California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
January 21, 2021, Board Meeting
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Gabriel Ravel, General Counsel of the Government Operations Agency, acting for, and in the absence of Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, via Zoom, on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. Also present via Zoom was Member Diana Becton, Contra Costa County District Attorney and Member Richard Chivaro, Deputy State Controller and Chief Counsel, acting for, and in the absence of, Betty T. Yee, Controller.
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill, and Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier, attended in person at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California. Legal Secretary and acting Board Liaison, Andrea Burrell, was also present and recorded the meeting.
Before beginning the formal agenda, Mr. Ravel introduced recently appointed Board member, Diana Becton. Ms. Becton was appointed by the Governor on January 5, 2021 to serve on the Victim Compensation Board. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this role, having spent most of her career as a judge, lawyer, and manager. In 2017, she was sworn in as the 25th District Attorney of Contra Costa County. Following this appointment by the Board of Supervisors, she was elected to the position in June 2018. District Attorney Becton also served for 22 years as a judge in Contra Costa County, she is the past President of the National Association of Women Judges and past Chair of the State Bar Council on Access and Fairness. A native of California, Member Becton is the first woman, first African American, and the first person of color to serve as the District Attorney of Contra Costa County since the office was established in 1850. Secretary Richardson was very honored to administer the Oath of Office to Member Becton prior to the meeting. Chair Ravel asked everyone to join him in welcoming member Becton to the Victim Compensation Board.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the December 17, 2020, Board Meeting
Board members Ravel and Chivaro, who were present at the December Board meeting, approved the minutes of the December 17, 2020, Board meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment and Ms. Burrell reminded everyone that, consistent with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, items not on the agenda may not be discussed at this time but may be put on a future agenda. (Gov. Code, § 11125.7.)
Ed Little with Californians for Safety and Justice addressed the Board. Mr. Little explained that his organization is part of a growing statewide network of over 12,000 crime survivors and 8 million Californians living with past convictions and their families. Mr. Little was offering public comment on behalf of Youth Alive, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, the Prosecutor’s Alliance, the State Controller’s office, and Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. He explained that this coalition co-sponsored a bill last year, AB-767, that sought to expand compensation for victims of police violence. He thanked CalVCB for continuing to meet with the coalition and share their questions and concerns regarding the policy. He expressed gratitude for CalVCB’s feedback regarding the recommended policy reforms. Mr. Little went on to discuss the impact of deaths of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, and Sean Monterossa and how they shed a spotlight on the already out of control pandemic of police violence. He noted that as we continue to work together to expand the rights of victims of police violence, we need to make sure that when we are deliberating over this important policy, we consider the faces, the names, the voices, the experiences, and the families of those who were unjustly killed or harmed at the hands of police. Far too often, the trauma that is experienced by these victims and their families is ignored by those who have the power to right the wrong and in some small way make them whole.
Chair Ravel thanked Mr. Little for sharing and stated that he is interested in his work with the Board.
There was no other public comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Chief Executive Officer Ms. Gledhill updated the Board on a few items:
Welcome to New CalVCB Board Member
Executive Officer Gledhill extended her welcome to District Attorney Diana Becton and expressed how happy CalVCB is that member Becton has joined the Board and how CalVCB looks forward to benefitting from her wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience gained through an outstanding career as a judge and prosecutor. Ms. Gledhill indicated that she and the entire CalVCB staff stand ready to assist member Becton in any way we can.
Board Schedule and Meeting Locations Moving Forward
Ms. Gledhill reminded the Board that CalVCB has a new meeting schedule, starting with this meeting. The Board will be meeting once every other month. So, after today, the next meeting will be March 18. She also informed the Board that CalVCB looked at cost savings, because of the pandemic, and different ways of doing business and, as a result, has ended its lease for the Board room effective February 1, 2021. This will save CalVCB approximately $8,000 per month. Ms. Gledhill explained that when the Board does resume meeting in person, there is a very nice boardroom owned by a different state entity in the same building and they have agreed to allow CalVCB to use the space if needed. CalVCB has already reserved this meeting space for all CalVCB meeting dates in 2021, beginning in March.
Ms. Gledhill acknowledged that, as the Board heard during public comment, CalVCB continues to monitor legislation regarding police violence. She reminded the Board that this is an issue CalVCB was very involved in during the last legislative session and stated she looks forward to continuing to work with the sponsors of the bill to continue to negotiate language to ensure a workable solution.
Executive Officer Gledhill next updated the Board on the proposed budget for 2021-22, and commented that it is positive for CalVCB. The administration is committed to providing strong General Fund support for CalVCB for the foreseeable future. Due to declining revenues from the State Restitution Fund, CalVCB has needed increasing support from the General Fund. In the current year we received $23.6 million from the General Fund, and for the next year the Governor’s office has proposed $33.1 million in support for CalVCB. The organization will be funded for the same number of positions, however, the workload over the last several years has increased without a subsequent increase in positions, which may be something that needs to be addressed in future budget proposals.
Redesign of the CalVCB Website
Ms. Gledhill summarized the status of the CalVCB website redesign project, which involves many CalVCB staff working with a contractor, 10up. She thanked Gretchen Zeagler, who is the project manager, and all the staff in the Public Affairs and Outreach office, the IT Division and Programs Division, who have worked so hard on this project. She indicated that CalVCB hopes to launch the new site this spring and stated that the new website will be a big step forward in helping CalVCB reach the people we serve – victims and those who support them. She noted that in this age, it is critical that CalVCB has a website that is modern, easy-to-use, and effective.
Employee Engagement Update
Ms. Gledhill reported that CalVCB continues to work on ways to boost employee engagement and overcome some of the barriers that we have with everyone working from home. She noted that there have been two staff meetings recently. The December meeting featured Secretary Richardson and CalVCB staff appreciated her taking the time out of her busy schedule to talk about her role as Chair of the Board and her support for CalVCB.
