Avis Ridley-Thomas founded Los Angeles City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program in 1989, and served as Director until retiring in March 2011. Under her leadership, the program grew from four staff members to include over 2,000 volunteer conciliators, mediators, trainers, facilitators and peacemakers who handled thousands of disputes annually.
The program specialized in mediation, violence prevention, cross cultural relations and has provided consultation, training and support to institutions, businesses, organizations and communities throughout the Southern California Region. Ridley-Thomas also worked as a civilian Hearing Examiner for LAPD and an arbitrator for the National Futures Association and the Better Business Bureau.
She formerly served as Consumer Services Coordinator and Victim Witness Services Coordinator in the Office of the City Attorney. She chaired the California Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault Victim Services and the South Central Los Angeles Domestic Violence Task Force.
In 1984, Ridley-Thomas helped establish the Rosa Parks Sexual Assault Crisis Center and assisted in efforts to establish the Loved Ones of Homicide Victims and the Martin Luther King Dispute Resolution Center.
She was awarded the Healers of Conflict Award from the Southern California Mediation Association in 1994, the Rosa Parks Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1995, and the Phenomenal Woman Award from the Women’s Studies Program of California State University at Northridge in 1996. In 1998, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund selected Ridley-Thomas as a Black Woman of Achievement recipient.
The Los Angeles Daily Journal supplement recognizing the State’s Top Neutrals, Ridley-Thomas was identified as a “Top Neutral” among community mediation program providers. In 2009, the organization Peace Over Violence awarded Ridley-Thomas the Humanitarian Award for Community Service. In honor of Black History Month 2011, the Association of Black City Attorneys presented her the Unsung Hero Award.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors presented numerous awards to the City Attorney’s Dispute Resolution Program in recognition of outstanding contribution toward the resolution of conflict. In 2003, the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles presented the Angel of Peace Award to Ridley-Thomas and her husband Mark. The Silver Rose Award was presented to the couple by the Jenesse Center in 2010. In 2011 she was presented the Outstanding Dispute Resolution Staff Member Award, for the second time, in honor of Los Angeles County Mediation Week.
Since 2001, Ridley-Thomas has served as co-instructor in a two-quarter UCLA course entitled Restoring Civility: Understanding, Using and Resolving Conflict. The course is cross-listed with the Department of Education and the Cesar E. Chavez Department of Chicana/o Studies. From this course, she co-founded the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles.
The University of Southern California’s Good Neighbors initiative provides the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles grant funds for peer mediation programs at various USC Family of Schools sites.
Ridley-Thomas now serves Co-Director of the Institute for Nonviolence in Los Angeles (www.invla.org) and Days of Dialogue (http://www.daysofdialogue.org). Recent honors include St. Michael the Archangel – Guardian Angel Award, the Who’s Who Award of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute’s Women in Action Award and the Los Angeles Child Guidance Clinic christening of the Avis and Mark Ridley-Thomas Life Learning Center.
She graduated Cum Laude from Pomona College in 1976 and attended graduate school at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
Since 1979, she has been married to Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and is the mother of twin boys Sebastian and Sinclair. Duke Flynn Ridley-Thomas, the first Ridley-Thomas grandson, celebrated his first birthday on December 27, 2017.