Commissioner Bios

Karen Clopton

Karen Clopton, 2021 Chair

An award-winning trailblazer, Karen Valentia Clopton brings deep knowledge, demonstrated expertise, and non-partisan insight into the political and regulatory arenas. She has served in top leadership, board, and executive positions in both governmental and non-governmental organizations across many regulated industries and discreetly assists both private and public companies navigate domestic and global compliance, governance, multi-cultural, human resource utilization, and regulatory/legislative changes. She is currently General Counsel and Vice President of Access and Inclusion for Incendio International. A nationally recognized civil rights advocate, she is currently a San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner.

She has had an illustrious career of many historic “firsts” and bi-partisan political appointments across three decades and several diverse administrations. She was the first African American California Public Utilities Commission Chief Administrative Law Judge and served for nine years. An experienced general counsel, she was the first African American woman to serve as: General Counsel for the CPUC; General Counsel, a gubernatorial appointee, at the California Department of Corporations; and Chief of Operations and Corporate Counsel for the San Francisco State University Foundation, Inc. Commissioner Clopton was the first African American elected President of the League of Women Voters of San Francisco. She also served as the National Legislative Chair for Jack and Jill of America, Inc. She was the first African American woman appointed to the San Francisco Civil Service Commission in its then 100-year history; first by Mayor Frank Jordan in 1993 and then re-appointed by Mayor Willie L. Brown in 1999, where she successfully streamlined the merit system for over 25,000 city and county employees. She was serving an unprecedented fourth term as President of the Commission when the Port Commission recruited her in 2000 to become the Port of San Francisco’s first Chief of Operations, managing a 45-million dollar budget, including overseeing legislative affairs, ensuring Port security, and serving on the City-Wide Joint Security Task Force convened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Commissioner Clopton continues to utilize her expertise in safety, security, and disaster relief management and prevention on the Board of the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, where she serves as the Chair of the Access, Equity, and Inclusion Initiative.

Commissioner Clopton is a nationally recognized leader, speaker, and author in corporate, legal, and judicial ethics, corporate governance, elimination of bias, and human resource risk management. She honed her expertise as a leader of the State Bar of California: Commission on the Revision of the Rules of Professional Conduct; as Chair of its Council on Access and Fairness; and Task Force on Admissions Regulation Reform Implementation. An expert in human resource management law from her tenure at the National Labor Relations Board Division of Advice and Regional offices and decades in private practice, she serves on the Editorial Board of the California Labor and Employment Law Review and chaired the State Bar’s Labor and Employment Law Section’s Executive Committee.

An accomplished author and lecturer, Commissioner Clopton graduated cum laude in Political Science and Hispanic Studies from Vassar College; studied in the Vassar Wesleyan Program in Madrid, Spain and is fluent in Spanish; earned her Juris Doctor from Antioch University School of Law; and won the prestigious and highly competitive Maguire Fellowship for postgraduate study in international and comparative labor management relations with Professor Lord Wedderburn at the London School of Economics, England, and the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland. The American Bar Association awarded her the 2017 Robert B. Yegge Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Judicial Administration and the 2010 Mary C. Lawton Award for Outstanding Government Service. The National Association of the Administrative Law Judiciary elected her to its Board of Governors in 2017. Commissioner Clopton has received many awards throughout her career, including the 2013 Silver SPUR Lifetime Achievement Award from the nation’s pre-eminent urban planning and research organization, SPUR, and was recognized for this honor by Congress, the California State Senate and Assembly, and San Francisco's Mayor and Board of Supervisors for championing integrity, transparency, and public access in government.

