From Calabasas to Culver City, Long Beach to Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles County is made up of the kind of star power you simply cannot deny. But in a place known for its A-list celebrities and flashing lights, Aja Lena Brown made a name for herself as a community planner, a proponent for city revitalization, and in 2013, the youngest person to serve as mayor of the great city of Compton.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to serve my city, to restore hope and dignity in our great community, and ignite a new generation of leaders that will position our community to thrive in the years to come,” Brown recently expressed to ESSENCE.
Since her election at 31-years-old, Brown has made it her mission to strategically advance the city she serves. As a candidate for mayor in 2012 she rolled out a “12 Point Plan” that addressed decreasing violence, stimulating youth development, and working with varied coalitions to bring forth economic change. Seven years later, Brown has proven to be the kind of politician who turns plans into action.
Not only has the native Californian worked with local gang members to significantly decrease the violence in her city, Brown has also greatly decreased the unemployment rate. After taking office, an increase in local hiring and a concerted effort to attract local redevelopment projects, aided in a 50 percent decline in joblessness.
For 2019, the new mom and wife shows no signs of slowing down. “We’re launching a $70 million five-year infrastructure program that will renew our city’s entire street system, and address several decades of divestment and neglect,” Brown shared when asked about projects Compton is taking on this year. “We’re also focusing on community empowerment designed to engage, educate, and empower our constituents to hold government accountable and make meaningful contributions to our community.”
Brown believes that a core function of government, and more specifically the White House, is to “set a course for shared progress by laying out a plan to empower our nation’s people through launching policies and initiatives that strengthen cities.” By strengthening cities, Brown understands that the impact will trickle down to the families that live within them. For Compton, that means greater resources to help amplify and address the issues that impact everyday people who are striving to achieve.
“The fabric of our nation is strongest when there is an uncompromising standard of truth, excellence, and unity permeating from the White House,” Brown asserts. And although the 36-year-old mayor who’s now in her second term, recognizes the importance of the nation’s highest office, she also recognizes that at this time, taking thoughtful measures to help better her city, holds greater priority to engaging with the current administration.
When Brown isn’t actively committed to rejuvenating the place that’s come to be known as an “Entrepreneurial Hot Spot,” she’s spending time with her family both at home and at church. The mom to soon-to-be five-month-old J’ael Lena Brown has an admitted fondness for teaching and in March, will be launching a women’s empowerment bible study.
This year Brown also hopes to learn a lot as a participating mayor in Policy Link and ESSENCE’s All-In Cities Initiative, that brings Black women mayors around the country together to share, ideate, and then build better communities.
“I am honored to be apart of an intentional and impactful alliance,” Brown says of her participation in the venture. “I believe I’ll be strengthened as a leader through having a forum to participate in the exchange of innovative ideas and to build relationships with my sister-mayors. Having access to a strategic platform to lift policy ideas that strengthen our communities will have a tremendous impact on the future of our communities and ultimately our nation.”