This past Monday evening in the Bradley Tower we celebrated the accomplishments of the Fall 2018 Class of IgniteLA. Our EmpowerLA team gathered to highlight the successes, learning, and bonds developed among the group of 65 Angelenas taking part in our leadership training, designed to empower and inspire young women with the skills to grow into powerful civic leaders.

Coming from WestLA, the West and East San Fernando Valley, South Los Angeles and the Harbor, and Downtown LA, our young leaders celebrated over sandwiches, reflections on the last two months, and inspiration in an awards ceremony with EmpowerLA General Manager Grayce Liu and Councilwoman Nury Martinez from the 6th District of Los Angeles.

Addressing the students and recognizing their parents and families, Councilwoman Martinez shared her path to becoming the first Latina to ever hold a leadership position on the City Council as Assistant President Pro-Tem. She shared her accomplishments in leading the Council on several major initiatives, including the fight to end human trafficking, empowering and ensuring parity for women, and mitigating environmental pollution and its impacts. Toward the end of her remarks, a student asked her if she’d run for President, and the Councilwoman replied by asking the student to run! Los Angeles is stronger with women like Councilwoman Martinez leading the way, and as a champion of women’s rights she truly inspired and awed the audience. We are grateful to her and the team at CD6 for attending and inspiring our crowd.

The evening concluded with a presentation of certificates to the students from EmpowerLA. Grayce recognized and congratulated each student. Our Council District Partners from CD3 and CD12 also graciously presented our West SFV students with certificates, presented by Jenny Portillo. Many thanks to Jenny and her team for making the graduation extra special for West Valley students.

For the last six weeks, through IgniteLA, young women across the City of Los Angeles have been learning the basics of local government and the Neighborhood Council System. They’ve gone through asset mapping and community visioning exercises. They’ve practiced the fundamentals of public speaking and learned to campaign effectively. They have also developed incredibly detailed policy project proposals, and presented their findings to our City Council District Partners and representatives of the Mayor’s Office. Topics they’ve covered include: homelessness and and housing, urban forestry, food insecurity, policing practices, public transit, sustainable infrastructure, the pink tax, affirmative action, illegal dumping, social equity in cannabis regulation, environmental justice issues including the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, and the list goes on.

We are very proud of the work these bright young women have accomplished and grateful to the amazing team at EmpowerLA for making this happen. Facilitators include Department Field Staff: Vanessa Serrano in the East SFV; Kathleen Quinn in the West SFV; Obiamaka Ude and Mary Kim in DTLA; Adriana Cabrera in SouthLA; Jasmine Elbarbary in WestLA; and support staff Ara An and Erica Cruz. We also recognize and appreciate our male colleagues for covering our field meetings for the duration of the program. And of course, empowering others starts with being empowered, so we are grateful to Semee Park, Director of Neighborhood Council Operations and Grayce Liu, General Manager of EmpowerLA for supporting this amazing program.

We look forward to continuing with the IgniteLA program, so be sure to monitor our website for details on future cohorts!

 IgniteLA is a non-partisan program whose mission is to empower every young woman interested in public service with the political and practical skills she needs to be a successful civic leader.  Held by EmpowerLA, please check out our website at for more information.