Senator, Senate of the State of California
I am not a career politician. Instead, I’m a public servant and a citizen activist who happens to have served in local and state government on behalf of my local community. Guided by this philosophy, I have spent my career being singularly focused on one objective– to represent my constituents to the best of my ability and to work tirelessly to get things done for families and local neighborhoods in our community.
I grew up in Gardena, California. My mother– a nurse– instilled in me strong values of caring for others and giving back to the community. My father –who owned his own small business– taught me the importance of speaking up and out against injustices.
In the spirit of this mission, I made history when I became the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council. Over the 12 years that I served on the City Council, I presided over robust job and economic growth, along with a balanced budget for the city.
In 2009, I decided to continue my dedication to advancing the cause of expanding the California Dream by running and successfully winning a seat in the California State Assembly. I was elected to the 51st Assembly District in a Special Election, reelected in 2010, and reelected again, but this time to the newly created 62nd District in 2012.
In the Assembly, I served as Chair of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. While there, I worked hard to correct the many institutional injustices that plague young Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific Islander males in California. As a result our progress on this issue, I had the pleasure of joining President Barack Obama at the White House last year for the launch of “My Brother’s Keeper,” a national initiative modeled after the work we have been doing in California for years.
Prior to my service in local and state government, I worked as a public affairs manager for Southern California Edison for 12 years. I also spent seven years working for IBM as a marketing An avid supporter of conservation efforts, I served as the solid waste director for the City of Compton for two years where I established the city’s first curbside recycling program. I also served two years as the district director for the late Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. At the age of 28, I was elected national director of Bigger and Better Business of my fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, Inc., and was elected treasurer of LA branch of NAACP at age 27.
I’ve also coached both baseball and football for 16 years at Rowley Park in the City of Gardena where I grew up and served as president of the Holly Park Home Owners Association for four years.
I grew up in Gardena and completed my K-12 education in its public schools. I attended Purche Ave Elementary, Henry Clay Jr. High, and Gardena High School. I earned my Bachelors of Arts in Political Science at California State University, Dominguez Hills and San Diego State University.
In my free time, you will often find me on the golf course. My love for the game led me to establish a junior golf program that introduced hundreds of kids to the game of golf. One of my favorite community events is the Gardena Jazz Festival, where I serve as the festival’s founder and chair. The festival has survived 15 years and has become one of the most popular events in the entire South Bay.