I’m excited to share this second special episode this month of the Mother’s Quest Podcast, in honor of Father’s Day, with someone I’ve known and admired for over a decade through our connection at Alternatives in Action, California Assemblymember Rob Bonta.
This month of June has been a time to focus on the amazing fathers in our lives. It’s also been primary election month in many communities. And when I thought about who I could interview who is both an amazing father and committed to a life of public service, Rob immediately came to mind.
When we pressed record on this interview, Rob had just been elected for a fourth term to the California State Assembly’s 18th District, where he represents the cities of Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and became, in 2012, the first Filipino American legislator in the 165-year history of California.
Prior to this, Rob utilized his law degree from Yale to serve as Deputy City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, and served as the Chair of the City of Alameda’s Economic Development Commission and as board president for the Social Service Human Relations before becoming Vice Mayor of the City of Alameda, the position he held as he ran for the State Assembly.
We started our conversation reflecting on Rob’s childhood and how his father, who stood with Dr. Martin Luther King in the Civil Rights Movement, and his mother, a long-time leader in the Filipino social justice movement, taught him to understand injustice and the importance of joining the struggle to empower vulnerable communities.
We reflect on some E.P.I.C. snapshot moments from Rob’s childhood. Growing up in a trailer just a few hundred yards from César Chávez’s home, Rob watched closely as his parents organized Filipino and Mexican American farm workers, infusing his formative years with first-hand experience of one of the greatest peaceful social, racial, and economic justice movements of all time.
Then, we delve into how the E.P.I.C. guideposts show up in Rob’s life, how he makes space for each of his four children and allows them to step into leadership and activism on their own, his passionate and purposeful work and the causes he’s championing as an Assemblyman, from early childhood education to affordable housing, the deep connection to his community that fulfills and restores him, and the family relationships that are everything to him, especially the one with his wife Mialisa, who he met in college and has been married to for 21 years.
We also had the opportunity to talk about AB-931 and SB-1421, two bills aimed at reducing instances of police brutality and increasing police accountability. Moving through some discomfort I felt in the moment, I asked and Rob agreed to work toward getting these bills passed, to talk with the founders of Mothers Against Police Brutality for policy insight, and to explore bringing a powerful play called (M)others to Sacramento to shine light on the real stories of families who’ve lost loved ones to police violence.
At the end, Rob challenged me and all of us to hold him and other lawmakers accountable to the issues and causes that matter most to us. In a heart-wrenching week when our government has been separating children from their families at the border, Rob’s message and call to action to hold our leaders accountable resonates deeply. I left the conversation with renewed commitment to do so, modeling engagement, not apathy, for my children and saying “yes” to creating my own family’s legacy of activism and leadership.
This episode dedicated by:
Celia Ward-Wallace – an author, community leader, inspirational speaker and certified life coach in honor of her parents, social justice activists and leaders Eric Mann and Lian Hurst Mann. Visit Celia’s website athttp://celiawardwallace.com/.
You can also visit:
Celia’s Father’s Organization, The Labor Community Strategy Center:https://thestrategycenter.org/
The Organization’s Radio Show, Voices From the Front Lines:http://voicesfromthefrontlines.com/
Reform LA Jails: http://reformlajails.com/, an Initiative under way that Celia and her parents are championing
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- The activist and public service seeds planted in Rob and his siblings from his parent’s and Rob’s E.P.I.C. snapshop childhood memories in the presence of César Chávez and organizing for Mexican American Farmworkers’ rights.
How Rob’s parents fled the Philippines for the security of the family before the Martial Law era of Ferdinand Marcos
The way that Rob and his wife, Mialisa, make time for each child and share with their kids what they love and care
The many causes Rob is championing in his role as Assemblymember.
Rob’s position on the gravity of solving the problem of police violence in our country, an exploration of two new California bills aimed at reducing police violence, and the requests I made of Rob to go further in his commitment.
How being in his home community restores and fulfills Rob and how his love of soccer, since the days that he served as captain of Yale’s Soccer team, continues to be a way that Rob invests in his own well-being.
