LB Post: Local food banks suffering from lack of volunteers, funds during latest pandemic surge

Read the full story here.

James Collins spent Tuesday morning at the muffler shop, getting the O2 sensors on a couple of his vans replaced. The vans belong to the nonprofit organization Help Me Help You, which uses them to stock nine food banks for those in need.

The sensors were damaged on Christmas Eve, when thieves stole the vans’ catalytic converters. Though there was security footage of the crime, Collins, Help Me Help You’s food services manager, said it wasn’t conclusive.

The thefts happened at a rough time for Help Me Help You. The organization, which provides fresh and pre-packaged groceries to nearly 50,000 Long Beach residents each month through its pantries around the city, has even worse problems, which mirror those of food banks nationwide.

“Across the board, we’re seeing fewer numbers of individuals showing up,” Collins said. It used to be that 12 to 20 volunteers would show up to help distribute food on Fridays, one of the biggest days of the week for the organization’s food pantry services, he said. “Now, I’m lucky to get four to six.”

Food banks all over the country are dealing with a shortage of volunteers because of the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to the Associated Press. As a result, nonprofits that are already struggling because of supply chain issues and inflationary pressures are also scrambling to fill basic staffing needs.

Volunteers from Help Me Help You hand out pre-packaged groceries to those in need at the nonprofit organization’s Lincoln Elementary School food pantry. Undated photo courtesy James Collins

Collins at Help Me Help You says that despite the losses in volunteers, he’s still able to get food to their pantries throughout the month, even though the organization’s number of food pantries tripled since the start of the pandemic. But it’s difficult to find new people on social media sites dedicated to nonprofits.

Collins likes volunteers to both bag the groceries at their main hub as well as give out the food at their weekly food pantries, he said. It’s more meaningful to them, that way.

“If you come out and help someone else, it helps relieve some of the stress and strain on yourself,” he said.

Monica Diaz, a case manager at Catholic Charities of Long Beach, said her organization decided to proactively forgo using volunteers during the omicron wave of infections.

“We’re not getting any volunteers because of COVID,” she said. The organization is still getting food donations from various food finders, supermarkets and the like, she said.

Catholic Charities of Long Beach helps an estimated 100 to 300 people a week, according to Diaz.

Cal State Long Beach’s ASI Beach Pantry, which provides food for needy students, is also not using volunteers because of COVID-19, according to pantry coordinator Christina Limon.

“ASI has dedicated full-time and student staff operating the pantry,” said Limon.

But not all local food banks are dealing with shortages of volunteers. Julie Lie, the food network manager at the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion, which also runs nine pantries throughout the city, said her organization is suffering from a shortage of funds, not volunteers.

“There has been a good volume of people helping,” she said. “But in terms of operational costs, it’s been very challenging.”

Volunteers with Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion hand out food to those in need at the nonprofit organization’s food pantry at Christian Outreach in Action in Downtown Long Beach. Undated photo courtesy Emily Kazim

Because many federal food assistance grants like the CARES Act expired in recent months, Lie has had to increase her reliance on unpaid volunteers. Even so, the organization is still able to receive and distribute between 10,000 and 13,000 pounds of produce twice every month.

“It’s just not comfortable asking volunteers to do so much, but we just don’t have other alternatives,” Lie said. Lie said her organization has had to deal with this since at least the summer.

Lie said food network supply chain issues have also caused her organization problems, which in turn required her to look more creatively for solutions.

“I used to be able to buy chicken and meat, but haven’t been able to do that since April 2021,” Lie said. “The food bank provides canned tuna but it’s not the same as frozen chicken. I’m not sure how to remedy that, though the Mormon Church has a cattle and dairy farm in Utah. I just submitted a grant [to them] for 5,000 pounds of meat.”

Lie said her organization has been able to keep working through the pandemic by relying on a huge network of free food, which includes unclaimed produce from farms and food from supermarkets that has passed its shelf life. Though Lie said this free food supply chain is “quite robust,” it still doesn’t make up for the drop in operational funds.

“It’s a little discouraging on my end because I want to give our pantries stipends, but we haven’t been able to do that since last summer,” said Lie.

