Making a Difference

I try to make a difference.  I like to step in and use my time, talent and resources to address a problem in need of a solution.  And not just in politics.  My parents fostered in me a strong sense of philanthropy – to “leave the sandbox better than how we found it.”  This foundational value system instilled in me at a very young age is what has led me to support a wide variety of charities and non-profits – most of them California based – to attack cancer, lift up young people, discourage crime, and rid the world of polio through my support of The Rotary Foundation.  I’ve been a Rotarian for over 30 years and am a past President of the Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach.  I served as a Board Member for UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation and have been a long time supporter of cancer research through both this and the Concern Foundation.

I have been a major supporter of women’s health initiatives – I served as a board member for WINGS (Women’s International Network for Guatemalan Solutions) and helped launch “Healing Hands of Joy,” a non-profit dedicated to improving maternal health and eradicating the scourge of fistula in Ethiopia.  I currently serve as the group’s vice chairman.

I believe education is the cornerstone for a strong and prosperous country, and it is also a passion of mine personally.  As such, I currently serve on the boards of Junior Achievement of Southern California and the Orange County High School of the Arts, a charter school.  I am also a supporter of “Students First” because our current public school system needs strong reform to be able to offer all children, regardless of where they live, a world class education.

In 1987 my father and I put up a billboard on Santa Monica Blvd that tallies smoking deaths in the US … nearly one a minute.  It has been up and running for 25 years, as a considerable cost to my family.  Why?  Because we think it’s the right thing to do.

Six years ago, I read an article in the LA Times about a spike in gang-related homicides in Santa Ana.  I contacted their Chief of Police and shared with him an idea I had for combating gang related homicides.  His response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic.  It’s working so well that we recently expanded the program to include gang related aggravated assaults.

Two years ago I helped “People for Community Improvement” expand its violence prevention outreach and other programs in Los Angeles by enabling them to move into their own facilities on Figueroa Street.  Also, I joined the Board of Trustees for the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in 2007.  The group is dedicated to ensuring victims’ rights within our legal system and works to ensure law enforcement’s ability to arrest, prosecute and punish dangerous felons.

I’ve worked to make a difference in our community, and now I’d like to make a difference in Washington.