Whitney Barazoto, Executive Director – Whitney Barazoto joined the City of Oakland Public Ethics Commission as Executive Director in April 2012, with over 15 years of public service experience focused on enhancing government integrity – from ethics to efficiency – at state and local levels. During her tenure in Oakland, Ms. Barazoto has spearheaded key projects such as the Commission’s Toward Collaborative Transparency review and vision, the drafting of the City’s newly adopted Government Ethics Act which expanded the Commission’s authority to enforce ethics laws, and the creation of www.OpenDisclosure.io, a web application visualizing campaign finance data developed in partnership with the City’s OpenOakland (Code for America) brigade. She also led the Commission’s efforts to expand its staffing, resources, authority, and independence, now codified in the newly amended City Charter, as passed by voters on November 4, 2014.
Before coming to Oakland, Ms. Barazoto was senior staff to the Commission on California State Government Organization and Economy (Little Hoover Commission) from 2008-2012, where she managed complex oversight reviews of California State policy, operations and management that produced recommendations to the Governor and Legislature. She previously served as Government Affairs Director for the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), California’s watchdog for activities related to campaign finance, conflicts of interest, lobbyist registration, and gifts to public officials. Prior to the FPPC, Ms. Barazoto worked as an aide in the California State Legislature, managed a county government program, and investigated theft and fraud in the private sector.
She holds a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
Milad Dalju, Deputy Director/Chief of Enforcement – Milad Dalju joined the Public Ethics Commission after serving as an attorney with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). In that role, he prosecuted violations of California’s campaign finance and ethics laws and represented the FPPC in state and federal court. He previously worked at the Sacramento City Attorney’s office, the Public Defender’s office, and for a civil rights attorney. Prior to his legal career, Mr. Dalju worked at Commission Junction, a multi-national affiliate marketing company.
In his spare time, Mr. Dalju volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), advocating for the best interest of children in juvenile court dependency and wardship proceedings. He previously provided guidance and mentorship to at-risk high school students as a mentor in the Sacramento Law and Public Policy Academy, and he served on the Federal Pro Bono Panel to provide pro bono legal services to inmates.
Mr. Dalju holds a B.A. in Global and International Studies and German Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a J.D. from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
Simon Russell, Investigator – Simon Russell joined the Public Ethics Commission in March 2016 after serving as a Special Investigator with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). In that role, he led investigations into suspected violations of California’s campaign finance, ethics, and lobbying laws, including some of the FPPC’s highest-profile cases of recent years. Prior to his time at the FPPC, Mr. Russell worked as a criminal defense investigator in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. He also has extensive volunteer experience with at-risk youth, both in California and overseas.
Mr. Russell holds a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a J.D. from Golden Gate University School of Law. He is a member of the California State Bar.
Jelani Killings, Ethics Analyst – Mr. Killings was hired as an Ethics Analyst in February 2016 to lead the Commission’s ethics and campaign finance education program, providing education, facilitating advice, and assisting Commission clients in understanding and complying with the Oakland’s campaign finance and ethics laws. He joined the Commission in October 2013 as a volunteer with a strong passion for community outreach. He has extensive experience with youth development as the Program Coordinator at STS Academy, an after-school tutoring program, and he brings a variety of prior experience in business policy compliance, marketing, customer service, and organizational efficiency. Active in his Pittsburg community, Mr. Killings is currently serving as a board member on the Contra Costa County Economic Opportunity Council.
Mr. Killings holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University and a Masters in Public Administration from California State University East Bay.
Ana Lara-Franco, Commission Assistant
- Ms. Lara-Franco joined the Commission in 2016, bringing a passion for community service and for helping Oakland citizens find the information and services they need. She previously worked as a Library Assistant for the Oakland Public Library system since 2003, helping library patrons access information and library materials. She also participated in library programming and assisted in the remodeling of the Teen Zone at the Oakland Main Library where she conducted outreach and promotion for teen events.
As the Commission Assistant for the PEC, Ms. Lara now manages the Commission’s administrative office functions to support the work of staff and Commissioners, and she provides customer service to our community and clients, including those who are subject to the Commission’s laws or who wish to submit a complaint of a campaign finance, transparency, or ethics violation.
Ana was born and raised in Oakland and graduated from Oakland Public Schools. She is bilingual in Spanish and considers herself bicultural. After attending Laney College, she transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, where she graduated with a B.A. in Chicano Studies.
Phyllis Meehan, Research Intern - Ms. Meehan joined the Commission in June 2015 to provide administrative and research support. Ms. Meehan is currently earning her B.A. in Public Policy at Mills College and will graduate in spring 2016. Along with interning with the PEC, Ms. Meehan is working with the Institute for Local Government as a Public Engagement intern. With her experience at both the PEC and ILG, Ms. Meehan hopes to start a career in local government to advocate for better public outreach, government transparency, and civil engagement.
*Special thanks to our talented former interns who generously volunteered their time to the Commission:
Laura Mandler, Law Clerk (2016) - Ms. Mandler is a student at UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. Laura served as a Commissioner on the Sacramento Youth Commission as a high school student, where she was first exposed to the workings of local government commissions. During the summer of 2010, she worked as an intern for the California State Senate Office of Research where she monitored state regulatory commissions and meetings. After spending her first 18 years in Sacramento, Laura attended Seattle University, where she graduated with a B.A. in politcal science in June 2013. She chose to attend law school in San Francisco to learn more about the Bay Area, its politics and also be closer to her family. Laura would like to practice Environmental and Land Use law for a local government in order to help develop more sustainable, vibrant and civically-robust cities.
Emily Vaughan, Civic Engagement Project Consultant (2014) - As a Masters of Public Policy candidate at UC Berkeley and a graduate student fellow with the Public Ethics Commission, Ms. Vaughn conducted an extensive analysis of public engagement practices in Oakland. She previously worked with the Office of Public Engagement at the White House Council on Environmental Quality and as an online campaigner at Care2.com, where she helped connect online activists with nonprofits working on their issues of interest.
Greg Gonzales, Policy Analysis Project Consultant (2013) – As part of the Advanced Policy Analysis (APA) Master’s Thesis program at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, Mr. Gonzales conducted a broad policy review of the Commission’s Limited Public Financing Act. This was a semester-long research project that culminateed in a report to the Commission in May 2013. Mr. Gonzales has a B.A. in Government, Minor in Philosophy, from the University of Texas at Austin. After completing the APA project, he received his Masters in Public Policy in May 2013.
Maegan Wilborn, Publishing Intern (2013) – Ms. Wilborn assisted with the reformatting and updating of the Commission’s publications, including the Boards/Commissions handbook, Oakland Campaign Reform Act Guide, Lobbyist Registration Guide, and Limited Public Financing Guide, to name a few. She holds a B.A. in English, Minor in Creative Writing and History, from the University of California, Riverside.
Joanna Saeteurn, Research Intern (2013) – Ms. Saeteurn assisted the Commission with research projects and gave general administrative support. Joanna has a strong interest in learning how legislative policies are designed and implemented. As an Oakland resident, Joanna also works as an academic mentor for elementary school students. Joanna is currently earning her B.A. in political science and pre-law at California State University East Bay.
D’nnette Savannah, Legal Intern (2012) – Ms. Savannah conducted legal research and analysis for the Commission and assisted with amending our Complaint Procedures. She has a B.A. in Government from California State University, Sacramento and a J.D. from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.