LBCEI opens doors to community donations to help fill the gaps for food pantries

10,000 pounds of food stacked in pallets sits in Rex Richardson’s field office waiting to be distributed to food pantries around the greater Long Beach area. The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion has been actively working to help underserved communities in the greater Long Beach area affected by food insecurity through their Long Beach Food Support Network. With help from 9 food pantry partners, Food Finders, the LA Regional Food Bank, Food Forward, and several community groups, the Food Support Network has been serving 1,500 households weekly.– ADVERTISEMENT –

In January, LBCEI partnered with Leadership Long Beach for the MLK Day of Service with a virtual project to collect care packages of hygiene kits and non-food items that were needed by guests of the food pantries. More than 300 care packages, 500 lbs. of food and paper products and over $1,500 were raised for the Long Beach Food Support Network. “After that event,” says LBCEI Food Manager Julie Lie, “we realized that people really want to help out and just don’t know how. So now we are here every Monday taking donations of the things our partner food pantries say they need the most.” While communities mobilized to help people get food, those same people — many of whom have been financially devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic — may not have funds to purchase basic household items like toothpaste, shampoo and facial tissues.

A current focus of the Food Support Network has been giving Long Beach’s food pantries COVID-19 education kits, which includes educational flyers, face masks and hand sanitizers. With the donations of full-sized shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and paper products from members of our communities, Food Network pantry guests will be able to obtain products they haven’t had easy access to for almost a year. “We are so grateful to have received basic hygiene products and paper goods from LBCEI to give to our pantry guests” says Pools of Hope executive food pantry director Pat Dixon, “we saw that having these products lifted their self-esteem.”

Part of the 10,000 pounds of fresh produce at the Food Hub received by Food Forward

Donations are accepted every Monday from 10 am to 2 pm at Vice Mayor Richardson’s field office at 6509 Gundry Ave, Long Beach CA 90805. Monetary contributions are also accepted, and all donated funds will be used to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and animal protein food items to supplement the bulk food donated to the pantries.

The Food Support Network is also looking for volunteers to help sort, organize, and deliver items the network is putting together. You can also help support food pantry partners directly by contacting them. Information on most-needed supplies, volunteering opportunities, a chance to donate online, and more can be found at If you are part of a community group or organization that would like to organize a hygiene kit donation drive, please email to schedule.

RELEASE: The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion Launches Search for New Executive Director

View the PDF press release | View the full job description

Media Contact: Jeff Williams
310.562.6665 |
For immediate release
8 March 2021

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion Launches Search for New Executive Director

Long Beach, CA – Today, the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) announced search for a new Executive Director (ED). LBCEI is a new nonprofit Community Development Corporation (CDC) with a mission to expand inclusive economic opportunities to build and sustain wealth for all communities in Long Beach.

Launched in March, 2020, the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion quickly adapted and responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by directing more than $1 Million in funding and resources into the community in the areas of small business support, digital technology, food security and housing support services. As Long Beach begins Economic Recovery, Director will build partnerships that will expand and ensure equitable economic opportunities across the city.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will have overall strategic and operational responsibility for LBCEI staff, strategic partnerships and their associated programs, organizational development & expansion, and execution of LBCEI’s mission. LBCEI envisions a Long Beach where entrepreneurs, youth, workers, and individuals have the tools and opportunities to successfully build vibrant neighborhoods, successful businesses, and healthy, resilient families. LBCEI will seek out organizations (nonprofits and small businesses) in the community that support economic opportunities and connect them to resources to help them expand or grow the work they are doing in underserved communities.

The Executive Director acts as chief spokesperson and advocate for LBCEI and is a key interface with community partners and financial supporters including corporations, foundations, and public agencies. The focus is on entrepreneurship and small business support; workforce and youth development; affordable housing and homeownership; and economic resiliency. The responsibilities and duties of the Executive Director are varied and may change at any time based upon the needs of the community and directive of the Board of Directors.

“The board is excited to find a great fit for the next phase for the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion,” said Board Chairman Bob Cabeza. “and continue the work to expand economic opportunities for families and small businesses in our community.”

The Board has retained the services of The Hawkins Company, a Los Angeles based executive search firm, to lead the executive director search process.

The position is open until filled. First consideration will be given to applications received by April 2, 2021. Confidential inquiries are encouraged and should be directed to Ms. Yonnine Hawkins Garr or Mr. Todd Hawkins of The Hawkins Company.

