Lourdes Castro Ramírez
Council Member Secretary, California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency
Frank C. Cárdenas
Frank Cardenas is a proven problem-solver and trusted advisor whose counsel is enjoyed by private clients and public policy makers alike.
In the private sector, Frank began his legal career in the corporations department of the Los Angeles office of O’Melveny & Myers where he focused on public financings for the State of California, the University of California system, the Southern California Public Power Authority and the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink). While at O’Melveny, Cardenas was staff counsel for the Christopher Commission on the LAPD. More recently, his solo practice has focused on the areas of business, administrative and public law. Cardenas’ management consulting work is focused on strategy, government relations and environmental policy.
In the public policy arena, Frank’s experience has many dimensions as he has served as an appointed policy-maker, in executive management and as a project manager. He is a member of the California Strategic Growth Council as an appointee of the Speaker of the State Assembly, served on the Fair Political Practices Commission and in 2021 served as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles City Council Redistricting Commission, reprising the role he had in Los Angeles’ 2000 redistricting process. Cardenas’ deep interest in infrastructure was forged during his tenures as Chief of Staff and Executive Officer for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and as a commissioner on the City of Los Angeles’ Board of Public Works.
As a community advocate, Mr. Cardenas previously served on the boards of the Single-Room Occupancy Corporation, addressing issues relating to homelessness in downtown Los Angeles, the California League of Conservation Voters and Big Sisters of Los Angeles. He recently completed a term as board chair of the South Pasadena – San Marino YMCA.
As an educator, Cardenas’ undergraduate and graduate courses in the College of Business and Economics at California State University Los Angeles address corporate governance, business ethics, corporate social responsibility, business law, climate change and the history of western economic thought.
Frank received his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and his B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California. He also holds certificates in Project Management from UCLA and Construction Management from the Turner Construction Program in Construction Management.
Wade Crowfoot was appointed California Secretary for Natural Resources by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 11, 2019.
Crowfoot brings more than 20 years of public policy and environmental experience to the office, with expertise in water, climate and sustainability issues. He most recently served as chief executive officer of the Water Foundation and led its transition into an independent organization early in 2017.
Prior to joining the foundation, he served in Governor Jerry Brown’s Administration as deputy cabinet secretary and senior advisor to the Governor, leading the administration’s drought response efforts. He previously served as West Coast regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund and a senior environmental advisor to then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Nicole Capretz is the founder and Executive Director of the San Diego-based nonprofit organization Climate Action Campaign. Nicole is an environmental attorney with 20 years of experience as an energy, equity, and climate justice policy advisor. While serving as Director of Environmental Policy for the City of San Diego, Nicole authored the city's binding 100% Renewables Climate Action Plan.
Previously, Nicole served as the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental equity and justice organization. She has also worked as an environmental and energy policy advisor for the San Diego City Council. Nicole earned her Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society from UC Santa Barbara and her law degree from Vermont Law School. Nicole has won numerous civic awards for her climate advocacy, and was named a Top 10 Californian of the Year by the New York Times in 2016.
Dr. Mark Ghaly was appointed Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2019. In this role, Dr. Ghaly will oversee California’s largest Agency which includes many key departments that are integral to supporting the implementation of the Governor’s vision to expand health coverage and access to all Californians. Dr. Ghaly will work across State government, along with County, City, and private sector partners, to ensure the most vulnerable Californians have access to the resources and services they need to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives.
Before joining Governor Newsom’s team, Dr. Ghaly worked for 15 years in County health leadership roles in San Francisco and Los Angeles. In San Francisco, he was Medical Director of the Southeast Health Center, a public health clinic located in the Bayview Hunters Point community. In addition to having a large primary care pediatrics practice, Dr. Ghaly led the clinic’s transition to the patient-centered medical home model of care, expanded specialty care and diagnostics services, and addressed issues such as teen health, youth violence, food security, and environmental health issues.
In 2011, Dr. Ghaly became the Deputy Director for Community Health and Integrated Programs for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In this role, Dr. Ghaly directed clinical operations in the Los Angeles County Juvenile Detention system and led the transition of jail health services from the Los Angeles County Sheriff and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health into one integrated system of care. Dr. Ghaly also led a County team to expand health and behavioral health services on the Martin Luther King, Jr., health campus in South Los Angeles, which included the opening of the public-private Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Hospital. Additionally, Dr. Ghaly was the architect of the Los Angeles County Whole Person Care Pilot program, oversaw the launch of the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System in Los Angeles County, and established the County’s Office of Diversion and Reentry which has diverted over 3,000 individuals out of County jail and into community-based treatment and permanent supportive housing. Among Dr. Ghaly’s most important accomplishments was the creation and continued development of the County’s Housing for Health program. Since 2012, Housing for Health has supported over 6,500 chronically ill individuals facing homelessness, many of whom are stuck in acute care facilities, to gain permanent supportive housing through federal subsidies and LA County’s Flexible Housing Subsidy Pool.
