Class of 1978, MSW 1980, PhD 1988
For her, the city streets are roads to redemption.
On the streets of South Los Angeles, and in cities around the world where gangs hold sway and violence is too common, Jorja Leap studies “the life” — not from an academic ivory tower, but in the neighborhoods where gang members live. That’s where “Little Mama,” as she’s known to the gangs, is respected and loved for the lives she has changed. Inspired by her uncle and mentor, a beloved high school teacher, Leap became an adjunct professor of social welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. Here in Westwood she honed her hands-on approach and launched a career that has seen her recognized as one of the world’s most renowned experts on gangs.