Jan. 15 empowerment congress features Kamala Hairrs, USC Presdient C.L. Max Nikias

The 19th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit will feature Attorney-General elect Kamala D. Harris and USC President C.L. Max Nikias .

The Jan. 15 event at USC's Bovard Auditorium  isfrom 8 a.m.  to noon.


The Empowerment Congress attempts to engage the communitiy, encourage participation, educating and informing the community about how government works, developing strategies that shape policy and legislation and connecting the community with resources,

Founded in 1992 by then Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Empowerment Congress served as a model and precursor to the City of Los Angeles’ Neighborhood Councils. Now that Ridley-Thomas represents  nine cities (Los Angeles, Carson, Compton, Culver City, Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, and Lynwood) and many neighborhoods of unincorporated areas (Athens, Baldwin Hills, Del Aire, East Compton, El Camino Village, Firestone, Florence, Graham, Ladera Heights, Lennox, Marina del Rey, Rancho Dominguez, View Park, West Carson, West Compton, West Rancho Dominguez, Westmont, Willowbrook, Windsor Hills, Wiseburn) as a county supervisor, the EC has expanded.



University of California(USC) - Bovard Auditorium – University Park Campus

3551 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089 

Locatedon Figueroa Streetbetween Jefferson Blvdand University Park Blvd - By Tommy Trojan!



AllSummit guests should park in PARKING LOT D (PSD Parking Structure).  PSD Parking Structure is located at GATE #4 which is located near Jefferson Blvd and Royal Street.


Upon entering PSD Parking Structure, please inform the gate attendant that you arewith the EMPOWERMENT CONGRESS and you will pay the discounted rate of$5.00.  You will be instructed where topark.


Exit the parking structure and follow the directional signs to Bovard Auditorium where event registration and the morning plenary session will be held.


Event Registration

Eventregistration will be held on Trousdale Parkway which is directly in front ofBovard Auditorium. 


When you check-in, you will receive your information packet and an “admissionticket” to the Promoting Economic Development in the Second District Session you registered for.  Please note that registering for the sessionis NOT a guarantee.  Seating is firstcome first serve to we encourage you to please arrive early for registration.


Continentalbreakfast will be served.

Summit Schedule

8:00am                                  RegistrationOpens / Continental Breakfast

9:00am– 10:15am               Morning PlenarySession

10:30am– 12:30pm             Break-outSessions



After the speakers, residents will break into small groups. Per the EC website:


Town Centers: Economic Development Strategies for Traditional Neighborhoods. A tremendous amount of assessment and planning has been done to develop targeted Economic Development Initiatives throughout the Second District with the goal of improving local economies through enhanced transportation infrastructure, local job creation and retention, and community asset building. This panel will provide an in depth overview of priority projects in the Second District and discuss their impacts on mobility, sustainability and job creation.

Citizen Participation in Policy Reforms at the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). Troubles in the child welfare system have become a constant headline in Los Angeles. While much of the focus has been on a “child death problem”, Second District residents face many other concerns such as protecting parental rights in dependency disputes and ensuring that the department has proper information and technology to make informed decisions. In this session, participants will discuss policy issues that negatively impact children in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services and their families. Through an interactive dialogue session, participants will be empowered to design solutions to these issues.

Out of the Shadows: Strategies to Identify and Treat Mental Illness In a County. where one out of eight adults has been diagnosed with depression and 10% are known to live with frequent mental distress (stress, depression or emotional problems for more than 14 days in the last month), few families go untouched by the challenges related to mental health. Given the increased stress associated with the economic downturn as well as the increase in first-time homelessness, education around mental health issues is more necessary now than ever. This panel will inform and empower participants to recognize mental health indicators and discuss ways that families, friends, faith-based entities, co-workers and others can help.

Beyond Incarceration: Envisioning a New Probation Department. Los Angeles County runs the largest probation department in the world, with over 2000 youth housed in 18 probation camps and 2 juvenile halls at any given point in time. With a cost per probationer of over $7500 a month, an average camp stay of four and half months, and a recidivism rate between 50-75%, many have challenged the effectiveness of the existing system. Led by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, many organizations have called for a consent decree to require Federal oversight over probation camp reform. In addition, the progressive alternative models that are being implemented around the nation provide resources and examples of what the Los Angeles County Probation Department should aspire to. This panel will explore these alternative models and discuss how Los Angeles County can best move forward with reform.

Social Justice through the Arts: While art, in all its forms, is a source of creativity and self expression, it can also be an effective vehicle for advancing a social justice agenda. A noteworthy example of this is the Watts Towers, a collection of 17 interconnected structures, built by Italian immigrant construction worker Sabato Rodia in his spare time between 1921 and 1954. In this panel presentation, participants will dig into the historical, cultural, architectural and sociological significance of the Watts Towers, learn about the creative partnerships that have been forged to preserve this important work and identify opportunities to advance a social justice agenda through art. The panel will also explore other local examples of how social justice is being promoted through the arts.

Emergency Preparedness: Is Los Angeles Ready for the Big One? In an era of domestic terrorist attacks, hurricanes and mammoth oil spills, Americans have learned that both natural and manmade disasters are inevitable occurrences. Yet in each of these disasters, the role and action of both local and federal government has undergone significant scrutiny. In this session, panelists will discuss how prepared Los Angeles County is to handle a local emergency and learn how to prepare themselves and their families.

Urban Ecology and Green Technology – How It Applies To Your Community Communities throughout the Second District are faced with serious environmental concerns. Whether you live near an active oilfield or land that is currently being investigated for groundwater contamination, have concerns with air quality or lack of open space, an array of environmental issues can challenge your quality of life and wellbeing. This panel will engage community members in a conversation about how they can access the necessary tools and knowledge to take leadership roles in gathering environmental data and then use that data to improve their ecosystem and the social health of their communities. Participants will have an opportunity to join a year long program, sponsored by the Empowerment Congress and Loyola Marymount University that will provide them an opportunity to further hone their Environmental IQ!

Redrawing the Map: Citizen Participation in LA County’s Redistricting Process Redistricting is the process by which governments re-allocate populations within their respective jurisdictions to ensure that district boundaries contain roughly equal numbers of residents for purposes of representation. As such, the boundaries created by decennial redistricting define the terrain of electoral competition and, ultimately, the composition of legislative bodies at the local (city council, county board of supervisors), state and congressional levels. While the Board of Supervisors and local cities will soon gear up for redistricting, the public must understand the impact it may have on them, and how they can engage in the process. This panel will provide a technical overview of the redistricting process and discuss the opportunities and importance of local participation.

Youth Voices: Creating Opportunities for Youth Empowerment in the 2nd District (Youth Only: 15-21) There are few safe and welcoming spaces that provide a venue for frank and honest dialogue about the issues of importance to youth. This session will allow for a self-inspired and facilitated dialogue among youth to discuss important issues related to education, health, safety and justice. Participants will have an opportunity to put pen to paper and visually depict their ideas and opinions on a board, followed by a chance to tour the “gallery” space and share their renderings.

The Power of Multi-Organizational Networks: Limited space with 1st Priority to 2nd Saturdays participants. As nonprofits are forced to thrive in an environment in which resources are scarce, the power of working in multi-organizational networks provides great opportunities for coordination and systems change. The purpose of this session will help organizations identify opportunities to form a network and develop a foundation upon which a network can begin to operate. With the right structures and planning in place, networks of diverse organizations can successfully work together as equal partners to pursue a common social or civic purpose over a sustained period of time. This will be open to participants in the Second District’s 2nd Saturday’s program, with limited space available.

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