Mr. Todd Hawkins;,213-300-9342.

Ms. Yonnine Hawkins Garr;, 323-252-1655.

For additional information, view the full profile at


Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) is a 501(c)3 Community Development Corporation that expands inclusive economic opportunities to build and sustain wealth for all communities in Long Beach.

LBCEI values include:





LBCEI History: Establishing a Community Development Corporation (CDC) was an objective of the ‘Everyone In’ Economic Inclusion Initiative and an undertaking of a core group of community partners: Long Beach City Councilmember Rex Richardson, the ‘Everyone In’ Implementation Committee, Long Beach Community Action Partnership, Wells Fargo, and the City of Long Beach. In June 2019, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved the ‘Everyone In’ Implementation Plan, a comprehensive outline of five key recommendations that would help expand access to economic opportunity in the areas of Small Business and Diverse Entrepreneurship, Procurement, Workforce and Youth Development, Connectedness (Economic Resiliency), Housing and Homeownership. The recommendation to support the establishment of a Community Development Corporation (CDC) that facilitates economic development at the neighborhood-level was included in this package of economic inclusion recommendations. Following its approval, Wells Fargo provided a seed grant that was matched by the City of Long Beach to support the CDC’s startup process.

Gazettes: Long Beach Economic Inclusion Group Forms Food Support Network

Shortly after the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) formed last March, it found itself in the middle of efforts to help those suffering in the coronavirus pandemic.

One of LBCEI’s primary efforts was support of food pantries, particularly in the central, west and north parts of Long Beach. Building on those efforts, LBCEI last week announced creation of the Food Support Network.

Since April 2020, LBCEI and its food pantry and neighborhood partners have served more than 1,500 households each week by providing food staples, according to a release. The distribution system gradually evolved through grant funding for equipment and creation of a Food Hub at Vice Mayor and Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson’s field office at 6509 Gundry Ave.

Rather than try to reinvent a distribution system, LBCEI reached out to area churches and nonprofits already serving those in need, according to Julie Lie, LBCEI food network manager. Partnerships with Long Beach Food Finders (the food recovery nonprofit) and the LA Regional Food Bank significantly increased the amount and variety of food available.

In addition to the Food Hub, a grant from the Long Beach Community Foundation was used to buy refrigerators and freezers to increase storage capacity. That in turn allowed LBCEI to buy 20,000 pounds of frozen chicken to distribute over time, according to the release.

“LBCEI’s Food Hub has allowed us to be more intentional and increase the efficiency of available food resources,” Lie said in a release. “This centralized approach has really improved the operations of the food pantries to better meet the needs in their communities.”

Today, the Food Hub receives, repackages and coordinates delivery of 15,000 pounds of food boxes every other week.

The newly formalized Food Support Network includes nine churches and nonprofits as well as two neighborhood associations — AOC7 and the Collins Neighborhood Association. The neighborhood associations coordinate one-day food distribution events and the nine pantry partners get LBCEI food deliveries on a staggered schedule. A multilingual flyer letting people know when and where food is available is distributed in neighborhoods, as well.

Another plus of the network, Lie said, is the ability to distribute other needed material and information. For example, the network was used to give out more than 250 laptops and hot spots from the city. Hygiene kits and other non-food items (think toilet paper) have been given out as well.

After a successful partnership with Leadership Long Beach during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, LBCEI has set up a weekly donation collection — go to for more.

LBCEI is funded by the city of Long Beach and Wells Fargo Bank, along with grants from multiple sources, including CARES Act grants through the city. For more information about donating or volunteering, go to

Original Source

Signal Tribune: Local food pantries and neighborhood groups join Long Beach Food Support Network to fight hunger

Local food pantries and neighborhood groups have teamed up under the guidance of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) to form the Long Beach Food Support Network, with the goal of distributing free food to low income residents of Long Beach.

When creating the Long Beach Food Support Network, the LBCEI contacted nonprofits and churches that were already feeding those in low income communities in Long Beach. Some food pantries in the network have been active in the community for years, according to a press release by LBCEI.

After the coronavirus pandemic arrived in March 2020, many people faced economic insecurity and had difficulties affording groceries. Since April 2020, the food pantries and neighborhood groups currently involved in the Long Beach Food Support Network have been providing food to a total of over 1,500 households weekly.

