Black History Month Spotlight: Councilmember Leila Mongan

Black History Month Spotlight: Councilmember Leila Mongan

In honor of Black History Month, MCE is proud to recognize Corte Madera Councilmember Leila Mongan. Leila sits on MCE’s Board of Directors, is a member of the Climate Committee of the Marin County Council of Mayors & Councilmembers, and participates in several local initiatives in support of a more equitable Marin.

Can you share a bit about your background?

I grew up in the Seattle area as the daughter of a single mom, and we struggled financially over the years. I received a scholarship to NYU Law for students who are the first in their families to attend college or graduate school. I remain involved with several nonprofit foundations that are working to support disadvantaged students.

In 2010 I moved to Corte Madera with my husband Mike, who grew up in Sausalito. We have two young children, Kate and Jamie. I’ve spent most of my career as an attorney, most recently at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where I worked on litigation and advised city officials and boards on their legal responsibilities. In 2019, I left to spend more time with my kids. In recent years, I have focused my efforts on volunteering, writing a memoir, and being active in my kids’ schools.

Why did you decide to take a leadership position with the town of Corte Madera?

I’m passionate about building community and being inclusive, perhaps because I didn’t grow up with a lot of stability. When we first moved to Marin, I made a huge effort to get to know my neighbors and become involved in my community. I have really enjoyed getting to know people and feeling invested in this community. When the Town Council seat opened, I jumped at the opportunity to deepen these connections.

What prompted you to join MCE’s Board of Directors?

MCE’s mission speaks to me because I believe we must address climate change now. Seeing how much climate change has accelerated, even in the time since I was young, has made it very real to me. Having children drives home the point that we have a responsibility to future generations. I’m interested in equity and justice, and environmental issues are one area where those issues are in stark relief. I really appreciate MCE’s focus on equity, especially because climate change disproportionately harms lower-income communities and communities of color.

How does climate justice play out in Corte Madera?

Corte Madera is at risk of flooding, wildfires, and wildfire smoke. These issues affect all Corte Maderans, but the ability to mitigate these issues falls disproportionately on lower-income residents. They’re more likely to live in parts that are affected, and are less likely to be able to afford mitigating measures or to move elsewhere.

How do you see the fight for racial equality intersecting with climate justice?

The right to clean air and a healthy and safe environment should be equally guaranteed to all. Studies have shown that lower-income people are much more likely to suffer the ill effects of climate change, and racial minorities make up a disproportionate share of lower-income Americans. Also, the legacy of exclusion has made it difficult for people of color to share in the wealth that our nation has enjoyed or to set down roots in more desirable neighborhoods. We all need to work together to come up with solutions that remedy the mistakes of the past.

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