Nithya Raman is an urban planner, a working mom of preschool-aged twins, an immigrant to America, and a member of the Los Angeles City Council representing District 4.
Born in Kerala, India, she emigrated to the United States at the age of six with her mother. Growing up primarily in the suburbs of Boston, her experience as a young immigrant to this country, and as one of the only people of color in my classrooms, shaped her decision later in life to focus on social justice in her work.
After graduating from public schools, Nithya attended Harvard as an undergraduate and received her master's in urban planning at MIT. Before and after her graduate studies, Nithya spent more than seven years working in Delhi and Chennai, India on issues facing slum-dwellers and informal sector workers who were fighting for basic services like running water, toilets, protection from evictions, and better working conditions. As part of this work, she started Transparent Chennai, which created maps and data about urban poverty that helped to improve service delivery.
In 2013, Nithya moved from India to Los Angeles to be with her husband. She took a job in the office of the City Administrative Officer of Los Angeles, which serves as the financial advisor to the Mayor and City Council. During her tenure, she wrote a report detailing city spending on homelessness. The report concluded that out of the more than $100 million devoted each year by the city, almost 90 percent was being spent on jailing people experiencing homelesssness. Very little, meanwhile, was going toward services, outreach, treatment, and other effective paths to stable housing.
Nithya left the workforce temporarily when she had twins, but stayed active in addressing homelessness in her community, joining the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council’s Homelessness Committee as Co-Chair and co-founding the SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition in 2017, which grew into one of the most active all-volunteer homeless services nonprofits in the city. More recently, Nithya served as the first executive director of Time’s Up Entertainment, the organization that grew out of #MeToo activism, where she advocated for equity and safety for women in the entertainment industry.
Nithya ran for office on a platform of delivering compassionate and effective services for people experiencing homelessness, building more affordable housing, and moving with greater urgency to meet our city's climate goals. She refused all corporate donations, as well as money from individuals associated with the real estate or fossil fuel industry, and won a historic victory, attracting over 2,000 volunteers to her campaign and becoming the first challenger in 17 years to defeat a sitting City Councilmember. She lives in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles with her husband and five-year-old twins.