Long Beach community comes together for free laundry

Wavemax Laundromat in Long Beach had a busy start to their free laundry event on Feb 17.

Basic needs student assistant, Stephanie Vasquez participates in the free laundry day catered for LBCC students on Feb.17 at Wavemax laundromat. (Desary Vailencour)

From 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the first 150 people to arrive received a voucher for a maximum of 6 loads of free laundry along with soap, softener, and snacks. 

Over 40 people arrived within the first hour, and more than 350 loads of laundry were completed by the end of the day.

During the event patrons were offered flyers with information for other basic support needs, such as free wifi hotspots, technical support and local food pantries scattered all around the Los Angeles County area.

Participants learned about this resource through multiple avenues of advertising, both online and in person, like Instagram and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.

Wavemax owner Melissa Doupounce has teamed up with multiple nonprofit organizations as well as our campus’s basic needs department to make this event happen.

Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion hires new Executive Director

Emily Kazim, who previously served as an LBECI program manager, will take over the position effective immediately.

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion — a community development corporation that works to create more inclusive economic and wealth-building opportunities throughout the city — has hired a new permanent executive director after a monthslong search, the organization announced on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Emily Kazim, who worked as the Life Family Center’s director prior to joining the LBCEI as a Food Support Program manager, will take over the organization’s helm effective immediately.

As executive director, Kazim will act as the LBCEI’s chief spokesperson and community liaison with a focus on bolstering entrepreneurship, small business support, workforce and youth development, affordable housing and homeownership, and economic resiliency for Long Beach residents from all walks of life.

Over the last thee years, LBCEI has provided basic needs to 4,500 households per month through partnerships with various agencies, the press release said — and has directed more than $1 million a year back to residents, small businesses and partner organizations. Last year, for example, the LBCEI launched a Black Wealth Initiative that helped more than 140 Black households embark on the path to first-time homeownership.

Beach Voices: CSULB student discovers the power of internships through College Corps

I grew up in Long Beach surrounded by gang violence, substance abuse and mental health issues. 

At my sister’s 10th birthday party, we were confined inside because there was a gang doing an initiation outside in the alley.  

At 15, one of my close friends was shot on a Sunday afternoon. Another one of my friends passed away from overdosing on fentanyl.  

Another friend was killed in front of his home. My brother’s best friend was murdered walking out of a liquor store, over mistaken identity.  

I know a student who was homeless, and most nights, he would walk around the city until the school campus opened.  

One thing that is clear to me is that as a community we are hurting. It is a different kind of hurt when you look at childhood photos and the people in them are no longer here. I love Long Beach; this is where I come from. But this city has also taken so much from me and the families around me that for a long time I did not know what to do.  

It took me five years to transfer from LBCC to Cal State Long Beach. It was hard because I did not know what I did to deserve my life or even the opportunities I had been given. I isolated myself from everyone I loved and cared about.  

I was angry at what the world had taken from me and my community. I was angry at what the world did not offer me and my community. I was angry because I knew that the community that we made together was created out of our need for survival and I hated it. We were not expected to thrive like other people. Just surviving was good enough.  

As I go to classes, I often think about how people like me do not go here. There might be Long Beach students here, but the majority do not know what I have gone through. The handful of people from my community that I do know at this school, of course, major in community-centered fields. I think to myself how lucky I am to be here and how I must finish to prove to everyone that someone with my background can make something of herself.  

In April of 2022, I got an email regarding a paid internship opportunity to do something within the local community with College Corps. I want to be a lawyer that helps with crime, juvenile reform, and policy and I was unaware of how competitive law school is.  

I knew that my resume and academic record were weak and an internship in my community would be perfect. I would be able to learn about what the community needs while making lifelong connections and honestly a reference for law school.  

Shayna Briseno-Brooks (second from the left) is shown with (from left) Jeff Williams, then-executive director of LBCEI; volunteer Magaly Chavez and Emily Kazim, Shayna’s supervisor.

