This month, Downtown Scene highlights DLBA Board Member John Keisler, a City of Long Beach official who is focused on the development and prosperity of Long Beach. The November newsletter also marks the beginning of our profiles of DLBA Committee Members, starting with Hilda Sanchez, who currently serves on our Finance Committee. Both individuals bring positive energy and a strong commitment to the betterment of Downtown Long Beach.
Board Member John Keisler is the Director of Economic Development for the City of Long Beach. His professional goal is to help create economic opportunities for workers, investors, and entrepreneurs. “I want to help make Long Beach the most entrepreneurial city in America,” he said. “To do this, we need to have an open, inclusive, and diverse Downtown that embraces energy, creativity, and a sense of community.”
Keisler’s parents moved to Long Beach from the midwest during the 1940s before settling in San Luis Obispo, where Keisler was born and raised. He came back to Long Beach after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Religion from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy.
After beginning his tenure with the City in November 2016, Keisler saw an opportunity to learn about Downtown community leaders, business owners, and residents by joining DLBA’s Economic Development Committee in 2017. A year later, he began serving on the DLBA Executive Board. “As a public servant, it is critically important to stay connected to the community,” Keisler said. “As a resident of Long Beach, it is fun to know the stories of the people, projects, and places where we live.
“We are so fortunate to have organizations like DLBA that bring together community members to support each other in good times and bad,” Keisler continued. “The DLBA Board has been an incredible force for good during the COVID-19 situation by organizing virtual events, providing real-time information to residents about changes to the health orders, transforming our streets for outdoor dining, and providing grants to help small businesses hang on. But the most important role of the DLBA Board during these uncertain times has been to keep the community connected, and to provide hope.”
Hilda Sanchez, who currently serves on DLBA’s Finance Committee, has been involved with DLBA since 2008. She served as Board Chair in 2014, is a former Board Treasurer, and has served on the Marketing, Audit and Executive Committees.
Sanchez was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and emigrated with her parents to the United States when she was two years old. Her education culminated in an Associate of Arts Degree in Data Processing from Compton College. She and her husband own and operate Minuteman Press in Downtown Long Beach.
“I look at Downtown from a business owner’s perspective,” said Sanchez. She loves the vibe and diversity of Downtown and is pleased to see so many people looking after it. “I was so touched on June 1 when I saw so many volunteers all over Downtown with their brooms and trash bags cleaning up the mess from the civil unrest,” she said. “It brought me to tears. It also strengthened my faith in humanity and my love of Downtown.”
Keisler and Sanchez encourage all Downtown stakeholders to make their voices heard in DLBA’s Board and Committees. “If you are at all interested, please volunteer,” Sanchez said. “You will meet some amazing people, and you will have a hand in setting the direction of Downtown Long Beach.”
Keisler offered a similar call to action. “Get involved. Dive in. Make Downtown your own,” he said. “Long Beach is not a ‘master planned’ community. It is truly shaped and formed by its residents, business owners, and workers. How cool is that? Long Beach is a big, modern waterfront city that is still shaped by the people who get involved.”