WHY HER? Because her commitment to preserving historic buildings is the reason L.A. doesn’t look like a giant shopping mall by now.
You might think “New Yorker” because of the Woody Allen connection, but Diane Keaton is a born-and-bred Angeleno whose passion for local preservation issues has elevated them to the national stage.
A restoration architect bar none, Brenda Levin has rehabbed some of our most iconic landmarks—Griffith Observatory, the Wiltern Theatre, and City Hall, to name a few—ensuring that they remain around for future generations to enjoy and explore.
As executive director of the Durfee Foundation, Claire Peeps brings together nonprofit leaders from around the region through its sabbatical grants and network, which foster learning opportunities and invaluable partnerships.
The founder and former director of Pasadena Heritage, Claire Bogaard has helped save much of that beautiful town’s significant architecture. Today she works just as hard on community issues in her role as first lady—her husband, Bill, is mayor.
WHY HER? Because she addresses economic and social disparities and persuades leaders to rally around critical issues like homelessness, schools, and poverty.
Many of L.A.’s philanthropists focus on world causes. Not Aileen Getty. The former addict (and granddaughter of J. Paul) takes care of our most vulnerable citizens by providing food and shelter to the homeless through her Gettlove Foundation.
The managing director of Korn/Ferry International’s Southern California office, Caroline Nahas uses her skills as a top recruiter (she specializes in presidents and CEOs) to identify and nurture talent and encourage the next generation of philanthropists.
A CEO who inspires other small business owners with her commitment to fostering entrepreneurship, Renee Fraser runs the influential ad agency Fraser Communications and has dedicated many hours to mentoring other women business owners.
Poor children’s voices often get lost in policy debates. Through her former roles with the county’s Children’s Planning Council and as an LAUSD board member, Yolie Flores has always advocated that we do what is right for kids.
WHY HER? Because she turned the paper her grandfather founded in 1926 into the nation’s biggest and best Spanish-language daily.
When the city’s challenges seem intractable, Antonia HernÁndez is the one to call. As president of the California Community Foundation, she advises mayors, the business elite, civil rights and immigrant leaders, educators, and local pols. She also led the redistricting effort in the 1990s that forever changed L.A.’s political landscape.
Sherry Lansing was one of the most powerful women in Hollywood when she ran Paramount Pictures for 12 years, but she is also an effective civic leader. It was through her determined guidance as chair of the UC Board of Regents that MLK Hospital reopened under a new governance structure.
As president of the school board for the LAUSD, MÓnica GarcÍa is leading the reform agenda, overseeing everything from the brick-and-mortar expansion to teaching and curriculum for the second-largest district in the United States. A tough advocate for children, she sets the bar high for performance standards and accountability.
WHY HER? Because her audits of wasteful spending in public agencies make her one of the town’s few watchdogs with an eye on the bottom line.
No one has fought as tirelessly and fearlessly for equal wages and the civil rights of 800,000 working men and women across Los Angeles as MarÍa Elena Durazo, the executive secretary-treasurer of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
The founder of the popular Dermalogica skin care line, Jane Wurwand has provided thousands of Angelenos with jobs—the company has kept production local. Now she’s backing the nonprofit FITE, which will offer business startup loans to 25,000 women in 60 countries.
Twenty years ago Rabbi Denise L. Eger founded West Hollywood’s Reform synagogue, Kol Ami, where she has shown a tremendous dedication to activism for gays and lesbians as well as individuals affected by AIDS.
Providing health care, educational programs, and positive change to the severely underserved communities of South Los Angeles are but a few of the goals of the Brotherhood Crusade, ably headed by president Charisse Bremond-Weaver.
WHY HER? Because she’s given kids in some of L.A.’s poorest neighborhoods the chance to play sports—and dream of being an Olympian.
Playing a sport isn’t just about winning. It’s about building self-esteem. Barbara Fiege, the director of LAUSD Interscholastic Athletics, understands this. She oversees all the district’s high school sports and has worked to increase opportunities for girls.
Once a teacher, lawyer, and corporate executive, Gisselle Acevedo is the CEO of Para Los Niños, which aims to create academic success and social well-being for children affected by poverty, violence, and homelessness.
A few years ago the California African American Museum was nearly insolvent; now, thanks to executive director Charmaine Jefferson, it’s respected nationwide. The current exhibition Women: Game Changers, Less Known, Here Celebrated is exemplary.
