A noted community leader and activist died Saturday after a short illness.
Beth Leder-Pack worked as an information analyst for the Rent Control Board for 25 years and was active in a multitude of community organizations, fighting for affordable housing and workers’ rights. A native of Connecticut and Pennsylvania and an alumna of Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, she received the Communitas Award from the State of California in 2001 for her commitment to civic leadership in Santa Monica.
Leder-Pack was a member of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Santa Monica Democratic Club. She served as vice chair of the board of directors of Community Corporation of Santa Monica, vice chair of the Ocean Park Community Organization and on the board of directors for the Church in Ocean Park. She was also a founding member of Santa Monicans Allied for Responsible Tourism and a union leader.
Friends and colleagues of Leder-Pack said she always went out of her way to help people in her role at the Rent Control Board.
“She kindly and enthusiastically talked people through some of the most complicated and impactful events in their lives,” said board member Anastasia Foster. “She was always willing to stay on the phone a little longer and go a little deeper to help a citizen in need.”
Dan Costello, the board’s public information manager, said many tenants and landlords would only go to Leder-Pack for advice. If she thought someone needed special attention, Costello said, she would put together a list of contacts and referrals to help them.
“She gained a following that thought no one else here would be as caring as she was. We ended up calling them ‘Beth’s people’,” he said. “She was always empowering people to get it together, to know their rights and take action. She did that with tenants and landlords alike.”
Maryanne Laguardia, a landlord and longtime friend of Leder-Pack, first met her during a visit to the Rent Control office. After speaking with her, Laguardia wrote a letter to the City Manager about Leder-Pack’s talent for explaining complicated issues.
“I’m a lawyer, a landlord and a Noma resident, so when I went to the Rent Control Board, I thought I was in enemy territory,” Laguardia said. “She could not have been nicer or more helpful.”
Laguardia said she had great respect for Leder-Pack’s work as a community activist, though they sometimes disagreed.
“She was an unusually fair person in a town of very opinionated people,” she said. “When we weren’t on the same side, she explained her position clearly and with respect for mine. She sometimes got more information about a topic and changed her position, and I thought that was a noble thing.”
Former mayor Judy Abdo, who had been a close friend of Leder-Pack since she moved to Santa Monica, said she was a devoted mother to her only child, Anna.
“I believe Anna was always first in her thoughts about what she was going to do with her life and Beth followed her heart to work on issues that were very important to her and set an example for Anna to do the same,” Abdo said.
Leder-Pack is survived by her daughter, her brother, Michael Jay Leder, father Bob Leder, stepmother Rowena Harner-Leder, and cousins Debra and John Kalish. In lieu of gifts, her family has asked donations be made to A Purposeful Rescue, a non-profit that saves overlooked, medically challenged and senior dogs from high-kill Los Angeles shelters and The Lange Foundation, a non-profit that gives a future to abandoned cats and dogs.