Native American Indian Commission

2022 Community Elected Commissioner Candidate

Caroline Bhalla

Candidate Biography

My name is Caroline Bhalla and I am a member American Indian community of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin. I was in raised in Oxnard, California. My mother grew up on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. As a child, I visited the reservation in the summers with my family. I carry those experiences with me throughout my professional and academic work.

I currently serve as the Executive Director of the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation, which has the mission of developing ideas and illuminating strategies to improve the quality of life for people living in low-income urban communities. In this role, I direct all activities and operations of the center while helping to expand the strategic vision and impact of our work.

At the Price Center, I have built a culture of inclusion, diversity and overall excellence: training students, diversifying staff, co-creating and managing community-based research and data projects and initiatives including Neighborhood Data for Social Change and the Homelessness Policy Research Institute (HPRI).

I previously served in the Price School’s Office of Development and External Relations for five years. In this role, I was responsible for designing and implementing high-level policy events, including programs created to increase diversity and inclusivity at USC Price. There, I started the Women in Leadership Speaker series, which brought together women from all different sectors to discuss barriers and opportunities to success. I raised money for scholarships for underrepresented minorities to study at the USC Price School of Public Policy.

Throughout my ten years at USC, I have participated in podcasts that have discussed works written by and about the Native American community, often the only person on those panels who spoke from the Native American perspective. Additionally, I urged researchers at HPRI to write a brief—American Indian and Alaska Native Homelessness—which drew from Dr. Andrea Garcia’s study of Native American Homelessness in Los Angeles.

Before returning to California in July 2011, I was the Associate Director of the New York University Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, where I began as a research assistant in 2002. At NYU’s Furman Center, I was the project lead on the annual State of the City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report. As the Associate Director I was responsible for human relations, finance and fundraising for the Furman Center. Prior to that, I worked as an Assistant Account Executive in a boutique public relations firm in San Francisco, Graham and Associates.

I earned my B.A. in Mass Communications/Rhetoric from the University of California at Berkeley, and received an M.A. in Culture and Communication from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education where my master’s thesis focused on Native American Representation at the National Museum of the American Indian Education. I also earned an M.A. in American Studies from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science where I focused on the ethnic press.

Candidate Statement

I would like to serve on the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission to help advocate for Native American issues in our community. My professional experience working with a variety of public officials, advocacy groups, students, and community organizations has provided me valuable skills that would translate well to my service on this commission. In particular, I bring excellent facilitation and listening skills, as well as an understanding of public policy and governance issues facing the region. Further, the organizational and leadership skills that I have acquired over the past 20 years would be a great asset to the commission and the community. And, perhaps most importantly, I have a strong passion for uplifting Native American stories, and it would be an honor to do that work through this commission.

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