Chanchanit (Chancee) Martorell
Founder & Executive Director
Born in Thailand and raised in Los Angeles, Martorell studied political science and public law at UCLA where she received her B.A. and her M.A. in Urban Planning with a specialization in Urban Regional Development/Third World Development. She also studied Humanities at Chiang Mai University in Northern Thailand in 1988.
Engaged in social activism for the past 28 years, Martorell is currently the Executive Director of the Thai Community Development Center, a non-profit organization she founded in 1994 in an effort to improve the lives of Thai immigrants through services that promote cultural adjustment and economic self-sufficiency. Her experiences leading to the founding of Thai CDC include work as a planner, as an aide to Congressman Mel Levine and work with other local and state legislative offices. She also created and taught the first Thai-American Experience course offered as part of UCLA’s Asian-American Studies curriculum in 1992.
During Thailand’s military coup of 1992, she mobilized the Thai community in Southern California to protest the atrocities committed by the military junta against civilian demonstrators in Bangkok, demanding a peaceful return to democracy for Thailand and its people. After the Los Angeles Civil Unrest in 1992, she co-authored the Mid-City Plan for the Coalition of Neighborhood Developers which sought to address the lack of economic resources in an inner city area of Los Angeles. The pivotal event also led her to documenting the demographics and social and human service needs of Thais in Los Angeles for the first time in a landmark community needs assessment study as a way to advocate for more resources in underserved communities.
She has written on the topics of ethnic competency, the Thai immigrant community, Asian poverty, community economic development, urban revitalization strategies, human trafficking, and global capitalism.
She is known most notably for her work on a half dozen major human rights cases involving over 400 Thai victims of human trafficking who were discovered working in conditions of slavery in the United States. Her tireless advocacy on behalf of the victims and the success of each case has made her a leading expert and sought after spokesperson on the serious issue of modern-day slavery. She taught a course entitled “Human Trafficking and Modern-day Slavery” at the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures. Because of her deep commitment to creating positive change, she has also become a leading practitioner in the field of community development engaged in ongoing affordable housing development, small business promotion and neighborhood revitalization projects. Two of the projects undertaken by Thai CDC under Martorell’s leadership include the development of affordable housing through the rehabilitation of one of Hollywood’s historical edifices, the Halifax Apartments, and the development of Palm Village, an affordable senior housing project in Sun Valley.
In 1999, under her leadership, Thai CDC played a pivotal role in the eight-year long community organizing campaign which raised community consciousness and led to the designation of the first Thai Town in the nation right here in East Hollywood. The designation of Thai Town allowed the community to define itself and its place in history. For Martorell, the designation of Thai Town was the first step of a multi- faceted, economic development strategy to revitalize a depressed section of Hollywood while enriching the City’s cultural and social fiber.
Dedicated to social and economic justice, she actively serves in a variety of capacities in a number of community/immigrant/labor rights organizations with local, national and global concerns, including the California Community Foundation Council on Immigrant Integration, Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law, the Labor Community Services Program, and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. She is also the co-founder of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program, the Rotary Club of Thai Town, and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development. Committed to heightening awareness of Thai arts and culture, she also sits on the board of the Thai Community Arts and Cultural Center and serves as an advisor to the Thai New Year Day’s Songkran Festival Corporation. Formerly a member of the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women Task Force, she was part of a campaign that succeeded in the performance of a gender analysis by the City of Los Angeles of its personnel.
On June 29, 2012, she was bestowed the Royal Decoration of the Most Admirable Order of the Direkgunabhorn from His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej for her tireless service to the Thai community abroad.
She also received written honors from Congresswoman Karen Bass that were included in the Congressional record for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2012.
She served on the Union Bank Community Advisory Board for three years between 2008 and 2011 and was chair in her last year. The members help guide the bank in its community reinvestment activities and outreach efforts.
On September 28, 2005, she was confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council as Commissioner for the Central Area Planning Commission upon being appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and is currently serving her second term as Vice Chair.
In 2001, the California Wellness Foundation selected her as a Violence Prevention Initiative Fellow.
She is also a recipient of a number of awards and honors, including the Asian Americans For Equality Dream of Equality Award, Assemblyman Mike Eng Inclusionary Award, Assemblyman Kevin De Leon API Heritage Month Honoree Award, State Senator Curren Price Sheroes Award, Thai Association of Southern California Exemplary Leadership Award , Kasertsart University Alumni Association of USA Advocate Award, KCET Unsung Hero Award, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics Leadership Award, Asian Pacific Women’s Network Women Warrior Award, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance Distinguished Service Award, Korean Immigrant Workers’ Advocates Solidarity Award, Asian Business Association Asian American Leadership Award, Los Angeles Women’s Foundation Mentor Award, Los Angeles City Commission on the Status of Women Woman of Courage Award, and a Certificate of Recognition from Assemblyman Luis Caldera for “A Woman Making A Difference in the Heart of Los Angeles.”
