As a public policy director, community organizer and advocate for consumers, children and small businesses, Sebastian has rolled up his sleeves to deliver results for the residents of our community. Sebastian’s commitment to public service is born from his desire to address problems by working with residents to implement sensible solutions.
Sebastian’s quest to serve follows in the public service footsteps of his mother – Avis Ridley-Thomas, a pioneer in conflict resolution – and his father, Mark Ridley-Thomas, Chairman of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and founder of the community empowerment movement that has become a model for communities nationwide. Sebastian and his twin brother, Sinclair, came of age as students of participatory politics.
Sebastian served as Public Policy Director for State Senator Curren Price. He advised Senator Price on economic development, transportation, housing, public safety, and local government issues – all of which are of critical importance to constituents in the 54th Assembly District. He also was as a legislative consultant to the Senate Select Committee on Procurement, focusing principally on how to ensure that a fair share of lucrative state contracts were awarded to qualified small business owners in underserved communities that were often overlooked.
Sebastian worked with more than 500 religious institutions spanning all faiths across 30 square miles as Senator Price’s chief liaison to Los Angeles’ faith-based organizations and clergy. He served as a vital resource on the Senate District Office staff, shouldering responsibility for a caseload of 900,000 residents of Greater Los Angeles. His job was to make sure constituents in the district were served well and their concerns were acted upon.
Sebastian was a policy researcher, strategic program analyst, coalition builder, and advocate for children during the “Summer of Healthcare” while serving as an intern at the Children’s Defense Fund, our nation’s premiere child advocacy organization. He worked to expand the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools summer enrichment program. During this time, Sebastian completed a dual internship with the National Ministries of the American Baptist Churches assisting in the growth of its “Children In Poverty” program.
Sebastian worked in the Department of Consumer Affairs Complaint Mediation Division to get a first-hand view and gain hands-on experience in consumer protection best practices. He worked with consumers and small businesses to cut government red tape. He helped residents statewide solve problems, remove barriers to employment and receive just treatment in their everyday lives, including understanding their rights under the state’s fair debt collection laws, obtaining professional licenses such as security guard certifications, filing claims for substandard medical treatment, and lodging formal complaints against unlicensed contractors for performing faulty work for which they had been paid.
Over a two-year period, Sebastian served as Political Director for the nine-member California Legislative Black Caucus. He began his Capitol experience as California State Senate Fellow through the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento. Sebastian studied Conflict Resolution at the University of California, Davis and Cross-Cultural Civic Engagement at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
While earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Morehouse College where he held several leadership positions, Sebastian served as an intern to L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky