About Us

Downtown Crenshaw is powered by the Crenshaw Community with support from South Central natives and allies throughout the region and globe.

The founding Board of Directors of Downtown Crenshaw Rising, a California nonprofit corporation, consists of the following change agents, organizers, community leaders and real estate professionals. They work with the Development Team to implement the vision of the community in the project.

 

Niki Okuk

 

Board President - Niki Okuk

South Central resident Niglmoro (Niki) Okuk founded Rco Tires in 2012. They have since recycled more than 300 million pounds of rubber, diverting 70 million gallons of oil from landfills with 16 employees, making it one of southern California's largest sustainability plants. Rco creates alternative uses for trash tires, turning them into new products. Because of Okuk's progressive hiring and management practices, it provides stable jobs for local Black and Latino residents who struggle to find employment because of past criminal convictions or legal status. Okuk grew up in Los Angeles and majored in economics at Columbia University. After working in development with the office of Joseph Stiglitz and working in finance in Korea and Singapore, Okuk completed her MBA with Nanyang University in Singapore, including a sustainability certificate at Sloan School of Business at MIT.

 

Board Treasurer - Paul Yelder

The grandmother of Paul Yelder, MCRP was one of the first Black residents of Leimert Park, buying her home in 1953. A resident since 1963, he has over 30 years of experience in the field of community development, working in a variety of capacities in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. He has submitted and reviewed affordable housing project financing for hundreds of affordable housing projects across America. As a consultant, he provides a variety of organizational development assistance to nonprofit community development organizations in the areas of strategic planning, business planning, governance, and project planning/management. He was recently employed by The Enterprise Foundation as a Senior Program Director in the Housing and Community Development Workgroup, where he provided organizational management assistance to numerous housing and community development organizations throughout the country. He also co-authored the manuals: “Effective Strategic Planning” and “Planning a New Business Venture” of The Enterprise Foundation’s Community Development Library. Prior to joining The Enterprise Foundation, Paul was the Executive Director of Dudley Neighbors Incorporated, a community land trust established by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a nationally recognized model of resident-driven community development. He is currently serving, or has served, on the Board of Directors of a variety of nonprofit and civic organizations, including the Institute for Community Economics, YouthBuild Boston, and The Howard County Planning Board (Maryland). Paul holds a Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University and Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Urban Studies from Dartmouth College.

 

Board Secretary - Malcolm Harris

An Oakland native, Chesterfield Square resident Malcolm Harris has lived in Los Angeles since 1984, moving to the Crenshaw District in 1995. Mr. Harris is a labor & community organizer, starting as an organizer in 1995 with the Community Coalition in South Central Los Angeles. He worked with the AMASSI Center of South Central Los Angeles, and spent 13 years as an organizing coordinator with the SEIU. Mr. Harris began working at T.R.U.S.T. South LA, a member-based community land trust on the eastside of South Central LA, serving as the Organizing & Programs Coordinator. In 2016, T.R.U.S.T. started the 2-year long process to re-develop the existing 48 unit 100% affordable building, into a 100% affordable 138 unit building on the site with a neighborhood health clinic. Mr. Harris led a comprehensive door-to-door community engagement effort to get the community resident and stakeholder support to secure the permits needed to move the redevelopment. There were many positives during the community engagement, and his skill set as an organizer helped T.R.U.S.T. navigate through them to develop community consensus.

 

Board Member - Damien Goodmon

27-year Leimert Park resident Damien Goodmon has been labeled a “visionary” by the LA Times, recognized as one of the L.A.’s “100 Most Influential African-Americans” by the LA Wave Newspapers, chosen beside former LA Mayor Richard Riordan and actress Drew Barrymore for the 2009 “LA People” issue of LA Weekly, and is a lead subject of the award-winning documentary “Beyond the Echo of the Drum,” which premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. As a nonprofit executive director he has led some of the Crenshaw and Black Los Angeles' most impactful community advocacy campaigns. As a political operative he has managed, led departments and advised electoral campaigns from the school board level up to the presidential. As an executive management consultant and systems thinker, he has built, reconstructed and managed multiple large companies and departments, including some with over 400 employees, and successfully guided complex projects and partnerships, featuring actors with divergent interests. In the public sector, Mr. Goodmon served as a policy assistant for Board District 1 of Los Angeles Unified School District, America’s second largest school district. In that capacity he was directly responsible for overseeing the largest school expansion project in the country on behalf of the Board Member, and reviewing hundreds of contracts and bids in the LAUSD’s multi-billion dollar procurement process. Mr. Goodmon has worked to secure public funding for large real estate projects, and advocate for additional investment in public infrastructure projects. In his most recent capacity, he served as a senior advisor and an initial thought leader for the creation of the affordable housing program of a global nonprofit. Mr. Goodmon is a fifth-generation Angelino and descendant of Charles and L.M. Blodgett, who were successful Black builders and the founders of the first Black-owned bank on the West Coast, Liberty Savings and Loan. The Blodgett's built the first FHA financed housing for Black people in America, Blodgett Tract. He is also a relative of Colonel Allen Allensworth, the founder of Allensworth, California, the only town in the state to be founded, financed and governed by Black people. A graduate of L.A. Loyola High School, he has studied at the University of Washington and Harvard University programs.

 

Board Member - Jackie Ryan

Affectionately referred to as the "Godmother of Leimert Park Village," Jackie Ryan has been a Baldwin Hills and Windsor Hills resident for 55 years. She currently serves as co-vice chair of the Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance, a collective of civil rights, labor, and community-based organizations focused on advancing a Black united front. Ms. Ryan also serves as a Baldwin Hills area representative for the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council. She is a Platinum member of Links, Inc., and the producer of the Leimert Park Village History Banner Project. Ms. Ryan is a past member of the International Black Buyers & Manufacturers Exposition and Conference, past president of the Leimert Park Village Merchants Association, and past member of the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles Crenshaw Project Area Community Advisory Council. She is the retired co-owner of Zambezi Bazaar, which was a cultural and retail store in Leimert Park.

 

 

Board Member - Jan Williams

(Bio forthcoming)

 

Board Member - Dwayne Wyatt

A staple in every major planning conversation for the Crenshaw community for the past 25 years, Dwayne Wyatt retired as a city planner for the Los Angeles City Planning Department after 32 years of service. In that capacity, Mr. Wyatt worked in a variety of areas, including general plan development, zoning regulation, processed land subdivision cases, managed and developed historic overlay zones, staffed specific plan boards, and served as liaison for neighborhood councils and the Planning Department. While serving with the Planning Department, he worked on several special city projects and community initiatives, including the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative program, the Hyde Park Pedestrian District Project, the Crenshaw Summit Organizing Committee, and the South Central/Southeast Task Force. During his tenure he was assigned to the Crenshaw project area. Mr. Wyatt is now a consultant on a number of land use issues. He earned a Masters of Arts degree in Regional/Urban Planning from the University of California at Los Angeles.