My Story

Marqueece Harris-Dawson

MHD_headshot.jpgMarqueece was born and raised in South Los Angeles, until the early 1980s when he was uprooted. With the onset of the Crack Cocaine epidemic, his parents moved him and his younger brother out of the neighborhood as gang and police violence skyrocketed. Crestfallen to be torn away from “the village”, Marqueece made it his life’s work to make sure no other family feels it has to move out of South Los Angeles to keep their children safe. 

Never forgetting his calling, he returned to South Los Angeles just after Morehouse College to work in the family Real Estate business. Here he acquired a working knowledge of neighborhoods, and the challenges presented by widespread joblessness, poverty, poor public services, and a decaying housing stock.

In 1995, he joined Community Coalition under then founder and current Congresswoman Karen Bass. His first campaign publicized the horrendous conditions of inner city high schools and the inequities in the distribution of public funding. It resulted in an unprecedented $153 million for school repair and modernization in South LA schools.

His efforts were heralded by Oprah Winfrey and as the first successful effort to include equity a key determinate in the dissemination of public school funds. It set the basis for winning universal access to college prep classes as well as reforms to end discriminatory targeting African American and Latino students with the harshest disciplinary remedies.

He galvanized South LA families to address public safety in the most humane and effective way possible, working with law enforcement agencies, city leaders, local residents and businesses to reduce crime and violence by transforming neighborhood parks, and decreasing nuisance business activity that foster crime.

Marqueece was also coordinator for Mark Ridley-Thomas’ 1999 re-election campaign in which garnered over 87% of the vote.

Serving as the President and CEO of Community Coalition since 2004, his leadership grew the organization’s influence, size and financial standing. While doubling the budget and staff, he also led a capital campaign to acquire Community Coalition’s headquarters on Vermont Avenue.

Marqueece has been recognized with numerous community commendations, recognitions and awards including the coveted Do Something “BRICK” Award, The Wellness Foundation Sabbatical Award, the NAACP Man of Valor Award, Durfee Foundation’s Stanton Fellowship and Liberty Hill Foundation’s Upton Sinclair Award. He holds a certificate in non-profit management from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and is an Aspen Institute Pahara Fellow.

Marqueece and his wife Karrie are proud homeowners in South Los Angeles. They strongly believe in the community’s power to create a better tomorrow when we pull together and work hard. Join him in creating a stronger South Los Angeles for all.