Abbe Land, a long-serving member of the West Hollywood City Council and former head of several major non-profit organizations, has been named executive director of Los Angeles County’s pioneering Women and Girls Initiative, Los Angeles County announced Monday.
Land’s appointment comes as the initiative enters its second year, according to a county statement.
“Abbe Land has been an exemplary leader in Los Angeles on women’s issues and safety net healthcare concerns for more than three decades,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Sheila Kuehl, who, with Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, authored the motion establishing the five-year initiative addressing the disproportionate burdens and disadvantages facing women and girls in Los Angeles County.
Kuehl said Land’s extensive background, including serving as mayor and councilmember in West Hollywood, where she oversaw a similar initiative, as well as her leadership in the health and civil rights communities, makes her the right person for the job.
“We are very pleased to have found such a qualified, capable and impressive candidate to lead the Women and Girls Initiative. Given the many serious inequities facing county women and girls, I am excited that Abbe will bring her formidable leadership to this very important effort,” Kuehl said.
Land succeeds former executive director Regina Waugh, who will remain with the county in a new capacity in the Department of Mental Health.
Land’s experience includes serving as co-CEO of the Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles, a nonprofit clinic that provides comprehensive medical care to low-income people. Land also served as CEO of the Trevor Project, a non-profit organization established to reduce suicide among LGBT young people. She has received numerous awards, including the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her commitment to affordable housing, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles Good Neighbor Award for her work on LGBT issues.
“I have been working for most of my adult life on issues of importance to women and girls,” Land said. “As executive director of the Women and Girls initiative, I look forward to working together to truly improve the lives of women and girls throughout Los Angeles County.”
Land is one of West Hollywood’s best known civic leaders. She served on the West Hollywood City Council for 22 years. She has lived in West Hollywood with her husband, the artist Martin Gantman, since 1979. She was first elected to the Council in 1986 to fill a vacancy left when Mayor Valerie Terrigno resigned after being convicted on federal charges of embezzling money from a non-profit organization.
Land won with the support of the Coalition for Economic Survival, the group that organized the campaign to incorporate West Hollywood in an effort to protect the community’s residents from the relaxation of county rent control rules by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She was an active member in the CES campaign that brought together rent control advocates, seniors and gay rights advocates to vote to form a city from what was then an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County. CES Executive Director Larry Gross recalls the evening when he sitting in his office in the early evening with some of his staff members and decided to answer an after-hours telephone call. On the other end of the call was the young Land, who asked Gross how she could help.
Land’s support for affordable housing inspired her efforts to advocate creation of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which builds and rehabilitates affordable housing for seniors, families and people living with disabilities.
Land also has focused on environmental issues, initiating the city’s Green Building ordinance, one of the first in the country. That ordinance requires developers of new properties to meet certain environmental standards.
Land was instrumental in creating the city’s Women’s and Disability Advisory Boards. She was also active in the development of the city’s domestic violence prevention program for same-sex couples.