I have lived in Culver City for 15 years, and have grown to love and admire this community, and to value the opportunities I’ve had to use my skills and passion to make our city and the surrounding area better for everyone who lives, works, and visits here.
Building on my experience as a progressive activist for the past 15 years in the areas of media, education, the environment, and political reform, I hope to continue serving my community as a Culver City Council Member. As a small, diverse, and innovative town, I believe Culver City can set the standard throughout Los Angeles County for sustainable development, community inclusiveness, and equitable governance.
I was born in rural Alabama, and grew up first in the country outside of Tuskegee, Alabama, and later in the small city of Pensacola, Florida. At a relatively young age, my grandmother lost her husband – my grandfather – to suicide. As a result, the love and care that she would have reserved for him was shared with people throughout the surrounding communities where she lived. As a child, I would accompany her on far flung trips where she would deliver a plate of food, a bunch of turnips or mustard greens from her garden, a bag of seeds, or other needed supplies to elderly members of the community. She also visited local jails, and county or federal prisons, to see the sons and grandsons of people in her region who couldn’t make the trip. When my uncle became paralyzed as a young man, my grandmother retired early from her job to see to his daily needs. My older brother and I would join her, assisting with caregiving, as pre-teens and teenagers. She never moralized or politicized her efforts, but learning first-hand from her example of service and compassion left a lasting impression on us. My mother demonstrated the same values of hard work and community service when we moved to Florida. Despite her hectic work schedule, she responded to the needs of the people in her area just as my grandmother had done. The actions taken by my mother and grandmother crystallized the importance of fairness and generosity for me, which has deeply informed my civic and political beliefs.
As a member of the Culver City Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee for the last seven years, I have been fortunate to help plan, shape and execute the celebration from start to finish. I have also had the honor of serving as the chair of the committee. Dr. King was a constant source of hope and inspiration to me growing up in Alabama and Florida, particularly when my family experienced difficult times. Over the years, I have served as a panelist and a stage manager for the Celebration, as well as developing and implementing a Civil Rights Curriculum at the Culver Teen Center to help increase youth awareness and involvement, and forge stronger ties between the Celebration Committee and the community at-large. Along with another Committee member, I facilitated a weekly interactive program and discussion with teens that explored Dr. King’s life, and the countless unnamed activists, supporters and everyday women, men and children who were active participants in the Civil Rights Movement.
Since 2005, I have served as both a mentor and an actor in the Young Storytellers program at El Rincon Elementary, encouraging sometimes shy but always enthusiastic students to write their own screenplays, which are performed by professional actors. I’ve watched with joy as their eyes light up when they see their words brought to life. When my schedule did not allow me to participate as a mentor, I contributed as an actor, helping to craft flesh-and-bones representations of the young authors’ words.
I currently work as Project Manager for the James Lawson Institute, a recently formed nonprofit named after legendary civil rights activist and scholar Reverend James Lawson. I am proud to be a part of the Institute, which is dedicated to teaching the principles of nonviolent philosophy and practices to individuals and movements throughout North America.
After earning an undergraduate B.A. degree from the University of Southern California in 2000, I became deeply involved in activism, organizing, and politics. In reaction to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to weaken campaign spending regulations, I led the Move to Amend Los Angeles effort in conjunction with a number of other groups and co-chair Mary Beth Fielder, which resulted in Los Angeles becoming the first major city in the country to call for a constitutional amendment that addresses the Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens united decision and related cases.
I was asked to join Move to Amend’s national board of directors in 2012, shortly after our successful Los Angeles campaign. While serving on the board, I have had the opportunity to travel the country conducting workshops and facilitating trainings at conferences such as Netroots Nations, the National Conference on Media Reform, and the Power Shift Environmental Conference. I also helped organize the Los Angeles Media Reform Summit, spearheaded by Common Cause California.
In 2005, I became a member of the Screen Actors Guild, where I spoke out as a consistent advocate for workers’ rights both inside and outside the entertainment industry. I participated in the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-08, and demonstrated in solidarity with striking truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles, employees at Los Angeles International Airport, and Janitorial and Custodial workers Countywide.
I joined the U.S. Air Force in 2002 and continued to serve in the California Air National Guard in the 261st Combat Communications Squadron. My AFSC (Air Force Specialty Code) was 2E2X1 or Satellite Wideband Telemetry and Space Systems. While enlisted I earned an Air Force Achievement medal, a classification as a marksman and also taught classes in CPR and Self Aid Buddy Care for combat scenarios. I finished my military career with an honorable discharge as a Staff Sergeant in 2008.
In 2015, I earned an master’s degree in Social Welfare from UCLA where I focused on nonprofit management and systemic social change.
All of my experiences have shaped me into a person who values empathy, just as my mother and grandmother taught me. I believe that everyone has a right to be heard, and that only by listening to each other and cooperating can we achieve results that benefit everyone. I am committed to listening to the people of Culver City, and making sure that the opinions and experiences of everyone in our community are valued, and that the institutions that help govern our lives, including our local government, are truly representative of the people who live here. I hope to have the chance to represent the City of Culver City as a Council Member, and continue working on behalf of our inclusive and dynamic community.