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League of Women Voters of California
Full Biography for Wilson Riles
Wilson Riles: A Life of Public Service
As a committed and effective Oakland City Council Member, 1979 to 1992, Wilson Riles:
Provided the strongest support on the Council for the development of downtown and neighborhood nonprofit housing.
Engineered the City's commitment of $1.3 million for the Schools Academies program.
Defeated the establishment of a privately-run INS detention facility in Oakland.
Led the fight for Oakland's Anti-apartheid and Nuclear Free Zone Ordinances.
Wilson, a former aide to Alameda County Supervisor John George, fought for health care reform, alternatives to incarceration, bilingual education, and housing with services for homeless people.
Wilson Riles has been serving the people of Oakland and the Bay Area in countless ways. He was the Regional Director of the American Friends Service Committee for over nine years and administered a $1.4 million budget supporting programs which addressed issues of economic justice in the African American community; non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the plight of farm workers, homelessness, progressive reform of the criminal justice system, Native American and Asian Pacific Islander community concerns, and youth empowerment.
Wilson Riles engineered the City's commitment of $1.3 million from the Redevelopment Agency for the Schools' Academies programs. He was instrumental in the defeat of the INS establishment of a privately run detention facility in Oakland. Riles was the principal Council member responsible for both Oakland's Anti-apartheid Ordinance and Oakland's Nuclear Free Zone Ordinance. He was the strongest Council member supporting the development of downtown and neighborhood non-profit housing projects.
Wilson earned a BA degree in psychology and math from Stanford University in 1968. He attended graduate school in educational psychology and child development at UC Berkeley. He was a Peace Corps volunteer from 1968 to 1970 in Sierra Leone, where he taught mathematics. He was also a math teacher in Oakland.
Wilson is a founding member of Community Bank of the Bay. He lectures regularly on the history of race at New College. He is active in many other civic and community organizations, including the San Francisco Zen Center, the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights, the Faith Alliance with Interfaith to Heal Society (FAITHS), and FONKOZE (a Haitian micro-loan program).
Wilson's life partner is Patricia St.Onge, an organizational development consultant for nonprofits. Between the two, they have six children and three grandchildren. A legacy of public service was passed on to Wilson by his father, Wilson Riles, Sr., a former State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the first African American elected to statewide office in California.
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