Long Beach Economic Inclusion Group Forms Development Corporation

THE GRUNION / GAZETTES.COM | By Harry Saltzgaver | April 3, 2020

An idea first conceived a year ago became reality last week with creation of the Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion (LBCEI).

A founding board, led by chair Bob Cabeza, took office and immediately appointed Jeff Williams as the interim director of the agency. Williams is the former executive director of Leadership Long Beach.

The LBCEI is a central component of the Everyone In Economic Inclusion Plan, an effort spearheaded by Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson. It will act as a Community Development Corporation, and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit group providing help to small business owners, workforce development among youth, home ownership and more to make economic opportunity available to more communities.

“With so much economic uncertainty for Long Beach, the timing is right for a Community Development Corporation to step up in ensuring small businesses and working families are a key focus of our relief and recovery efforts,” Richardson said. “I want to thank and congratulate the founding Board of Directors as well as our initial funding partner Wells Fargo Foundation for partnering to launch this important organization.”

Cabeza is the recently retired senior vice president for community development at the Long Beach area YMCA. Other board members are:

• Juan Benitez, Director, CSULB Center for Civic Engagement;

• Rev. Wayne Chaney, Pastor, Antioch Church of Long Beach;

• Sharon Diggs-Jackson, at-risk Youth advocate, retired City of Long Beach;

• Vivian Shimoyama, Founder, Breakthru Solutions (Small Business Advocate);

• Darick Simpson, Director, Miller Foundation, formerly of Long Beach Community Action Partnership.

For more information, email  [email protected].

Source: https://www.gazettes.com/news/business/long-beach-economic-inclusion-group-forms-development-corporation/article_0a2216c6-72a7-11ea-9843-d3abc12375cf.html

Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion announces founding Board of Directors

PRESS TELEGRAM | By Hunter Lee | April 2, 2020 

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion announced the new organization’s founding Board of Directors recently, and with that, also came the announcement of a new resource to help uplift economic development across Long Beach.

The organization’s mission is to expand inclusive economic opportunities to Long Beach residents, focusing on supporting small businesses and entrepreneurship, youth development, housing and home ownership, and economic resiliency.

Chairman Bob Cabeza, former YMCA senior vice president of Community Development, will lead the board.

The rest of the founding directors are:

  • Juan Benitez, director of the CSULB Center for Civic Engagement;
  • Rev. Wayne Chaney of Antioch Church of Long Beach;
  • Sharon Diggs-Jackson, at-risk youth advocate;
  • Vivian Shimoyama, founder of Breakthru Solutions, a small business advocate; and
  • Darick Simpson, director of Miller Foundation and formerly of Long Beach Community Action Partnership.

“This founding board is comprised of amazing individuals who have been doing the real, heavy-lifting work of uplifting small businesses and our low-income families and communities for years,” Cabeza said in a statement late last week. “I am honored to serve alongside these individuals to help put into place an entity that will serve our community for many years to come.”

The organization was established in response to the “Everyone In” Economic Inclusion Implementation Plan, which Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson championed; the plan brought together community stakeholders from across Long Beach to develop a series of recommendations to expand economic opportunity in the city.

“With so much economic uncertainty for Long Beach, the timing is right for a Community Development Corporation to step up in ensuring small businesses and working families are a key focus of our relief and recovery efforts,” Richardson, chairman of the Economic Development Committee, said.

Source: https://www.presstelegram.com/2020/04/02/long-beach-center-for-economic-inclusion-announces-founding-board-of-directors/

New community development corporation shifts focus to coronavirus response

LONG BEACH BUSINESS JOURNAL | By Alena Maschke | April 1, 2020

Less than a month after its first board meeting, a newly-created community development corporation will shift its focus to supporting businesses struggling in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Long Beach Center for Economic Inclusion was created in September, with financial support from the city and the Wells Fargo Foundation, to open up economic opportunities for the city’s underserved communities. 

Launching in the middle of a public health crisis with severe economic impacts, the new organization has temporarily shifted its focus from more general goals like workforce and youth development to immediate emergency assistance for businesses.

The new board has authorized $150,000 to fund efforts aimed at supporting small businesses, assisting with food security, improving digital inclusion and providing housing support services during the crisis. 

“We’re trying to work out the specifics,” Jeff Williams, the corporation’s interim director, said. “It’s all changing very quickly.”

The new board met for the first time on March 11, just days before the city began imposing restrictions on large gatherings and ordering non-essential businesses to close. 

At the moment, the organization is working with the city’s economic development department to identify the needs of community organizations, nonprofits and faith-based communities and create partnerships for the deployment of emergency funds, Williams added. 

