On Nov. 8, Karen Bass became the first woman and only the second African-American to be elected Mayor of Los Angeles.
Bass, 69, previously represented California’s 37th Congressional District for six terms. While a member of the House of Representatives, Bass served as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Her tenure as Chair saw the group work with the Congressional Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander and Native American caucasus to demand a targeted response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to initiate a national needs assessment for communities of color.
During her entire time in Congress, Bass served on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. In this position, Bass acted to build coalitions and support economic growth and partnerships with the African continent, with a goal to transform how the United States engages with African nations and to promote opportunities to expand trade and economic growth.
Bass also served on the House Judiciary Committee to help pass sweeping criminal justice reforms including the “First Step Act” and reforms to the prison system with an eye on how women are treated while incarcerated. As well, Bass helped pass the “Equality Act of 2020” which would provide consistent and explicit anti-discrimination protections for the LGBTQ community. Ball also founded the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Foster youth.
Prior to her election to Congress, Bass served in the California State Assembly where, in 2008, she made history by becoming the first African-American woman in U.S. history to serve as Speaker of any state legislature. While in Sacramento, Bass helped to rally the State Assembly to address the financial emergency of the “Great Recession. For her action, she was one of four U.S. legislative leaders awarded the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2010.
In the early 1990s, Bass convened a small group of community organizers — both African-American and Latino — to form the Community Coalition. Their continued mission is to help transform the social and economic conditions in South Los Angeles that for generations has fostered addiction, crime, violence and poverty by building a grassroots organization that involves thousands in creating, influencing and changing public policy.
Bass grew up in the Venice/Fairfax area of Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, the University of Southern California’s School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program, and the USC School of Social Work where she obtained her MSW.