DLBA continues its monthly Board Member Profiles series by highlighting three uniquely talented and experienced Board members who, along with their colleagues, pool their abilities in the unrelenting quest to improve and support Downtown.
“Downtown Long Beach is vibrant, diverse, and unapologetically unique,” said Board Member Liz Simmons, CEO of Downtown-based culinary consulting company Pursuits in Food. A 2018 graduate of Ireland’s Ballymaloe Cookery School, Simmons brings a love of food and an entrepreneurial spirit to the Downtown table.
Originally from Tennessee, Simmons earned a double Bachelor’s Degree in accounting and business management from Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. She moved to Southern California in 2006 and found her way to Long Beach in 2011 with the hope of putting her business and culinary skills into action.
“I am a passionate advocate for the Downtown Long Beach community, always looking for ways to extend hospitality and empower entrepreneurial pursuits,” said Simmons. “DLBA’s mission to cultivate, preserve, and promote a healthy, safe, and prosperous Downtown is my sincerest dream and hope as both a resident and business owner.”
Board Member Bob Kelton, an independent software systems consultant, is a vocal advocate for his fellow Downtown residents. “I joined the Board because I thought it was important to have active residential members involved with the DLBA and its activities,” said Kelton. “I have been heavily involved with Downtown residential organizations for many years, always working to improve the quality of life in Downtown Long Beach.”
In addition to his duties as DLBA Board Member, Kelton is Vice President of the Downtown Residential Council, which serves as a forum for Downtown residents. He is also Vice President and founding member of the Ocean Residents Community Association, which is comprised of residents living on Ocean Boulevard in Downtown.
A native of Arizona and a University of Arizona graduate, Kelton said he moved to Long Beach because of its “beauty and wonderful cultural diversity.” He noted, “As a Board member, I want to continuously help to improve the quality of life for Downtown residents.”
Board Member Denise Carter is Chief Community Officer at LawWorks, a community work space for lawyers located in Irvine. She holds a Master’s Degree in business administration from the University of Denver and a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. She became a DLBA Board member after responding to a postcard invitation calling for Board applicants which was sent to all Downtown residents. “Being accepted onto the Board allowed me to get to know and work with Long Beach leaders committed to our city’s ongoing evolution,” Carter said.
“I love so many things about Downtown Long Beach,” said Carter. “I love its diversity and walkability, and the wonderful green spaces sprinkled throughout. I love the creative retail shops owned by Long Beach locals. I love that Downtown Long Beach is the best of all possible worlds; a gorgeous, world-class, urban environment located on the beach. I’ve been here 20 years and some days I still can’t believe I get to call this place home.”
“I’m proud that in many ways Long Beach is a progressive city, but there is room for improvement,” continued Carter. “As a Black woman with a keen interest in social justice issues, I bring a particular perspective to the Board which takes into account vulnerable, marginalized, and underserved voices in a people-first worldview. I hope that my presence on the Board helps to serve as a counterweight to other perspectives and will help to ensure that interests beyond business are thoughtfully considered when decisions are to be made.”