Anti-gang czar for L.A. is chosen

Times Staff Writer

An ordained minister who has spent much of his career developing social service and youth programs in some of Los Angeles’ poorest neighborhoods will be named today as the city’s new gang czar, officials said.

Jeff Carr, chief operating officer for Sojourners/Call to Renewal, a liberal evangelical group based in Washington, D.C., will work directly for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as director of gang reduction and youth development programs.

Carr will coordinate an anti-gang strategy that Villaraigosa unveiled in April. The approach calls for police and social service agencies to target eight “gang reduction zones” in South Los Angeles, the Eastside, the northeast San Fernando Valley and other areas.

The new director of anti-gang efforts will oversee an evaluation of the city’s existing 23 gang prevention and intervention programs and recommend which should continue.


Villaraigosa’s office said the mayor picked Carr because of his ability to develop successful youth programs and his expertise at running nonprofit organizations. Officials said they thought his work in the faith-based sector would be an asset in his new public role, which will carry the title of deputy mayor.

“Jeff Carr has the perfect blend of organizational, financial and community-based experience to successfully quarterback the mayor’s gang-reduction strategy,” said Matt Szabo, a mayoral spokesman.

Villaraigosa has scheduled a news conference for this morning to introduce Carr at the California Endowment near downtown.

While at Sojourners/Call to Renewal during the last two years, Carr oversaw finances, personnel and marketing functions.

Before that, he spent 17 years at the Bresee Foundation, a faith-based Los Angeles organization whose programs provide more than 3,000 people annually with access to healthcare, education, technology, job skills and recreation activities.

Bresee focuses its programs in Koreatown, South Los Angeles and the Pico-Union and Westlake districts.

As the foundation’s executive director, Carr oversaw overall development and direction. He established a pediatric medical clinic -- negotiating a contract with a community healthcare provider for services for young people up to age 18, according to the mayor’s office.

Carr also developed a first-time offender program to provide assistance to juvenile offenders, and he was responsible for development of the Bresee Youth Program, which serves people ages 11 to 21 with recreation activities, tutoring, job training, college scholarships and spiritual development.

Carr could not be reached for comment, but a Sojourners/Call to Renewal representative said he would be missed.

“Our loss is a real gain for the citizens of Los Angeles,” said Jack Pannell, a spokesman for the group, which describes itself as a Christian ministry dedicated to social justice issues on national and international levels.

“Jeff is a creative visionary when it comes to real programs that affect people and communities.”

Carr was raised in the Church of the Nazarene and followed his father by becoming an ordained minister in the church. He is married, with two young children.