competency which led to the agency becoming fully certified with the EEOC Fair Employment Practices Agency Program, renewed emphasis in fair housing which led to fair housing continuing educational credit program for realtors, apartment managers and other housing providers as well as increased enforcements efforts through the Interagency Fair Housing Coordination Group to insure that all barriers to fair accessible housing for everyone are removed; new initiatives to combat the incident of hate violence activities through the Committee on Hate Violence and the convening of a county wide symposium on "Bullying in Schools" and a forum on Post 911 Issues and Concerns within the Muslim and Sikh Community; the Community Friendship Picnic and an increased effort in outreach activities with the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission to convene public forums on Racial Profiling, the Criminal Justice System and The Digital Divide, a response to the Trayvon Martin shooting; and an increase in programming for youth with an expansion of the Human Rights Youth Camp for 5th Graders, Human Rights Day Observance for all school levels and the Civil Rights Educational Freedom Tour which is for the entire community. Mr. Stowe is a member of a number of community organizations and works with these programs and activities throughout Montgomery County. The agency continues to evolve as the needs and demands of a growing diverse county shift and change. The agency remains however committed to the long held principles of fairness and equal justice under the law.
Mid West Region
Diane Clements Boyd is the Executive Director of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission. Diane was appointed Executive Director of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission in January of 2004. Prior to joining the Human Relations Commission, she served as Program Manager at the Evansville Black Coalition, Inc., from 1995 to 2004.
Diane has been in the forefront of advancing social justice and advocacy efforts in the city of Evansville for over 20 years. In addition to being responsible for enforcing municipal civil rights laws, Diane is responsible for administering several advisory boards. In 2009, Diane worked with disability advocates to create the city’s first Advisory Board on Disability Services. The board provides guidance to the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County in matters concerning individuals with disabilities and offers a public forum for members of the community to raise issues of concern. Diane also advises the Evansville Commission on the Social Status of African Males. The mission is to create practical proposals and workable remedies in the areas of employment, education, health and criminal justice to reduce problems that African American males face. Diane advised city officials on the need for civil rights protections for the LGBT community. In 2011, the Evansville City Council passed an ordinance to include protections for LGBT individuals.
Diane serves in the following capacities. Chairperson of the Indiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Immediate past president of the Indiana Consortium of State and Local Human Rights Agencies; Board of Trustees of the Vanderburgh Community Foundation and member of the Evansville Homelessness Advisory Committee. Diane received the 2011 Freedom Award from the State of Indiana Martin Luther King Commission, the 2009 Black Women’s Task Force Community Service Award, and the Evansville Chapter of the NAACP Lifetime Community Advocate Award. Diane is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and serves as social action chairperson of the Evansville Alumnae Chapter. Diane is a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Sociology.
Pamela Basler, Executive Director, Anchorage Human Rights Commission, Anchorage, Alaska.
Pamela Basler is the Executive Director of the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission (AERC). AERC enforces local and federal anti-discrimination laws and provides outreach and education to Anchorage residents, who live in one of the most diverse cities in the country and the largest city in Alaska.
Prior to beginning her work at AERC in 2011, Pam worked as a financial manager in a family medical small business, was a soccer mom to her three young sons, served as an Assistant District Attorney for the State of Alaska in Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) and Anchorage, Alaska, and practiced as a private attorney in Alaska.
Pam is a graduate of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington (B.A. Political Science) and of Lewis & Clark Northwestern School of Law in Portland, Oregon (J.D.). In her free time, Pam enjoys exploring the outdoors in Alaska and Hawaii, Pac-12 football, and experiencing regional and world cuisines and cultures.
Paul Valenti became Director of Pinellas County’s Office of Human Rights in January of 2012. As Director, he has worked to include Gender Expression and Gender Identity as protected classes under the Human Relations Chapter of the Pinellas County Codes, and to implement and administer a wage theft program for employees cheated out of wages earned but not paid.
Prior to his tenure with Pinellas County, he served as the Manager of Lee County’s Office of Equal Opportunity, a position he assumed in June of 2005. Prior to working for Lee County, Paul worked for the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities.
Paul is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University School of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Florida and Connecticut, and is admitted before the United States Supreme Court.