I was lucky enough to be chosen by the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI). I started working at LBCEI in September and I can honestly say that it has changed my world. This organization operates on the needs of the community, and I learned that very fast.  

Emily Kazim, my supervisor, and Jeff Williams, then-executive director of LBCEI (now the director of Community Engagement in Mayor Richardson’s office) are the most amazing and caring people. 

I’m not treated like a student intern who is just here to complete her hours. I’m treated like an equal and my opinion is taken into consideration with everything we do.  

I have had the perfect balance of the fun, community-facing side of things with community events and pantry work, but also administrative work that is equally important, although it may not be as fun. Emily talks positively about me in rooms that I am not even in, and where I come from, that speaks volumes. 

Organic Harvest Gardens: Feeding People. Building Community.

Organic Harvest Gardens in North Long Beach is a pleasant surprise when you visit it. Tucked behind two apartment buildings off of Atlantic Avenue and up against the 91 Freeway, organic fresh crops are taking root and sprouting hope. 

PalacioMagazine.com and the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) have partnered to produce a series of video stories on LBCEI’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

LBCEI partnered with Organic Harvest Gardens (OHG) to provide delivery of fresh, local, organic produce to over 300 homebound seniors.  The following video features OHG co-founder Rod Dodd and was produced in partnership with Antonio Ruiz of PalacioMagazine.com 

More on Organic Harvest Gardens

Organic Harvest Gardens

(From their website: organicharvestgardens.com) 

“At Organic Harvest Gardens, we are two University of California Certified Master Gardeners, who head up a team of committed and passionate organic vegetable gardeners, farmers and general landscapers. With over 25 years of collective experience in organic vegetable gardening and landscaping, you can rest assure that you are in capable and professional hands. 

Rod, Master Gardener and our Director of Farm/Garden Design. Rod is a retired Staff Research Associate/Animal Resource Manager for USC, UCLA and the Veterans Administration. He is also a trained world traveled professional Chef, specializing in all types of cuisine, with an emphasis on Organic cooking. 

Adam, a highly-skilled Master Gardener, has an extensive background in horticulture, garden centers, retail nurseries, and private/commercial estates. He is a Certified Irrigation Repair Technician from Irrigator Technical Training School, as well as, the Long Beach Chapter President. 
We, at Organic Harvest Gardens, are zealous and dedicated in assisting you in your desire to live a greener lifestyle. We make it our priority to hold every client in high esteem, from the smallest to the largest. It is our goal to design, build, and maintain the garden that you deserve, from handcrafted garden beds to the very best nutritional and flavor-packed veggies you could never purchase from the grocery store.” 

Source: https://palaciomagazine.com/organic-harvest-gardens-feeding-people-building-community/

Connecting Our Children to The Future: The Laptop Giveaway

Connecting to the internet became an even greater challenge for Long Beach parents and students with the Covid-19 pandemic and the move to remote education. Families faced difficult choices: access technology to help bridge the digital divide or watch their children fall behind. The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) took on the challenge of a world of remote education. As they describe on their website, “The Long Beach community, especially those most vulnerable, will fall behind without access to technology.” The consequences are that this will result in an even greater divide in “…the inequitable distribution of resources across the city.”  

LBCEI rushed in to help.

They partnered with Long Beach-based human-I-T to distribute refurbished laptops to families and students in North, Central, and West Long Beach. The laptops went to students of the YMCA’s Early Childhood Education and Youth Institute programs, Long Beach City College students and families served by local nonprofits, including United Cambodian Community and Long Beach Day Nursery. 

PalacioMagazine.com partnered with the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion to document the impact on the YMCA’s Early Childhood Education and Youth Institute program and the students they serve.

Long Beach City College also took part in the distribution and documented it.  

Source: https://palaciomagazine.com/connecting-our-children-to-the-future-the-laptop-giveaway/


The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) presented Long Beach City College (LBCC) a donation of 100 Chromebook laptop computers for LBCC students on Mon., June 22 as part of the citywide #InThisTogetherLB pandemic emergency response campaign.

