A seven-member Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) governs Los Angeles World Airports. By the Charter of the City of Los Angeles, the Board is responsible for the formulation of airport policy. The Board is comprised of public-spirited business and civic leaders who are appointed by the Mayor, approved by the City Council and serve staggered five-year terms.
The current members of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners are Sean O. Burton, Gabriel L. Eshaghian, Beatrice C. Hsu, Thomas S. Sayles, Cynthia A. Telles, and Valeria C. Velasco. Commissioner Velasco was first appointed to the Board on September 6, 2005 and has remained a member since then.
Commissioner Burton was first elected president of the Board on September 17, 2013. Commissioner Velasco was re-elected vice president on that same day.
Following are biographies of each of the commissioners:
Sean O. Burton – President (appointed for term ending June 30, 2020)
Commissioner Burton is Chief Executive Officer of CityView, overseeing the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the company. CityView is a premier investment management and development firm focused on urban residential real estate in the Western United States.
Commissioner Burton joined CityView in 2003, served as the firm’s chief operating officer from 2003 through 2008, and then as its president from 2008 through 2015.
Prior to joining CityView, Commissioner Burton was a senior executive in the Corporate Business Development and Strategy Division at Warner Bros. responsible for making strategic investments. His other professional experience includes serving as a transactional attorney at O’Melveny & Myers, LLP and serving in the White House and for the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton Administration.
Commissioner Burton previously served on the Los Angeles City Planning Commission where he chaired the subcommittee overseeing approval of the proposed Farmers Field National Football League stadium.
He also had a leading role in advocating structural changes in the state’s fiscal and budgetary process when he was appointed by the Governor in 2001 to the California Commission on Tax Policy and the New Economy. He is a trustee at John Thomas Dye School, a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, and a member of the board of United Friends of the Children.
Commissioner Burton is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and the University of California, Irvine. He recently retired as a lieutenant (Intelligence) from the United States Navy Reserve.
Valeria C. Velasco – Vice President (appointed for term ending June 30, 2022)
Commissioner Velasco is a sole practitioner estate planning attorney in Playa del Rey. As a civic leader, she has served as Lieutenant Governor for Rotary International District 5280 and currently serves as a Fee Dispute Arbitrator for the State Bar of California. She also served as chair of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce World Trade Week in 2012.
Commissioner Velasco has served as a City of Los Angeles Planning Commissioner, Staff Legal Counsel and Hispanic Liaison to former City Councilman Michael Woo, Assembly Aide/Hispanic Liaison to former Assemblyman Mike Roos and a bilingual elementary school teacher.
Commissioner Velasco earned a Juris Doctorate from the University of West Los Angeles School of Law, a Master of Arts degree in education from Claremont Graduate School, and Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Commissioner Velasco has held the position of Vice President of the Board of Airport Commissioners since September 14, 2005. She is a native Californian, born at California Hospital in Los Angeles, and has lived with her husband Frank in Playa del Rey since 1988.
Gabriel L. Eshaghian (appointed for term ending June 30, 2019)
Commissioner Eshaghian is a Principal and Senior Vice President of Acquisitions and Development with The Somerset Group, a New York-based family office real estate investment, development and management firm founded in 1979. He has been with the organization for more than twelve years, since opening the company’s Los Angeles office in September 2005.
Before joining Somerset, Commissioner Eshaghian spent more than 10 years in various executive positions within the travel and transportation industries, most recently with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, one of the world’s largest professional services firms. He spent over three years as their U.S.-based Global Travel Manager, followed by two years as a Director with its United Kingdom affiliate Nyras, focusing on turnaround, strategy consulting and investment banking transaction services within the global airline and transportation sector. Prior to that he held commercial management and business development positions in the airline industry, both at Swissair and with Virgin Atlantic Airways.
He is a subject matter expert in the areas of real estate acquisitions and finance, global travel management and airline industry corporate strategy. He has traveled and worked extensively in more than 50 countries and is a classically trained concert-level pianist.
Commissioner Eshaghian holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from the University of Southern California, a Master of Science degree in Real Estate Finance from New York University and a Master of Business Administration degree jointly from the London School of Economics and New York University – Stern School of Business.