“We are grateful to our food partners who have joined together to help provide for those most in need in our underserved communities of North, Central and West Long Beach,” LBCEI Board Chair Bob Cabeza said.

Nine food pantries and two neighborhood associations have joined the Long Beach Food Support Network. The LBCEI worked with food pantries to plan a staggered schedule and distributed multi-lingual fliers throughout low income communities in the city to inform residents about when and where they can pick up free food throughout the week.

The two participating neighborhood groups, AOC7 and Collins Neighborhood, also hold single-day food distribution events.

To help provide groups involved in the network with food to distribute, the LBCEI has partnered with the Long Beach based food recovery nonprofit Food Finders and the L.A. Regional Food Bank.

In order to store the increased supply of food before it is distributed through the nonprofits and neighborhood groups, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson created the LBCEI Food Hub at his field office in North Long Beach. A grant from the Long Beach Community Foundation paid for freezers and refrigerators so the food pantries could hold more groceries.

The Food Hub now receives and distributes 15,000 pounds of food in boxes every two weeks. Recently, LBCEI bought 20,000 pounds of frozen chicken, which will be distributed weekly to Long Beach Food Support Network partners.

“LBCEI’s Food Hub has allowed us to be more intentional and increase the efficiency of available food resources,” Julie Lie, LBCEI Food Network Manager, said. “This centralized approach has really improved the operations of the food pantries to better meet the needs in their communities.”

The City of Long Beach has also granted LBCEI several CARES Act grants, with a recent grant being used to buy fresh produce, animal protein and dairy products.

Food pantries and neighborhood groups involved in the Long Beach Food Support Network are also used to disseminate other important resources, including 250 free laptops and wifi hotspots as part of the City of Long Beach’s Digital Inclusion efforts, financial literacy information and COVID safety information. The network is also assisting in COVID vaccine roll out efforts.

LBCEI also partnered with Leadership Long Beach during the MLK Day of Service in January to collect hygiene kits and non food items needed by community members assisted by the food pantries. After an online campaign, the project collected 300 care packages, 500 pounds of food and paper products and more than $1,500 for the Long Beach Food Support Network.

Due to the success of this fundraising project, LBCEI is now accepting donations weekly on Mondays.

More information, a list of items that are needed for donation, drop off times and locations of Long Beach Food Support Network partners can be found on LBCEI’s website.

Besides funding from the City, LBCEI receives financial support from the Long Beach Community Foundation, HOPE Foundation, United Way, Supervisor Janice Hahn and more.

Original Source

Youth-led food giveaway coming to Ramona Park in North Long Beach

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion is hosting a drive-thru food giveaway for residents struggling with food insecurity near Ramona Park next week.– ADVERTISEMENT –

The event is will take place on Aug. 29 from 9 to 11 a.m. at 3301 E. 65th St.

Montserrat Pineda is a University of Redlands student who is collecting food donations and putting the event together.

“Accessibility is important to me,” she said in a statement. “I’m excited to bring food resources to my own community during such a difficult time.”

The organization is hoping to feed 100 families living in the area.

People interested in volunteering during the event can sign up by clicking here.


Community Development Corporation Thrown Into Coronavirus Fray

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion formed in early March, a careful construct out of the Everyone In equity efforts.

Plans called for a ramp-up period to consider different  programs that would have the most impact, then begin putting them in place.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

“We were incorporated in March, and thought we might have some programs start by June,” said Bob Cabeza, chair of the LBCEI board and recently retired vice president for community development for the Long Beach Area YMCA. “Then in one go we had to get up to warp speed. We made the decision to really invest in the low income community of color, where the need was immediate.”

Cabeza, his board and interim executive director Jeff Williams looked for where programs could start immediately. They decided to focus on three areas — food needs, lack of technology and help to small businesses.

LBCEI was an outgrowth of the Everyone In equity effort started by Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson, who got approval from the entire City Council to move forward with initiatives. LBCEI is the community development corporation designed to help underrepresented families and small businesses in north, central and west Long Beach.

A budget of $250,000 was set for the #InThisTogether campaign, LBCEI’s response to the pandemic emergency. The money came from Wells Fargo Bank, BRIDGE Development Partners and Richardson’s office. Once the campaign started, United Way, LISC-LA and the Long Beach Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund offered more financial support.

