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Rising from a challenging childhood, Isadore Hall, III, BSBA ’99, now brings his Compton community together.
Politics is often a dirty word in America. Many Americans are frustrated by the perceived partisanship in politics and believe we have politicians instead of statesmen in office. But what is missing in government can be found in California Assembly Member, Isadore Hall, III.
Hall’s passion and concern for the people in the 52nd District he represents comes shining through in his words and his actions. And it should. Hall grew up in the roughest section of the district: Compton.
The youngest of six children raised by a single mother who worked three jobs, Hall’s life reads like a Horatio Alger story. No feeling sorry for his circumstances, no excuses. Hall got where he is today through hard work and sheer pulling himself up by the bootstraps. “The odds were that one of us would be in a gang, dead or in jail,” Hall says matter-of-factly. Instead, he and his siblings all beat the odds—a fact he credits to his mother Dorothy Vann’s parenting and the community pitching in to help.
Hall got a taste of service and politics at the age of 14 when his mentor and godfather, Robert Henning, ran for the Lynwood City Council. Hall stuffed envelopes, canvassed the neighborhood and made calls. When Henning was elected, he appointed Hall to a youth council where he became vice chair. “My mom gave me inspiration, but my godfather showed me how getting involved in the community grounds you as an individual,” Hall says.
Hall worked throughout high school, first at McDonalds and eventually at the Economic Development Department. But Henning told him he needed a bachelor’s degree to get ahead. Because he was working full time in Lynwood as an administrative analyst for the city while supporting his mom, the 19-year-old Hall needed the flexibility of a school like University of Phoenix.
“I apply everything I learned there to my life today,” he says. “As one of the youngest people in the classroom, I loved the life-learning experience of others. It gave me different management perspectives. It’s one thing to read theory, but another to have people who were actually doing it in class.”
Hall knows the importance of education. After touring the Compton schools (which were unable to pay their bills and forced to apply for state funding), and seeing kids wearing jackets and mittens because the buildings didn’t have heat, those who knew the single 30-yearold weren’t surprised to find him running for the Compton School Board. “It was outrageous! There are so many barriers in our community already. These kids didn’t need to try and learn in an environment that wasn’t conducive to learning,” he says.
Hall was the top vote getter of 27 candidates, and the board immediately elected him to the presidency. During his two-year tenure, he was instrumental in getting the first new elementary school in 40 years built and in passing a $120 million bond that allowed for existing buildings to be remodeled. During his service and in the year after, the dropout rate declined 20 percent and the graduation rate increased.
While Hall was content as School Board President, when he was asked to run for the Compton City Council, he rose to the challenge. In 2003, he beat an incumbent and was rewarded with trying to clean up a city riddled with crime and a council that had become dysfunctional.
For five years he worked on the initiatives his constituents told him during his campaign that mattered to them: affordable housing and getting a shopping center built in town.
In 2008, he was again asked to step up, this time to run for the California Assembly. At the state level, Hall’s focus is on jobs, education, obesity and diabetes.
“My mother told me growing up that to whomever much is given, much is required,” says Hall. “I’m willing to accept that challenge. I want to change the culture of the community I serve. Everything I do has to go back to my base. It’s great to drive through the area and see things like the school that I helped pioneer and know that lives are changed as a result. It brings a smile to my face.”
Hall also served the community for years as a minister at the Double Rock Baptist Church. His spiritual mentor, Dr. Joseph L. Holmes, encouraged him to pursue a Doctorate in Theology and Religious Studies, which he earned in 2011 from Next Dimension Bible College (while simultaneously earning his Master’s Degree in Management and Leadership from USC).
“Everything I do has to be attached to a noble cause. My philosophy is that you leave someone better than you found them,” says Hall. “It’s what you do in ministry, but it’s also what I try and do in politics.”
At only 40, Hall is a rising political star in the California Democratic Party. “Ultimately your situation will make room for you. I know I can do well on the state level or the federal level,” he says.
In the meantime, Hall is serving his community, and just as he was mentored by his community, he’s giving back, mentoring African American and Latino youth in the areas of education, politics and social causes.
“I take great delight in that,” Hall says. “I hope to be remembered for the things I did and for helping lift somebody else up.”
Dena Roché is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle profiles, travel, health and wellness. She is based in Phoenix.