Rob and Mialisa’s love story, how they continue staying together, and the extended family that supports them
Rob’s awareness that this interview provided an opportunity to “Get off of the dance floor and onto the balcony” to survey the big picture and reflect
What Rob really thinks is the enemy of democracy and his challenge for all of us
This Week’s Challenge:
Rob believes that the enemy of strong communities and Democracy is apathy. He challenges us to step up and hold him and our other leaders accountable, even through discomfort, to the issues and things that we value and are passionate about.
- Official Website for Assemblymember Rob Bonta
LitLab – the early childhood literacy organization founded by Rob’s wife Mialisa Bonta
Alternatives in Action – the organization where Rob served as President of the Board when I was the Director of Development
EP43: A Love of Family and Pursuing our Fate – the other Father’s Day special episode released this month with my father David Lieberman
Mother’s Against Police Brutality, whose founders Rob agreed to talk with
EP33: Beyond the Trauma: Legacy, Compassion and Change with Mothers Against Police Brutality Co-Founder Sara Mokuria
Bill Text for AB-931 Criminal procedure: use of force by peace officers.
Bill Text SB-1421 Peace officers: release of records.
- Justice4Josiah the organization founded by activist Laurie Valdez, whose story was featured in the play The (M)Others about mothers who have lost loved ones to police violence.
Join the Parenting ADHD Summit
Honored to be part of this amazing Summit that Penny Williams is organizing. You can hear from me (my session is called “How Moms Can Live a Life of Intention and Purpose”), Dr. Elisa Song, and over 30 other parenting experts.
Honestly, I think what you’ll learn here will help you on your parenting journey regardless of whether you have a child who has ADHD or is “differently wired” in other ways.
Click here to join.
Spark Your E.P.I.C. Life
Join me for the first “Spark Your E.P.I.C. Life” Pilot! Four consecutive weeks of one-on-one coaching using a signature process I’ve been facilitating in my circles this spring 🍃
I’m looking for no more than FOUR clients to experience an intensive, one-one-one, four-week coaching process in the month of June. Could this be you?
✨Do you feel like you’re on the threshold of a powerful shift in your life?
✨Are you ready to spark new perspectives, new ways of being, and some E.P.I.C. action of your own?
✨Have you wanted to participate in the Mother’s Quest Circle but the timing wasn’t right or you prefer to work one-on-one?
We’ve been having an amazing experience in the Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle and I want to bring the same practices and flow to work one-on-one in a more focused period of time…over one month instead of three.
Interested? I’d love to schedule a time to check-in about what’s happening in your life and how this could support you.
✏Sign up for a discovery session at this link or message me some times that could work for you if you don’t see something that fits your schedule. https://mothersquest.as.me/discoverysession
✨I’d like to identify the four individuals this week, get scheduled and start next week!💫
Launched on Mother’s Day, my guest on the podcast, Graham Seabrook, and I invite you to create your own One Minute Mom Manifesto about what you want to claim or reclaim in your motherhood.
Use video, photos, poetry or any other form of your choice to express what matters most to you and share on social media using the hashtag#OneMinuteMomManifesto.
For more on the inspiration behind this idea, and why it’s so important that we claim and reclaim our whole selves in motherhood, tune into our episode on the podcast, link in the comments and at mothersquest.com/ep41-graemeseabrook
The Podcast has Reached a Milestone
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Virtual Mother’s Quest Circle Pilot
I’m excited to announce that the first founding Mother’s Quest Virtual Circle has been filled. If you’re interested in a future circle, and want to receive notice when the applications open again, please add your name to this wait list. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Mother’s Quest is a podcast for moms who are ready to live a truly E.P.I.C. life.
Join in for intimate conversations with a diverse group of inspiring mothers as they share how they are living an E.P.I.C. life, Engaging mindfully with their children (E), Passionately and Purposefully making a difference beyond their family (P), Investing in themselves (I), and Connecting to a strong support network (C).
Join our community of mothers to light the way and sustain you on your quest at https://www.facebook.com/groups/mothersquest/