“We partnered with community nonprofits to work on the food security issue,” Cabeza said. “We helped a lot of small business owners fill out grant forms and the like. And we focused on seniors who were isolated and in need of food.”

A partnership with nine churches and nonprofits beefed up a chain of nine food pantries to serve those in need. LBCEI worked with Food Finders and other sources to increase the amount of food available.

At the same time, a partnership with Organic Harvest Gardens allowed delivery of produce and staples to more than 300 home-bound seniors. The United Cambodian Community and Heart of Ida help there.

Williams said in an email that work has begun to make these programs sustainable over a longer period of time.

Cabeza gets passionate when he talks about efforts to help small businesses — especially those owned by Blacks and other minorities.

“It’s in our name — economic inclusion for all,” he said. “We focus on the small, mom and pop stores. This will take you to the underbelly of Long Beach, the poverty that’s the reality for many… The city has to change, to move resources to address these issues.

“Study history, and you’ll see that Black, (Asian), Brown people have been shut out of the White economy. It’s a matter of generational wealth. We can only change that with education and resources. These people need a leg up.”

In addition to helping owners apply for government grants, LBCEI has created a Small Business Navigators program to coach owners with business plans, information and marketing. A Kiva loan fund has been created to offer micro-loans to those needing help through the COVID-19 crisis, and a special focus on more than 150 small businesses in north Long Beach has been carried out.

Another initiative specifically targets barber shops and hair salons. These small businesses have had an especially hard time surviving the shutdown, and again are owned almost exclusively by minorities.

Finally, LBCEI has donated 200 laptop computers to families and students who otherwise would not have access to technology. The agency also is advocating for lower cost internet access.

“We wanted to help those college kids living in cars,” Cabeza said. “We work with those who are going to college despite poverty. Education is their way out, and we want to help them.”

For more information about LBCEI, its programs or to get involved, go to


Carl Kemp

Environmental Health Public Affairs Manager,
LA County Department of Public Health

Carl Kemp is currently the Environmental Health Public Affairs Manager with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and has more than 20 years of experience in communications and public affairs. Prior to joining Public Health, Carl managed his own government affairs and public relations practice with a wide range of clients from international shipping to major non-profits. He also created the Office of Government Affairs and Communication in the City of Long Beach, and went on to create the Office of Government Affairs and Community Relations at the Port of Long Beach.

Kemp has a long history of community involvement in the Long Beach area, including earning a B.A. and MPA from California State University, Long Beach, where he served two terms as student body present. He also has earned a certificate in Executive Leadership from the Harvard University School of Government. He has developed messaging around many major initiatives from local to federal government, including the Green Port Policy at the Port of Long Beach. Over the years, Carl has served on many boards and has been blessed to be involved in numerous initiatives to improve the community and contribute to the people within it.

Carl’s proudest accomplishment is being a father.


Growth Small Business, LLC

Vivian Shimoyama has directed initiatives for public, non-profit, and private sector organizations setting strategic vision, and managing organization growth which resulted in economic impact. She is a recognized expert on small businesses and has advocated for thousands of small business owners through local, state, national and international initiatives. Dedicated to growing small businesses she heads two ventures — Growth Small Business, LLC and is the Chief Operating Officer of Scale Smarter Partners, these firms accelerate business growth through guided tools that allow companies to thrive. She advises and advocates for small businesses in a range of industries with outcomes that lead to opening doors of opportunity for entrepreneurs, strategic positioning, and focus on building operations infrastructure necessary to support growth. 

Most recently, Ms. Shimoyama was the Regional Executive Director of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) Initiative for Southern California. She built a regional team and worked with national organizations to create jobs and economic growth by providing entrepreneurs with a practical business and management education program, access to capital, and business advisory support services.

She is the Chair Emeritus of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Board, National Association of Women Business Owners, and NAWBO Education Foundation, and advisor to the California Small Business Education Foundation, and University of Southern California Small Business Supplier Diversity Office. 

As a national and international leader, she has served as an appointee to the National Women’s Business Council, an independent federal government advisory council that advises the President and U.S. Congress on issues important to women owned businesses. Ms. Shimoyama has served as an elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business; was a member of the U.S. delegation and facilitator for the landmark 10 Downing Street Economic Summit headed by the U.K. government; U.S. delegate to the Asia-Pacific (APEC) Women and the Economy Summit, bringing together private and public sector leaders for women’s economic empowerment.  