Beatrice C. Hsu (appointed for term ending June 30, 2021)
Commissioner Hsu is Senior Vice President for Development at Brookfield Properties, responsible for Brookfield’s multifamily development activities on the west coast. Brookfield Properties is a developer, owner and operator of real estate with over $140 billion in assets under management globally, including office, retail, residential, industrial and hotel properties. Prior to joining Brookfield, Commissioner Hsu spent over 10 years with Related California on urban infill development projects, including affordable housing, mixed-income housing and commercial mixed-use development in Southern California.
Prior to her career in development, Commissioner Hsu served as a senior advisor to then-Council member Eric Garcetti. In that position she served as staff chair on the City Council’s Housing, Community and Economic Development Committee, which had oversight over the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency, Housing Department, Community Development Department, Homeless Services Authority and Housing Authority. Commissioner Hsu also served previously as a policy analyst for the California State Controller.
She is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history, and the University of Southern California’s Ross Minority Program in Real Estate.
She is a former Vice Chair of the City of Los Angeles Industrial Development Authority and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Larchmont Charter Schools.
Thomas S. Sayles (appointed for term ending June 30, 2019)
Commissioner Sayles served as Senior Vice President for university relations at the University of Southern California (USC) from 2011 to 2018. He provided strategic direction and leadership of USC’s efforts to continuously improve its relationships with external and internal stakeholders. His responsibilities included government relations, communications, media relations, public relations, marketing, community outreach, and oversight of USC’s 13 public radio stations.
Prior to joining USC, Commissioner Sayles served as an executive in the alternative fuels industry. He served as Senior Vice President for government affairs and corporate communications at Rentech, Inc. Previously, he served as Vice President of government and community affairs as well as Senior Vice President of consumer marketing at Sempra Energy.
In July 2009, he was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the governing board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and served as Board President until August 2013.
Commissioner Sayles has also been appointed by three different California governors to serve on boards and commissions, including the University of California’s Board of Regents, and the California Community Colleges’ Board of Trustees.
Commissioner Sayles served as Chair of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, and as a member on the board of directors of Unified Grocers, the largest buying cooperative for independent grocers in the western United States. He also served on the boards of directors of Golden State Bancorp (California Federal Bank) and Glendale Federal Bank.
Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Commissioner Sayles earned a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree “with distinction” from Stanford University, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.
Cynthia A. Telles (appointed for term ending June 30, 2023)
Commissioner Telles is Director of the University of California, Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Institute Spanish-speaking Clinic and is responsible for managing the operations of the model psychiatric clinic, as well as its training and research. She has been on the faculty of UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry since 1986.
Commissioner Telles has held many governmental and public service appointments. She also currently serves on the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010. In addition, she serves on the White House Fellows Regional Selection Panel, a position she held during 1998 – 2001, and more recently since 2012. During the Clinton Administration she was appointed to the National Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). Previously, she served on the advisory group to the Presidential Task Force on Health Care Reform.
Commissioner Telles has extensive experience serving on corporate boards as well as governmental commissions and civic/philanthropic organization boards. These include serving on the Board of Directors of General Motors since 2010 and for a decade as a member of the Board of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals (Kaiser Permanente). Previously, she served on the boards of Sanwa Bank and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation.
Commissioner Telles has also played a significant role in national and local philanthropic organizations. She is currently Chair of the California Community Foundation and has served on the Board since 2004. Between 2001 and 2010, she was on the Board of Directors of The California Endowment, the largest health foundation in California. She served as its Board Chair from 2004 through 2006 and as Vice Chair from 2002 through 2004. Moreover, she has served on the boards of numerous non-profit and civic organizations.
In Los Angeles, she has served for 13 years on various city commissions: vice president of the City of Los Angeles Ethics Commission, as president of the Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women, as vice president of the Los Angeles Board of Library Commissioners and as a member of the Los Angeles Commission on Children, Youth and Families. Additionally, she served on the Los Angeles Police Department’s Board of Rights.
Commissioner Telles received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College and a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from Boston University.