Ari Ruiz, Vice Chair
Ari Ruiz was appointed to the Commission in July 2017 by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and currently holds the position of Vice Chair of the Commission. He is an influential civic and political activist who has devoted his life to community and civic engagement, particularly in the areas of immigrant rights, LGBT equality, youth empowerment, and education.
In 2007, his community activism on behalf of youth in Los Angeles earned him an appointment to the Los Angeles City Youth Council from Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar to represent youth from Council District 14. As a Youth Councilmember, Ari advocated on behalf of CD 14 at City Hall and lead the effort to increase youth participation in government.
Recognizing Ari’s passion for public service, in 2009 Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa appointed Ari to the Commission for Children Youth & Their Families. He went on to serve as the second youngest Commissioner in the history of the City of Los Angeles. In that capacity, he served as an advisor to the Mayor and City Council about policy in regards to children, youth and their families including health insurance.
Ari served a two year term as the first Latino President of Stonewall Young Democrats, where he now serves as Political Vice-President. Prior to joining the Stonewall Young Democrats, Ari served as a Executive Board Member for the California Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus. Professionally, Ari serves as a District Representative for California State Assemblymember Blanca E. Rubio. Prior to joining the Office of Assemblywoman Rubio, he worked for Assistant Speaker pro Tempore Autumn R. Burke, and as a Community Outreach Associate for The Laurel Foundation, a non-profit organization that empowers children, youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS.
Ernesto Diaz was appointed to the Commission on Augist 1, 2017 by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and is currently with the County of Los Angeles Office of the Public Defender.
He is a member of the Latino Public Defender Association, Hispanic Manager Association, California Public Defender Association and the Public Defender Association.
With 25 years of attorney practice, both in litigation and trial experience, Ernesto Diaz has the skills to keep the Board of Supervisors informed of significant issues concerning consumer insurance matters, including car liability, homeowers’, health and earthquake insurance.
Bobby L. Blake
Bob L. Blake has been a resident of California since 1974 and was appointed to the Commission in 2006 by former Second District Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke. Bob has been self-employed for over 18 years in the Insurance & Financial Services businesses.
Bob Blake & Associates, Inc. specializes in Benefit Communication and Supplemental Insurance products for Public Sector and Private Non Profit businesses. Bob manages over sixty full-time independent agents and the vision of the firm is to be the best sole provider of employee benefits, providing customers with products and services which distinguish them in the marketplace. The firm prides themselves on being a diverse, customer focused organization.
Bob received his AA degree from Long Beach City College and USC Marshall School of Business with a certificate in Sales, Leadership and Branding.
Bob’s mission is to protect working American families from catastrophic events that can ruin their future. His firm also strives to provide personal attention, attending to individual needs and small details while sustaining a professional and caring team representing the industry’s highest rated companies. The firm is located at 401 E. Ocean Blvd., Suite 204, Long Beach, CA 90802. Phone (562) 437-7723.
Mr. Blake’s experience in the insurance field has given him great insight in consumer needs, including that of insurance coverage for residents in Los Angeles County. Some of his organizational affiliations are: National Forum for Black Public Administrators Southern California Chapter; 100 Black Men; Los Angeles Health Underwriters; Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce; Long Beach African American Chamber of Commerce; National Conference of Minority Transit Officials; and currently is Vice President of the National Forum of Black Public Administrators.
Bob’s awards include: 2005 Business Entrepreneur of the Year, Greater Los Angeles Black Chamber of Commerce; 2004 Small Business of the Year Award, National Forum of Black Public Administrators, 2003 People Development Award, Colonial Supplemental Insurance; 2000 Recruiter of the Year Award, Colonial Supplemental Insurance; 2000 Office of the Year Award, Colonial Supplemental Insurance.
Scott J. Svonkin, Chair
Scott J. Svonkin is a native of Los Angeles, and has been a member of the Commission since his appointment by former Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky in 1997, he was reappointed in 2015 by current Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and he is the current Chairman of the Commission. Chair Svonkin possesses an extensive insurance background, having spent six and a half years as a Director and National Project Manager for Prudential Health Care at its Western Headquarters in Woodland Hills. Chair Svonkin received the company’s Community Champions Rising Star Award for his commitment to helping others and the Hero Award for creating a voter registration and grassroots-lobbying program. Chair Svonkin is in his second year as president of the Board of Trustees, first chosen by his fellow trustees in July of 2014 and then again in July of 2015. He was first elected to the Board in May of 2011, then re-elected in March of 2015.