Councilman Rex Richardson pushed the development of the new corporation, submitting a request for $125,000 in funds that was approved by the city council in September. The Wells Fargo Foundation has provided an additional grant of $115,000, to help sustain the CDC through its first year.

“With so much economic uncertainty for Long Beach, the timing is right for a community development corporation to step up in ensuring small businesses and working families are a key focus of our relief and recovery efforts,” Richardson said in a press release.

Source: https://www.lbbusinessjournal.com/long-beach-community-development-corporation-launches-amid-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR00lm4sUEluZRkdAC40kwaPulUQu_i1km92vHBx7KNGdmUi5FugX2nJjHg

City Council Approves Funds To Establish Community Development Corporation

LONG BEACH BUSINESS JOURNAL | By Alena Maschke | September 9, 2019

Economic Development Director John Keisler and Darick Simpson, executive director of the Long Beach Community Action Partnership, both attended a September 3 meeting of the Long Beach City Council, which kicked off the establishment of a Community Development Corporation by approving vital city funds. (Photograph by Brandon Richardson)

In an effort to implement recommendations made by the ‘Everyone In’ taskforce for economic inclusion, spearheaded by 9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson, the Long Beach City Council has approved funds in the amount of $125,000 for the establishment of a Community Development Corporation (CDC). The Wells Fargo Foundation has provided an additional grant of $115,000 which will be used to sustain the CDC through its first year.

“What we’re hoping to achieve is to bring access and opportunities to communities that have traditionally been underserved or are – just from a statistical standpoint – not as thriving as other parts [of the city],” Linda Nguyen, Wells Fargo’s vice president of community relations for the Greater Los Angeles and Orange County West Region, told the Business Journal.

Wells Fargo does not require cities to match its contribution to local projects, Nguyen said, but she also noted that the foundation felt re-assured by the city’s participation. “To me this is something very unique and very remarkable that a city would want to come in, that they want to provide funding and support,” Nguyen said. “I think it demonstrates that we’re getting buy-in from various stakeholders and that this is truly a public-private partnership.”

For the city, the partnership is a first step in funding what was envisioned by the economic inclusion taskforce as a permanent investment in the development of neighborhoods whose economic success has trailed behind that of the city overall. “By matching the Wells Fargo grant and working with the Long Beach Community Action Partnership, the city really gets to partner in a solution, rather than be solely responsible for the implementation of the recommendation,” Economic Development Director John Keisler told the Business Journal. The Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP), a local nonprofit dedicated to creating pathways to self-sustainability for low-income residents, has been selected to oversee the CDC.

Keisler noted that this most recent collaboration is one of many public-private partnerships the city has entered into in recent years to realize ambitious projects, such as the new Long Beach Civic Center. “It’s very creative. It offers a lot of opportunities for learning, on both sides,” Keisler said. “Traditionally, we’ve put a lot of pressure on government to deliver these kinds of solutions.”

Instead, the CDC’s staffing structure and programming will be defined through a series of meetings with stakeholders such as local educational institutions, small business owners and nonprofit organizations, according to Richardson. This process is scheduled to start this month and last through the remainder of the year.

“The community development corporation should look and feel like Long Beach,” the councilmember noted. “It should look and feel very different than what traditional economic development has looked and felt like, it should be more approachable.” The city, Keisler emphasized, won’t be involved in the selection of the CDC’s board or staff.

Darick Simpson, executive director of LBCAP, said his organization is interested in providing programming in partnership with the CDC once it has been established. Currently, LBCAP functions as a fiscal sponsor, managing the funds provided by Wells Fargo to establish the CDC.

“I see our role, initially, as being successful as the fiscal sponsor that we were brought in to be,” Simpson noted. “Once that role expires and the funds are distributed . . . I want it to be clear that we have greater capabilities than just being the fiscal managers.”

In its main capacity, LBCAP provides youth and workforce development programming. “Understanding that that’s part of the goal of the CDC, we certainly want to be a strong partner at the table when the CDC is created and be a provider of those services,” Simpson said. “That’s what I think we need more of in Long Beach: more of a collaboration in leveraging resources.”

Leveraging existing resources and creating more access for all Long Beach residents and businesses is at the core of the city’s plan for economic inclusion, and will be the primary objective of the newly-minted CDC. “Over the past year and a half, it’s become clear that we can do a better job connecting local people, local neighborhoods, local corridors to economic opportunity,” Richardson said. “The CDC is a connection, a network of resources, strategically deploying resources and connecting them to [pursue] economic priorities for communities.”