Dr. Ghaly continues to see patients in the Los Angeles safety net system, currently working at Olive View UCLA Medical Center. Mark’s prior clinical work within Los Angeles County also included seeing patients at the Los Angeles County Juvenile Detention System and the Martin Luther King Jr. Outpatient Center Medical Hub that serves children and youth in the Los Angeles Child Welfare System. Dr. Ghaly looks forward to continuing his clinical practice while serving as the State’s Secretary for Health and Human Services.
Dr. Ghaly was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He earned duel B.A. degrees in biology and biomedical ethics from Brown University, his M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School, and his M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Ghaly completed his residency training in Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ghaly is married to Christina Ghaly and has four young children.
Dr. Ghaly is honored to serve Governor Gavin Newsom and looks forward to forging partnerships and relationships across California to make the Governor’s vision a reality for the benefit of all Californians.
Toks Omishakin was appointed the Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in February 2022. He previously served as Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) since 2019, where he managed a $15 billion budget and nearly 22,000 employees who oversee 50,000 lane miles of highway, maintain approximately 20,000 bridges, provide permitting of more than 400 public-use airports, fund three of Amtrak’s busiest intercity rail services and provide transit support to more than 200 local and regional transit agencies.
Omishakin’s transportation vision for California features a safe, equitable, sustainable, and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong local partnerships. As Caltrans Director, he and the leadership team established the 5 Priorities for the Department in 2019 and, in 2020, finalized a new Strategic Plan with a focus on Caltrans’ foundational principles of Equity, Climate Action and Safety. He also encouraged a Caltrans culture of innovation and intelligent risk-taking, as transformative innovation will be needed to achieve zero traffic-related deaths and reduce GHGs by 40% by 2030.
Having been immersed in the transportation industry for almost two decades, Secretary Omishakin came to CalSTA and Caltrans following eight years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). There, he successfully established environmental, multimodal and planning policies to make TDOT one of the best state DOTs in the country. As Deputy Commissioner for Environment and Planning, he was responsible for an administrative and project budget of more than $300 million annually. He also led the activities of the divisions of Environmental Services, Long-Range Planning, Multimodal Transportation Resources, and the Freight and Logistics Division.
Prior to that role, he served as Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Nashville Mayor’s Office. In that capacity, he led development of Nashville’s Complete Streets Policy and helped establish a more balanced approach to transportation planning and design. This included spearheading creation of two bicycle sharing programs.
In December 2019, Omishakin became Chair of the Council on Active Transportation for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). This came after serving two years as committee vice chair and serving as inaugural chair of AASHTO’s Multimodal Task Force. He is on the Board of America Walks, Veloz, Mineta Transportation Institute and ITS World Congress and has advised the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis through its Transportation Council Board.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Omishakin and his wife have two children. He is completing a Ph.D. in Engineering Management from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; has a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Technology from Mississippi Valley State University.
Lourdes M. Castro Ramírez
California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Lourdes Castro Ramírez to serve as Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. She brings more than 25 years of public service and executive management experience in affordable housing and community economic development, and having been sworn in on March 2, 2020, she is charged with leading key initiatives integral to realizing the Governor’s vision to expand affordable housing and create inclusive economic growth opportunities that serve all Californians. Secretary Castro Ramírez oversees departments responsible for funding affordable housing, enforcing civil rights protections, monitoring banking and financial transactions, strengthening consumer protections, and licensing 3 million working professionals.
Secretary Castro Ramírez was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Public and Indian Housing. While there, she managed $26 billion in federal program funds and worked closely with federal, state, local and tribal governments to advance affordable housing policies and programs.
Prior to joining HUD, Castro Ramírez was President and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority, where she expanded affordable housing opportunities, developed education, health and workforce partnerships that helped residents improve their circumstances, and secured a federal Choice Neighborhood Grant that created community-centered revitalization efforts.
Most recently, she served as President of the University Health System Foundation in San Antonio, where she spent three years building philanthropic support for patient-centered programs, and improving access to innovative and compassionate care for families across South Texas.
Castro Ramírez began her career working as a Community Planner in Ventura County and spent 10 years with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles in various capacities, including the Director of the Housing Choice Voucher program. She is an accomplished executive dedicated to building partnerships and leading public, private and philanthropic efforts to improve community and system-level housing, health, business, economic and educational opportunities.
She earned her master’s degree in Urban Planning and bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies at UCLA.
Castro Ramirez has served on several community and national boards and received the 2019 Community Partner Award from the San Antonio chapter of the American Institute of Architects for chairing the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force. Her work on that commission led to the San Antonio City Council’s historic adoption of a comprehensive and compassionate housing policy that will guide planning, development, incentives, and housing efforts over the next decade. She is a 2020 San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee and a proud wife and mother of three children.