Chair Svonkin is also serving a three-year term as a member of President Obama’s College Promise National Advisory Board, part of the campaign to allow responsible students to attend two years at community college tuition free.
He enrolled at Pasadena City College, went on to get a B.A. at California State University, Northridge, and served on the San Gabriel Unified School District Board before being elected to his current position.
His career focus has been in public service, particularly on education and non-profits, and as a business-man and experienced community activist. Chair Svonkin served as Chief of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang and is currently with the Los Angeles County Probation Department.
Previously, Chair Svonkin served as a member of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s staff and worked as Senior Advisor to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Chair Svonkin has also served as Chief of Staff for State Assemblyman Paul Koretz and was a Deputy Councilman for West Hollywood. As a chief of staff, Chair Svonkin was involved in key legislative projects such as: an aggressive anti-crime program focused on getting guns off the streets, the protection of children from tobacco and its advertising arms, and support for public education and working families. As Deputy Councilman, Chair Svonkin worked on important legislation, community liaison activities, intergovernmental affairs, media relations, and constituent services for West Hollywood.
Chair Svonkin is committed to promoting educational opportunities for all through various organizations. He twice served as President of the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association and has served on the Los Angeles Valley College Foundation Board, the California State University, Northridge Legislative Advisory Council, the LA PROSPER Board of the Los Angeles Community College District, and the Center for Southern California Studies Advisory Board. He is a former Chairman of the Los Angeles Unified School District Advisory Council for District Four. As a health care executive, he arranged for his company to donate almost one thousand computers to public schools.
Concerned about public health, Scott served on the board of the Children’s Hospital L.A. Huckleberry Fund and on the California Respiratory Board where his fellow members elected him President shortly after his appointment. Chair Svonkin is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Credit Union—a billion-dollar financial institution, and is also Chairman of the Los Angeles County Insurance Commission.
A native of Los Angeles County, Scott attended public schools and served two terms as the Student Member of the Pasadena City College Board of Trustees before going on to Cal State Northridge.
Chair Svonkin and his wife Jennifer have a daughter, Rose, and a son, Sam.
Lisa Marie Belsanti
Lisa Marie Belsanti was appointed to the Commission in June 2019 by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. She is a highly experienced communications professional with a demonstrated history of working in the government administration industry. Lisa is highly skilled in Policy Analysis, Marketing Strategy, Digital Media, News Writing, and Branding & Identity. She currently leads the City of West Hollywood’s Communications Department. In her role as Director of Communications, she oversees the strategy and direction of the city’s communications and community engagement functions, which include public information; marketing; advertising, media relations; branding; crisis communications; social media, e-communications, and website; and special projects related to community outreach. She also runs WeHoTV, the city’s Public, Educational, and Government access television (PEG-TV) and its related cable franchise compliance with Spectrum Cable and AT&T. Lisa has worked at West Hollywood City Hall for more than 16 years.
Prior to joining the City of West Hollywood, Lisa was the Director of Communications and Development for CAPE (now Equality California), a nonprofit, nonpartisan, grassroots-based, statewide LGBT lobbying and advocacy group.
She received a B.A. from Columbia College Chicago in Film/Cinema/Video Studies/Communications.
Lisa is involved in numerous professional organizations, including the International City Managers Association (ICMA); the League of California Cities; the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLJGA) and the Los Angeles Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA-LA). Additionally, she serves as a Board member for the City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA).
A resident of the City of Los Angeles, Lisa enjoys spending time with her wife, Becky, and their nine-year-old daughter, Norah.
Felix B. Lopez
Felix B. Lopez was appointed to the Commission by Supervisor Janice Hahn in 2017. In 1978, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, graduated Magna Cum Laude and a Master of Business Administration at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. Holder of the Life Underwriters Training Council, Fellow (LUTCF) from the American College and a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC).
Commissioner Lopez has been in the insurance industry since 1977, sixteen of which were in the corporate employee environment. He has held various managerial and senior management positions, notably as General Manager of the Asian Reinsurance Pool based in Manila, Philippines and Executive Vice President and COO of Bergen Isle Insurance Company.
In 1993, Commissioner Lopez opened his own insurance brokerage/ agency, (Pinoy General Insurance Services) marking his entrance in the entrepreneurial side of the industry. In addition, he is also the Institute Director and Chief Instructor of the American Institute of Insurance, an accredited educational provider with the California Department of Insurance.
