Our History

The Kedren Story

Kedren Community Health Center, Inc. was founded October 22, 1965 by the late Dr. James L. Jones, MD, a child psychiatrist. It was founded after the Los Angeles Watts uprising in response to economic disenfranchisement, education deprivation, and minimal or no access to healthcare. After the Watts uprising in 1965, a group of 16 black male psychiatrists came together at the home of Dr. James L. Jones to discuss the problems that ignited the uprising. They determined that in order to understand the underlying reasons, they needed to reach out to the community and talk to its residents. Residents illustrated some issues that they believed caused the uprising from police brutality to absentee landlords and poverty. Some residents said that their schools were inadequate; others talked about gang violence, drugs and alcoholism, high teen pregnancy rates and absentee fathers. The doctors realized that these were pervasive community problems that needed to be addressed. After much discussion, the doctors decided that they would begin to make a difference with the youngest children, those who had been least affected by the negative influences of the community, and if successful, they would begin delivering mental health services.      

This marked the beginning of Kedren Community Health Center, Inc., in 1965. Dr. Jones and his colleagues proposed educational programs that would also serve families. They were laying the groundwork for the Head Start program to be implemented in Los Angeles. Head Start was concurrently being proposed and put into place by the former late President Lyndon Johnson in Washington, DC as part of his “War on Poverty” legislation. After receiving federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services in 1965, Dr. Jones and his wife developed 10 Head Start sites within the South Central Community.

Dr. James L. Jones and his staff of 24 opened the outpatient clinic on Valentine’s Day in 1965. After the first week, 40 members of the community received services and within three months up to 250 families were served. Dr. Jones believed that Kedren had to change the perception of mental health and “bridge the gap of resistance from a nut house to the concept of a mental health center.” Kedren is named after Dr. Jones’ second daughter Mrs. Kedren Jones-Zadikov.

The organization today is a dream fulfilled for late Dr. Jones and Mrs. Shirley Jones, his wife and co-founder of Kedren. The original thrust was toward community-based psychiatric services for the residents of the inner city. This, in Dr. Jones’ opinion would minimize the difficulty and inconvenience in getting mental health and early childhood development services; alleviate some of the anxiety and subsequent illness caused by racial oppression and strife; and would generally improve the quality of life for the residents of South Central and Southeast Los Angeles.


Gloria Nabrit, became Kedren’s CEO and began to shape and expand services during a challenging two decades from 1980-1998. During that time, Kedren reached many milestones.

In 1985, Kedren was awarded a contract by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health for mental health services formerly provided by Central City. This included inpatient services for children and adults and the facilities allowed Kedren to expand day treatment services as well as outpatient services in South Los Angeles. Kedren began operation at its current headquarters at 4211 Avalon, providing one of the largest outpatient programs in the state of California, serving children, adolescents and adults.

In the late 80s and 90s Kedren became aware of the extremely high recidivism rates. During that time, Kedren was able to increase inpatient funding and began to look at shifting the focus to community based treatment by utilizing an assertive community treatment model, collaborating inpatient and outpatients care through community partnerships, including housing and employment opportunities.

This was the beginning of implementation of the “one-stop” concept that was originally a result of a community needs assessment done by Dr. Jones and his colleagues in 1965. The identified needs were training, employment, childcare, and food services all located in one service center for timely access, without complicated transportation concerns. This concept was further advanced by Medical Director Dr. Frank L. Williams, who began his work alongside Dr. Jones. Dr. Williams was instrumental in the development and implementation of efficient and effective levels of care for the residents of the community. This model continues to grow and is the foundation for Kedren’s current service delivery system.

In 2002 Dr. John H. Griffith was appointed CEO and an organization analysis conducted at that time determined that Kedren needed to revamp its structure in order to accommodate for the exceptional growth in the 80s and 90s. Under Dr. Griffith’s leadership, Kedren’s organizational changes progressively began to strengthen the collaboration between the medical and psychiatric professionals, while at the same time utilizing the expertise of many veteran Kedren employees for outreach and community development. This re-adjustment was crucial to continuing the service while keeping a clear view of the future needs of the organization and the community.

In more recent years, Kedren has almost doubled the amount of inpatient beds for adults, increased the budget for Mental Health and Head Start, as well as creating partnerships for housing clients as part of the Kedren’s Community Reintegration Program.

Kedren historical overview.Download PDF