Ms. Shimoyama has been honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners, and received the National Women In Business Advocate Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). In 2020, she was selected by the New York Museum of Arts and Design as one of 45 artists that have made significant developments in art jewelry since the mid- century: 45 Stories in Jewelry: 1946 to Now features pieces and jewelry artists in the past eighty years that have broadened the scope and reach of art as a wearable medium. Shimoyama Studio is located in downtown Long Beach where her fused glass artwork is displayed along with her creation The Glass Ceiling Pin that has received national recognition for breaking invisible barriers … glass ceilings.


Pastor- Antioch Church, LB

Wayne Chaney personifies the contemporary spiritual leader. He uniquely bridges people from different generations, cultures, and demographics through his relevant teaching and architecture of spirited worship atmospheres. His rich family heritage of clergyman fuels his genuine love for people. He stewards a five-decade legacy left by his grandfather, Joe Chaney, Jr. as he pastors Antioch Church of Long Beach. Wayne’s determination to shift culture is permeated throughout his ministry expression, oratory and brand tentacles.

Wayne has never been satisfied with status quo so whether it is a national television show, radio show, church congregation, regional festival, or by feeding thousands of people every month, he is destined to make a difference. Chaney is the visionary of the Long Beach Gospel Fest, the city’s premier gospel event held on the beautiful shores of downtown Long Beach. This yearly gathering brings politicians, business owners, gospel singers, and over 25,000 people together for inspiration, worship and music. “Beyond the gospel music, we are witnessing the addition of something new and wonderful to Long Beach,” he said to the Los Angeles Times.

He is strongly engaged civically as the former President of the California National African American Network, SBC, Board Member of the National African American Network, and on the Executive Board of the California Southern Baptist Convention. Pastor Chaney serves on the Executive Board of Global Tribe International, whose mission is to rescue those in physical and spiritual poverty, reach communities with the gospel and recruit and empower young leaders. He is also the president emeritus of the Long Beach Ministers Alliance.

Pastor Chaney has added published author to his expanding repertoire as his novel Your Miraculous Potential: Maximizing God’s Creativity, Power and Direction is now available at retailers everywhere.


Director, CSULB Center For Civic Engagement

Dr. Juan M. Benitez is a father, educator, and community leader dedicated to Long Beach. He serves as the Executive Director for the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) and as an Associate Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB).

With over 20 years of experience in higher education, Juan heads university-wide community engagement projects, programs, activities, and initiatives. He has helped raise close to $3 million in funding for projects in the region, working with over 100 nonprofit organizations and community groups as well as thousands of students and community members.

Through his work with the CCE, Juan helped to implement The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative in Long Beach, a 10-year effort to improve neighborhood conditions that contribute to good health. Juan also worked with AmeriCorps and community groups to create a collaborative vision to address youth development, parent engagement, equity and opportunity gaps, and school discipline issues in Long Beach schools.

Juan is also the proud son of hard-working immigrants from Mexico who came to the United States to pursue a better life for their family and achieve the American Dream.

Juan was elected to the Long Beach Unified School District Board, Third District, in June 2018.

Bob Cabeza

Retired Senior Vice President of Community Development,
YMCA of Greater Long Beach

Mr. Cabeza has thirty-nine years of experience in youth development, group work, community development, administration and digital technology programming resulting in the ability to build and lead unique programs designed to better the lives of children, youth and families.  Mr. Cabeza has worked in both community development, community engagement and group work with both children, youth and families for the YMCA, Foundation for the Junior Blind and Village Camps / ETR Tours in Switzerland. His special emphasis has been to help diverse youth develop good interpersonal and working relationships with each other through both the Youth Institute and Change Agent Productions. 

Mr. Cabeza has a special focus on youth development, economic and technology equity for underserved communities as it relates to developing social, emotional, academic and workforce success.  Prior to becoming Senior Vice President of Community Development, he served as Executive Director with the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, YMCA Youth Institute Director, Associate Executive Director of the Ketchum YMCA in Los Angeles, Youth Services Director for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach, and Director of Camp and Recreation Services for The Foundation for the Junior Blind.

