They created the foundation and guided the growth of Venice Family Clinic.
Dr. Mayer Davidson is the founder of Venice Family Clinic with Dr. Philip Rossman. In the early years, it was a product of his leadership and dedication that the Clinic successfully kept its doors open to serve people struggling economically. He continues to inspire our providers through his steadfast commitment to volunteering at the Clinic as well as his leadership of our diabetes program.
Liz Forer has served as chief executive officer and executive director of Venice Family Clinic since 1994. Under her leadership, the Clinic has grown from one location to 12 and has dramatically increased the number of patients we serve each year. She has fostered important community partnerships and provided meaningful support, so that policymakers continue to consider the needs of low-income people and those experiencing homelessness.
Fern Seizer’s 10-year tenure as executive director of Venice Family Clinic was marked by tremendous growth. She established our first permanent site and created our fundraising program. Under her leadership, the Clinic developed and grew programs, including Children First Early Head Start, behavioral health, and homeless outreach.
The late Irma and Lou Colen were extraordinary philanthropists and Venice Family Clinic’s earliest, strongest and most consistent supporters. Through their dedication and vision they built a community of supporters in Los Angeles and made it possible for the Clinic to expand its reach and provide desperately needed health care to so many people.
The late Dr. Philip Rossman was the founder of Venice Family Clinic, with Dr. Mayer Davidson. Together, they executed their vision to provide free health care to people in need. They began in 1970 by seeing patients in a borrowed dental office and then continued to expand to meet the needs in the community.
They helped shaped policies that have impacted our community.
Kim Belshe played a pivotal role in implementing the Affordable Care Act in California as Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. Her commitment to this effort was particularly notable because the state was transitioning between gubernatorial administrations, which had the potential to slow things down. Instead, thanks to her leadership, the process was smooth. Today, as executive director of First 5 LA she continues to be an advocate for health access and equity, promoting policies and programs to improve the health and well-being of young children.
Nadine Burke-Harris is the current Surgeon General of California. Her work linking adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress with harmful impacts later in life continues to inform how Venice Family Clinic takes a trauma-informed approach to how we provide care to our patients, and how our staff and volunteers treat each other.
President Bill Clinton & then First Lady Hillary Clinton advocated for and signed into law the landmark State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP, currently CHIP), which provided health insurance for millions of children whose families had incomes that were modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
Former Representative Jane Harman served in Congress for 16 years and fought throughout her tenure to protect health care in Los Angeles. She was instrumental in helping Venice Family Clinic save two L.A. County facilities from closing during the county’s health funding crisis in 2000.
Peter Lee led the planning, development, administration, and evaluation of Covered California, the state’s health benefit exchange. His leadership ensures that California’s neediest residents have access to critical health care coverage.
President Barack Obama’s commitment to advocacy for health care equity across the nation is unparalleled. It is because of the Affordable Care Act that the majority of Venice Family Clinic’s patients now have access to health insurance, as well as the comfort in knowing they can get the medical care they need.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) shepherded the Affordable Care Act to its passage and ensured it included a public health insurance option for people living in poverty. Without her guidance and without the ACA, Venice Family Clinic’s patients would have continued to have limited access to health insurance.
As the former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala championed programs critical to Venice Family Clinic patients. Despite significant public criticism, she was a strong advocate for needle exchange services, which recognized the dignity of people with substance use disorders and demonstrated compassion for people living with HIV/AIDS. She was also instrumental in the development of Early Head Start, giving infants and toddlers in low-income families greater opportunity to succeed.
Former Representative Henry Waxman served the people of our community for 40 years. His leadership and advocacy for health care equity led to the passing of the Affordable Care Act, which made it possible for many people to have health coverage for the first time.
As a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Zev Yaroslavsky was a key leader in the fight to protect health care access for Angelenos. He was instrumental in saving the county’s health care system in 1995 and 2000, and in supporting Venice Family Clinic in taking over two county facilities that would have otherwise closed their doors.
They created new, innovative programs at Venice Family Clinic that have established us as a model for others.
Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction would not exist today as a major art event and community celebration if not for the commitment and will of a dedicated crew of founding volunteers who united starting in 1979. They included Irma Colen, Ruth Bloom, Mona Colman, Marj Fasman, Sheila Goldberg, Elaine Stone, Adele Yellin, Marcia Bein, Linda Brownridge, Barbara Hirsch, Freya Ivener, Alice March, Laura Maslon, Claudia Sego, Betty Tuchman, Toby Waldorf and Hope Warshaw. They worked closely with Frank Gehry who helped to recruit artists.