Martorell has been married to her husband, Esteban Martorell since 1994 and has two children. She formerly served as the Cubmaster of her children’s Cub Scout Pack 184.
Directing Attorney – Human Rights Advocacy, Legal and Housing Counseling
Panida Rzonca earned her J.D. at the Southwestern School of Law in Los Angeles in 2009 and her B.A. in Political Science with a focus on International Relations at the University of California at San Diego in 2004. Panida’s commitment to anti-trafficking began during her position as the AmeriCorp Legal Intern at the Thai Community Development Center (THAI CDC) in 2007. She has assisted in resettling families of trafficking victims and providing other social services including access to legal assistance. Panida’s experience also includes clerking at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA) to assist attorneys in their continued assistance to Thai workers from Thai CDC’s EEOC v. Trans Bay case in 2009. While at LAFLA, she worked with both clients of labor and sex trafficking. Currently, Panida serves the Thai community through her work as a Staff Attorney at Thai CDC under the Anti-Human Trafficking Program, by primarily serving victims involved in the Department of Justice indictment for labor trafficking against the labor subcontracting firm Global Horizons. She has helped provide comprehensive social services including reporting trafficking cases to law enforcement and assisting victims in navigating the legal system to obtain immigration status and ultimately, justice. In addition to her work in anti-human trafficking, Panida has been involved with both labor and housing rights advocacy. She is dedicated to workers’ rights advocacy within the Thai community working on public awareness campaigns and direct services to help workers navigate governmental agencies for wage and fair labor standard claims. With regards to housing rights, she serves as a certified foreclosure intervention and default counselor, providing counseling to Thais with limited English proficiency that are in danger of losing their homes. Panida is determined to continue assisting the underserved through the Slavery Eradication and Rights Initiative (SERI) Project campaign to raise awareness of the Anti-Human Trafficking Program at Thai CDC.
Public Relations and Marketing Manager
Curtis is Thai CDC’s first Public Relations and Marketing Manager. His role involves marketing, branding and advertising Thai CDC. Curtis graduated with a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Southern California in 1992. After graduation, he started working at Robinson’s May in the buying offices and advertising production. In 1997, with an overwhelming interest in photography and visual communication, he launched his career in photography and videography. Through his photography, he stumbled upon Thai CDC and its works, while shooting for his project, “City of Angels. Bangkok and Los Angeles.” Through the course of five years, he volunteered his skills for Thai CDC while becoming acquainted with its operation. In December 2012, he was drafted into the organization to became the Public Relations and Marketing Manager. Curtis was born in Idaho and in his spare time, he likes to read, cook, do yoga, watch movies and travel.
Interim Program Director of Community Economic Development
Born and raised in Los Angeles’ ethnically-diverse East Hollywood community, Elson describes himself as “The Filipino kid who grew up listening to black music in an Armenian neighborhood where people spoke Spanish and ate Thai food.” Elson received his B.A. degree in Print Journalism from the University of Southern California, has interned for the Los Angeles Times and has also written for KCET.
Elson’s association with Thai CDC began in 1995 when he worked for a nonprofit in Historic Filipinotown that housed some of the El Monte Thai garment workers after being freed from slavery. It was then when he met Chancee Martorell and soon discovered that, like Chancee, Elson once served on the Los Angeles City Youth Advisory Council during the Tom Bradley administration.
In 1996, inspired by a volunteer cleanup in Echo Park, Elson started a neighborhood improvement group in East Hollywood that organized cleanups and engaged residents and business owners in local issues. This evolved into the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council (EHNC), which he founded in 2001. In 2007, the EHNC became an officially-certified neighborhood council in the City of Los Angeles following a six-year formation effort which Elson spearheaded, and he subsequently served as the EHNC’s first president.
Elson’s longtime community activism also led to him joining Thai CDC’s Board of Directors in 2003 where he served for 13 years, before resigning from the board in early 2016 to join Thai CDC’s staff.
Elson also serves as president of the nonprofit Friends of Cahuenga Library, and is a neighborhood docent for L.A. Commons’ Trekking L.A. program, leading historic and cultural tours of East Hollywood, which includes Thai Town. Elson is also an accomplished singer and musician who has performed with artists like Stevie Wonder, members of the Black Eyed Peas and R&B singer Cherelle; he is also the assistant musical director for the St. Agatha Church Gospel Choir in Mid-City L.A. He currently performs around L.A. with his own soul/R&B band, Elson and the Soul Barkada.
Phatchara Udomsin is bilingual in Thai and English. He has a Bachelor of Law from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. He also has a Masters of Law and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaiʻi. Udomsin has worked as an intern for Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While in law school in the United States, he worked as a Law Clerk for the Hawai’i Immigrant Justice Center where he helped the staff attorney with T-visa (visa for trafficking victims) applications for Thai labor trafficking victims. He is presently working as a Staff Attorney for Thai CDC where he continues to help trafficking victims. He is also a member of the Thai American Bar Association and is barred in the State of California.