Headshot of HRC Commissioner Joseph Sweiss

Joseph Sweiss, 2021 Vice Chair

Joseph Sweiss is a Bay Area native and advocate for San Francisco’s vulnerable communities. He currently works in public policy around climate action and sustainability, and previously served as the Deputy Press Secretary at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. In between his service to the City, Mr. Sweiss supported then Ranking Member (now Chair) of the House Financial Services Committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, on a variety of high-profile civil liberties, human rights, and complex communications projects in Capitol Hill. He is the Co-Founder and President of the Arab-American Democratic Club, which aims to improve local civic representation for San Francisco’s immigrant, monolingual, and ethnic communities. Additionally, as the Policy Co-Chair of Alice (one of the nation’s oldest LGBT focused Democratic clubs), Mr. Sweiss helps steer the Board and its membership’s policy platform and legislative priorities for the year and beyond. He also serves on the Board of a local merchant association that primarily serves San Francisco’s immigrant, ethnic, LGBT, and female-owned businesses. He has promoted bilateral relations and cross-cultural exchanges in the Middle East, including Israel (San Francisco-Haifa Sister City Delegation) and Jordan. Mr. Sweiss has a B.A. in international studies and human rights from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in conflict resolution and energy development from Georgetown University. Mr. Sweiss was sworn into the Human Rights Commission in 2018, and as of 2020 serves as the Commission’s Vice Chair. 

Vanessa R. Aquino

Vanessa, is a native San Franciscan and bi-lingual. After graduating from California State University of Monterey Bay, she became an avid promoter of the arts. She worked over 16 years for Academy of Art in San Francisco as an Academic Advisor in Student Services Department,
and later joined the land crew team for jetBlue Airways at SFO.
Vanessa’s work as a community organizer in the Dogpatch District, has made her an essential voice for small business, residents, and emerging development. Her endeavors to make the Dogpatch not only a livable district but a thriving one as well, has endeared her to all that
encounter her persistence, vision and humanity. She was also a voice for the neighboring projects such as Pier 70, Power Plant, and the Chase Center, spending the critical hours needed to ensure the public-private partnership was successful and representative of all stakeholders. She currently
is on the Board of Dogpatch Neighborhood Association and lives in the Dogpatch.
Reverend Ann Champion Shaw

Reverend Ann Champion Shaw

Reverend Ann Champion Shaw, a native of Orlando, Florida, is a fifth-generation preacher and the youngest daughter of the Late Mrs. Annie C. Champion and the Late Rev. Dr. George L. Champion, Sr. She received her B.A. Degree in English from Clark Atlanta University and her M.Div. with Honors from Emory University, Candler School of Theology, Atlanta, GA. While residing in Atlanta, Rev. Ann’s ministerial experiences included: Director of Christian Education at Big Bethel A.M.E. Church, Mentor for the Youth Theological Initiative at Emory University, and Board Member/Facilitator for the Youth Hope Builders Academy at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Employed in Healthcare Chaplaincy for 15 years in the State of Missouri, Rev. Ann’s ministerial purpose and passion is grief and bereavement. She has completed a two-year chaplain residency with the ACPE Midwest Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Research Medical Center and Baptist-Lutheran Medical Center, Kansas City, MO and has worked in both the Hospice and Hospital clinical settings in St. Louis, MO and Kansas City, MO where she has written material for publications such as The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling. She is a Board-Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains and is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she is the Past Central Regional Chaplain and now serves on the Far West Regional Chaplain Council. Rev. Ann is happily married to the love of her life, Rev. Robert Ryland Shaw, II. Presently, she is the full-time Asst. Pastor at Bethel “The House” AME Church, San Francisco currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Fillmore Collaborative.


a head photo long haired woman looking at the camera


Hala Hijazi

Ms. Hijazi is a San Francisco Business and Community Leader with 20 years of public service, business, and social entrepreneurship experience collaborating with and representing high-level government, business, and diverse constituency stakeholders in highly charged and sensitive environments to address complex public policy issues, deliver economic and political solutions, and advance civil and human rights.

Ms. Hijazi’s proven ability to navigate and resolve complex matters stems from her 16 years of management experience with the City and County of San Francisco (1997-2014), as Special Assistant to former two-term Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., as Deputy Director of Marketing, and as a critical manager of some of the City’s major economic, infrastructure, labor, and community programs, and primary liaison to key business and community stakeholders.

Ms. Hijazi is Founder and CEO of HKH Consulting Inc., a San Francisco-based, woman-owned, Certified Local Business Enterprise, full-service consultancy specializing in business development, strategic planning, government and legislative affairs, public relations, land use, large-scale infrastructure projects, event management for municipalities and corporations, fundraising, and diverse constituency engagement.

