Commissioner Bios

 Susan Belinda Christian

Susan Belinda Christian, Chair 

Commission Chair Christian is an Assistant District Attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office where she is currently assigned to the Behavioral Health Court, a collaborative, multidisciplinary court providing treatment and rehabilitation for people whose offenses are tied to mental illness. She is a member of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Chair Christian received her B.A. and J.D. from Yale University. A former Co-Chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, Ms. Christian has also served on the boards of directors for Walden House, the Transgender Law Center, and the Service Members Legal Defense Network, the national organization which led the legislative, legal and lobbying effort to fully repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".  As a Commissioner, Ms. Christian's primary interests include reform of the criminal justice system so that it no longer substitutes for meaningful responses to the effects of social inequality.


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Melanie Ampon

Melanie, a Bay Area native, is a passionate advocate for transgender and human rights. She has worked at San Francisco’s transgender cabaret dining club, AsiaSF since 2003. She was in a national television program in 2015-16 called Transcendent, that chronicled 5 trans women navigating their personal and professional lives in San Francisco. It was one of the first all-trans docu-series television programs. It helped give light and understanding of the transgender community from an entertainer’s point of view.

Melanie is co-chair of the HRC’s LGBT Advisory Committee (LGBTAC), a Community Advisory Board (CAB) member at the San Francisco Community Health Center (SFCHC), and is also a Transgender Advisory Committee (TAC) member at the Office of Transgender Initiatives. She has lent her voice to host numerous events for organizations such as Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV), SF Trans March, The Trevor Project, and more.

Melanie comes from humble beginnings and hopes to inspire others to live as their authentic selves, fight for what they deserve and for what is ethically right. She is grateful and honored to be a part of the HRC’s work and will continue to advocate for all human rights.



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Eva Chan

Eva Chan is a Supervising Attorney at the Positive Resource Center in San Francisco, where she helps people living with HIV/AIDS and/or mental health issues access disability benefits and life-saving health care. As part of her day-to-day work, she provides direct services to many different populations in San Francisco, including people who face housing insecurity or homelessness, immigrants, victims of trauma, and the LGBT community.
Prior to joining PRC, Ms. Chan was a commercial litigator at Winston & Strawn LLP and Thelen LLP. At these firms, her pro bono work included tenant defense, asylum work, disability cases, and advocacy on behalf of a class of foster youth alleging due process violations. While in private practice, Ms. Chan also served on the banquet planning committee of the Asian Law Caucus.
Ms. Chan received her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. While she was a law student, Ms. Chan was a co-chair for the National Asian Pacific American Conference on Law and Public Policy.
Ms. Chan grew up in the Richmond District, and now finds herself living on the other side of Golden Gate Park, in the Sunset, with her husband and young son.
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Hala Hijazi

Hala is a San Francisco Business and Community Leader with over fifteen years of public service, business, and social entrepreneurship experience collaborating with and representing high-level government, business, and diverse constituency stakeholders for the advancement of economic and workforce developments, civil rights, and political empowerment.

Hala’s expertise in government, economic development and public relations and ability to navigate multiple and complex agency and organizational structures stems from her extensive management experience with the City and County of San Francisco, notably as (i) a Special Assistant to former two-term Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., (ii) a Deputy Director of Marketing, (iii) a Manager of some of the City’s major economic, infrastructure, and community programs, and (iv) a Principal Liaison to key business and community stakeholders.

Hala is a go-to person for and has a proven track record of building consensus, negotiating expectations, and designing innovative strategies, policies, communications, and legislation, in highly charged and sensitive environments to address complex public policy issues and to deliver economic and political solutions.

For example, she identified and addressed the City’s existing regulatory programmatic barriers impacting the participation of large and small private companies on multi-billion-dollar infrastructure programs. She created innovative and inclusive business and outreach initiatives and assisted in drafting legislation, including a Local Hire Policy and a Community Benefits Policy (the 1st public utility in the nation to adopt such a policy), which is promoting public/ private partnerships and serving as a catalyst for robust and expanding economic inclusion and growth, creating jobs, and revitalizing underserved neighborhoods. Additionally, and most recently, at the request of the SF District Attorney, Hala provides communications and outreach strategies on public education campaigns to denounce negative ad campaigns intended to marginalize groups.

In 2002, to address the lack of civic and voter participation amongst (ages 28-45), Hala created the Professionals VIP Network. San Francisco’s first political and business networking organization which now has grown to 5000+, provides sponsored educational forums to engage diverse business professionals and public leaders in civic dialogue and to spring into action on key political, legislative, business and philanthropic initiatives. She is sought out by public officials and business leaders and organizations including the Democratic Party, American Red Cross, Clinton Foundation, and the SF Symphony.

Since 2009, Hala is honored to serve on President Obama’s National Finance Committee. She has played an integral role in the 2012 campaign. She has assisted with fundraising efforts and organized receptions for President Obama, David Plouffe and Jim Messina and provided the White House and the Northern California Region with strategy, outreach (to Muslim & Arab Communities), and with securing of venues and surrogates.

Hala is proud to serve as a Partner at the Truman National Security Project, working on opportunities for defense, diplomacy, development, and democracy and to serve on the Board of Directors of Emerge California, which recruits, trains and creates a pipeline for democratic women to run for and win public office.

A trusted and an effective philanthropic and political engager, Hala has raised over $1,500,000.

For her public service and social entrepreneurship, Hala was honored by the League of Women Voters, San Francisco Chapter as a "Rising Star", presented with Commendations by the City and County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and received news coverage by KTVU Channel 2 News. 



