Chairman Mark Takano – who chairs the House Veterans Affairs Committee – is the only openly LGBTQ Chairman of a House or Senate Committee. He is also the first openly LGBTQ person of color ever elected to Congress.
For more than twenty years, Mark has worked to improve the lives of Riverside County residents, both as an elected official and as a teacher at Rialto High School. His commitment to public service began at an early age. Mark’s family roots in Riverside go back to his grandparents who, along with his parents, were removed from their respective homes and sent to Japanese American Internment camps during World War II. After the war, these two families settled in Riverside County to rebuild their lives.
Mark returned home to Riverside after college and began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988. As a public school teacher, Mark confronted the challenges in our education system daily. Two years later, he was elected to the Riverside Community College (RCC) District’s Board of Trustees. In this role, Mark worked with Republicans and Democrats to improve higher education for young people and job training opportunities for adults seeking to learn a new skill or start a new career. He was elected Board President in 1991 and helped the Board and the District gain stability and direction amid serious fiscal challenges.