Dr. Susan Fleischman was Venice Family Clinic’s first chief medical officer and a strong advocate for community health initiatives. She helped build our homeless outreach program and developed programs specifically to help our patients manage their diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Dr. Jimmy Hara developed and continues to lead the Kaiser Permanente community health rotation program, through which countless medical students have learned about public health. He has been a volunteer provider at Venice Family Clinic since 1971, and his leadership has been instrumental in building and strengthening the Clinic’s valuable and longstanding partnership with Kaiser Permanente.
Dr. Coley King is the director of homeless health care at Venice Family Clinic. He continues to be influential in Los Angeles in advancing street medicine, an innovative and specialized practice that brings desperately needed medical care to people who are unhoused. He has trained countless residents in this practice, and is currently spearheading an effort to develop guidelines that will help more providers adopt this approach.
Dr. Karen Lamp was the driving force behind many important programs at Venice Family Clinic, including its Women’s Health program and its substance use treatment program, the latter of which has been replicated in community health centers across the nation. She also helped open the door for the Clinic to provide health services to young adults experiencing homelessness at Safe Place for Youth.
Dr. Charlotte Neumann, Dr. Norma Rosales, Dr. Susan Mackensen, and Dr. Earl Rubell built Venice Family Clinic’s pediatrics program, providing comprehensive medical care for our youngest patients while also thoughtfully considering how to minimize the burden coming to the Clinic might have on their families.
Dr. Jose Quiroga is co-founder and director of medical services at the Program for Torture Victims, the first of its kind in the country, which he originally started at Venice Family Clinic. His organization continues to help survivors of torture and persecution to rebuild their lives, and in so doing, stands up for freedom, democracy, and human dignity.
Dr. Bill Resnick has been instrumental in Venice Family Clinic’s behavioral health program, both as a provider and as a board member. Dr. Resnick was the first psychiatrist at the Clinic focused on treating people who had been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, helping to challenge public perception of the disease and of those living with a positive diagnosis.
Dr. Wendy Slusser built the pediatric residency program at Venice Family Clinic, making it possible for doctors to get a window into the valuable role that community health centers play in the lives of low-income pediatric patients. She has led important research on the value of a multidisciplinary approach in reducing obesity in children and the importance of good nutrition to children’s health.
Dr. Myles Spar founded the integrative medicine program at Venice Family Clinic – the first in the nation at a community health center – which made it possible for our patients to access new services and treatment modalities to help them better manage their pain and stress.
They are our funders and partners who have not only provided resources but have helped us launch new ideas that we couldn’t have otherwise done.
Judy and the late Bernard Briskin are philanthropists with a passion for helping low-income Angelenos access quality health care. Their longstanding support has helped Venice Family Clinic launch innovative programs, including The Briskin Women’s Health Program and the Briskin Malibu/Pacific Palisades Homeless Project, which have changed the lives of thousands of people.
A longstanding partner to Venice Family Clinic, Cedars-Sinai has provided critical funds to build and enhance our operative infrastructure, and makes it possible for our patients to access specialty care and treatment that is currently beyond the scope of what we can provide at our clinical sites.
Kaiser Permanente and Venice Family Clinic have enjoyed an important partnership that trains providers in community health through Kaiser’s residency program. Kaiser has also been a champion for providing access to specialty care and treatment that is currently beyond the scope of what we can provide at our clinical sites.
Chuck Lorre is a noted television producer, writer, and director who is committed to bringing quality health care to people living in poverty in Los Angeles. He has been a prominent supporter of Venice Family Clinic since the early 2000s, helping to fund our Robert Levine Family Health Center and contributing meaningfully to the mental and physical health of our community.
John Maceri is an outspoken advocate for the rights and dignity of people experiencing homelessness as well as practical solutions that could help end the homelessness crisis. Through his work as chief executive officer of The People Concern, he is a key partner to Venice Family Clinic to get our most vulnerable neighbors housed and makes sure they have access to a suite of integrated services and supports.
Through the support of the Milken Family Foundation, Lowell Milken enabled Venice Family Clinic to have a permanent home on Rose Avenue in 1990. This site serves as the launching point for our homeless outreach and has served as the medical home for countless people for decades.
Providence St. John’s, a longstanding partner to Venice Family Clinic, makes it possible for our patients to access specialty care and treatment including being able to deliver their babies there and to receive radiology services. They also help fund our homeless health care and support respite care for caregivers of our patients who are experiencing homelessness
Through a longstanding partnership with Venice Family Clinic, Quest Diagnostics makes it possible for our patients to access diagnostic testing services that are beyond the scope of what we can provide at our clinical sites.