She is excited to return to California and eager to continue working collaboratively on complex community issues that require equal parts experience, leadership, and heart.
Yana Garcia was appointed California Secretary for Environmental Protection by Governor Gavin Newsom in August 2022. As Secretary, Yana oversees the state’s efforts to fight climate change, protect air and water quality, regulate pesticides and toxic substances, achieve the state’s recycling and waste reduction goals, and advance environmental justice. As a member of the Governor’s cabinet, she advises the Governor on environmental policy.
Yana is nationally recognized as a groundbreaking environmental leader who has worked hard to uplift the voices of those from disadvantaged communities.
Since 2021, Garcia has served as Special Assistant Attorney General advising California Attorney General Rob Bonta on the California Department of Justice’s legal and policy matters pertaining to the environment, land law and natural resources including climate, transportation, energy, and housing.
She was Deputy Secretary for Environmental Justice, Tribal Affairs and Border Relations at CalEPA from 2019 to 2021 and had been CalEPA’s Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs from 2017 to 2019. During her tenure at CalEPA, Garcia led three Environmental Justice Task Force Initiatives in the communities of Pomona, Imperial County and Stockton. She also led the program that delivered more than $1 million in Environmental Justice Small Grants to 28 organizations to combat pollution, improve health outcomes and increase public engagement in some of California’s most pollution-burdened communities.
Prior to her state service, Garcia litigated environmental cases on behalf of several client groups across the state and across the country, as an attorney at Earthjustice in the California regional office in San Francisco. Garcia was also a staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment, serving in Huntington Park and Oakland. Her legal practice areas have focused on environmental justice issues, civil rights, land use, toxics and chemical disclosure, oil and gas extraction, and crude transport. Between 2011 and 2012, Garcia served as a legal research attorney at the San Francisco Superior Court’s Civil Division, Office of the Presiding Judge.
Prior to practicing law, Yana worked on various environmental justice and civil rights projects aimed at achieving equitable access to clean air, clean water, and sustainable food and energy systems in the states of Texas, New Mexico and Massachusetts.
Garcia holds a degree in politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a law degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
Juan Sánchez Muñoz
A California native whose parents immigrated from Mexico and whose father worked in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley, Dr. Muñoz has deep roots in the UC System and the Central Valley region. He earned his B.A. in psychology from UC Santa Barbara. Prior to earning his M.A. in Mexican American studies from California State University, Los Angeles, he was a secondary school teacher and instructor in the California Community College system. He earned his Ph.D. in education at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he studied curriculum & instruction in the Division of Urban Schooling.
As a faculty member in the Department of Secondary Education at California State University Fullerton, and taught courses in classroom management, instructional methods and curriculum development, multicultural education, bilingual education, and critical social theory.
During his time in LA, Muñoz also served on the board of directors of several nonprofit agencies, was appointed to the Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board-Youth Council, served on both the Parks & Recreation and Substance Abuse Commissions in San Bernardino County, and was chair of the 2001 City of Los Angeles Crossroad Symposium for at-risk youth.
Muñoz presently joins UC Merced from the University of Houston Downtown (UHD), where he served as president and, within his first year, launched the university’s largest capital campaign and led the institution’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Harvey. Prior to UHD, Muñoz served as senior vice president and vice provost at Texas Tech University.
He is the author of book chapters, academic articles, essays, refereed and invited conference presentations. In 2010, Muñoz was among the contributing editors of the seminal compilation Handbook of Latinos and Education. The book earned the coveted American Association of Educational Studies' prestigious Critic's Choice Book Award.
Muñoz has also served on the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence, and is currently on the board of directors of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and the American Council on Education. He was appointed to the California Strategic Growth Council in December 2020.
He is a graduate of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership offered jointly by Arizona State and Georgetown Universities, ACE’s Spectrum Executive Leadership Program, Harvard University’s Institute for Management and Leadership, UC Berkeley’s Executive Leadership Academy and the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Policy’s Governor’s Executive Development Program.
He is married to Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, Ph.D., an accomplished scholar and professor at the University of California, Merced.
Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011 by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Before her time at the United States Department of Agriculture, Secretary Ross served more than thirteen years as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG), based in Sacramento. During that same period she served as the Executive Director of Winegrape Growers of America, a coalition of state winegrower organizations, and as Executive Director of the California Wine Grape Growers Foundation, which sponsors scholarships for the children of vineyard employees. Among Secretary Ross' many achievements at CAWG was the creation of the nationally-recognized Sustainable Winegrowing Program, which assists wine grape growers in maintaining the long-term viability of agricultural lands and encourages them to provide leadership in protecting the environment, conserving natural resources, and enhancing their local communities. Elected by the SGC Council in the Fall of 2021, Secretary Ross serves as the Council's Vice Chair.