Portrait of Maya Karwande  

Maya Karwande

Maya Karwande is an attorney at Keker, Van Nest & Peters, where she represents clients in high-stakes civil litigation.  She also has an active pro bono practice focused on immigration and criminal justice matters, including representing indigent women in asylum proceedings.  Maya's practice builds on her prior experience in the fields of international human rights and international criminal law.  She worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice on post-conflict accountability processes and efforts to inform the local public and victim populations of  these processes and encourage their participation.  She has also interned at the International Bar Association, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, and the Berkeley Law International Human Rights Law Clinic.  She has written published articles and a book chapter on international courts and outreach to local populations.

Maya has a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and a B.A. in political science and peace and justice studies from Tufts University.  After graduating law school she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Dorothy Nelson of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Honorable Virginia A. Phillips of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  


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Mark Kelleher

Mark Kelleher is Associate Vice-President of Development with San Francisco State University where he is helping to expand a successful new division focused on securing funding from individuals, foundations, companies and government sources to counter deep state budget cuts in recent years. Special areas of focus have included the development of community outreach programs, most targeting underserved individuals, such as the Family Acceptance Project which is designed to reduce suicide, HIV infection and other perils often faced by LGBTQ youth; Project Rebound boasting stellar graduation rates for previously incarcerated individuals; as well as initiatives to improve education access and success for at-risk youth including the Guardian Scholars Program and Metro Academies.

Prior to SF State, Kelleher was with the University of California, San Francisco where he launched the first full-time development program for the AIDS Research Institute, managed fundraising for the School of Nursing, and served as corporate and foundation relations director. Highlights include the development of community outreach programs, most targeting underserved youth, including Valencia Health Service, LINC (child-focused domestic violence prevention), Women’s Global Health Imperative and Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education and its Smoke Free Movie Campaign.  He served on the CTCRE advisory board after leaving UCSF.

During this period, Kelleher helped launch Magnet/Strut, a uniquely combined community space and gay men’s health service, now an internationally recognized model.  He remains an active board member focused on advocacy concerning the integration of personal community engagement approaches as a pioneering wellness strategy, contrasted with traditional HIV/STD prevention.  Kelleher also co-founded Plan C San Francisco, a community-based political action organization to enhance urban quality of life and served as a co-chair on the board of the Academy of Friends – a community foundation assisting individuals affected by HIV.

Although some of his direct ancestors were Bay Area pioneers beginning in the mid-19th Century, Kelleher was raised near Boston. Before moving to California in 1994 he managed several record-breaking reunion classes for the Harvard Law School Fund. Kelleher began his career at Boston University where he helped expand a pioneering partnership to reform public schools in nearby Chelsea, at the time one of the nation’s most socioeconomically challenged urban communities.

Kelleher earned his M.S. at Boston University and B.A. at St. Anselm College. He and his husband, partners of over twenty-five years, reside in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district.



Photo of HRC Commissioner Abby Porth

Abigail Michaelson Porth

Abby is a public affairs veteran, managing complex and sensitive community relations issues and developing and executing effective organization-wide strategies to advance Jewish Community Relation Council's mission of pursuing a just society and a secure Jewish future.

Abby is an Officer of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and a member of the Board of Directors of Congregation Emanu-El and Scattered Among the Nations, an organization that assists geographically and politically isolated Jewish or Judaism-practicing communities around the globe. She previously served on the Advisory Committee of San Francisco CARD, which trains social service agencies to prepare for emergencies and natural disasters, and was proud to serve on the Board of Directors of San Francisco Head Start.

Before coming to JCRC in 1999, Abby managed a Boston-based juvenile hate crime offender program that diverted children out of the criminal justice system.  She earned both her Master of Management and B.A. at Brandeis University.



Headshot of HRC Commissioner Jason Pellegrini

Jason Pellegrini

Jason is a born and bred San Franciscan. His love for the “City by the Bay” was evidenced early after the ’89 Loma-Prieta earthquake when, at a young age, he went through his neighborhood and loaded up his Radio Flyer with debris to help with the cleanup efforts. After attending Gonzaga University, he finished his education at the University of San Francisco with a B.S. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership. Jason worked as an account executive in facilities and property management services before becoming the regional manager for a large site service company. Desiring to do something different with his life, Jason decided to leave the private sector and join a non-profit team looking to better San Francisco and its residents. In 2012, he became Director of Facilities for Delivering Innovation in Supportive Housing (DISH) whose motto is “Everyone deserves a home” and provides permanent, supportive housing to San Franciscans who suffer from serious health issues. Wishing to make a difference in his own neighborhood, Jason was elected to the Marina Community Association’s board of directors in 2015 and currently serves as president of this organization whose mission is to preserve and enhance the quality of the Marina District in San Francisco. He is thrilled to now be part of the HRC and have the opportunity to improve the city and potentially change people’s lives. He and his partner live in the Marina with their two Norfolk terriers.



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Michael Sweet

Commissioner Sweet is a San Francisco native who earned his B.A. at Brandeis University and his law degree from UCLA. He is a Partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild where he specializes in litigation, restructuring, and election law. He also is co-chair of the Firm’s Israel Practice Group.  Commissioner Sweet was appointed to the Human Rights Commission by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2007.  He served as Commission Vice-Chair from 2008 until 2010 and as Commission Chair from 2010 through 2013. Commissioner Sweet is active in many communities. He is the Past-president of the Raoul Wallenberg Jewish Democratic Club of San Francisco. He also serves as a member of the California State Democratic Central Committee and on the California State Democratic Party's Platform Committee.  He is a member of the board of directors of the San Francisco Metropolitan Jewish Community Relations Council. Commissioner Sweet Chair previously chaired the Rincon-Point/South Beach Citizen's Advisory Committee to the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and served as a member of the Port of San Francisco’s Cruise Terminal Advisory Committee. Commissioner Sweet and his family live in western San Francisco. He is an avid runner who has completed more than 15 marathons.

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