Meet the Staff
ALISA BELINKOFF KATZ
Responsible for overall staff functions and policy development, office administration, and frequent supervision and management of various special projects affecting all aspects of County government. She joined the staff of then-Los Angeles City Councilmember Yaroslavsky in 1976, becoming Chief Deputy in 1985. A graduate of the Coro Fellows Program, she also holds an M.A. in Urban Studies from Occidental College, as well as a B.A. in History from Brandeis University.
Responsible for all aspects of media relations, including issues research, media strategy, and general writing assignments. Working with other deputies in a variety of policy areas, his other duties include preparing agenda materials and monitoring weekly Board meetings. Prior to joining Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s staff, he served for five years in a similar capacity for then-Third District Supervisor Edmund D. Edelman, following nearly a decade in radio and print journalism in Los Angeles as an editorial writer, columnist and documentary producer. He holds an M.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Southern California, and a B.Sc. in Communication Arts from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Responsible for criminal justice and law enforcement issues. As a former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and Assistant Head Deputy of the Environmental Crimes/OSHA Division, Charney specialized in guiding prosecutions of those charged with illegal dumping of hazardous wastes and other environmental violations. He also oversaw the prosecution of automobile insurance fraud conspiracies. Previously, Charney served in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, and as a Directing Attorney supervising five staff attorneys for the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles. A graduate of Brooklyn College and George Washington Law School, he is also an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School. In addition to his legal training, Charney has worked as a broadcast journalist and Latin American correspondent covering the civil war in El Salvador, and is a produced playwright.
Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Libraries Deputy
Responsible for delivery of County services in the Third District through the Departments of Beaches and Harbors, Parks and Recreation, Public Library, Public Works, and Animal Regulation. Given the complex bureaucratic and regulatory structure of the County agencies, and their interaction with those contract cities utilizing County services, her nearly 20 years of experience as then-Councilmember Yaroslavsky’s Westside field deputy has proven a real asset in developing positive working relationships with community leaders and in getting things done.
Responsible for budget and finance issues. Genie has extensive experience at the federal and state levels of government working on health and human services issues, most recently serving as Deputy Director of Children’s Institute, Inc, as well as a consultant to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. In 2001, she was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to serve as Assistant Secretary for Programs and Fiscal Affairs for the California Health and Human Services Agency in Sacramento. She previously served as Assistant Director for the Domestic Policy Council for the White House, and also worked for the Office of the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. A native of Los Angeles, Genie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vassar College and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, Goldman School of Public Policy.
FLORA GIL KRISILOFF
Senior Field Deputy
Responsible for a wide range of constituent issues in Hollywood and the Westside, including the Beverly-Fairfax, Pico-Robertson, Westwood, West L.A., Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Venice communities in the City of Los Angeles. She also serves as Yaroslavsky’s liaison with the incorporated cities of West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Her portfolio also includes policy liaison with several County departments including all aspects of County mental health services and overseeing homelessness issues. Long active in a variety of homeowner, stakeholder and community organizations throughout the Westside, she holds an MBA from UCLA’s Graduate School of Management and degrees in nursing and primary ambulatory health care from UCLA.
Arts and Culture Deputy/Web Writer
Responsible for 3rd District arts and cultural issues, including acting as liaison with County venues and institutions including the Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood Bowl and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. A former journalist at the Los Angeles Times, she also contributes to Zev’s website as a writer and editor. At The Times, she directed beats including local government, the environment and legal affairs, and served as editor of the newspaper’s Calendar section and magazine. She has a bachelor’s degree in cello performance from the University of Michigan.
Social Services Deputy
Responsible for children and family services and welfare policy. Mandel, a graduate of Loyola Law School and Occidental College in Los Angeles, most recently served as Vice President of Programs for Chrysalis, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating employment opportunities to assist economically disadvantaged and homeless individuals in regaining a measure of self-sufficiency. She previously served with the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles as Legal Director/ Law Firm Director from 1998-2006, and as a Senior Staff Attorney from 1990-1998. This law firm was initially established as “Dependency Court Legal Services” by the Board of Supervisors in 1989, for the purpose of representing abused, neglected and abandoned children under the protection of the Los Angeles County Juvenile Dependency Court system. Prior to joining the Children’s Law Center, she worked as a Deputy Public Defender for four years immediately following her graduation from law school.