Source: https://www.lbbusinessjournal.com/city-council-approves-funds-to-establish-community-development-corporation/

Wells Fargo Grant To Advance Long Beach Everyone In Movement

GAZETTES | By Harry Saltzgaver | February 7, 2019

Rex press conference
In February, City Councilman Rex Richardson announced purchase of property in north Long Beach as the site for a year-round homeless shelter. The Everyone In signs refer to an economic inclusion plan Richardson is spearheading. —Gazette photo by Harry Saltzgaver

As far as grants go, $50,000 is not especially big. But it is big enough to fuel phase two of the Everyone In economic inclusion effort, Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson said. Wells Fargo Bank made the grant through LA LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities help themselves.

Richardson launched to program in 2017 and, with the help of the city’s Economic Development Department, conducted a series of conversations, listening sessions, and roundtables to come up with needs and approaches. A comprehensive data analysis led to an economic equity profile, which was released Tuesday.

Phase 1 culminated last May with an Everyone In Economic Equity Summit, also sponsored by Wells Fargo. Richardson said those efforts combine to create a roadmap forward.

“Long Beach has been changing dramatically,” Richardson said. “In the 1980s, people of color were 30 percent of the population. In the 2010 census, 72 percent were people of color. Long Beach is booming, but that sector doesn’t align economically… Everyone In is our first attempt at putting the population first.”

Those Phase 1 efforts have been distilled into four areas where action is needed, according to Richardson. All involve providing better access to support mechanisms for minority groups — resulting in equitable situations.

“Housing is one area that is key,” Richardson said. “Levels of home ownership are going down for all populations, but particularly for the lower income group. When I was coming up, I was able to purchase a home at 25. I don’t think that happens today… An example of action? To start, there is no HUD counseling center here. If we had one, we might be able to get people back in (the housing market).”

Helping small businesses do business with the city is the second area of work. There already is a policy to reach out to minority- and women-owned businesses when contracts are out for bid, but there still are many barriers, Richardson said. Most contracts are too big for smaller businesses to consider, and the process to be certified as a minority business is bureaucratic at best.

“We need to set goals to contract with these businesses, and we need to look at the scope of our contracts,” Richardson said. “We also need a common criteria, a simpler way, to become certified. As far as I’m concerned, if you say you are minority or women owned, you are unless it can be shown otherwise.”

Supporting business groups that advocate for small business and helping with transitions of business ownership are other potential action areas.

Financial resiliency is the third category. That means providing help, including financial help to business owners and residents. Richardson said coordinating small ($10,000 or less) KIVA loans would help startups and others. Convincing banks to locate in poorer areas of the city is another priority.

Finally, more needs to be done for minority youth and workforce development. Richardson said the recent shift or addition of vocational training in educational institutions is a start. Workforce development programs should better align with current available jobs, he said.

“And financial literacy is key,” Richardson said. “I want to see courses in financial literacy tied to youth getting their first job.”

Phase 2 will use the $50,000 from Wells Fargo to outline an agenda of policy and specific program recommendations with the help of data and priorities developed in Phase 1. There will be a push to create a new Community Development Corporation as a quasi-governmental help agency, and a Minority- and Women-owned Small Business Council.

A Community Conversation Series and focus groups will be used for more feedback and to get the word out to more of the community. The first meeting of an Implementation Committee has already occurred. For more information, go to insidedistrict9.com/policy/#everyone-in or call (562) 570-6137.

Source: https://www.gazettes.com/news/business/wells-fargo-grant-to-advance-long-beach-everyone-in-movement/article_396b4c34-2976-11e9-b192-cf72c0431680.html

Vice Mayor Richardson Launches “Everyone In” Initiative, Addressing Economic Inclusion

LONG BEACH POST | By Stephanie Rivera | November 4, 2017


From left to right: Economic Development Commission Chair Randal Hernandez, LA LISC Executive Director Tnua Thrash-Ntuk, Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, and Long Beach Community Foundation President and CEO Marcelle Epley. Photo by Stephanie Rivera.

This spring the city council adopted the Blueprint for Economic Development, a guide meant to prioritize the creation of businesses, well-paying jobs and economic inclusion for all Long Beach residents for the next ten years. At this Tuesday’s city council meeting, Vice Mayor Rex Richardson plans to set in motion one of the plan’s focus areas when he introduces a package of proposals to his peers addressing economic inclusion.

Richardson revealed those plans Wednesday afternoon at the Uptown Business Improvement District Office filled with over a dozen community stakeholders in North Long Beach when he officially launched the “Everyone In” Economic Inclusion Initiative.

