A ‘bridge’ from research to response

A ‘bridge’ from research to response

Pat Brown Institute grows community awareness, engagement in the issues of the day

A panel of experts led a panel discussion on the state of higher education.Stakeholders from through the community participate in monthly panel discussions and forums on political and social topics affecting the greater Los Angeles Community.More than two dozen student leaders from across Los Angeles' high schools are participating in the PBI Youth Enrichment Policy Project. The project empowers youth to create lasting social change through education and awareness.Participants in the Gang Violence Bridging Project gather at an annual picnic.

For more than two decades, the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown
Institute of Public Affairs
has had its hand on the political pulse of the
region and state.

Through thought-provoking forums and seminars, the
State L.A.
presidentially-chartered institute has stimulated conversations among
diverse groups that encompass an array of socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and
political backgrounds. Community projects and programs have provided access to
educational, career and advancement opportunities. And community-inspired
research has been a critical bridge between theory and real change.

“Cal State L.A. has a tremendous jewel in the Pat Brown
Institute (PBI),” said alumnus David Galaviz ’93, an executive administrator for
government relations at the University of Southern California, who got his
political footing as a student scholar.

“It is of great service to the students, to the community
and also to public policy-making bodies,” he added. “PBI has a reputation of
being an institute that is not only going to do a great job of representing
diverse viewpoints, but is also going to get to the heart of the matter, with
the right people in the room. PBI is able to bring it all together.”

The non-partisan public policy center is dedicated to
sustaining the vision and legacy of its namesake, former California Governor
Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, who is described as having wanted a place that moved
beyond theory and reflection, to result in positive action. PBI joined Cal State
L.A.’s campus in 1987; before that, it operated as a nonprofit center out of
Brown’s law offices beginning in 1980.

“Hitting the ground, making an impact and doing things on
the streets that actually mean something to the people is going to be a legacy
of the institute,” said
Executive Director Jaime Regalado ’71, ’73 M.A., who has
been at the helm since 1991. “We have built together not only an impressive
policy center, but communities and the relationships on the ground, which is

Over the years, the PBI has led many initiatives for
change, including the
Gang Violence Bridging Project and
Community Policing
Training Program
—started within the first few years of Regalado’s leadership—as
well as the more recent
Health Policy Outreach Center. Each year, PBI also
coordinates policy-making internships for graduate and undergraduate students at
local, regional and national levels.

Jaime Regalado
Jaime Regalado.

“I’ve had the wonderful opportunity over the course of many
years to link purpose and research with people,” Regalado said, noting that the
student-initiated Gang Violence Bridging Project was one of its most powerful
endeavors. By helping students stay in school, building community awareness and
education, while aiding young adults in the transition from gang life to
college, the project transformed many lives.

“Having a place where other students looked and talked like
you was very comforting,” said alumnus Remi De La Rocha, who participated in the
project as a student and then as an employee. “It allowed us to actually do

In addition to the Institute’s work in the streets, PBI is
also recognized for developing an annual forum and speaker series that shines
light onto the day’s major movements and topics of discussion. In the last year,
for instance, the

California Agenda series has featured high level
discussions on everything from the impact of the economic crisis on higher
education to the building of a National Football League stadium in Los Angeles
(Click to listen to a
In June, the Institute pondered the
state’s energy environment, and in
October, it will forecast California’s economic future.

“The PBI has been pivotal in getting real information out
into the community,” said former student fellow and alumnus Blayne Sutton-Wills
’93. “A lot of folks are frustrated about policies, programs and certain things,
but they don’t necessarily know how it came to be. The Pat Brown Institute
provides an answer.”

Many describe PBI and Cal State L.A. as being the “perfect
marriage”—a leading research center at the heart of a community that reflects
the city’s future. They credit much of the success to the dedication and
expertise of its staff and advisory board, along with Regalado’s passionate

“It’s been a long haul, but I wouldn’t have done it any
differently,” Regalado said. “The vast majority of us who are here at Cal State
L.A. are here because the students really need us. We choose to give back.”