Harbor Commission Vice President
Port of Long Beach, California
Bonnie Lowenthal, named to the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners in July 2017 and elected Vice President of the Board in July 2018, brings a broad history of public service and deep experience in the City of Long Beach, formerly serving as a state Assemblywoman, Long Beach City Councilwoman, Vice Mayor, and member of the Long Beach Unified School District Board.
Ms. Lowenthal was appointed by Mayor Robert Garcia to her first six-year term on the Commission that manages the City’s Harbor Department and oversees the nation’s second-busiest seaport. She was unanimously confirmed by the City Council as the 68th appointee to the Board since the current Commission was established in 1925. Her appointment makes her the seventh woman appointed and marks the first time in the Port’s history that the five-member Board has had four female members at the same time.
Working with her Commission colleagues, Ms. Lowenthal provides policy direction and oversight for the most extensive capital improvement program in the Port of Long Beach’s history. Continuing with a $4 billion, 10-year investment program to modernize facilities and increase competitiveness for decades to come, capital projects include the nationally significant Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement, Middle Harbor Container Terminal and other terminal developments, roadway, dock and rail improvements, effective innovations to clean and protect the environment at “The Green Port,” and more.
Besides serving on various Commission sub-committees, Ms. Lowenthal also represents the Port on national and international trade missions and serves as the Board representative or alternate to a variety of Port-related leadership organizations.
Ms. Lowenthal has spent more than half her life in Long Beach, her adopted hometown, and, in addition to her political career, has served the community as a licensed family counselor, mental health consultant and educator.
In 1994, Ms. Lowenthal was elected to the first of two terms on the Long Beach Unified School District Board, helping Long Beach earn a national reputation as one of the country’s best urban school districts.
She then won the 1st District City Council seat in a 2001 special election and was elected to two full terms in 2002 and 2006. She was selected by her colleagues as Vice Mayor in 2006 and elected by 27 regional cities to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board, before being elected to the State Assembly in 2008. Her mission on the Long Beach City Council was to make sure that the residents of her working-class district were as well represented at City Hall as residents of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods.
Since the late 1980s, Ms. Lowenthal has taken an active role in affordable housing. Appointed as Vice Chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness in 1987, she has looked for mechanisms to house people and prevent homelessness. As a City Councilmember and the Chairperson of the city’s Housing and Neighborhoods Committee, she authored the Housing Trust Fund for the City of Long Beach and brought to Long Beach the first city-administered overnight shelter for single men and women. Most recently, Ms. Lowenthal chaired the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing for the city and provided recommendations to the Long Beach City Council.
During her three terms in the State Assembly, Ms. Lowenthal’s district included the Long Beach/Los Angeles port complex – the nation’s largest – and one of the most diverse populations in the state. She helped deliver more than 18,000 good-paying transportation-related jobs and protected the employment rights of thousands of workers, while standing up for children, seniors, and the environment. She authored laws that protect coastal waters from invasive species, make it easier for older adults to stay in their homes, encourage state workers to blow the whistle on wrongdoing, and make it easier for school districts to give kids a safe ride to school. She wrote laws that bring additional federal funds to foster youth, protect injured workers from unjust medical bills, and reduce the cost of prison healthcare by millions of dollars a year. Her leadership positions in the State Assembly included chairing the Legislative Women’s Caucus, the Assembly Committee on Transportation, the Joint Committee on Emergency Management, and the Select Committee on Ports. She served as a member of the committees on Accountability and Administrative Review, Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials, Health, and other select committees.
For her service in the State Legislature, Ms. Lowenthal was named Legislator of the Year by the California Assisted Living Association, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists and the California Chiropractic Association, among many others. Her efforts on behalf of women and children, as well as her efforts in transportation and aging/long-term care, generated similar accolades.
Ms. Lowenthal’s pre-political work is rooted in the local Cambodian community and in service to the Latino community.
Beginning in 1989, as Director of Planning for the United Cambodian Community, she also served as the Arts Manager representing a group of Cambodian musicians and began a Cambodian Children’s Orchestra. In 1991, Ms. Lowenthal traveled to Cambodia with a national Red Cross group to investigate the proliferation of landmines following wars in the country. She also helped initiate a sister-city relationship between Long Beach and Phnom Penh and was an official observer during Cambodia’s first municipal elections in more than 40 years. Ms. Lowenthal has also served as Clinical Director for the Cambodian Association of America and as a participant on the Cambodiatown Advisory Board.
Having served as a mental health consultant for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) HeadStart, and the Centro de la Raza, Ms. Lowenthal is also acutely aware of the needs of the Latino community in Long Beach. Living in Mexico and teaching at universities there instilled in her a love for Latin culture. In Long Beach, she worked closely with community activists and leaders to establish the first college scholarship fund for students by the Long Beach City Latino Managers and Professional Organization in honor of Manny Perez. She also instituted the City’s recognition luncheon dedicated to Cesar Chavez.
Ms. Lowenthal currently serves her community on the St. Mary Medical Center Governing Board, the U.S. Vets Advisory Board, the Children Today Board of Directors, the Linc Housing Board of Directors and the Jewish Family and Children’s Service Board of Directors.
She earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin and a Master’s of Science in Community and Clinical Psychology from California State University, Long Beach.
Bonnie Lowenthal lives in the Carroll Park neighborhood with her longtime partner, Evan Braude, an attorney and former Long Beach City Councilman. She has two adult children with her former husband, U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, and four grandchildren.
The Port of Long Beach is the premier U.S. gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in innovative goods movement, safety, environmental stewardship and sustainability. As the second-busiest container seaport in the United States, the Port handles trade valued at more than $194 billion annually and supports 1.4 million trade-related jobs cross the nation, including more than 300,000 in Southern California. Again named Best Green Seaport worldwide in 2018, the Port is committed to environmentally sustainable practices and policies that also improve operational efficiency. This includes an unprecedented $46.5 million Community Grants Program to lessen Port impacts on air quality, traffic, noise and water quality. Founded in 1911, the Port today encompasses 3,200 acres with 35 miles of waterfront, 10 piers, 80 berths and 66 gantry cranes. In 2017, the Port handled more than 7.5 million container units, the best year in its history.