Building Blocks: Introduction to Title VI
Leslie Proll (Moderator)
Prior to joining DOT, Leslie Proll served as Director of Policy for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the nation’s oldest civil rights legal organization. She coordinated and implemented strategy on federal civil rights legislation, supervised responses to federal agency actions involving civil rights, and helped to develop proposals to strengthen federal civil rights regulations, guidance, and data collection. She has testified before Congress, written articles and opinion pieces for numerous national publications, and appeared on television and radio. She received the Congressional Black Caucus Chair’s Award in 2003.
Prior to working in Washington, D.C., Leslie was a civil rights lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama for almost ten years. She litigated dozens of federal civil rights cases, including class actions and jury trials, in the areas of housing discrimination, employment discrimination, higher education school desegregation, voting rights and transportation. Leslie was the first female chair of the Labor and Employment Section of the Alabama State Bar. She helped to establish the first non-profit fair housing organization in Alabama, now known as the Fair Housing Center of Northern Alabama.
Leslie began her career as a law clerk to the late Chief Judge Sam Pointer, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. Leslie is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Davis School of Law.
Howard Caro-López, Ph.D
Dr. Howard Caro-López currently serves as a Civil Rights Analyst with the Department of Transportation’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights (DOCR), in the Office of the Secretary. In this role, Dr. Caro-López serves as the DOCR’s resident social scientist and civil rights subject matter expert on both Departmental employment matters, and Title VI and ADA/504 compliance with DOT funding recipients. Dr. Caro-López’s work includes statistical analysis, policy research and Title VI investigations, and conducting trainings on both Title VI and Title VII-related topics. Dr. Caro-López is a professional sociologist with over ten years of social science research experience and subject matter expertise in a range of areas including: civil rights, Latino studies, immigration, civic engagement,; and demographic analysis. Prior to joining the Department of Transportation, Dr. Caro-López was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, and a Civil Rights Analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Voting Section.
Sharice served as the Deputy Director of Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation in Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where she managed a variety of day-to-day operations, acted as in house legal counsel, and laid the foundation for a social enterprise program. She is from the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin, and has dedicated her professional life to economic development in Native American communities. In 2010, Sharice began her legal career in the Kansas City office of an international law firm as a corporate transactional attorney working on mergers and acquisitions for private equity clients and economic development transactions with Native American tribes. After leaving corporate practice, Sharice moved to the Pine Ridge Reservation where she took a position with a high school as the Director of an Economic Development Initiative where she developed an entrepreneurship curriculum that was implemented at the high school level. After the development of the entrepreneurship program, Sharice started Hoka Coffee Company. Sharice received a B.B.A. from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. She is an avid martial artist and has competed at the amateur and professional levels in mixed martial arts.
Ryan currently serves as a Lead Civil Rights Analyst at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights. In this capacity, Ryan is responsible for enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, investigating external complaints and potential instances of discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin, as well as compliance and training related to Title VI. Ryan joined the team at the Departmental Office of Civil Rights in 2016, having previously served with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Civil Rights. He holds a juris doctor from The George Washington University Law School.
Jonathan Ocana is an Equal Opportunity Specialist at the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Departmental Office of Civil Rights. In his capacity, he coordinates internal efforts to implement a consistent application and approach of DOT’s Title VI regulation across U.S. DOT. Jonathan joined the Departmental Office of Civil Rights in 2016, having previously served as the Federal Transit Administration’s Title VI Program Coordinator.