UCLA’s longstanding partnership with Venice Family Clinic empowers both organizations to thrive. Through this affiliation, UCLA provides vital infrastructure that supports the Clinic’s operations, and the Clinic provides training in community medicine to UCLA’s fellows, residents, interns and medical students.
The Weisman Foundation, led by Billie Weisman and the late Fred Weisman recognized the role mental health plays in holistic health and wellness and provided funding that was instrumental to establishing the program and facilities for our behavioral health program in the 1990s. The Foundation continues its support for these programs and its sponsorship of the Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction.
Their expertise has guided our practice and shifted public narratives to help improve health in our community and others.
Dr. David Hayes Bautista’s commitment to improving access to health care for vulnerable communities is an inspiration to our providers. He mentors Latinos pursuing careers in health care nationwide, including a number of professionals who have established their careers at Venice Family Clinic.
Father Greg Boyle is a Jesuit priest and the founder of Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit and ever-expanding social enterprise that provides job training, counseling, and critical services to thousands of former gang members and high-risk youth each year. Father Boyle has spoken to Clinic staff and inspired doctors from the Clinic to volunteer to do tattoo removal.
Heather Edney was an early advocate for the health and well-being of people who use drugs and an early board member of Common Ground, which is now Venice Family Clinic’s HIV prevention and treatment program. She was instrumental in crafting a unified definition of harm reduction, a set of strategies and ideas that seek to minimize the harmful effects of using alcohol and other substances rather than ignoring or condemning them.
Paul Farmer helped to pioneer community-based treatment protocols to deliver high-quality health care to people living in poverty in the U.S. and other countries. He has written extensively on health, human rights, and the consequences of social inequality. His work is often cited within the Clinic while designing our health approach to social equity.
Atul Gawande is a noted surgeon and public health advocate who has dedicated his career to improving the efficiency of health care systems and lowering the cost of delivery, so that everyone can afford the care they need. His commitment to compassion, access and equity has served as an inspiration for Venice Family Clinic providers.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson played a crucial role in destigmatizing HIV/AIDS and became a formidable advocate for the rights and dignity of people living with this disease. He dedicated himself to proving to the world that an HIV diagnosis need not be a death sentence.
Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative, as well as her own setting an example for eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly, brought much-needed attention to the critical issue of childhood obesity, and inspired the country to prioritize healthy foods and move their bodies more.
Al Osborne is senior associate dean for external affairs at UCLA Anderson School of Management. His passion for leadership development and for applying business models and methodologies to the nonprofit world has had a meaningful impact on the trajectories of Head Start programs and community health centers nationwide.
Sonia Sotomayor is an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who despite her traumatic childhood and struggles with diabetes, rose to become the first Hispanic and Latina judge on the highest court in the land. She uses her platform to share her story and is a role model for our staff and patients.
Yasmina Vinci has been a tireless champion for children and families living in poverty through her work as the executive director of the National Head Start Association. She has been instrumental in shaping national and international policies that support her belief that every child, regardless of circumstances at birth, has the ability to succeed in life.
They took their experiences at Venice Family Clinic and went on to give back to help vulnerable communities. They inspire us through their compassion.
Susan Burton is the founder of A New Way of Life, which helps women who have been incarcerated to overcome the complex challenges of reentry. When she struggled with her own addiction she received behavioral health counseling at Venice Family Clinic. Through her advocacy, she has brought attention to the trauma experienced by those in prison and to the positive role counseling and community support have in helping people transition out of prison.
Through their televised comedy specials on HBO in the 1980s and 90s, comedians Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Billy Crystal and producer Bob Zmuda raised tens of millions of dollars for organizations that care for people experiencing homelessness, including Venice Family Clinic.
Judy de la Torre began her relationship with Venice Family Clinic as a volunteer, and then rose through the ranks to become nursing manager. For more than 30 years, she has been a passionate champion for and mentor to younger staff members, and has shown true dedication to providing exceptional care to our patients.
Mandy Johnson led Venice Family Clinic’s Health Care for the Homeless project in the 1980s. She became a powerful advocate for the rights and dignity of people experiencing homelessness, first at the Clinic, then as CEO of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.
Dr. Margarita Loeza has been a provider at Venice Family Clinic since 2001 but first came to the Clinic as a patient when she was a child. Despite growing up in poverty, she persevered to become a doctor and has been committed to mentoring Latinx people who aspire to pursue medical careers.