Together, LBCEI and LBCC distributed the 100 Chromebooks during an event at the Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library to incoming LBCC students who live in North Long Beach.

The #InThisTogetherLB campaign has been LBCEI’s pandemic emergency response initiative that directed $250,000 of program funding primarily from BRIDGE Development Partners, along with funding from Wells Fargo and the Office of Long Beach Councilmember Rex Richardson to support under-served families and underrepresented small businesses in North, Central and West Long Beach over the past two months. Funds have supported #InThisTogetherLB partner agencies in their community crisis relief efforts, including the contribution of Chromebooks refurbished by human-I-T for LBCC and YMCA students.

LBCEI, a community development corporation, aims to create an environment where everyone, including students, has a seat at the table and an opportunity to thrive. Youth development is a critical program element of the organization. One of LBCEI’s #InThisTogether goals has included getting technology into the hands of young people in most need – especially in light of mandated online classroom instruction that students must currently participate in during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wells Fargo was the initial funding partner for LBCEI.

Please see the following quotes below from the partner organizations.

“Our current health and economic emergency has had a profound impact on how we access work, health, and education, forcing students and families without access to internet and technology off a digital cliff,” said Councilmember Rex Richardson. “I’m proud to support our incoming students from Uptown by providing these Chromebooks as a critical resource for their success.”

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, it closed access to resources that our LBCC students depended on to complete their class assignments, including our valuable computer labs,” saidLong Beach Community College District Board of Trustees VicePresident Uduak-Joe Ntuk. “I’m grateful for this generous donation and our community partners who stood up to meet this moment and stand with us to address the digital divide that unfortunately impedes too many of our students from North Long Beach.”

“LBCC provided 300 loaner Chromebooks to students since we moved our classes to remote learning,” said Long Beach Community College District Interim Superintendent-President Lou Anne Bynum. “A large number of our students do not have a laptop or computer at home. But this generous gift from LBCEI, the BRIDGE Development Partners and human-I-T have provided a more permanent solution for our students and their families.”

“When you’re the Chair of a Board and get to see young people have access, it makes it all worthwhile. We are proud of our youth who are working so hard to build their dreams. Youth development is critical to economic inclusion,” shared Bob Cabeza, Chair of LBCEI.

“This is a great event. Promoting educational equity in our community is the kind of cause that Bridge is proud to get behind. This means everything to us and we’re excited to be a part of it,” said Rosendo Solis, Senior Director of Development at BRIDGE Development Partners.

“What’s great about an event like this is that people have come together. They’ve pivoted to help each other, their neighbors, their communities, their friends and people in need. There’s no better example like what we’re doing today, which is getting this collaboration of partners that are helping our young people move ahead,” expressed Gabe Middleton, CEO of human-I-T.

Source: https://www.precinctreporter.com/2020/06/29/laptops-gifted-to-100-incoming-lbcc-students/

Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion donates 100 laptops for students at Long Beach City College

In an attempt to help students who are forced to work at home, the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) has donated 100 Chromebook Laptops to Long Beach City College (LBCC).

The laptops were donated at an event held on Monday, June 22, at the Michelle Obama Library. 

According to the LBCEI, the goal of the donation is to help provide access to student who may not have computers at home, but may need one as the COVID-19 health crisis forces schools to take classes online. 

“When the coronavirus pandemic hit, it closed access to resources that our LBCC students depended on to complete their class assignments, including our valuable computer labs,” said Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees Vice President Uduak-Joe Ntuk. “I’m grateful for this generous donation and our community partners who stood up to meet this moment and stand with us to address the digital divide that unfortunately impedes too many of our students from North Long Beach.”

The donation was part of the #InThisTogether campaign which is meant to help underserved and underrepresented families in North, Central and West Long Beach. 

The program is funded by $250,000 of funding by BRIDGE Development Partners, as well as funding from Wells Fargo and the office of Councilmember Rex Richardson. 

