Skip to main content

Karina Samala

karina samala headshot
Karina Samala, Transgender Community Advocate and Human Rights Activist, has campaigned for equality and human rights for transgender individuals for over 28 years.
Karina was born in Manila, Philippines, the 7th child of 7 sisters. She is a graduate of M.I.T. Phils. with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering. Karina worked as a Senior Engineer for Northrop-Grumman Corporation, a federal defense contractor for aerospace industry. During that time, Karina did not feel free to live her authentic self and was living a double life. She left that employment after 12 years determined to change that. 
Karina is currently the chair of the City of Los Angeles Transgender Advisory Council that was started in 2016. In 2009 she was the founding chair and remains a board member of the City of West Hollywood Transgender Advisory Board. Both boards give recommendations to the Mayor and the City Councils of Los Angeles and West Hollywood on matters relating to the transgender community such as employment, housing, health care, education, equal rights and hate crimes prevention.
Ms. Samala was also the chair of the City of Los Angeles Human Services Commission Transgender Working Group that developed and formulated the creation of a "Recommended Model Policies and Standards" for the LAPD's Interactions with transgender individuals. The policy was approved and is now being implemented by LAPD.
Ms. Samala has also worked with the Sheriff's Department on Transgender Policies. She is a member of LAPD's Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB) Jail Division and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department LGBTQ Advisory Council. In addition to her duties on these commissions, Ms. Samala  serves on the boards of Asian Pacific Islander Pride Council and the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team (APAIT) and serves as a consultant for St. John's Well Child & Family Center Transgender Health Care Program.
Through her tireless work, Karina has inspired an entire generation of transgender individuals and earned her the affectionate nickname "Mother Karina"
For her extensive and continuing work in the community, Ms. Samala has been awarded the "Lifetime Achievement" and "Stonewall 40 Trans-Heroes" awards from the International Court Council, the Martin Luther King "Keeper of the Dream" Award and the "Rainbow Key" Award from the City of West Hollywood, the Stonewall Democrats "Sheila Kuehl Lifetime Achievement Award", the KCET-TV's "Local Heroes Award" and the "Spirit of Los Angeles" awarded by the City of Los Angeles.