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Maria Lou Calanche, Commissioner

Maria Lou Calanche

Commissioner
Los Angeles Police Commission

email Maria "Lou" Calanche, is
the Founder and Executive Director of Legacy LA, a youth
development organization providing at-risk youth living in the
Ramona Gardens community of Boyle Heights with the tools and
resources needed to help them reach their full potential. Returning
to her community in 2007, Lou founded Legacy LA with the goal to
develop young leaders and to address the long history of violence
and drugs that plagued her community of Ramona Gardens for decades.
Lou's commitment to her community started as an idea and has grown
to a successful nonprofit serving over 300 youth annually. She also
led a $4 million capital campaign and renovation of a former
federal armory to establish what is now a state-of-the-art
community youth development center.

As the Executive Director of Legacy LA, Lou ensures that youth are
provided with resources and support they need to succeed and is
also committed to her values and beliefs that young people must
lead change in their communities. She believes that young people
have the capacity to lead. However, youth are seldom given the
opportunity to have a voice in shaping policy or government
systems, yet they are expected to thrive in these systems. At
Legacy LA, youth are provided with leadership development and
opportunities to address problems in their community and Los
Angeles County. Legacy LA youth leaders are engaged and leading
environmental justice campaigns and have successfully advocated for
inclusion in the City's Clean Up, Green Up Program, a City policy
prohibiting certain industrial uses from being situated in
proximity to residential areas, and secured $400,000 in funding
from South Coast Air Quality and Management District to install an
air filtration system at the local elementary school. Ramona
Gardens is categorized as one of the communities with the poorest
air quality in the State and Legacy LA youth are leading an
innovative effort to build a natural park with air pollution
mitigation systems along the 12-lane highway that abuts the public
housing development.

Lou's commitment to youth leadership and to engage young people to
prepare them to lead systems and policy change has been key to the
success of the Invest in Youth Campaign. Legacy LA has led a
citywide coalition that is advocating for the creation of the City
of Los Angeles' first Youth Development Department. Los Angeles is
the only large City in the nation that doesn't have a dedicated
department focused on youth. Lou ensures that youth are at the
forefront of developing campaign goals and values, has worked on
developing a City of Los Angeles budget that prioritizes youth, and
is grounded in the belief that young people have to be included in
all decision making. Lou's commitment to ensure that young people
are given leadership roles along with her ability to engage them in
learning campaign strategy and organizing has helped to secure key
wins for the campaign to create a Youth Development Department in
Los Angeles. In March 2019, Lou recently celebrated the passing of
a City Council motion to establish a City of Los Angeles Task Force
on Youth Development tasked with developing a youth development
strategy for the City.

Lou has been a community leader in East Los Angeles for more than
two decades and leverages her background and experience to ensure
Legacy LA's success. Prior to committing full time to Legacy LA,
she was a Political Science professor at East Los Angeles Community
College. Other key roles in Lou's trajectory include serving as a
Council Deputy for City of Los Angeles Councilmember Richard
Alatorre, the Director of Community Outreach for the University of
Southern California Health Sciences Campus, and has also served on
several community nonprofit boards and City of Los Angeles
Commissions including El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Park and
the City's Housing Authority. Lou has an undergraduate degree from
Loyola Marymount University, Master of Public Administration Degree
from University of Southern California where she is also a Doctoral
Candidate focusing her research on land-use policy and citizen
participation.