“Our current health and economic emergency has had a profound impact on how we access work, health, and education, forcing students and families without access to internet and technology off a digital cliff,” said Councilmember Rex Richardson. “I’m proud to support our incoming students from Uptown by providing these Chromebooks as a critical resource for their success.”

Source: https://signaltribunenewspaper.com/50357/news/long-beach-center-for-economic-inclusion-donates-100-laptops-for-students-at-long-beach-city-college/

Long Beach Economic Inclusion Center, newly formed, adapts quickly to help people overcome coronavirus


The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion faced a test with life-or-death consequences almost as soon as it formed — and has so far, it seems, succeeded.

The center, which grew out of the Everyone In Economic Inclusion Implementation Plan that the City Council approved last year, incorporated in March; its ultimate goal is to launch programs that would create equity in Long Beach, a city that has long seen disparities in various quality-of-life indicators — income, health, technology access —  between the white population and people of color, especially the Black community.

The organization’s initial plan was to have a ramp-up period to consider which programs would have the most impact before putting them in place. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.

So the center adapted. It nixed the ramp-up, decided to focus its efforts on reducing food insecurity, improving technology and helping small businesses — hit hard when the stay-at-home orders forced all non-essential businesses to close in an effort to stem the spread of the virus — in low-income communities of color. The center’s #InThisTogether campaign began with a $250,000 budget and has so far helped increase supplies at nine food pantries, provided healthy meals to 300 home-bound seniors, donated laptops to low-income students and helped small businesses apply for government assistance.

“In one go, we had to get up to warp speed,” said Bob Cabeza, chair of the LBCEI board. “We made the decision to really invest in the low income community of color, where the need was immediate.”

Once the pandemic changed the center’s plans, Cabeza, his board and interim Executive Director Jeff Williams worked on securing money to help fund programs they could get off the ground quickly. Money came in from Wells Fargo Bank, BRIDGE Development Partners and the office of Ninth District Councilmember Rex Richardson, who led the creation of the Everyone In plan, which was largely designed to help underrepresented families in north, central and west Long Beach.

Once the #InThisTogether campaign started, United Way, LISC-LA and the Long Beach Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund offered more financial support.

Then, the real work began.

“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.”

The LBCEI also worked with the nonprofit Food Finders and other sources to increase the amount of food available at various food pantries and partnered with Organic Harvest Gardens to deliver produce and staples to more than 300 seniors.

Now, the center has begun working to make those programs sustainable over the long term, Williams, the center’s executive director, said in an email.

Cabeza became passionate when he talked 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,” Cabeza added, “to move resources to address these issues.”

The center has also helped small-business owners apply for government grants, and created a Small Business Navigators program to help owners come up with business plans, and perform marketing. A loan fund has also been created to offer micro-loans to those needing help during the coronavirus pandemic.

LBCEI’s third goal, narrowing the technology gap, has so far included donating 200 laptops to families and students who couldn’t otherwise afford them. The agency is also 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.”

Source: https://www.presstelegram.com/2020/07/01/long-beach-economic-inclusion-center-newly-formed-adapts-quickly-to-help-people-overcome-coronavirus/

Nine new food pantries set to open across Long Beach to serve vulnerable communities

SIGNAL TRIBUNE | May 11, 2020

In an effort to help feed people during the ongoing health crisis, nine new food pantries will be opening across Long Beach.

On Monday, May 11, the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI) announced that it will be working with Councilmember Rex Richardson and Food Finders to open the pantries as part of its “In This Together Long Beach” emergency initiative.

“We are very excited to help add additional pantries in much needed areas in Long Beach,” Diana Lara, Food Finders Executive Director, said in a press release.

“We will provide as much nonperishable and perishable food as we can for these pantries so they can help residents that live in food desert areas that don’t have grocery stores nearby.”

According to a press release, the ongoing pandemic has seen a number of food pantries close– limiting access to fresh, healthy food for many neighborhoods.

The pantries will offer weekly distributions of food, and some will offer additional food services, such as to-go meals.

