After racist leak, L.A. County Fed finds a new leader to repair damaged relationships
When Maria Elena Durazo learned that her friend had worked at the headquarters of the Los Angeles County Federal Reserve Bank, she wasn’t sure where she stood.
“I’m kind of scared of the bank, or maybe more scared that I’m not in his financial class,” she said.
But Durazo, who’s originally from Mexicali, Mexico, also knew how good she was for her friend, who now was doing the same kind of work she had once done.
Both women were members of Organización Bienestar, which organized food support groups for people who didn’t have access to food.
Durazo and her friend, a young Latino woman named Lisa Rodriguez, were both serving on the board of the bank. Soon they wanted to discuss the possibility of opening a formal support group for food sharers, or people who share their food collections with others.
It was a risky move. With immigration reform under the way and the new president not yet in office, the group’s members had to get approval from a bank’s board before it could open as an official support group.
It would have taken time, and the bank, at the time, was considering dropping the bank altogether.
But Durazo and Rodriguez, who works at a local grocery store, were undeterred. They took their idea for the group to the bank’s board, and they were approved.
Now, Organización Bienestar, which is led by Rodriguez, has the backing of the Los Angeles County Fed.
The group had been struggling to make the group’s next move. Organización Bienestar needed some type of permanent venue for its meetings, which typically started at lunch time and included food and conversation.
They knew they needed a place that could offer space and a table for hundreds of people. One local grocery store couldn’t hold that many people, they knew.
“I was told once I wasn’t going to be able to hold a meeting,” Durazo said in Spanish.
So the group went to what is known as a food store bank.
The Los Angeles County Federal Reserve opened in 1928,