Transportation, Marina del Rey and Education Deputy
Responsible for policy recommendations on Los Angeles County transportation issues, including all matters pertaining to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) for which Supervisor Yaroslavsky serves on the Board of Directors. She also oversees policy and development and leasehold interests in Marina del Rey, where the County is the landowner. As the Education Deputy, she oversees the Los Angeles County Board of Education and Countywide education policy issues. She previously served as Planning Deputy on Yaroslavsky’s City Council staff from 1989-93, and as Deputy for Children and Family Services and Public Social Services on his County Supervisor staff from 1993-2000. From 2001-March 2005, she worked in the Government Practice division of the law firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips before rejoining Yaroslavsky’s County staff. She holds a B.A from California State University, San Francisco in Urban Studies and an M.A. in Urban Planning from University of California, Los Angeles.
Responsible for planning and land-use issues in the unincorporated areas of the Third Supervisorial District and the review of projects outside the Third District. His duties include coordinating policies and programs with homeowner groups, environmental organizations, various governmental entities, developers and other affected constituencies as well as helping property owners navigate the County planning process. He also oversees the Local Agency Formation Commission, the Coliseum Commission, the Community Development Commission and the Los Angeles County Housing Authority, which works to provide safe and decent affordable housing for low-income families, seniors, and disabled persons throughout the County. Saltsman joined Yaroslavsky’s staff in 2002 as Field Deputy, where he was responsible for constituent services in the southwest San Fernando Valley and Santa Monica Mountains areas. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA, where he graduated with magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa distinction, and a Masters of Planning degree from the University of Southern California.
Special Projects Deputy
Responsible for scrutinizing all aspects of County government operations with an eye toward improving efficiency, accountability and transparency. His duties also include overseeing the development of Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s website. Prior to joining Yaroslavsky’s staff, Sappell was an award-winning reporter and editor for the Los Angeles Times for nearly three decades, holding a series of top management jobs that included city editor, investigations editor and executive editor of the paper’s website, LATimes.com. His ground-breaking investigative work led to reforms in numerous local agencies, from law enforcement to children’s services. He also helped guide the paper’s staff to many national awards, among them two Pulitzer Prizes for coverage of the 1992 riots and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Before joining the Times in 1981, Sappell worked as a reporter at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and the New York Daily News.
Responsible for formulating policy on all aspects related to the County’s health and public health services. Prior to joining Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s staff, Elan worked in the Director’s Office at the Department of Public Health, where he managed a variety of special projects and assisted in the Department’s strategic planning and executive administration. Prior to that, he worked for EngenderHealth, an international non-profit health agency based in New York, where he worked with health care providers throughout the U.S. and Africa to increase access to health care services for young men and people living with HIV and AIDS. Elan previously served as Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s Assistant Health Deputy from 1999 to 2001. Elan was born and raised in Los Angeles and received a B.S. in Psychology from UC Berkeley and a M.P.H. from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
Responsible for constituent services on the West Side of Los Angeles, as well as secretarial support in the downtown office. A fluent Spanish speaker, she joined the County in 1969 and began working for former County Supervisor Ed Edelman in 1976. She joined the staff of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky when he assumed office in December 1994.
