Please join us for a special screening and panel discussion of "Breaking the Taboo."
Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group; Commissioner of Global Commission on Drug Policy
Gavin Newsom, LT Governor of California; Former Mayor of San Francisco
Laura Thomas, Drug Policy Alliance
Dorsey Nunn, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Richard Branson is founder and chairman of the UK-based Virgin Group, Ltd., which includes international music megastores and companies in air travel, mobile communications, finance, retail, music, Internet, drinks, railroad, and hotels and leisure, with approximately 200 businesses and brands in more than 30 countries and revenues exceeding $7.2 billion. The award-winning Virgin Atlantic Airways, which he formed in 1984, is now the second largest British long-haul international airline. In addition to his business activities, Sir Richard is a trustee of several charities, including the Virgin Healthcare Foundation, a leading health care charity that has raised over Â£100 million.
George Gascón is the District Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco. He has earned a national reputation as a criminal justice visionary and as a leader who uses evidence based practices to make communities safer by lowering crime. He is the first Latino to hold the office in San Francisco and is the nation’s first police chief to become District Attorney.
District Attorney Gascón was elected on an agenda to transform the criminal justice system and make San Francisco the safest large city in America. His approach to public safety and reform is based on the need to hold people accountable without breaking the wallets of California taxpayers. Throughout his thirty year career in law enforcement, he has successfully lowered crime in all his positions by taking a surgical approach to crime and offenders, seeking the right amount of intervention to change behavior and improve public safety.
To begin addressing the high recidivism rate in California, District Attorney Gascón launched three groundbreaking initiatives – the Alternative Sentencing Program, the Neighborhood Courts and Neighborhood Prosecution Program and a county level Sentencing Commission.
He created the nation’s first Alternative Sentencing Program to support prosecutors in assessing risk to determine the most appropriate course of action in each case. The goal is to protect victims and the community by addressing offenders’ risk factors to break the cycle of crime and recidivism.
District Attorney Gascón launched the Neighborhood Courts and Neighborhood Prosecution Program as a way to keep low level offenders from entering the criminal justice system. The program takes non serious cases away from overcrowded courtrooms and into the community where trained neighborhood stakeholders can ensure law breakers are accountable to victims and the community without criminalizing first time low level offenders.
Additionally, under District Attorney Gascón’s leadership, San Francisco created the first Sentencing Commission in California in an effort to reform sentencing practices by applying evidence based practices to prosecutions.
A former high school dropout, District Attorney Gascón understands the importance of keeping kids in school to reduce violence and prevent crime. In partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District, the District Attorney’s Office has launched innovative programs to reduce truancy, increase mentoring opportunities for youth, and reduce bullying.
District Attorney Gascón is addressing crime underreporting by breaking down cultural and language barriers that prevent victims and witnesses from engaging with law enforcement. He expanded his office’s multilingual Victims Services Unit beyond the Hall of Justice and into community centers in the Mission, Chinatown, and Bayview Hunters Point.
District Attorney Gascón is a known innovator for his use of technology to prevent and predict crime. He improved the Compstat system at the Los Angeles Police Department and introduced the system to the San Francisco Police Department during his tenure as Police Chief. District Attorney Gascón believes in using well developed metrics and technology to drive organizational performance and improve public safety. He is currently working on launching a version called “DA Stat” to the District Attorney’s Office.
District Attorney Gascón has thirty years of experience in law enforcement promoting through the ranks to become Assistant Chief at the Los Angeles Police Department, Chief of Police in Mesa, Arizona and Chief of Police in San Francisco. In addition to his criminal justice work at the local, state, and national level, District Attorney Gascón has worked on public safety initiatives in Latin America and the Middle East. He is a Board member of the Council of State Government’s Justice Center, is a graduate of the FBI’s National Executive Institute, and is a member of the Harvard University/Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Session on Policing and Public Safety.
District Attorney Gascón has a Bachelor of Arts in History from California State University, Long Beach, and a Juris Doctor Degree from Western State University, College of Law.
Gavin Newsom was elected as the 49th Lieutenant Governor of the State of California on November 2, 2010. His top priorities are economic development and job creation, improving access to higher education, and maintaining California's environmental leadership. Prior to being elected Lieutenant Governor, he served two-terms as Mayor of San Francisco. Under his leadership, the economy grew and jobs were created. The City became a center for biotech and clean tech. He initiated a plan to bring universal health care to all of the City's uninsured residents. And Newsom aggressively pursued local solutions to global climate change. In the final days of his second term as Mayor, Newsom led a historic drive to host the 2013 America's Cup, one of the largest and most prestigious sporting events in the world, which is expected to generate roughly 8,000 jobs and $1.2 billion for the local and state economy.
Dorsey Nunn, Executive Director of Legal Services of Prisoners with Children, has over thirty-five years experience working on prison related issues. He is the Co-Founder of All of Us or None, a project of LSPC started by formerly incarcerated people in 2003. He has been in the forefront of many social justice organizations from their beginnings, including Critical Resistance and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Dorsey has received numerous awards including the “Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition” by Nancy Pelosi and the “Senate Certificate of Recognition by Senator Jackie Speier. He is also a recipient of the Fannie Lou Hamer Award from the African-American studies department at UC Berkeley. Dorsey was sentenced to life in the California Department of Corrections when he was 19 years old. He paroled in 1981 and discharged from parole in 1984.
Laura Thomas is the San Francisco deputy state director where she oversees the organization's Model City Initiative for San Francisco. She has 25 years of experience in HIV and public health policy, along with a strong commitment to community advocacy, thoughtful policy analysis and coalition building. She first became involved in AIDS activism with ACT UP in San Francisco. More recently, she was a consultant specializing in HIV policy and planning, with clients ranging from the California State Office of AIDS to the National Association of People with AIDS. Before that she worked for Tenderloin Health and Continuum HIV Day Services, nonprofit health and social service providers serving a predominantly homeless population in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, and for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Thomas has been a syringe access volunteer for more than 15 years, and helped organize a successful 2007 symposium on safe injection facilities. She is proud to have received the AIDS Hero Award from the 2000 AIDS Candlelight Memorial. She serves on the HIV Prevention Planning Council and the HIV Health Services Planning Council in San Francisco and is on the Steering Committee for the national HIV Prevention Justice Alliance.
Thomas graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1995 with a Masters in public health and a Masters in public policy. She also holds a B.A. in English from Wesleyan University.