Even in a diverse, polyglot city like Los Angeles, Jan Perry cuts a unique profile that speaks to a multifaceted and sometimes contradictory political career. The former City Councilwoman is a Spanish-speaking, African-American, Jewish Democrat, whose pro-development efforts have sometimes put her into conflict with labor interests. Earlier this year, she made a spirited run for mayor of Los Angeles, and her trademark candor on the campaign trail earned her acclaim, though she ultimately finished fourth in the primary to better-financed rivals. On Wednesday, September 18, Perry (’77, M.P.A. ’81) returns to USC for the Bedrosian Center’s Lunch with a Leader, where she’ll talk about her leadership experience and role in economic development efforts for Los Angeles.
For 12 years, Perry represented District 9, a large swath of the city that includes parts of downtown and a good chunk of South Los Angeles. During her time, Perry spearheaded a slate of real-estate development projects in her district, including several high-profile projects as part of the revitalization of downtown Los Angeles. She also worked to create affordable housing, establish public parks and wetlands, and develop several shopping complex and supermarket projects in South L.A. Perry served as the only woman on City Council for many years.
Even after her time on City Council ended due to term limits this summer, Perry won’t be spending too much time away from City Hall. Mayor Eric Garcetti, a one-time rival who earned Perry’s endorsement, tabbed her in July to serve as an interim general manager of the city’s new Economic Development Department. Garcetti hopes that Perry can use her development acumen and years of public-private partnership expertise to foster new business growth in downtown Los Angeles and beyond. For Perry, it’s another step in a long journey in public service.