Kennedy’s plethora of experience will bring new and revitalized blood to an already successful organization.
Blair H. Taylor, President & CEO, Los Angeles Urban League announced the appointment of John Kennedy as Senior Vice President of Government and External Affairs on Monday, September 12.
His responsibilities in his new position will include: oversight for the league’s corporate, foundation and government fundraising efforts, and serving as the league’s liaison on government and public policy issues at the federal, state and local levels. He will also oversee the league’s membership and volunteer initiatives, and the league’s auxiliary organizations: the Guild and the Young Professionals.
Kennedy is ready to continue addressing the mission statement the league has stood on since its inception. “The importance of the urban league… in the greater Los Angeles community is something that attracted me to the organization,” said Kennedy. “The vision that Blair has is gaining traction both on a grass-roots level [and in] board rooms of corporate America.
“This is a vital organization that can help insure it has a pipeline of successful young men and women who take advantage of opportunities that are available. The Urban League serves as a real model… and has an extraordinary opportunity in creating sustainable models that can rejuvenate the community… and in some cases [be] replicated across the country.”
Kennedy comes from humble beginnings, growing up in Pasadena, the eighth child of 10, with seven sisters and two brothers. He attended and graduated from Blair High School where he began to show promise as student body president. He later attended USC attaining his degree in International Relations and Economics with a certificate of defense in strategic study.
During his undergraduate years, Kennedy was very involved in campus activities and the community. “I was the first Black student to serve on the Black Alumni Board of Directors,” said Kennedy.
He began his graduate studies at Howard University Law School, where he began a stellar career combining corporate and government interests with non-profit involvement, as executive assistant to the chairman of the board of United Mercantile Bank & Trust and as a development and program consultant for J. L. Mosely Co., Inc., while simultaneously serving as the president of the Pasadena, CA Branch of the NAACP.
At that point in time, membership within the NAACP rose from 300 members to over 2,000 members. He also helped to institute scholarship programs, anti-discrimination, housing and employment committees. “We really energized that organization,” said Kennedy. One of his personal highlights, he recalls as president, was as a goodwill ambassador to Africa.
Already having a plethora of knowledge and experience, holding various positions, Kennedy has been the principal of John Kennedy & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in program development, public relations, dispute resolution activities, grant writing, urban planning and real estate entitlements since 1987.
He has worked for city governments in Pasadena, CA and Richmond, VA, as Manager of Transportation and Deputy Chief of Police for Administrative Services, respectively. He started the Pasadena Police Foundation and served as the first secretary of the foundation. He also served as vice president of Corporate Information Technology at Countrywide Home Loans in Calabasas, CA.
The recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, Kennedy currently serves as a Board member on the National Finance Committee for the President of the United States.
Kennedy joins the League from Southern California Edison as the senior project manager for Community Involvement with responsibilities that included working with community-based organizations to develop and implement projects related to Edison grants: in the areas of education, environment, arts, civic/community, health and human services, as well as proactively developing opportunities in the community for Edison’s strategic giving. Kennedy also served as the director of community partnerships during his tenure at Southern California Edison.
“We are pleased to have John Kennedy join as an executive of the Los Angeles Urban League,” said Taylor. “As our nation and local governments struggle in an adverse economic environment, rendering cuts that disproportionally affect disadvantaged individuals that are served by the league, it is critical that we have a proven professional in the lead on fund development and government relations to drive efforts to sustain our ability to provide quality services for those in need. John Kennedy is that proven leader.”
Former president of Southern California Edison (SCE) and current mayor of Long Beach, Bob Foster, had kind remarks about Kennedy. “I’ve known John Kennedy for 15 years,” said Foster. “He’s an intelligent and hard-working man who will add value anywhere he goes. The Los Angeles Urban League is lucky to have him and I wish him the best.”
Frank Quevedo, former vice president of SCE, added similar remarks about Kennedy’s appointment with the league. “It’s a terrific opportunity for John, more importantly, it will marry [his] skills with team that Blair Taylor has assembled with the league, to take it to the next level.
“John…he’s one of those people who understands how to translate hope into reality.”
High school friend and attorney, John Cushman simply remarked, “Good for him…the Urban League and for everybody concerned,” said Cushman. “He’s always been a top notch person, I’ve enjoyed his presence.”
“My vision is… very simple… to help implement and expedite the vision of Blair Taylor,” said Kennedy.
“His vision is… jobs… that are impactful to help our community… lasting and sustainable jobs, educational opportunities made available to our community, and that we see the successful matriculation of young African-Americans.”
Founded in 1921, the Los Angeles Urban League is the city’s premier community organization in advancing equal opportunities on behalf of African Americans and other minority youths and adults through the innovative, holistic neighborhood change model, Neighborhoods@Work with job training and placement, youth achievement and business development programs. Through its collective award-winning programs, services and advocacy activities and seven offices located in the Crenshaw District, South Los Angeles, and Pomona, the Los Angeles Urban League serves over 100,000 constituents annually. Blair H. Taylor serves as the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, one of the largest and most successful affiliates of the National Urban League, which has affiliates in 100 cities throughout the United States.
Brian W. Carter, Staff Writer contributed to this article.