Meet The Real Life Leslie Knope: Compton’s Young Female Mayor

Compton Mayor Aja Brown

If you’ve ever heard anything about the city of Compton in Los Angeles, you know it’s not always talked about in a positive light. Hip hop music, gangs, crime, the ghetto, these are all terms associated with Compton, but it looks like there is change on the horizon, thanks to its new Mayor. The is the known birthplace of such legendary names as Suge Knight, Kenrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, and even tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams. Now it looks as though one woman is about to create a whole new legendary perspective of her own, and inspire many of the city’s young girls along the way.

The new mayor, who was sworn in in July 2013, is 31 year old Aja Brown. Yep, this fine fierce, and educated woman is the new face of Compton and is already making drastic changes in a positive direction. The 31-year-old USC grad is the youngest African American mayor in the history of the city and beat her opponent like nobody’s business!

She is somewhat of a real-life Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler’s character from NBC’s Parks and Recreation) as she admits to Vogue (yes, she was featured in Vogue magazine!!!) she used to beg her mom to take her to visit Old Town Pasadena which was going under major reconstruction. Aja just loved watching the buildings go up and see a city come to life. Definitely a politician in the making!

Aja Brown and her twin brother Jonathan were raised by a single mother who instilled some very good values in them from the start, including hard work and not taking the easy way out to get ahead in life.

She went on to earn multiple degrees in urban planning and economic development, a bachelor’s and a master’s on a full undergraduate scholarship at the University of Southern California. Then, after a ten-year stint in urban planning and economic development in some of L.A.’s surrounding communities—including a prestigious post on the Pasadena Planning Commission—she decided to focus on Compton, a city badly in need of urban planning and economic development.

All this would be enough to keep her busy, but Brown and her petrochemical safety manager husband Van Brown, who she has been with since she was 17, also a non profit. It is called the Urban Vision Community Development Corporation and they focus on youth development, community investment, and promote activities that generate wealth and eradicate poverty.

Aja Brown Compton Mayor

Aja basically intends to re-brand Compton and make it a city that is know for its vital community members and growth, as opposed to the stereotyped images you see in the media, and entertainment. It is somewhat of a bittersweet full circle for Aja, whose grandmother was shot dead in Compton, and now she intends to take on the city and give it a new focus, and probably mend her own personal wounds in the process by getting rid of old stigma on all counts.

Her particular focus is education, health care centers, bringing business to Compton, and working with churches and other youth organizations to affect the infrastructure from the ground up. That’s pretty dope if you ask us, and we think all the hip hop artists out there who love the city so much should start writing some new raps about their beloved Compton, because a change is at hand. Her opponent in the Mayoral race criticized her for not having a viable solution to end the gang-related shootings. But according to Aja, if you invest in the lives of youth, give them ways to get involved in the community you will give them a reason not to get into a life of crime from an early age. What an inspiration!

It’s not hard to see how this city, so rooted in history and tradition is ready for change and new ways of doing things. When she took up the position of Mayor, after defeating Omar Bradley (who was a former Mayor of Compton), the city was $20 million in debt.

She told Vogue “We have a very fiscally conservative accountant now. We’ve managed to restructure the debt, reduce the interest on our bank loans, and right now we have a budget surplus.”

If there is anyone out there who loves the strong image of modern day female politicians who are making a change in their world, there is no doubt you will want to keep following the work of Aja Brown. She really is the real life Leslie Knope, and while she may not have comedic timing like Amy Poehler, her focus is on creating a new future for the next generation to come out of the famous city.

Compton will from here on in be known as the city of progression, female empowerment, and youth who are passionate about making a difference. If their leader is anything to go by, we reckon this city, sung about in Tupac’s famous ‘California Love’ is going to be leading the way for other cities who are struggling to shake off negative stereotypes.

The power of hard work combined the power of a strong determined woman who has some great ideas is a force to be reckoned with!




  1. She is an absolute inspiration – what an amazing woman and only 31!!

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