A community leader, Ms. Hijazi serves on San Francisco’s Human Rights Commission and the County Transportation Authority’s CAC, Chairs Mayor London Breed’s and the District Attorney George Gascon’s AMEMSA Advisory Groups, serves on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and is a Partner at the Truman National Security Project, working on opportunities for defense, diplomacy, development, and democracy.

In 2002, to address the lack of civic and voter participation amongst (ages 28-45), Hala created and continues to manage 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.

From 2009-2016, Hala was honored to serve on President Obama’s National Finance Committee. She has assisted with fundraising efforts and organized receptions for President Obama and provided the White House and the Northern California Region with strategy, outreach (to Muslim & Arab Communities), and with securing of venues and surrogates.

From 2004-2016, she served on the Board of Directors of Emerge America and Emerge California, which recruits, trains, and creates a pipeline for democratic women to run for and to win appointed and elected offices.

A trusted and an effective philanthropic and political engager, Hala has raised over $1,500,000. For her work, she received League of Women Voters “Rising Star” HonorsKTVU Channel 2 Coverage, and recently was Interviewed by the NY Times.

 MKelleher Headshot 3-12

Mark Kelleher

Mark Kelleher is an organizational development consultant, primarily associated in the Bay Area with BroderickHaight Consulting.  He works with staff, leadership and volunteers at community-based non-profit organizations, universities and other educational institutions, medical centers and health-focused organizations to strategically assess, plan and launch or expand their operations and staffing, governance and policies, community engagement and constituency relations, and funding development from public and private sources.

Prior to consulting, Kelleher was Associate Vice-President of Development with San Francisco State University where he helped expand a successful new Advancement 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 supporting foster youth through the Guardian Scholars Program.

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.  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, and centering health justice with marginalized communities. Similarly, he has been helping to lead the program-centered expansion of LYRIC, San Francisco’s LGBTQQ+ Youth Center, providing safe spaces for services and personal leadership development for the city’s most at-risk young people. He also has volunteered with the Alliance for Change, a learning and mentoring initiative with incarcerated individuals at San Quentin.  

Kelleher began his career at Harvard Law School, and 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 for nearly thirty years, reside in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district.

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.

Headshot of HRC Commissioner Michael Sweet




Michael Sweet

Vice-chair 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.  He was first appointed to the Human Rights Commission by Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2007.  He was reappointed by Mayor Newsom in 2010, by Mayor Lee in 2014 and by Mayor Breed in 2018.  Commissioner Sweet has served as Commission Chair from 2010 through 2013.  He is currently Commission Vice-chair, a position he has held since 2016.  He previously served as Vice-chair from 2008 until 2010. 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.  For ten years he was 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.

San Francisco Human Rights Commissioner Irene Yee Riley

Irene Yee Riley, Commissioner

Irene Yee Riley is a former member of the San Francisco Small Business Commission and previously a San Francisco Housing Authority Commissioner. Retired from Bank of America as a Senior Vice President and Senior Market Executive, managed the Bank of America community development programs in California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Hawaii including the development of affordable housing, specialized lending to community-based organization, affordable mortgage lending and investment in real estate development.

Riley has held a variety of leadership positions in operations and consumer banking. Since 1996, she served as senior vice president and consumer region executive for the Bank’s Special Markets Region in Northern California, which included 33 banking centers that serve a range of communities in the greater Bay Area.

Riley is a graduate of The CBA Graduate School of Retail Banking at the University of Virginia and The Federal Reserve Bank’s National Community Development Lending School at the Case Western Reserve University.

An active member of the community, Riley is past president of the Chinese Newcomer’s Service Center, the Chinese American Women’s Business League, the Park Presidio Lions Club and the Hong Kong Association of Northern California. She served on the board of directors of the Wu Yee Children’s Services, the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and the Chinese Culture Center. She was co-chair of the San Francisco Taipei Sister City Committee, Past President of the Association of Asian American Bankers, Chairperson of the UCSF Asian Health Institute Advisory Cabinet and she is the Vice Chair of the On Lok Senior Health Services.

Return to Top