“To me, economic inclusion means creating an environment where everybody has a seat at the table and has an opportunity to thrive,” Richardson said. “And that means small business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs, homeowners from all parts of town have access to resources that they need to grow wealth, grow their business and ultimately thrive.”

Propped up on stands to the left of Richardson were boards displaying statistics of Long Beach he highlighted, including that five times as many Latinos and Native Americans live in high poverty neighborhoods compared to Whites, and that twice as many Black and Latino female adults are working full-time and still living below 150 percent of the poverty level than other adult females. And that homeownership among Black and Latinos is half as many as White households and fewer than 15 percent of Asian and Black residents have access to the right resources they need to start up a business or own a business.

Richardson, who last year spearheaded the creation of an Office of Equity, introduced the first series of proposals meant to help close those gaps, each of which include the backing of other council members.

One proposal includes providing access to free checking and savings accounts and conducting financial literacy education to all youth participants in Long Beach workforce development programs. Another request is to have the city manager work with the Office of Equity to conduct an economic equity study on the city in partnership with a philanthropic or educational partner.

Perhaps the most noteworthy proposals were for an “Everyone In Listening Tour” and a request to establish Long Beach as a “Kiva City.”

The listening tour would task the Economic Development Commission (EDC) with conducting a deeper assessment of economic inclusion in the city and provide outreach to marginalized and disenfranchised segments of the business and working community, according to Richardson’s office. The communities would include Blacks, Latinos, Asian and Pacific Islanders, Cambodians, millennials, women, LGBT+ members, new and emerging industries and more. A total of $40,000 from the Ninth Council District’s one-time infrastructure funds would be transferred to the Economic Development Department for the outreach efforts.

“Inclusion means we have to start the conversation and be intentional about including folks who are not already included at the table,” Richardson said about the listening tours, which will be headed by the EDC’s Chair Randal Hernandez.

Hernandez, who previously worked at Union Bank, said financial institutions as partners will be key in accomplishing these goals over the next few years.

“Long Beach is very fortunate that we have a low unemployment rate but we know those economic opportunities aren’t reaching every neighborhood in our city and this effort is going to be part of that,” Hernandez said.

Backed by Council members Lena Gonzalez, Stacy Mungo and Dee Andrews, Richardson will also request to establish the city as a “Kiva City” and direct the EDD to work with the Los Angeles Local Initiatives Support Corp. (LA LISC) and the Long Beach Community Foundation, which will $6,250 from each of the First, Fifth, Sixth and Nine Council Districts in one-time infrastructure funds to support the hiring of a new, temporary part-time staff member, according to the city’s agenda.

That proposal includes the convening of a series of roundtable discussions with philanthropic leaders and experts to make policy recommendations that will be facilitated by LA LISC.

“We’re committed to placing a real focus on small businesses and entrepreneurs because we know small businesses are the backbone of our city, and account for nearly 87 percent of businesses here and collectively are one of the biggest sales tax drivers within our city,” Richardson said.

Beginning in December, LA LISC’s Executive Director Tunua Thrash-Ntuk will lead a think tank that will convene monthly to make recommendations informed by community engagement and best economic inclusion practices and policies around the country, according to Richardson’s office.

Ntuk will also help the city launch as a Kiva City. Kiva is a small business crowdfunding platform that provides zero percent interest, zero percent fees and character loans on what the community has determined are viable businesses.

While Ntuk has worked with smaller nonprofits and community-based organizations to become Kiva trustees, which will ultimately approve or deny such loans, Long Beach will be its first partner city. To date, there are 16 recognized Kiva cities. Ntuk said LA LISC has already raised $100,000 in start-up capital for small businesses that will go to the Kiva platform.

“For ever one dollar raised from Kiva through family and friends, this will match dollar for dollar until the client gets to its goal,” Ntuk said.

As the potential trustee, the city will first have to vet the business and approve it before it can go to Kiva and begin raising funds. Since funders are not guaranteed to get their money back if a business fails, Ntuk said the vetting process is imperative.
“The trustee [has to] believe that this particular entrepreneur is going to be ready, is serious and be able to follow the rules of the program,” Ntuk said. “As a trustee you also get rated, so it’s important to keep a high profile rating so that your businesses are the businesses that pay back.”

Funding to start up the Kiva platform has been provided by the Long Beach Community Foundation. 

Source: https://lbpost.com/news/vice-mayor-richardson-launches-everyone-in-initiative-addressing-economic-inclusion/

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.


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