IN OUR FIELD OFFICES
SUSAN PETRULAS NISSMAN
Senior Field Deputy
Responsible for constituent services and community outreach in all areas covered by the District Office located in Calabasas, which include the north and southwest San Fernando Valley communities west of the 405, and the Topanga, Malibu, Las Virgenes and Santa Monica Mountains areas in the Unincorporated Area Services region. She is Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s lead representative for Watershed Management efforts in the Santa Monica Mountains and the Bay. She also serves as Yaroslavsky’s traffic liaison addressing traffic issues on the Pacific Coast Highway between the City of Santa Monica and the Ventura County line; on the Topanga Canyon Boulevard Committee; and for “Operation Safe Canyons,” a State-County collaboration to deter street racing in the Santa Monica Mountains. She also represents Yaroslavsky in working with local agencies, among them the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains, the California Highway Patrol, Caltrans, and the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission. Prior to joining Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s staff in 1994, Nissman – a Topanga resident for more than 28 years – was a prominent community leader on environmental, education and social issues.
Field Deputy, Calabasas District Office
Responsible for constituent services in the southwest San Fernando Valley, Topanga, Malibu, Las Virgenes and Santa Monica Mountains areas. Before joining Yaroslavsky’s staff in 2008, Pershing worked in a variety of fields, most recently as a political analyst for the International Mission to Monitor the 2006 Haitian Elections and as a senior field researcher for the International Crisis Group. For 20 years, he was a consultant for Haiti-based non-profit organizations. In 2001, Pershing moved from his home in Topanga to Boston to pursue his doctorate through the Brandeis University Politics Department. Prior to returning to school, he was a photojournalist covering the Balkans, Haiti, the U.S.-Mexico border, environmental issues and U.S. politics. He was based in Los Angeles and New York. Pershing and his family returned to Topanga in 2005.
Field Deputy, Calabasas District Office
Responsible for constituent services in the southwest San Fernando Valley, Topanga, Malibu, Las Virgenes and Santa Monica Mountains areas. She has been deeply involved in organizing and volunteer efforts in the Topanga community, serving as Vice President for Topanga’s Community House Improvement Committee and leading fundraising efforts; writing grants and development programs for LAUSD Topanga Elementary School’s Enrichment Program; spearheading the local effort to establish a County Library branch in unincorporated Topanga by co-founding the non-profit Friends of the Topanga Library foundation and serving on the Topanga Library Advisory Committee. Cynthia earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Interior Architecture from the University of North Texas, and worked for more than a decade as a commercial interior designer for several international architectural firms.
Responsible for constituent cases in the West Valley and the unincorporated areas of the Third District. Lourdes is fluent in Spanish and worked as a temporary employee for Los Angeles County for three years prior to joining Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s staff in October, 2002.
LORI GARCIA WHEELER
Senior Field Deputy, Van Nuys District Office
Responsible for constituent service, directing day-to-day operations, and community outreach. Lori previously served as a caseworker, office manager, and Sylmar District Office Director for then-Councilmember Richard Alarcon. Born, raised and schooled in the San Fernando Valley, Lori and her husband Dean currently reside in Mission Hills.
Field Deputy, Van Nuys District Office
Responsible for constituent services in the east and northwest San Fernando Valley including the City of San Fernando. Fluent in Spanish, Benita joins Yaroslavsky’s field staff after more than a decade of private-sector experience in customer service and administrative office support in banking and insurance. Active in her community, Benita established a Neighborhood Watch program in Mission Hills more than five years ago, and she remains active as a Block Captain.
Responsible for coverage of the environment, social services, public safety and county museums. Hubler has has had a long career in Los Angeles journalism. She worked for 18 years as a writer at The Los Angeles Times, where she shared in three Pulitzer Prizes awarded to the paper’s staff for coverage of the Los Angeles riots, the Northridge earthquake and the North Hollywood shootout. Considered among the paper’s most versatile reporters and talented writers, Hubler went on to work as a Metro columnist, tackling a variety of local, regional and statewide policy issues–from theme park regulation to law enforcement to homelessness. Later, she was assigned to the paper’s San Francisco bureau and became a senior writer for the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Before The Times, Hubler worked at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and the Orange County Register, among other papers. Shawn has a B.A. in journalism from Penn State.
Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s support staff includes: David Colgan, Patricia Farias, Lisa Garcia and Ann Miller, as well as senior secretaries Liz Rangel, Executive Secretary to the Supervisor, and Yolanda Valadez, Executive Secretary to the Chief Deputy.