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Black Leadership Council Honors California’s Three Black Constitutional Officers

California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, right, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, left, were honored at the Black Leadership Council’s Third Annual Juneteenth Legislative Awards on June 19 in Sacramento. / CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

The Black Leadership Council (BLC) honored Secretary of State Shirley Weber, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, and Controller Malia Cohen on June 19 during its Juneteenth Legislative Awards Luncheon in Sacramento.


Along with other awardees, California’s three Black constitutional officers were honored for their dedication to excellence, vision for equality, and awareness of political rights. The awards presentation was held at the Sutter Club near the State Capitol.


The state’s other constitutional officers are Gov. Gavin Newsom, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalikis, Attorney General Rob Bonta, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, State Treasurer Fiona Ma and the four members of the state’s Board of Equalization.


“It was a wonderful event. Well done,” Weber said. “They’ve honored some wonderful people. I am just proud to be a part of the list.”


Honorees included Dr. Flojaune Cofer, an Epidemiologist, Policy Director, Community Advocate, and mayoral candidate in Sacramento; and Tomiquia Moss, who was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as the Secretary of the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSHA) in November 2023.


Tiyesha Watts, a legislative and policy analyst for the California Academy of Family Physicians, was the youngest of the six honorees. She is well known around the State Capitol for being an outspoken advocate, bringing awareness to challenges people are facing in socio-economically disadvantaged communities.

Tasha Henneman, Chief of Policy and Government Affairs for PRC (formerly Positive Resource Center), shared that she admired Watts’ leadership and extreme knowledge of the legislative process.

“I was immediately impressed by her intellect, professionalism, grace, and confidence from providing expert testimony on a bill or just in a ‘me too’ moment, or just facilitating a meeting with a physician or budget staff,” said Henneman.


BLC co-chairs Brett Andrews, interim CEO of All Home; and Felton Institute CEO Al Gilbert provided opening remarks, along with PRC CEO Chuan Teng and board treasurer Darren Smith.

Kapri Walker, chair of the California Legislative Black Staff Association (CLBSA), addressed the need for more Black legislative staff. Walker, who is from San Diego, is a former Capital Senate Fellow. She said CLBS is currently raising money to fund interns.

Henneman referred to Walker as a “generational leader.”

“We are trying to strengthen the pipeline of young Black talent into positions of power,” Walker said.

BLC is a group of leaders whose work involves improving the conditions for Black Californians and other vulnerable populations across the state in housing, education, and healthcare. BLC also seeks to remove institutional barriers based on race, class, color, and zip codes.

BLC is co-sponsor of two pieces of legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 2465, authored by Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson) and AB 2250 authored by Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-La Mesa). Both are members of the California Legislative Black Caucus.

AB 2465 would level the playing field by requiring specific state agencies to implement equity in a specific set of grant programs where people of color and diverse-led organizations are underrepresented or non-existent. The Senate Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Water voted to advance the bill with a 7-2 vote on June 17.

 AB 2250 would require a health care service plan contract or health insurance policy to include coverage for screenings for social determinants of health. It would also provide access to community health workers, promoters, representatives, peer support specialists, lay health workers, and social workers.

The Senate Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Water passed AB 2250 with a 7-0 vote, but the legislation has been placed in the Suspense File while its fiscal impact is being reviewed.

In addition to the Legislative Awards Luncheon, BLC was at the State Capitol to commemorate Juneteenth by participating in “Black in Action Advocacy Day” – held to engage with key policymakers in Sacramento to advance systemic solutions for the most pressing issues facing Black Californians, organizers said.

“BLC to me is not just an organization or effort that is trying to systemically change the future for Black folks, it’s a movement,” Moss, a former co-chair of BLC, said while accepting her award. “It is a movement. As I occupy this role (secretary of BCSHA), I think about the shoulders that I stand on, I am so honored to be in this position to further our collective work.”



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