He is the founder and creator of both the YMCA Youth Institute and Change Agent Productions social enterprise. He is a fellow of the ZeroDivide Foundation Z-Fellows Program and has been a panelist and presenter at several national conferences.  Mr. Cabeza is the first non-school-based educator to be named an Apple Distinguished Educator by Apple Inc.


Executive Director - Miller Foundation​

Darick J. Simpson, currently serves as the president and CEO of the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation — one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the city. He formerly served as the executive director of Long Beach Community Action Partnership.

Simpson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Alabama and a master’s in organizational management from the University of Phoenix, led LBCAP for the last 13 years. The nonprofit assists youth and families to reach self-sustainability.

Under Simpson’s direction, LBCAP became Long Beach’s public access television broadcast outlet and started a training program for youth in the performing arts and broadcast journalism. He grew LBCAP from a staff of 24 with a $1.3 million budget to an agency with a $10 million budget and 80 staff members.

A resident of Long Beach, Darick is a recognized leader in the community. Additionally, Mr. Simpson has served on various national, state, and regional boards including the PBS SoCal Advisory Board and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Commission.

Sharon Diggs-Jackson

Program Director, Elite Skills Development​

Sharon Jackson’s professional career includes 12 years with IBM where she served as an auditor and administrative branch manager.  Her 20-year career with the City of Long Beach included serving as an Analyst in the Long Beach Police Department’s Narcotics and Crime Analysis Divisions and Coordinator of the Neighborhood Nuisance Abatement Program. For the final 10 years of her career she was the city’s Airport Public Affairs Officer.

Following her retirement in 2009, Sharon, and her husband David, began a journey to discover and connect with their family roots that landed them in Selma, AL, where they purchased and renovated a historic home in Downtown Selma.  The home has been used as a center for racial healing and social action and a learning center for students studying the Civil War, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Movement.

A student of history, Sharon is an trained genealogist and author of, Images of America:SELMA. Published in November 2014, the book has been very well received and is now in its second printing. 

Currently, Sharon serves as the Program Officer for Elite Skills Development, a non-profit organization that provides services to create pathways to self-sustainability for at-risk and under-resourced youth and young adults.

Sharon is a member of the Long Beach City College Citizen Oversight Committee, a board member of the Long Beach African American Cultural Center, the Executive Committee of the Selma Annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc-Long Beach Alumnae Chapter and The Links, Inc.


Antioch Church | Carl Kemp

Antioch LB | Wayne Chaney, Jr.

City of Long Beach, Economic Development | John Keisler

City of Long Beach, Economic Development | Rebecca Kauma

City of Long Beach, Health Dept. | Katie Balderas 

City of Long Beach, Health Dept. | Kelly Colopy

Council District 9 | Rex Richardson

Council District 9, City of Long Beach | Alanah Grant

CSULB | Juan Benitez

CSULB Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship | Wade Martin

Elite Skills Development | Sharon Diggs-Jackson

Growth Small Business, LLC | Vivian Shimoyama

Habitat for Humanity | Dinesa Thomas-Whitman

LA County | Herlinda Chico

LA LISC | Tunua Thrash-NtukLandspire Group | Treana Allen

LB Economic Development Commission | Jessica Schumer

LB Forward | Petit Christine

LB Opera | Derrell Acon

LBCAP | Darick Simpson

LBCAP | Marisa Semense

LBUSD | Kim Johnson

LINC Housing | Suny Lay Chang

Our Essence Beauty Supply | Deidre Norville

Pacific6 | Brandon Dowling

PGWIN | Nick Schultz

PGWIN Board | Weston LaBar

POLB | Bonnie Lowenthal

Pride Real Estate Professional Association | Jacqueline Case

PV Jobs | Erik Miller

Ronnie’s House | Shirin Senegal

SHS Connections | Shawna Stevens

SoCal Grantmakers | Seyron Foo

United Cambodian Community, Midtown BID | Susana Sngiem,

Uptown BID | Doris Felix

Uptown BID | Joni Ricks-Odie

Uptown BID | Tom Carpenter

Urban Agriculture Council | Rod Dodd

USC Small Business Diversity Office | Rhonda Thornton

Villages at Cabrillo | Rene Castro

Wells Fargo | Linda Nguyen


Elite Skills Development | Sharon Diggs-Jackson 

Office of Councilmember Rex Richardson | Alanah Grant