Rise Economy has recognized community leaders and organizations across California that have made a positive impact in their local communities with service awards for more than two decades. This year, we will recognize three stellar leaders — an affordable housing leader out of South Central Los Angeles, a small business lending expert and advocate, and a racial justice-forward assemblymember.

Learn more about the honorees below:


Esperanza Community Housing

Founded in 1989, Esperanza Community Housing is a social justice organization based in South Central Los Angeles that grew out of a successful community organizing campaign to prevent the displacement of low-income tenants. Providing financial stability and growth opportunities through our affordable multi-family housing and the vibrant culinary and cultural hub, the Mercado la Paloma, Esperanza partners with local residents to achieve health equity in our communities. 

Having trained more than 600 Promotores de Salud (Community Health Promoters), Esperanza’s Promotores have been instrumental in increasing access to care through culturally and linguistically inclusive outreach and education. In collaboration with our coalition partners and community members, our policy efforts aim to remove structural barriers to achieve systemic change in affordable housing, equitable development, environmental justice, immigrant rights, and public health at the local, state, and national levels.


Grady B. Hedgespeth, Small Business and Consumer Equity Advocate

Grady HedgespethGrady Hedgespeth heads the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) office on small business lending. In his leadership role, he is the executive sponsor for the implementation of Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires lenders to collect and report information about credit applications made by small businesses, including the race and gender of the owners. 

Prior to joining CFPB in 2016, Hedgespeth spent nine years at the Small Business Administration (SBA) where he oversaw its premiere loan programs. He led the implementation of the Recovery and Jobs Acts, resulting in a doubling of assets. He created the Community Advantage loan program, and in 2012, he created the SBA’s Office of Economic Opportunity to increase access to capital for underserved market small businesses. Prior to his federal service, he ran two national Community Development Financial Institutions and spent a decade in senior executive roles with P&L responsibility at some of the nation’s largest banks. 

In commercial banking, Hedgespeth created new and successful business models at three different institutions. They expanded financial services to previously underserviced minority- and women-owned businesses and to low-income communities using consumer, small business, commercial real estate and private equity platforms. His banking innovations led his institutions to five outstanding CRA designations in a row, as well as the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Social Responsibility at a White House ceremony. 

Hedgespeth holds a BA with Honors from the University of Virginia and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. An economist by training and conviction, he believes that no meaningful social justice is possible without economic justice.

Assembly Majority Leader Isaac Bryan

Isaac G. Bryan represents California’s 55th Assembly District, which consists of Baldwin Hills, the Crenshaw district, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms, Pico-Robertson, Beverly Grove, Mid-Wilshire and parts of South Los Angeles. Prior to his election to the Assembly, Isaac led a ballot measure that brought millions of dollars a year to address racial injustice and strengthen communities in Los Angeles. For years, his academic and organizing work has been at the intersection of environmental, economic, education and housing justice.

In the Assembly, Isaac secured funding to found the Center on Reproductive Health, Law, and Policy at UCLA School of Law; the first Climate Change Education Center in the California Community College system at West LA College; a stipend program for students in the trades to earn a living wage while studying for certificates, and millions of dollars for other projects across the 55th District. Isaac’s legislative accomplishments have included phasing out the Inglewood Oil Field and other oil drilling near homes and communities in California (SB-1137), ending prison gerrymandering (AB-1848), ending punishing fees for parents with children in foster care (AB-1686), protecting students from predatory insurance practices (AB-1823) and strengthening online campaign finance disclosure requirement (AB-1848).