Aja Lena Brown (born April 17, 1982)[1] is an American politician who is the former Mayor of Compton, California. She won the election, defeating both incumbent mayor Eric J. Perrodin and former mayor Omar Bradley.[2][3]

Aja Brown
Aja Brown
18th Mayor of Compton
In office
July 2, 2013 – June 30, 2021
Preceded byEric J. Perrodin
Succeeded byEmma Sharif
Personal details
Aja Lena Clinkscale

(1982-04-17) April 17, 1982 (age 40)
Altadena, California, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
RelativesJonathan Clinkscale (twin)
EducationUniversity of Southern California (BS, MUP)

Early lifeEdit

Brown was born Aja Lena Clinkscale in Altadena, California, to mother Brenda Jackson, who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and raised the family as a single mother.[1] Brown's parents divorced when she was young.[3] She has a fraternal twin brother named Jonathan Clinkscale, who played football at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[4][5] Brown's mother grew up in East Compton.[2][6]

In 2000, Brown graduated from John Muir High School in Pasadena, where she was senior class president and played varsity volleyball.[3][4]

In 2004, Brown graduated from University of Southern California, where she received a full academic scholarship, with a bachelor's degree in Policy, Planning & Development that included public policy, urban planning and development. In 2005, she earned a Master of Urban Planning, which included urban planning with a concentration in economic development.[7] The subject of her master's thesis was an analysis of the 2004 failed development of a Walmart supercenter in Inglewood.[3]


In 2004, while attending USC, Brown began working for the City of Gardena, California as an Economic Development Analyst. Brown graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in public policy, urban planning and development. A year later in 2005, she earned a master's degree in urban planning with a concentration in economic development.[7]

In 2006, Brown began working for the City of Inglewood, California as an Urban Planner. In 2007, she served a term as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Pasadena, then resigned in 2009 to join Compton's Redevelopment Agency as a Redevelopment Project Manager, focusing her efforts on revitalizing the emergent City of Compton. She was responsible for creating community benefits legislation, initiating community-led downtown revitalization action committees, overseeing the Agency's urban planning and economic development initiatives. Brown also created and implemented Compton's Apprentice Program designed to create jobs for local residents on city-funded or assisted capital improvement projects.[8]

In 2011, Brown co-founded the Urban Vision Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization in Compton dedicated to community economic and youth development. Brown has also developed several re-branding programs that have achieved success in various cities, and she was awarded the "Best 2012 Communicator Design Award" for her "Yes!" campaign for the City of Compton. She has been instrumental in marketing Compton's buyer's program for first-time home buyers, as well as programs to attract expertise in land use and transportation.[2][9]

Mayor Brown and husband, Van.

2013-present: Compton MayorEdit

2012 mayoral electionEdit

Having worked as a city employee for Compton, Brown decided in October 2012 to introduce what she called her "New Vision for Compton". A newcomer to politics, she defeated 12 candidates, including former mayor Omar Bradley and the incumbent mayor Eric J. Perrodin, to become the youngest mayor of Compton at age 31.[2][9]

12-point strategy planEdit

Mayor Brown has launched a "12-Point Plan" designed to strategically advance the city of Compton. During Brown's tenure as a city employee, she recognized that the essential components needed to foster a healthy, thriving city were either outdated or non-existent. Addressing existing problems on multiple fronts, including youth development, infrastructure, working with educational coalitions and economic development, she says she has made her "12-Point Plan" accessible for the residents to follow along with the progress of the city.[10]

Decrease in violence and crimeEdit

In 2014, Brown began reaching out to Compton Bloods and Crips gang leaders through former members to negotiate peace. She uses conflict mitigation instead of heavy policing. Since the gangs started regular meetings, violent activity and crime was reduced by about 65 percent compared to the all-time high some 25 years ago.[11][12]

Congressional runEdit

In 2018, she announced a run for the United States House of Representatives in California's 44th congressional district, against incumbent Nanette Barragán.[13] Brown ended her campaign due to her pregnancy with her first child.[14]

Compton Pledge guaranteed incomeEdit

In 2021, the city began distributing monthly universal basic income payments to a “pre-verified” pool of low-income residents, in a two-year donor-funded program initiated by Brown, gauged for a maximum of 800 recipients, at which point it will be one of the larger among 25 U.S. cities exploring this approach to community economics.[15]

Personal lifeEdit

Brown is married to Van Brown, a Petrochemical Safety Manager, whom she met and began dating in high school. Van Brown is a former University of Southern California football player.[16] Brown and her husband moved to Compton in 2009.[2] She and her husband are members of Faith Inspirational Missionary Baptist Church, where they work in community outreach programs.[8] She gave birth to her first daughter in 2018.[17]

In 1973, nine years before Brown's birth, her maternal grandmother, Lena Young, a nurse, was raped and murdered in a home invasion in Compton that is an unsolved homicide to this day.[2][3]

Brown's first name comes from the Steely Dan song, "Aja", the title track of the 1977 record, Aja, because it was a favorite of Brown's mother.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Aja Lena Clinkscale - California Birth Index". FamilySearch. 17 April 1982. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Aleksander, Irina (23 January 2015). "The Unsinkable Aja Brown: Aja Brown Wants to Turn Compton Into the "New Brooklyn"". Elle. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e McDonald, Patrick Range (18 July 2013). "Can Aja Brown, Compton's Hip, Refreshing Reform Mayor, Turn This Woeful City Around?". LA Weekly. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Football: Jonathan Clinkscale, Defensive Line Coach". Oxy Athletics. Occidental College. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  5. ^ a b Ephron, Amy (9 September 2015). "You Can Call Her Mayor Brown: How Aja Brown Is Transforming the City of Compton". Vogue. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  6. ^ Jennings, Angel; Sewell, Abby (1 June 2013). "Compton's mayoral choice: old guard or new blood?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Elected Officials: Aja Brown, Mayor". City of Compton. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b Carroll, Rory (15 October 2013). "Aja Brown, Compton's new mayor: 'I see it as a new Brooklyn'". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Mayor Aja Brown delivers 'State of the City' address, Friday". Compton Herald. 5 July 2015. Archived from the original on 6 July 2015. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  10. ^ Hicks, Jonathan (18 March 2014). "Aja Brown: A History-Making Mayor in Compton". BET. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  11. ^ Allen, Nick (26 December 2014). "Straight into Compton: house prices soar as murderous gangs reach truce". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  12. ^ Fellows, Jr., Jarrette (15 July 2015). "Mayor Aja Brown unfurls some surprises at Compton city address". Compton Herald. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  13. ^ O'Connor, Lydia (8 March 2018). "Compton Mayor Aja Brown Announces Run For Congress". Huffington Post. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  14. ^ Hutson, Darralynn (2018-04-06). "Compton Mayor Aja Brown Drops Out of Congressional Race, Days After Stacey Dash Withdraws". LA Weekly. Retrieved 2019-10-21.
  15. ^ "Compton Joins the Growing Number of U.S. Cities to Launch a Guaranteed Income Program".
  16. ^ "Football: Van Brown Bio". USC Trojans. University of Southern California. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  17. ^ "Compton Mayor Aja Brown Shows 1st Pic Of Her Beautiful Baby Girl - The Shade Room". theshaderoom.com. 2 October 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-21.

External linksEdit

Political offices
Preceded by Mayor of Compton
Succeeded by