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Saundra Bryant’s lasting legacy in South LA


Retires from All Peoples Community Center

The All Peoples Community Center has been serving the greater Los Angeles area for several years–81 to be exact. All Peoples Community Center was established in 1942, which was formerly known as the Japanese Christian Church and Institute, and has a total of 16 family center locations throughout Los Angeles. The All Peoples has become one of the largest non-profit and resource centers for low-income families facing adversity. All Peoples is located at 822 E. 20th St. The All Peoples  ambassador of community resources, and justice, Executive Director; Saundra Bryant has announced that within less than three weeks, she will retire.

According to recent research, All Peoples is responsible for assisting over 6,600 people per year, with 100% of families low-income.  In 1983, Bryant was hired by the All Peoples as the first Black Executive director. Bryant has paid it forward throughout all of the years she has worked with the community center and throughout her life experience and career achievements. She exemplifies true leadership and understands what it means to give back to the community and create a space for those who don’t have one or are lacking resources. She has continued to work tirelessly, over the past 40 years; which makes her departure from the company bittersweet.

Christine Galligani, Board Chair said of Saundra’s time at APPC; “Saundra’s 40 years of commitment to the South Los Angeles community that is served by All Peoples Community Center has helped to shape the neighborhood, community organizations within the area, and nonprofit service within the entire City of Los Angeles. She followed her calling to spend a career lifetime giving to others, and we are so grateful for the legacy of intentional work with a heart that she has established.”

Bryant is looking forward to retirement, but admits this role has been her life’s work and destiny; departure from this prestigious title will be a new season of change. Bryant is a Los Angeles native who shares a close relationship with All Peoples. Bryant grew up a mere two blocks from the community center and began daycare at the age of two at All Peoples. As a child, Bryant continued to attend the youth program available and recalls having a life-transforming and uplifting experience while attending the center.

Bryant says, “ I know I became a Social Worker out of my relationship with All Peoples and being around individuals who were role models who supported me and encouraged me. I think giving back was a part of my DNA from being here. I came back to All Peoples in 1983, as an Executive Director. This has been my life’s calling, to be able to have the opportunity to provide experiences for children, youth, and family in this community.”

Many surrounding Bryant have admired her heart of gold and her tenure, noting her empathetic and kind nature, “Saundra Bryant stands out as the most empathetic leader I have ever encountered. She has secured a lasting place in the hearts of both my family and me, and we will forever cherish her and remain deeply thankful,” said Christina Zuniga, board member, and former All Peoples attendee.

All Peoples offers several youth Programs such as a summer day camp, a one-week residential, and a summer youth employment program, (120 hours of paid work experience). Financial literacy is offered beginning with elementary students and spanning throughout high school students; financial literacy and coaching are available to adult program attendees as well. Summer day camp attendees are offered a savings incentive program and counseling.

Resources for adults include: case management for adults, rental and utility assistance, ESL classes, immigration services and workshops and a security program.

Bryant attended Cal Poly Pomona in pursuit of her undergraduate degree, majoring in Social Work. Bryant went on to attend the University of Tennessee in Knoxville for her graduate degree.  Throughout her career, Bryant has accomplished a great deal; some of those accomplishments began within a year of her start at All Peoples. In 1984, Bryant established her first grant with United Way of Greater Los Angeles. In 1992, following the Los Angeles riots, Saundra spoke on community solutions with U.S. Representative Maxine Waters. Bryant was a creative pioneer and instrumental in developing new programs or hosting events.  Bryant hosted the center’s first Annual Community Health, Resource, and Book fair which featured several fifty booths offering screenings for flu shots, diabetes, cholesterol, mammograms, blood pressure, HIV, vision, dental and other services.

Bryant is one of ten recipients of the Lewis Hines Award by the National Child Care Committee. In addition to the first award, Bryant acquired the 1999 California Association of Human Relations Organizations Civil Rights Leadership Award. A year later she was one of the six recipients of the Durfee Fellowship. In 2004, Bryant was instrumental in launching one of the center’s most notable programs, “Tomorrow’s Leaders” Program, which serves 150 youth, grades 1-12, and offers a wide array of services to assist them and prepare for their post-secondary, collegiate and lifelong career paths. Bryant is also an advisor for a Domestic Violence Group, called MEJOR, which has been particularly impactful for her.

Bryant has plenty to be proud of noting, “ I am proud to see a young person that started in our program in second or third grade and has now graduated high school and gone to college. I am most proud of the fact that 40% of our staff are former participants and are student interns in our program. To me, that is what makes all of this worthwhile, being able to have people in the community to be role models. Knowing that what we’re doing works and provides stability.”

In closing, Bryant says, “I was the first African-American Director hired at All Peoples, and the first Social Worker with a Masters as well. There have been a lot of firsts in my life that I am really proud of. I attribute that to having an amazing mother, Mary Reynolds, who was the first person in her family to graduate from high school. It was because of her and being here at All Peoples that I am the woman I am.”