Women in Leadership Vital Voices: Keeping Pasadena in the Political Loop

Published : Thursday, March 28, 2019 | 2:16 PM

Lena Kennedy, seated, between Executive Team Members Janet Braun (left) and Ellen Daigle (right). Not pictured are the following other Executive Team members, Sheila Grether-Marion, Ann Hamilton, Beverley Morgan Sandoz, Jihee Huh and the Hon. John J. Kennedy. Courtesy photo

[Updated]  As with former Secretary of State John Kerry before her, when the chief executive officer of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Seema Nanda rolls into Pasadena on Friday, few who see or read about her visit will know much about how their visits came to be.

In these cases and others, important American political figures have come to Pasadena because of a group called Women In Leadership Vital Voices, according to Lena. Kennedy, a guiding force behind the organization.

“We bring policy makers to our community first and let them know that Pasadena exists,” Kennedy told Pasadena Now. “Because when they come to Southern California, they always go to the west side.”

By “policy makers,” Kennedy means serious political heavyweights with national reputations and actual influence on moving agendas forward.

“Our Executive Leaders work as a team,” she explained, “as a group of women from communities all around Southern California, and we have stated, ‘You need to be receptive and come to Pasadena; we have the resources, smart people who are thinkers and making a difference right here. You need to come and get to know us.’”

When high profile elected officials breeze through Pasadena, the event, Kennedy said, is usually exclusive.

“It’s at a … private home,” she said, “just for their friends and the larger community doesn’t even know they’ve come and gone.”

She identified the last Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, as someone who graced Pasadena, without doing so in a public way.

“What we do is bring people of influence that are impacting our country and create opportunities for the larger community to participate and be engaged with them,” said Kennedy.

She noted that when DNC Chair Tom Perez drops in, it is typically a $5,000 to $30,000 ticket to gain entry. Seema Nanda visit is about relationship building, the cost is simply for lunch $55 for members and $60 non-members.

“It’s not a fundraiser,” Kennedy emphasized. “She is here to engage and educate the community.”

In April, Vital Voices will follow up its DNC coup with a visit to Friendship Pasadena Church (formerly known as Friendship Baptist) and a talk from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who has been in the national spotlight of late as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.  Friendship Baptist was the site of a visit in 1960 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

His presence will have been preceded by Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and former DNC chair and Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Cong. Katie Hill, Cong. Eric Swalwell, Cong. Maxine Waters, Lt.Gov. Gavin Newsom, Cong. Judy Chu, Cong. Tim Kaine

How is it this parade of the powerful are willing to forswear the west side’s Hollywood-sized political contributions and glamorous evenings?

Said Kennedy: “Because we asked them to.”

By her own account, she has been working in the political sphere since the age of 18. Her brother John Kennedy is a Pasadena city councilman and vice mayor.

“We’ve just worked building relationships,” she commented. “One of the things I do in my business is strategic positioning. So that’s years of work.”

For more information about Women in Leadership Vital Voices, please contact Lena Kennedy at (626) 765-6206 or lkennedy@llkassociates.com .







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