Marva Smith Battle-Bey MPA ’74, MPL ’75 (SPP) of Los Angeles; April 6, at the age of 64. As founder, president, and chief executive officer of the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation, she contributed meaningfully to her community by creating over 3,000 jobs, building affordable housing complexes, developing and financing supermarkets and shopping centers, and operating as a pillar of economic development for her beloved community. She was a recipient of numerous awards, including the Economic Justice Award from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Leadership Award from Leadership California, the Paul Davidoff National Award for Social Advocacy from American Planning Association and an NAACP Image Award. Additionally, she served on the Price School Planning Advisory Board.
She was at the center of efforts to rebuild damaged stretches of the city after the 1992 riots. But unlike other revitalization enthusiasts of the period, she was already there, working for redevelopment, years before the riots broke out — and would stick to the work for decades afterward. She had fallen in love with the city during her days in graduate school in urban planning at USC, and she resolved to stay and work for its improvement.
Under her leadership, her nonprofit organization developed the Vermont-Slauson Shopping Center in 1981. The complex on the south side of Slauson Avenue is home to Kmart, CVS and other retailers. She also led the organization’s development of two affordable housing projects and its creation of the Business Enterprise Center.
She is survived by her husband Stephan Battle-Bey, sister Gloria Gilmore, and brothers Doward Smith and Troy Rials.