In celebration of Women’s History Month, we have been highlighting the women who have served as councilmembers of the Los Angeles City Council.
Today we are featuring the City’s newest councilmember, Nithya Raman. She is the first South Asian, the first Asian woman, and the 19th woman elected to the Los Angeles City Council.
Nithya Raman [b. 1981] 4th Council District, 2020-
Hancock Park, Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Larchmont Village, Los Feliz, Miracle Mile, Sherman Oaks, Silverlake, Toluca Lake, Windsor Square and portions of Koreatown, Van Nuys
In November of 2020, Nithya Raman, having never held office, won the election for the 4th Council District, becoming the first challenger in 17 years to defeat a sitting City Councilmember. In addition to Nithya being the first woman to hold the District 4 seat, she is the first-ever South Asian and first Asian woman elected to the City Council.
Nithya was born in Kerala, India, and immigrated to the US when she was six. Her experiences as a young immigrant to this country, and as one of the only people of color in her classrooms, shaped her decision later in life to focus on social justice in her work.
Prior to life in Los Angeles, Nithya started Transparent Chennai in India. The organization worked with residents of slums to create data that strengthened their advocacy for resources like running water and basic sanitation.
In 2014, she worked for the City Administrative Officer of Los Angeles. In her time there, Nithya wrote a report detailing how the city was spending over $100 million on homelessness, and almost 90% of that money was being spent on jailing people experiencing homelessness, rather than helping them into stable, permanent homes with access to services.
In response to the growing population of people experiencing homelessness in her own community, Nithya and a group of neighbors started SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition in 2017. SELAH organizes regular outreach programs and access centers that provide food, showers, clothes, case management, and other resources to Angelenos experiencing homelessness.
Nithya also served as the first executive director of Time’s Up Entertainment, the organization that grew out of the #MeToo movement, where she advocated for equity and safety for women in the entertainment industry. Under Nithya’s leadership, the team launched a "critics database, a mentorship program for the executive and producer pipeline, 'Know your Rights' resources related to sexual misconduct in the workplace, and created regular opportunities to strengthen community building".
Nithya holds a Master's degree in urban planning from MIT and an undergraduate degree from Harvard. She currently lives in Silver Lake with her husband and twin preschoolers.
This blog post is part of a series on the Women of the Los Angeles City Council. Parts 1-4 were originally researched and written prior to councilmember Raman's election to office, for a book commemorating the women of Los Angeles for the Centennial of Womens' Suffrage.