Ms. Gledhill also described another staff meeting that was conducted last week to review the priorities for the new year. Ms. Gledhill discussed her plan to meet with each unit in the organization individually to really learn about what they have been doing. She noted that it has been a year since she started with CalVCB and that she met with each unit in 2020, and doing so again will allow her to learn about what the employees think about the changes, listen to their concerns and make connections with staff that are difficult to sustain in the current environment where we do not see each other on a regular basis.
CalVCB Advisory Committee
In November we reconvened the CalVCB Advisory Committee, which had been inactive for several years. The committee is composed of victim service stakeholders with which CalVCB partners. CalVCB is looking forward to growing the committee and meeting quarterly in 2021, with this first meeting in February.
Item 4. Legislative Update
The Legislative Update was provided by Andrew LaMar, Deputy Executive Officer of the Policy, Outreach and Grants division. Good morning.
Mr. LaMar reminded the Board that the deadline for introducing legislation is February 19, 2021, and that policy committee hearings would not start until after that.
He reminded everyone that AB 767, which was introduced last summer and was the proposed legislation to compensate victims of police violence, did not pass before the Legislature adjourned. However, CalVCB expects it will be reintroduced in the coming weeks.
CalVCB staff met with the sponsors of the legislation, a coalition led by Californians for Safety and Justice and the Prosecutors Alliance of California, to provide feedback on the current version of their proposal on January 6, 2021. Mr. LaMar indicated that the sponsors are still working on the specific language and CalVCB will continue to track it closely and provide the Board with updates as the legislation progresses. He reiterated that CalVCB remains committed to working with the sponsors to see if a workable solution can be found.
Item 5. Update on Website Redesign Efforts
Gretchen Zeagler, Public Affairs and Outreach, Chief presented this item.
Ms. Zeagler noted that the website is the primary service channel for CalVCB and often the first impression of potential claimants or stakeholders seeking services. The need for a modernized digital landscape is imperative and even more emphasized in the current pandemic environment. To ensure CalVCB meets the needs of any person seeking services within the crime victims’ network, it is paramount that the website undergo a comprehensive transformation. The overarching goal is to create a human-centered design that provides a clean, simple, and easy to use experience. Information should be easy to locate, simple to navigate, and seamless to update.
With these goals in mind, CalVCB contracted with website redesign services firm, 10up, following the Board’s approval in August 2020. Since then, the teams have been diligently working on this effort and the launch of the new site is scheduled for May of 2021.
Ms. Zeagler recognized the CalVCB staff who have been dedicated to ensuring the success of this effort, Mandy Duron, Web Content Analyst, Kim Keys, Public Information Officer, Stevie Sanko, Outreach Coordinator, and IT staff, Heidi Smith, Information Technology Supervisor, Joshua Willter, Web Developer and IT manager, Richard Prusia.
Melissa Vander Wilt of 10up also provided a brief update of the work completed to date.
The project kicked off in September in earnest. From the beginning of the project, CalVCB has consistently advocated for user centricity — striving to serve more than just victims of violent crime, making it easier to find crucial information, and making sure that information is available to be understood by all. These goals have served as the project’s North Star.
10up provided an update on project activities over the last several months. The discovery phase lasted from September through November 2020, and started with a half-day virtual workshop to align both teams on project goals, user needs and functional requirements. Next, all the existing pages were inventoried, and decisions were made regarding what stays, what goes, what gets consolidated and what needs editing.
Baseline user research was then conducted gleaning insights from stakeholder interviews, site user surveys and customer service call data. Based on that research, working personas were developed for four primary audiences – victims of violent crime, victims of other crimes or circumstances, victim advocates, and service providers. These profiles outline each persona’s primary tasks, pain points, relevant content and functionality that will drive decisions about navigation features and functionality present on the site, and all the content planning that needs to happen. A technical site audit was also conducted and resulted in a measurement strategy for monitoring the site’s performance over time.
With this deep understanding of what was, the focus next became what will be and designing began in mid-November 2020. This work started with the creation of a new site map which is much more streamlined and focused than the current site map. In tandem with the site map, work also started on the wireframes, which are early low-fidelity page designs that define what content, features and functionality need to be present, as well as defining the overall hierarchy of the information. There are approximately 16 designs with views for both desktop and mobile. The visual design team next stepped in to guide exploration of a few different aesthetic approaches via style tiles. Style tiles are used to gauge interest in a general design direction. Once the style direction was finalized, the designers applied those elements to the approved wireframes, translating the low-fidelity designs into fully realized visual design comps complete with CalVCB brand colors and typography as well as photography and other graphic design elements.
10up is on the cusp of the development and deployment phase, during which engineers will bring the designs to life. The engineers have begun to build the scaffolding for the underlying structure, figuring out systems logistics and planning for integrations and content migration.
10up then showed an example of the visual design direction for the new site, which includes landscape photography of California. Landscape photography was selected as it is content neutral. The remainder of the design is just as thoughtful and intentional with brand colors chosen for their calming qualities, for example, and typography chosen for its accessibility, compliance and readability.
Chair Ravel thanked Ms. Vander Wilt, as well as Ms. Zeagler, the whole CalVCB team, as well as the entire 10up team for all the work on this project.
There were no other questions or comments.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:26 a.m., to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-90 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:33 a.m.
The Board adopted the hearing officers’ recommendations for proposed decision numbers 1-90 of the Victim Compensation Program.
Before adjourning, Chair Ravel again welcomed District Attorney Becton to the Board and stated that he looks forward to working with her in the future.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:35 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 18, 2021.