Bridging Equity Gaps: The Impact of Diverse Leadership in Haifa, Springfield, MA and San Francisco

Feb 23, 2021 12:00pm – 1:00pm

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COVID-19 is challenging diverse communities everywhere to address emergency needs across social and economic disparities. A rising priority before COVID-19, the crisis underscores the challenge and urgency of narrowing gaps for the benefit of an entire region. What can we learn from minority representatives on local councils and in leadership positions about putting equity issues on the agenda? How does minority representation change the vision and tools available to do so?

Join the IATF, San Francisco JCRC, and Boston JCRC for a conversation with three groundbreaking leaders, Fayez Hanna, Haifa District CommissionerMyrna Melgar, San Francisco District 7 Supervisor, and Justin Hurst, Springfield, Massachusetts City Council Member, about the equity issues they are championing and some of the efforts they have put in motion to address them.

This unique event allows for an exchange of ideas and experiences across metropolitan contexts. Notably, Haifa shares long partnerships with both the Boston area and San Fransisco Jewish communities.

Event Details:
Tuesday, February 23 at 12:00pm Eastern/9:00am Pacific

About the Speakers

Fayez Hanna is the highest-ranking Arab official in Israel’s Ministry of Interior and the first Arab professional to hold the position of District Commissioner, to which he was appointed in 2017. In this role Fayez leads the Ministry of Interior’s efforts to direct and support local authorities’ governance and operations toward improving residents’ quality of life and services, acting as the statutory comptroller and central government’s primary contact with the 30 local authorities (both Jewish and Arab) that comprise the Northern District. Prior to this position, Fayez held several managerial positions in the Ministry of Interior, including Deputy Commissioner for the Northern District (2011-2017). Previously, he served as the Local Comptroller of the Rameh Local Council (2000-2006) and acted on behalf of the Ministry of Interior as an External Comptroller for additional local authorities. In parallel, he consulted Arab localities on financial, budgetary, organizational and other development and capacity-building programs. Between 2009-2011, Fayez served as the Director of Interim Nominated Committees – statutory bodies appointed by the Interior Ministry to manage the affairs of communities that face financial and managerial crises – for Yanouh-Jatt, Alshagour and I’iblin. Fayez is a certified accountant, with a BA and Accounting Certification from Hebrew University and an MA in political science, with specialization in Public Review and Local Government. Fayez is a graduate of the Maoz Fellowship Program (2017-18) and has completed numerous public administration professional training courses. He served in the IDF and still does regular reserve duty. He was born and raised in the village of Rameh in the Galilee, where he lives with his wife and 3 children.

Myrna Melgar was elected District 7 Supervisor in November 2020. Myrna is an urban planner, economic development and housing policy expert, and has served in City government in several different capacities. Myrna’s family immigrated to San Francisco from El Salvador when she was a child during the 1980s, fleeing that country’s civil war. As for so many others before and since, San Francisco provided Myrna’s family with refuge and economic opportunity. Myrna is fluent in English, Spanish and French, and speaks Swedish proficiently. She attended San Francisco State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Excelsior College. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in housing development from Columbia University. Myrna formerly worked as the Executive Director of the Jamestown Community Center, Deputy Director of the Mission Economic Development Agency, Director of Homeownership Programs at the Mayor’s Office of Housing during the Newsom Administration, and served as President of the City Planning Commission and Vice President of the Building Inspection Commission. Myrna has also served on the Board of Directors of many San Francisco nonprofit human service organizations, including the Jewish Community Relations Council. When not working on community issues, Myrna enjoys gardening and cooking. She is a lover and supporter of the performing arts, plays the flute and renaissance recorders, loves classical and folk music and is a dedicated Samba dancer. Myrna, her husband Sean Donahue, and three daughters have made their home in Ingleside Terraces for the past decade.

Attorney Justin J. Hurst was born and raised in the city of Springfield. He is the proud son of Attorney Frederick A. Hurst and Attorney Marjorie J. Hurst who are the founders and currently the publisher and editor of “An African American Point of View” newspaper. He is a graduate of the Springfield Public Schools and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Virginia in 2000.  Justin immediately began his service in the Springfield Public School district as a secondary English teacher. He taught English at the High School of Science and Technology for six years, after which, Justin assumed the role of Coordinator of Implementation for the Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy Initiative. Later, Justin was appointed the Director of Implementation for the Striving Readers Adolescent Literacy Initiative. He is a licensed administrator in secondary education and also holds a C.A.G.S in administration from the University of Massachusetts. In addition, Justin has his Juris Doctor degree from Western New England College School of Law and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar Association in 2005. Justin retired from the Springfield Public Schools in 2011 to focus on his investment company where he serves as the manager for London Realty, L.L.C. In 2013, Justin campaigned for a seat on the Springfield City Council and is now serving his fourth term. In 2019 and 2020, he was unanimously voted by his colleagues to serve as President of the City Council. Justin currently resides in the city of Springfield with his wife, School Committee Member, Denise M. Hurst, 9 year old son Justin J. Hurst Jr. and 4 year old son Jackson Douglas Hurst.