The new initiative will partner with religious organizations across Long Beach to set up locations across North, West, Central and Downtown Long Beach.

• Pools of Hope – Thursdays from 2pm-4pm and Saturdays from 11am-1pm at 6801 Long Beach Boulevard
• Church One Ministries – Mondays-Fridays from 11am-1pm at 700 70th Street
• Light and Life Christian Fellowship – Mondays from 12pm-1pm at 5951 Downey Avenue
• North Long Beach Prayer Center – Fridays from 7am-1:30pm at 5239 Atlantic Avenue

• Grant A.M.E. Church – Wednesdays from 9am-2pm at 1129 Alamitos Avenue

• Fountain of Life Covenant Church – Thursdays from 9am-3pm at 2060 Santa Fe Avenue

• Urban Community Outreach* – Sundays from 1:30-3pm at 241 Cedar Avenue
• Christian Outreach in Action* – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am-12pm at 515 E 3rd Street
*To-Go meals are also offered at this site

LBCEI and Food Finders plan to stock each pantry with fresh and frozen produce, protein sources and meat, shelf-stable food and dried goods.

Due to the pandemic, Food Finders is expecting to provide an additional three million pounds of food to Southern California residents compared to last year.

To donate, residents can visit Food Finders at 10539 Humboldt St. in Los Alamitos be tween 8am-5pm. To volunteer, visit www.foodfinders.org or look for their volunteer app on any app store.

To find out more about LBCEI and “In This Together” visit lbcei.org/inthistogether.

Source: https://signaltribunenewspaper.com/49090/community/nine-new-food-pantries-set-to-open-across-long-beach-to-serve-vulnerable-communities/

Coalition, Churches Partner To Create Food Pantry Network

THE GRUNYON / GAZETTES.COM | By Harry Saltzgaver | May 11, 2020

A new partnership spearheaded by the Center for Economic Inclusion and relying on area churches has created a network of food pantries in the poorer parts of Long Beach.

Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson announced the coalition last week while promoting a one-time food distribution that took place last Saturday at Jordan High School in north Long Beach. That distribution had people in cars lined up literally for miles, demonstrating the need for food, Richardson said.

In his announcement Richardson said he worked with council members Roberto Uranga (Seventh District) and Mary Zendejas (First  District) to create the coalition. Partners include Food Finders, the Ninth District Council Office and the Center for Economic Inclusion. It is part of the #InThisTogether initiative, Richardson said.

The partnership covers parts of north, west, central and downtown Long Beach, and food was available beginning Monday, May 11. Each pantry is open on a different day, so people needing food can find some every day of the week.

Three of the sites also offer full meals to go. Details can be found at lbcei.org.

The pantries are at:

• Awaken Ministries, 2426 Santa Fe Ave. 10:30 a.m.-noon Wednesdays, 562-363-6457.

• Fountain of Life Covenant Church, 2060 Santa Fe Ave., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Thursdays, 562-308-6781.

• Church One Ministries*. 700 70th St., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday, 562-633-2515.

• Light and Life Christian Fellowship, 5951 downey Ave., 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays, 562-630-6074.

• Pools of Hope, 6801 Long Beach Blvd., 2-4 p.m. Thursdays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays, 310-537-2224.

• North Long Beach Ministry Center, Inc., 5239 Atlantic Ave., 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Fridays, 562-422-5090.

• Grant A.M.E. Church, 1129 Alamitos Ave., 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesdays, 562-437-1567.

• Urban Community Outreach*, 241 Cedar Ave., 1:30-3:30 p.m. Sundays, 562-582-1000.

• Christian Outreach In Action*, 515 E. Third St., 9 a.m.-noon Tuesdays and Thursdays, 562-432-1440.

* Serving full meals.

Source: https://www.gazettes.com/entertainment/nonprofits/coalition-churches-partner-to-create-food-pantry-network/article_271661b6-93cb-11ea-b081-ef7cba7ea9ac.html

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