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Cynthia Mitchell Heard Named President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League

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Heard makes history as the second female President and CEO in almost a century at the Los Angeles Urban League.

Los Angeles, California – December 7, 2023:  The Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) proudly

announces the appointment of Cynthia Mitchell Heard as its new President and CEO effective January 1, 2024. Heard will become the first woman to assume this leadership role since Katherine Barr, the LAUL’s President in the late 1920s until 1931, and she is charged to advance the work and legacy of the civil rights and service organization improving the lives of its members and Los Angeles overall for more than a century.

“I am deeply honored and grateful for the trust placed in me with this appointment to President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. I am committed to upholding the  legacies of remarkable leaders like Katherine Barr, John Mack, and Ambassador Michael Lawson,” said Cynthia Heard, Chief Operating Officer, Los Angeles Urban League. “With unwavering dedication, I will strive to build upon their accomplishments and lead the organization to new heights. Thank you for this incredible opportunity.”

Heard’s appointment is an elevation from her role as LAUL’s Chief Operating Officer. She brings more than 30 years of experience working in non-profit organizations, including previous executive-level leadership roles at the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles and Children Uniting Nations. Heard is an alumna of the University of Southern California and earned her Master’s Degree in Education from Howard University.

Heard is recognized as a strategic and visionary leader, with strengths in organizational and program development, innovative fundraising solutions, fiscal management, and the implementation of effective processes and systems. She also is known for her collaborative leadership style, which includes mentoring and motivating others to be their best.

Elliot Hinds, Chair of the LAUL Board of Directors, expressed his enthusiasm for Heard’s appointment. “Cynthia Mitchell Heard’s visionary leadership and deep understanding of community needs mark a new era for the Los Angeles Urban League. said Hinds. “We chose her to propel our organization into a future that richly connects black and other underrepresented Angelenos to the vast and exciting opportunities that exist in our vibrant city.”

“I am thrilled that the Los Angeles Urban League has selected Cynthia Heard as the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. I know that the Los Angeles Urban League will grow and thrive under her leadership and her vision. It has been an honor to serve our community under the vision of John Mack,” said Michael A. Lawson, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League. “I know that Cynthia will continue the legacy of John Mack and the Los Angeles Urban League Presidents and CEOs on whose shoulders we stand. Congratulations!”

“The LA Urban League extends heartfelt gratitude to Ambassador Michael Lawson, who will retire following his exemplary service as President and CEO of  the organization since 2018,” said LAUL Vice Chair Keith Drake. “His leadership and dedication have been invaluable to the organization’s growth and success. He’s expressed his continuing commitment to support a smooth transition and we view that as further testament to his character.”

A competitive, nationwide search for the new President and CEO was led by a formal Search Committee formed from the LAUL Board, which was Chaired by Angela Reddock-Wright, Co-Chaired by Keith Drake, and included Ricardo Barragan, Mark Cornwell, Jennifer Gonring, and long-time LAUL Board and Executive Committee Member Faye McClure, now deceased.

The Search Committee’s efforts were supported by the professional services of the Hawkins Company, led by Yonnine Hawkins Garr and Todd Hawkins, ensuring a thorough and comprehensive search process. The LA Urban League also publicly thanks the National Urban League for its support in reviewing candidate qualifications as part of the search process.

For more information, please contact Ron Carter, (626) 345-1413.

**About the Los Angeles Urban League:**

Founded in 1921, the Los Angeles Urban League is a leading organization dedicated to empowering African Americans and others in underserved communities achieve their highest true social parity, economic self-reliance, power, and civil rights. The League promotes economic empowerment through education and job training, housing and community development, workforce development, entrepreneurship, health, and quality of life.


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