What We do

Community Advocates, Inc. (CAI) is a nonprofit organization that advocates innovative approaches to human relations and race relations. It was founded on the idea that while we do not live in a perfect world, there has been steady and continuing progress in the arena of race and human relations. CAI is led by its Chairman Richard Riordan, former Mayor of Los Angeles and President David A. Lehrer, former Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. For many years its vice president was the late Joe R. Hicks, former Executive Director of the Los Angeles City Human Relations Commission. CAI spreads its vision through op-eds, speeches, panel presentations, journal articles and broadcast programming.

CAI has partnered with major media outlets in Los Angeles, including PBS station KCET and NPR’s KPPC to produce public affairs programming on significant and contentious issues of the day. Its town hall meetings have been broadcast, on television and radio, to hundreds of thousands of Southern Californians.

Community Advocates, Inc. is a “redoubtable voice of local reason.”
— The Los Angeles Times


Community Advocates, Inc. (CAI) is committed to taking the quest for human and civil rights beyond the fight against intolerance and discrimination. It also is a common sense commentator and advocate for good public policy choices. It makes its voice heard and policy recommendations known through op-eds, presentations, journal articles, town-hall style meetings and partnerships with major media outlets that amplify its message. Rather than dwell on ethnic, racial, sexual orientation and religious victimization, Community Advocates helps to foster an identity-transcendent civic culture aimed at developing cooperative enterprises and celebrating common interests. In Los Angeles, the most diverse city in the world, urging people to view themselves as victims of discrimination perpetrated by others will only encourage further retreat into the ethnic enclaves that characterizes much of our city's geography.


Board Members

Community Advocates, Inc. was founded in 2002 by Hon. Richard J. Riordan, Chairman. Riordan is the former two-term mayor of Los
Angeles; David A. Lehrer, President. He is the former director of the Anti-Defamation League and its Western States Counsel. Joe R. Hicks was CAI’s founding Vice-President. He was the former head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Los Angeles
City Commission on Human Relations. Mr. Hicks passed away in August, 2016.

  • Hon. Richard J. Riordan, Chairman of CAI and former mayor of L.A.
  • Dr. Jane Pisano, President of LA Museum of Natural History and former executive VP of University of Southern CA
  • Hon. Harry Pregerson, Justice on the Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Ms. Constance Rice, Leading civil rights attorney and founder of the Advancement Project
  • Ms. Hope Warschaw, Community and political activist and philanthropist 
  • Mr. Virgil Roberts, Community Activist and attorney, immediate past chair of California Community Foundation
  • Rabbi John L. Rosove, Senior rabbi at Temple Israel of Hollywood.

About the president

David A. Lehrer is the president of Community Advocates, Inc., a Los Angeles based human relations organization chaired by former mayor Richard J. Riordan. For twenty seven years he served locally with the Anti-Defamation League, as both its counsel and its regional director.

Mr. Lehrer is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UCLA where he received a B.A. in Political Science.  He attended UCLA Law School and earned a Juris Doctor degree and admission to the bar in 1973.

He has been interviewed on his activities by publications ranging from the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the London Times, to the Wall Street Journal, Business Week and Newsweek.  He has appeared on numerous national news broadcasts including the ABC Network programs Nightline and Good Morning America, and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. His essays have appeared in various publications including the Los Angles Times, the Los Angeles Daily News, and other newspapers across the country.

In 1997, he was appointed by then Mayor Richard Riordan to the Board of Library Commissioners of Los Angeles and served for two years as its president, overseeing the 67-branch Los Angeles Public Library system with an annual budget approaching $90 million.

Community Advocates has partnered with two major Los Angeles media outlets to amplify its message on civil rights issues---with KCET’s public affairs broadcast Life & Times it broadcast weekly segments of The Kitchen Table; it teams withAirtalk, on NPR’s KPCC,  to produce quarterly Critical Issues Seminars that are broadcast to the largest local public radio audience.

He is married to Dr. Ariella Lehrer and is the father of four children---Eli, Jonah, Rachel and Leah---and six grandchildren, so far---Jude, Rosie, Teddy, Izzy, James and Louisa.