Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.), who represents the 37th Congressional District, will be the keynote speaker at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ commencement ceremony on Friday, June 13.
Rep. Bass is a long-time public servant and community leader, and a member of the inaugural class of the UCLA Luskin Senior Fellows Program. She serves on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs where she is a ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee where she is working to craft sound criminal justice reforms. She was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus.
Throughout her career, Bass has maintained a focus on the nation’s foster care system. In her first term, she created the bipartisan Congressional Foster Youth Caucus along with co-chair U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.). Now in her second term, Bass plans to examine national standards of care in the child welfare system.
As a child, Bass became interested in community activism while watching the Civil Rights Movement unfold. It was then that she made a lifetime commitment to effecting social change in her community and abroad. Prior to serving in Congress, Bass worked for nearly a decade as a physical assistant and served as a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. Bass also founded and ran the Community Coalition, a community-based social justice organization in South Los Angeles that empowers residents to become involved in making a difference. It was in this position as executive director of the Community Coalition that she became a UCLA Luskin Senior Fellow.
Bass later made history when the California Assembly elected her to be its 67th Speaker, making her the first African American woman in U.S. history to serve in this state legislative role. While in this role, she helped the State of California to recover from the 2008 economic crisis.