Rita Walters, who served on the Board of Library Commissioners from 2002-2017, passed away on February 19 at the age of 89.
A former teacher, Walters was first elected to serve the City of Los Angeles in 1979 as a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (LAUSD), beginning a nearly 40-year career of public service.
In 1991, after serving on the LAUSD Board for more than a decade, she became the first African American woman to be elected to the Los Angeles City Council, winning an election to represent L.A.’s Ninth City Council District. She would hold that seat until 2001, and during that time, she chaired the Arts, Health and Humanities Committee, which reviewed matters related to the Library Department for the City Council.
In 2002, Mayor James K. Hahn appointed Walters to the Board of Library Commissioners, the Los Angeles Public Library’s governing body. She continued in that role, championing the importance and benefit of a strong public library system, until retiring in 2017, serving under Mayors Hahn, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Eric Garcetti.
Originally from Chicago, Walters graduated from Shaw University in North Carolina and later earned an M.B.A from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.