Commissioner Lopez has been a Council Member of the United Coast Guard Leadership, Excellence and Diversity Advisory Council (LEAD Council) representing the Auxiliary from 2008-2012. President of the Rotary Club of Cerritos and Artesia in 2010-2011, where he received a Rotary International Citation as Outstanding Club President. Founding President of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce-South East Corridor (FACC-SEC) and Chairman of the Coalition of Associations at the South East Corridor (CASEC).
He was awarded the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Diversity Award in 2008. Honorary Commodore by the Philippine Coast Guard/Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary in 2014. One of Ten Outstanding Entrepreneurs by the Pangasinan Brotherhood USA in 2010. Lion of the Year by the Los Angeles Bayanihan Lions Club in 1998.
He is licensed Property and Casualty Broker Agent; Life , Health and Accident Agent, and Reinsurance Intermediary Broker with the California Department of Insurance, Accredited School Director and Instructor with a Certificate of Authorization for Service by the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education and Author of Introduction to Reinsurance.
Commissioner Lopez and his wife Sally have two sons, Felix Reginald and Richard Felix.
Deepak B. Jhaveri
Deepak “DJ” Jhaveri has resided in Los Angeles County for over 27 years and was appointed to the Commission by Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn in March 2017. In 1997 DJ became the founder and president of an insurance agency that specializes in Fire, Earthquake, Flood, Individual and Group Health insurance, as well as Life and Long Term Care insurance. He also held Free Seminars from time to time to educate people on subjects of public interest like the Affordable Care Act, (when it was first introduced) Long Term Care, etc. DJ is licensed in several states across the country.
Early in his career, he served on the LA County Assessor's Citizen Advisory Committee under the then Assessor Rick Auerbach and the Audit Committee of the ABC Unified School District.
Since 2015, Jhaveri also serves on the Planning Commission of the City of Cerritos, where he is a resident.
Marilyn Sparks, appointed to the commission by Supervisor Kathryn Barger in April 2019, is a lifelong resident of Los Angeles County. She was born in North Hollywood, raised in Duarte and, with her husband of 28 years, has made Glendora her home since 1995. She is a graduate of Citrus College with an AA in Business. She has two children in college.
Professionally, Mrs. Sparks has held management positions in financial services as an Operations Officer and Sales Manager with Bank of America; in the medical industry as an Efficiency and Processes Consultant with Casa Colina Surgery Center and, currently, as an independent Farmers Insurance Agency Owner. She also has an appointment with the FEMA-administered, National Flood Control Program. Her focus is risk assessment and client education in proper assets protection.
Civically, Marilyn chairs the San Dimas Chamber of Commerce, sits on the Board of Directors of the Glendora Chamber of Commerce and recently chaired the Glendora Yellow Ribbon Committee. She has served in leadership positions with the San Gabriel Valley District Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations. She recently served as president of the American Legion Auxiliary. While her children attended school, she chaired their fundraising committees. She assists with community outreach for Vet Hunters, a non-profit committed to seeking-out and assisting homeless veterans.
In her spare time, she enjoys genealogy, scrapbooking and travel. Her goal now with the Los Angeles County Insurance Commission is to educate our residents about proper risk management and the products available, both commercially and through government agencies, to protect their property and families.
Kenny Chang was appointed to the Commission on February 2020 by Supervisor Kathryn Barger and is currently the CEO and Founder of KCAL Insurance Agency. He immigrated from Taiwan to the United States in the early 1980s. He became an insurance agent in 1984, and founded KCAL Insurance Agency (KCAL) in 1992. KCAL has grown to become one of the largest minority-owned insurance agencies in Southern California. KCAL has provided over 120,000 individuals and families with health, auto, home, and life insurance, and over 5,000 businesses with general liability, workers’ compensation, group health, and other types of business insurance. In 2019, Kenny and KCAL were chosen by Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the most influential insurance brokers.
Kenny is passionate about giving back to the community. For the past 15 years, Kenny has been hosting his weekly radio show, “A Beautiful Life”, on local radio station AM 1300. His show helps the Chinese community in the Greater Los Angeles Area stay up-to-date on the latest developments in risk management and insurance. He also serves as a Board Member for the Industry Sheriffs Youth Activities League and as an Advisor to Hsi Lai Temple. Every year, Kenny also donates student scholarships and hosts free educational seminars on a wide range of topics including cybersecurity, identity theft prevention, active shooter preparedness, tax and labor law updates for business owners, health insurance for seniors and for individuals, and much more.