Like Professor Before Her, a Student of Political Law Becomes a Participant
Loyola student Ana Teresa Dahan ’15 was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and unanimously confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council as the newest member of the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission in November 2014. For the former education reform and political strategist, it was the culmination of a career aimed at making a difference.
Dahan, who is currently a legal clerk at NBCUniversal, enrolled in law school after a decade-long career in education reform and local politics. She worked as a field deputy for a Los Angeles Unified School District board member, later becoming a special assistant to Superintendent Ramon Cortines. She was also a founding staff member of the California Charter Schools Association. In 2006, she ran for a position on the Los Angeles Unified School Board and received endorsements from the Los Angeles Times and LA Weeky. Inspired by that work, she sought ways to make a greater impact on the system, and she viewed law as her best path.
“I had spent 10 years trying to make a difference in education. I realized that having worked within and outside of the system the change wasn’t happening fast enough. And I thought through a legal career, I could make much-needed change occur at a faster pace,” she said. “At Loyola, I was re-inspired to find other mechanisms to make change happen, and one of those was specializing in election and campaign finance law.”
Dahan was inspired by Professor Jessica Levinson '05, who was appointed to the LA Ethics Commission in 2013 and later became its vice president. “My first exposure to campaign finance law was in Professor Levinson’s Money & Politics class, while she herself was being appointed to the Ethics Commission. It was an amazing learning opportunity to observe her. Her class provided a framework for my understanding of this area of law and inspired my passion to pursue a legal career in this field. I never imagined a year later we would be colleagues on the Ethics Commission” said Dahan.
Levinson was also thrilled. “When I first found out that Ana was going to be appointed to the Ethics Commission, I was really happy because nothing makes a teacher happier than when a student succeeds,” said Levinson. “I’m thrilled she is going to be my colleague now. I know she’s going to be really smart and ask the right questions.” She added: “Ana showed in class that she can hold her own.”
That’s an important trait of a commissioner. The Ethics Commission was created by voters in 1990 to administer and enforce the city laws that help ensure fair and transparent government decisions. It has five part-time commissioners, who serve staggered five-year terms. Its members are appointed by the LA mayor, the city attorney, the controller, the City Council president and the City Council president pro tem. The other commissioners are President Nathan J. Hochman, Erin Pak and Serena Oberstein.
Thanks to her Loyola coursework and professors, Dahan feels well-prepared for her duties as a commissioner and beyond. “My studies in election, administrative and campaign finance law – as well as Ethical Lawyering – at Loyola have prepared me to serve on this commission. More than just legal knowledge, Loyola provided practical skills and exposure to a network that enables professional success,” she said.