The UCLA Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) has welcomed six new community advocates into a program that provides training, resources and ongoing support aimed at elevating grassroots work done on behalf of the people of Watts. The leaders make up the third cohort of the institute, which is housed at UCLA Luskin. The multi-year program includes intensive one-on-one coaching as well as group learning that taps into the experiences and strengths of each leader. Areas of focus include goal-setting, operational essentials, establishing a compelling digital presence, funding and finances, and planning for future growth — all aimed at creating a safer, healthier and more vibrant Watts. Founded in 2016 by Jorja Leap and Karrah Lompa of UCLA Luskin Social Welfare, WLI is supported by a diverse group of collaborators including nonprofit foundations and Los Angeles city officials. Members of WLI’s newest cohort are:
- Kristal Gilmore of Yung Power Foundation, who hosts food and resource distribution events with a focus on empowering women;
- Jorge Gonzalez of 5 La Nuevo Comienzo, which strengthens families and communities through sports, excursions and other activities;
- Miguel Gonzalez, who uses dance as a tool to educate people about LGBTQ+ rights and prevention of sexually transmitted infections;
- Shawn Lampley of Home of Kings & Queens, which distributes food, school supplies and personal hygiene supplies to low-income communities;
- Raul Panuco, a photographer and artist working to educate youth on media arts and ensure that outlets for creative expression are broadly available;
- Jennifer Williams of Gifted Creations, who hosts back-to-school, Halloween and holiday activities for residents of public housing.