Systems Change Advocate
I am a native Californian born with Arthrogryposis, a connective tissue disorder that significantly limits my physical movement. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach with a BFA in Art, I became an employee of the Independent Living Center in Long Beach. I also began and continue to volunteer my time with Long Beach Transit.
Currently, I work as a Systems Change Advocate for CALIF. My job enables me to work for positive policy change concerning people with disabilities. It is important to increase civic participation through community organizing, education and advocacy around issues that affect our community. Leadership development is also a crucial element of Systems Change by working with consumers of our Center.
I am also a council member of the Metro (MTA) Gateway Cities Region Council. The Council oversees the planning and implementation of service within its area. Our responsibilities include: approving the regions budget; calling and conducting public hearings; approving and evaluating programs; and implementing service changes, among other things.
One of my many interests include producing artwork made of “found objects”. Found object art has a long history in the fine arts world. I’ve been asked “why collect broken junk?” Well, I can relate to these broken and discarded objects as a person with a disability. Someone has decided that the objects I find are no longer useful because they don’t look or function like they used to or should. I, on the other hand, can see their innate beauty and usefulness. Much of society has decided that people with disabilities are dispensable and useless, so I feel compelled, driven even to collect broken and discarded objects to organize them into beautiful and much useful artwork.
My name is Daniel Garcia and I am a Systems Change Advocate. I am married, a father and a working member of society. I want to empower other people with disabilities to do the same. A large part of my job is to help people find the tools to help them succeed in their lives. Much of my previous experience is influencing the non-disabled community to educate people in general that people with disabilities can strive and succeed. I believe in thinking outside of the box. I have years of experience working with people with disabilities.
As a member of the Metro Accessibility Advisory Committee, I brought the idea of educating the general public who ride on Los Angeles County transit by advising Metro via an education video on Transit TV. Also, I successfully advocated to the Los Angeles County Paratransit system to put their pick up/drop off locations on their website for easy access to riders.
I understand their specific needs, which is why in 2015, I ran for Los Angeles City Council seat for the 12th District area to increase the visibility of people with disabilities so that we have greater voice on affordable and accessible housing. I came in second place.
I am well versed in the different components of the law that services the community of people with disabilities as I am currently in various committees. For example: I am member North Los Angeles County Regional Center Consumer Advisory Committee, Access Services Quality Services Subcommittee, and Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF), former Board member.
I look forward to make CALIF community stronger by advocating with them not for them. Part of a good systems change advocate is to bring community together. It is in this way that we are stronger and able asked thing that this community needs.
I looking forward to working with you on issues that matter the most. For example: Affordable and accessible housing, transportation, In Home Supportive Services, and ISS COLA.
Dina Garcia started working as a Systems Change Advocate at CALIF in December, 2011. Her passion lies not only in advocacy, but acting as well.
Dina’s role as an actress began at the age of three, when she was chosen to be the poster child for United Cerebral Palsy. Over the next decade, she appeared on the annual UCP telethon, joined many stars and donors at cocktail parties and photo shoots, and launched her acting career, appearing on a CBS Movie of the Week, Marion Rose White, with Nancy Cartwright, now the voice of Bart Simpson, and Katherine Ross. Dina was also in the prime time soap opera, Knots Landing, with Lisa Hartman.
As Dina got older, her role changed from actress to advocate when she encountered discrimination in junior and senior high school due to her disability. She had to fight just for the right to do her homework on a typewriter, a necessity because using her hand to write was difficult. She even had to fight for the right to go to her neighborhood high school, a move discouraged by some faculty members. She wound up graduating with honors.
Dina’s advocacy skills continued at Cal State University Northridge where she was president of the Students with Disabilities Connection. She transformed that basically inactive organization into a vibrant and progressive social group. Upon her graduation in 2000, there were 40 active members.
In keeping with her love for advocacy, Dina got a full-time job at the Westside Center for Independent Living as a System Change Advocate. She also served for two years on the Los Angeles City Commission on Disabilities under Mayor James Hahn. As commissioner, Dina worked to install an audio signal on a busy street to ensure the safety of visually-impaired pedestrians.
After taking a six-year break from working, in order to be a stay-at-home mom to her son, Dina has now picked up where she left off as a Systems Change Advocate at CALIF. She is very happy working with another passionate advocate, Cynde. Together, they are trying to change the system in order to accommodate the needs of those with disabilities. Currently, her position at CALIF is Systems Change Advocate—Housing since March 2018.
Dina went back to her passion for acting in December 2010 when she was cast in “Luck”, an HBO drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. Dina was in four episodes of the show that premiered in January 2012.
She and her husband Daniel own a house in Chatsworth where they live with their son, Brandon. In her spare time, Dina enjoys snow skiing, water skiing, jet skiing, para-sailing, wheelchair dancing, traveling and, of course, spending time with her family and friends.
Systems Change Advocate--Housing
CALIF Program - Independent Living
Systems Change Advocate
Hello, I am Justice Pak. I was born in Korea and studied English Literature in college. In graduate school, I majored in Special Education. I chose to study special education because I was the very subject of special education itself and I thought I can understand disabled children better.
After graduate school, I chose the path of a reporter rather than a teacher. Being a reporter for the weekly newspaper for the disabled led me to gain much insight about the broader experience of disability.
Meeting various disabled individuals was the mirror to my own disabilities that I’ve been denying but needed to face. I was also challenged and inspired through these individuals who overcame their environment and disabilities. I was really happy to be a reporter and received the Best Reporter Award.
I also worked as a campaign and project manager for the disabled at SBS (Seoul Broadcasting Systems) in Korea. Through those experiences I have learned and grown up. I wanted to explore what the world had in store for me. So, I came to USA.
I studied film and new media production at SDSU in USA. After I graduated SDSU, I moved to LA and chose to work at Koreana News as my first job. In the last 9 years, I worked as a chief reporter and editor for the Koreana News. As a Koreana News Reporter, I had an opportunity to meet with immigrants from different walks of life which enabled me to understand their lives.
I also have been working as a YTN LA reporter from year 2005. YTN is a 24 hour news channel like America's CNN. Being a YTN reporter has a special significance for me. Each time I stand before the camera I have hope. That hope is for disabled people all over the world to have hope through me just as my mother gave me hope saying "you can do it."
I have a great interest and affection for people. One of the reasons why I became a reporter is because I can approach people easily and listen to their stories. Now I have been working at CALIF as Korean Outreach worker since June. As a person with disability, I believe I can better understand disabled people--to help and support them through various ways and help them live an independent life.
English is my weakness. However, because of this reason I try harder than others and become humble. Therefore, I think I have compassion for those who are in need.