Social Service Coordinator – Case Management, Human Rights, Housing
Wanda Pathomrit graduated from Cal State Northridge University with a B.A. in Criminology and Asian American Studies. She has worked for a year and a half as a case worker at the Hollywood Family Source Center (HFSC), a partner organization of Thai CDC, and Thai CDC’s Palm Village Senior Housing to provide culturally and linguistically sensitive case management to low-income Thai families and seniors. Her work is focused on improving the health, well-being and long term self sufficiency of the Thai families and seniors she serves. The services include case management work to help clients overcome cultural and language barriers to access legal, healthcare, public benefits, and public transit systems, and ultimately develop self sufficiency skills. Furthermore, Wanda also oversees the anti- human trafficking campaign. She helped found and launch the Slavery Eradication and Rights Initiative (SERI Project) where she has been raising awareness of human trafficking on college campuses, at forums, at events, and through the social media. “Thai CDC’s work is the foundation of building collective memory, empowerment, and representation for the Thai American Community. I am proud that our work transforms lives and brings hope, justice, and equality to the most vulnerable people in our community.”
Kobkaew Field (P’Kung)
Farland Field (Kung) was born in Bangkok, Thailand. She received her B.A.
in Education from Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in Thailand. In 2004,
she emigrated from Thailand to join her husband in the United States.
In 2006, she became aware of Thai CDC through reading a local Thai
newspaper article. Thai CDC’s work piqued her curiosity, and she decided
to volunteer at the center. After 8 months of volunteering, she was
hired as Thai CDC’s Office Assistant. In her spare time, she loves to travel, read books, curate, watch movies, and cook.
Billie was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. Having graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from UCLA in 2009, he came to know Thai CDC through one of his professors’ class in Asian American Studies. He started as an intern, assisting in the advancement and promotion of Thai New Year’s Day Songkran Festival, and outreaching for the Hollywood Development Overlay District (HDOD) Project. He was then employed by Thai CDC in 2013, and he is specializing in community outreach and social media integration and marketing. In his spare time, he likes to hike, listen to music and camp.
Jonathan Ayon is a bilingual Spanish and English speaker born in Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico and raised throughout SoCal. After emigrating to the US when he was 8, he saw the inequality in opportunity from an immigrant’s perspective. After working under the table jobs as a taco maker, construction jobs with his dad, and late nights in the bar scene, he then went on to graduate from California Polytechnic University of Pomona with a Bachelor Degree of Science in Urban and Regional Planning. He has a passion for helping others and connecting with community members to eliminate the inequalities that exist in minority communities.
Throughout his involvement with Thai CDC, Jonathan has grown in his passion for advocacy and community organizing while using his Urban Planning education to create sustainable communities around transit in Los Angeles. With a list of long term goals, Jonathan, sometimes referred to as Jonny, wants to continue
working in minority communities (like Thai Town in East Hollywood) developing relationships and representing them at City Hall. Jonathan also plans on continuing his education by pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.
After earning her degree in Business Management, Supranee started her professional career journey in the mid-size e-commerce company as a business operation supervisor and oversaw a small team of 12-15 employees. As years progressed, she was appointed to be an IT Business Analyst and a Project Manager to oversee the company internal business applications implementation, system migration, as well as the development of the Ecommerce website and its operation.
To further her professional development, she also completed a Project Management certification and earned a Healthcare Management and Leadership certification from UCLA School of Public Health.
Prior to joining Thai CDC, Supranee has also worked in the nonprofit Community Health Center in Los Angeles as an IT project manager responsible for health IT applications development and implementation.
The experience working in the nonprofit gave her a deep appreciation for how nonprofits seek to improve the quality of life for the community; one program at a time.
When not working or spending time on the internet, she truly enjoys nature and loves to be outdoors. She loves to travel, hike, do yoga, exercise, walk on the beach, watch movies eating popcorn, and spend quality time with family and friends.
Audrey Hollis graduated cum laude from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor of the Arts in Anthropology. Before joining Thai CDC, she was an English language instructor for elementary school children abroad. She found Thai CDC through the AmeriCorps VISTA program – in her time working as a VISTA for the organization, she assisted with the East Hollywood Certified Farmers’ Market, wrote grants, and started a community garden. After the program ended, she assembled and submitted grants and researched individual donors for the National Archives Foundation in Washington, DC. She is passionate about community outreach, food justice, and urban agriculture. She is back at Thai CDC as a full-time Project Coordinator. Her duties at Thai CDC involve organizing the second East Hollywood Certified Farmers’ Market, as well as writing grants, creating marketing materials, organizing events, and updating social media. In her spare time, she organizes a book club, hikes, and visits museums.