Organizations and individuals focused on social change understand the importance of influencing public policies for improved community outcomes. Karen Bass was no different. Focusing initially on health care as a physician assistant, Bass began organizing residents of South Los Angeles around the crack epidemic that was devastating families and communities. Two decades later, Bass’s organization—Community Coalition—is a true community institution focused on creating, influencing, and shaping public policy issues affecting South Los Angeles. Bass herself is a US congresswoman who served previously in California’s state capital as the first African-American woman speaker in the nation.
My first encounter with Bass and Community Coalition was in the early 1990s, while sitting on the funding board of Liberty Hill, a Los Angeles foundation that supports community leaders