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Diana Lejins

Born in 1947 to deaf parents, Diana learned American Sign Language (AS) at a very early age. It enabled her to communicate with her many aunts, uncles and grandparents who were hearing-impaired. She grew up in southern California and learned English as a second language in school. She continued her education at Pasadena City College and California State University, Los Angeles. As a mature student, she graduated cum laude in 1985 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with an emphasis in public relations/marketing. She continues to maintain membership in several academic honor associations.

Diana has enjoyed a varied career, working as a medical secretary, a licensed real estate broker, a certified ASL interpreter for the deaf, a singer/mime/clown/entertainer/dancer (including performance at the Hollywood Bowl with Gene Autry and Patti Page), and a professional photographer. She volunteered as a Red Cross medic for the Santa Anita racetrack equestrian events during the 1984 Olympics, the World Games for the Deaf at UCLA and many other events around Southern California.

Diana’s work as a photojournalist has been published in many magazines and newspapers around Southern California, including the Los Angeles Times, the Long Beach Press Telegram, the Pasadena Star News, The View, City Beat, the Long Beach Business Journal, LongBeachcomber News, The Signal and LN magazine, as well as in national media.

When not engaged as a photojournalist, Diana manages real estate and is a dedicated environmental/political activist. She is very well known in the Long Beach area where she resides and supportes a gamut of causes, including the arts, environment, disability and civil rights, civil liberties, political issues and candidates.

As a community volunteer, Diana generously gives her time to the Sierra Club, the National Ski Patrol, the ACLU, the City of Long Beach Citizens Advisory Committee on Disabilities, the Legal Aid Mental Health/Public Safety Advisory Committee, the Los Angeles County Medical Marijuana Task Force, the Long Beach Police Department Chief’s Media Advisory Group, the Second District Advisory Council, Neighborhood Watch and many other Long Beach citizen groups. Her tireless energy and dedication won her numerous meritorious citations and awards for community service. In 2006 Diana received a Congressional Award for her many years of community service from Congresswoman Juanita Millinder-McDonald. In 2015 she was named by the Long Beach Press Telegram News as an “Amazing Woman” (see impact article below).

Diana has traveled the world and wishes for you, the potential recipient of her namesake scholarship, a life filled with service to others, community involvement and a passionate zest for life that are the hallmarks of her life.


Amazing Women: Long Beach volunteer and photojournalist Diana Lejins advocates for disabled

By GREG YEE I greg.yee@presstelegram.com I PUBLISHED: October 28, 2015 at 10:45 pm I UPDATED: September 1, 2017 at 1:08 am

Diana Lejins is paving the path to a more peaceful and compassionate world one hand sign at a time.
The Long Beach-based photojournalist and advocate for people with disabilities is on a mission to connect people around the world using sign language.

“If Koko the gorilla can learn over 1,000 signs, can’t we?” she said.

For her work with the disability community and with many neighborhood and community groups across the city, Lejins is a 2015 Press-Telegram Amazing Women finalist in the volunteer/community service category.

Lejins, 68, was raised in Alhambra and has lived in Long Beach for about 30 years. Her photojournalism has been published in the Los Angeles Times, Press-Telegram, Pasadena Star News, Signal Hill Tribune, Orange County Register, OC Weekly and other regional publications.

Lejins first became interested in advocating for people with disabilities because her parents and grandparents were deaf.

Spreading awareness

In 2010, Lejins started an initiative she calls Hands Across the World, aimed at getting people in all countries to learn at least 1,000 signs in American Sign Language.

“When I travel I’ll seek out where they serve [deaf people] and most of the time they’ll know some ASL,” Lejins said. “We’ll communicate even though they don’t speak English and I don’t know their language. It’s an immediate connection.”

She’s also been a vocal advocate for medical marijuana in Long Beach, a position she says is often not understood correctly.

“Sometimes I see [police] and they say, ‘Hey, it’s the marijuana lady,’” Lejins said. “There’s so much more to it. I support medical marijuana as it relates to people who are ill or have disabilities.”

David Zink, Lejins’ friend and a disabled veteran himself, said her work has been a boon to the community and that she personally helped him overcome the challenges posed by living with a disability.

“Her patience and wisdom was outstanding,” Zink said.
In 2006, Lejins received a Congressional Award for community service from Congresswoman Juanita Millinder-McDonald.

Her community advocacy also reaches beyond people with disabilities.

She’s worked with the Second District Advisory Council, Wrigley Association, Community Emergency Response Team, Alamitos Beach Association, Friends of the Los Angeles River and numerous other city and regional groups.

“I love the variety in Long Beach,” Lejins said. “I was looking to relocate [from Alamitos Beach] six years ago. I could have moved anywhere but I decided to move across town. There’s a cornucopia of opportunities here.”

Contact Greg Yee at 562-499-1476.