We’re celebrating Women’s History Month in Southern California by highlighting the contributions, accomplishments and creativity of women in local politics, education and the arts.

On this week’s “In Focus SoCal,” Spectrum News’ Renee Eng talked with Culver City Mayor Yasmine-Imani McMorrin, who has already made history on several fronts.

“I am just the sixth woman to serve on the Culver City Council in its 106-year history,” McMorrin said. “First Black woman to serve. First woman of color. I’m a millennial. I’m a single mom. And I feel a lot of the pressures as similar to my neighbors. And it was really important for me to set priorities to make sure that folks knew what I was interested in.”

McMorrin is an attorney and works as the Director of Education Equity for the Children’s Defense Fund. She was elected in 2020 to serve as a city council member, and then served as Vice Mayor before being appointed mayor in December 2023. She has made it a priority to connect with Culver City residents from all walks of life, and lead the city in ways that are important to the people who live in it.

“I’ve always said that the budget is a reflection of our values,” said McMorrin. “And it’s really important for me that we are hearing from and are responsive to our community’s concerns. That’s something I’ve tried to do with my priorities. I’ve had a lot of conversations and have been listening to our seniors, young people, our business owners. Really just trying to make sure that I am listening to all sectors of our community — including our nonprofit community, our faith community. So it’s just incredibly important to be responsive, and ensure that our leadership is reflective of that.”

The Ebell of Los Angeles was founded by women for women in 1894. It’s meant to be a cultural hub that helps women build community, and inspiring them through art, culture, education, service and stewardship. Every March, the Wilshire Ebell Theatre hosts a lineup of events to commemorate Women’s History Month. 

This year, the program includes musical performances, art exhibits and a unique one-woman play called “She Is History,” written and performed by Amy Simon.

There are a number of local organizations that are also focusing on nurturing our future female history makers. We Are R.IS.E. is a one-of-a-kind girls empowerment mentorship program in South LA. Eng spoke with the organization’s founder, Dr. Ebone Smith-Lenhardt, about its focus.

“We Are RISE Inc. is a girl’s organization was founded to mentor our young girls in South LA,” said Smith-Lenhardt. “RISE is actually an acronym: R for resilient, I for intelligent, S for successful, and E for empowered. And it was created to remind our girls of who they are at their core. R.I.S.E was actually inspired by a poem written by Dr. Maya Angelou, ‘Still I Rise.’ So we took that and turned it into an acronym. And it is the mantra that our young girls use in their workshops.”

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