Advocates, Inc. (CAI) is a nonprofit organization that advocates innovative approaches to human relations and race relations in Los Angeles city and county. CAI 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 works from the premise that while Los Angeles city and county residents generally interact in positive ways, the region's geography makes sustained, large-scale interactions across racial, ethnic or religious lines rare. Los Angeles suffers not from hatred or animosity between different groups, but from a lack of understanding based in part on a lack of opportunities for mixing in a positive setting. Unlike the residents of New York or Chicago, Angelenos don't tend to walk the streets or ride public transportation together. The freeway system allows people to travel in hermetically sealed cars that whisk them over and around unfamiliar or "dangerous" neighborhoods. Therefore, CAI's challenge is to develop an awareness of interests and common ground that transcends one's race, ethnicity or religion — an objective that is counter to the prevailing strategies of identity-based politics and advocacy.
CAI's leadership is composed of Chairman Richard Riordan, former Mayor of Los Angeles; President David A. Lehrer, former Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League; and Vice President 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.