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PRESS RELEASE: Western Center on Law & Poverty to Honor Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley with Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award


Virtual Garden Party event will honor Shockley’s lifetime of work for equal justice, and feature a conversation with Los Angeles Times Reporter Steve Lopez & Western Center’s new Executive Director, Crystal D. Crawford

Los Angeles, CA — On Thursday, October 8th, Western Center on Law & Poverty will present Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Brenda Shockley with its Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award at the organization’s 36th annual Garden Party. The award is named for retired California appellate court justice Earl Johnson, and honors leaders who have dedicated their career to providing Californians with equal justice under the law.

Garden Party is an event highlighting Western Center’s efforts in California courts, cities, counties, and in the Capitol on behalf of people experiencing poverty. Every year, Western Center honors three to five people or institutions who have made an extraordinary contribution, either through their partnership with Western Center or through their lifelong commitment to social justice.

Shockley exemplifies Western Center principles in many ways. She was named Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity for the City of Los Angeles in July of 2016, and appointed Chief Equity Officer in June, 2020. As a leader in the Mayor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, Shockley focuses on the prevention of homelessness and poverty through education, training, and employment that provides a living wage. Shockley’s work also addresses racial equity, workforce development, housing, and community development.

Shockley was President of Community Build for over 24 years before her appointments from Mayor Garcetti. Community Build was incorporated in 1992 in response to civil unrest, in an effort to revitalize South Los Angeles through human investment and commercial and economic development. Shockley oversaw the development of 16,000 square feet of commercial space in Leimert Park, which serves as a center for the African American community. Her work to revitalize South L.A. has led to more than $100 million of investment in education, employment and training programs. Western Center is proud to honor Deputy Mayor Shockley with the Earl Johnson Equal Justice Award for her persistent efforts to make Los Angeles a city that supports and uplifts its residents.

“Brenda is a jewel of South Los Angeles who has served the people of Los Angeles faithfully for decades,” said Crystal D. Crawford, Western Center’s new Executive Director. “She is a true freedom fighter and warrior for justice who has helped transform Los Angeles.”

Each year, Garden Party is attended by hundreds of attorneys, philanthropists, business people, legal services providers, community based partners, and many more. Though this year’s event is virtual due to the pandemic, Garden Party will again highlight contributions from individuals and organizations working on behalf of people experiencing poverty across the state.

In addition to Shockley, Garden Party honorees who will be recognized on Thursday, October 8th include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, receiving the Max Gillam Pro Bono Award; Hope Nakamura of Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County, receiving the Mary Burdick Advocates Award; Delilah L. Clay of Manatt Phelps, for her work on the Crown Act, which prevents workplace discrimination based on hair; and Anthony Robles of Youth Justice Coalition, a lead advocate in the successful movement to end juvenile justice fees in California.

The event will also feature a conversation between award-winning author and Los Angeles Times reporter, Steve Lopez, and Western Center’s new Executive Director, Crystal D. Crawford.

More information on Garden Party — how to attend and get involved — can be found here.


Suzanne Convery, Director of Development — sconvery[at]

Courtney McKinney, Director of Communications — cmckinney[at]



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