As a former teacher and a specialist in children’s education policy and advocacy for more than 39 years, Carla Sanger is a natural fit as president and CEO of the after-school enrichment program LA’s BEST.
WHY HER? Because if the stakes are high, you want this fierce litigator in your corner.
A strong woman representing strong women. That’s the thumbnail résumé of Nancy Josephson, partner at William Morris Endeavor, who handles the work of such powerhouse clients as Tyra Banks, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, and Anjelica Huston.
Leading Republican presidential hopefuls would do well to pay a visit to Rosalie Zalis. A significant GOP donor and supporter, Zalis is also executive director of the Winnick Family Foundation and founding chairperson of the Wiesenthal Holocaust Center.
As president of the Y&S Nazarian family foundation, Sharon Nazarian Baradaran runs a philanthropic enterprise that invests in education from L.A. to Tel Aviv. She also started UCLA’s Israeli studies program.
Attorneys Molly Munger and Connie Rice’s Advancement Project has pursued equal opportunities by every means imaginable—from cleaning up buses for low-income riders to founding an academy for gang-intervention workers.
WHY HER? Because she took over for Ruth Seymour at the public radio station without missing a beat and has infused it with new energy.
Diana Nyad recently attempted, at 61, a long-distance swim from Cuba to the United States. She didn’t finish, but she remains an inspiration for any woman who is worried that it’s too late to learn how to kick a soccer ball, shoot a layup, or sprint a 400.
If every neighborhood had a Billie Green, this city would be much more tidy and safe. A caseworker in Councilman Herb Wesson’s 10th district, the longtime West Adams resident (and Ferro neighbor) pushes for more police patrols and personally kicks out riffraff in an area that gets overlooked.
An advocate for humanely raised animals and local fruits and vegetables, Laura Avery has managed the Santa Monica Farmers Market for more than 20 years and helped create an economy that’s beneficial for farmers and chefs.
Getting a kid into college is the first step—keeping them there is another challenge. Tamara Craver, the director of Posse Foundation, sends kids from the same neighborhood to college together—tuition free.
WHY HER? Because the former movie star is honoring the memory of her friend, Wendie Jo Sperber, by granting free services to cancer patients and their families.
For someone who is chronically ill, human touch usually comes from doctors, nurses, and other caregivers. Wendy Levine’s Beauty Bus Foundation offers clients a chance to be touched and cared for in a nonclinical way, providing free in-home beauty and grooming services to chronically or terminally ill people and their caregivers.
Living in a city that buzzes with constant entertainment, it’s soothing to listen to compositions employed as healing tools. Celtic harpist Lisa Lynne brings live music to health care environments, schools, and community organizations with her interactive Harps for Hearts music program.
Even the most challenging moments in life can be the basis for transformation. After losing her two-week-old son, Shane, to spinal muscular atrophy in 1997, Catherine Curry-Williams committed herself to creating universally accessible playgrounds for kids with disabilities. With her friend Tiffany Harris she started Shane’s Inspiration, which has built more than 40 playgrounds from L.A.
WHY HER? Because she can make a fitted tweed blazer look as fun and flirty as one of her trademark psychedelic sleeveless shells.
The unofficial cheerleader of Silver Lake, architect Barbara Bestor has designed award-winning residential and commercial spaces across town, including Turk’s showroom. When you get coffee at Silver Lake’s Intelligentsia, it’s her architecture—especially that stunning floor of Moorish ceramic tiles—that helps start your day off right.
Fans of NPR’s canceled Day by Day were thrilled when KPCC-FM (89.3) brought that show’s perceptive and mischievous cohost, Madeleine Brand, back on the airwaves last year. A mix of news, opinion, and random chatter that sparks conversation is the basis of Brand’s epony-mous morning program.
After stints at Chez Panisse, Olives, and Campanile, Suzanne Goin (below) set out to redefine L.A. fine dining, serving deceptively simple dishes that elevate local farm-fresh ingredients. With business partner and sommelier Caroline Styne, Goin has brought us the stylish yet cozy restaurants Lucques, A.O.C., and Tavern—and has become L.A.’s premier chef.
WHY HER? Because she brings together the city’s vital cultural hubs and infuses the arts into the lives of every one of us.
Before Kathryn Icenhower cofounded SHIELDS for Families, many women avoided drug rehab centers because they feared their children would be taken away. Now, due to this former South L.A. social worker, there’s a family-friendly model for treatment.
As executive director of the Violence Intervention Program at the L.A. County/USC Medical Center, Astrid Heppenstall Heger has established a one-stop center that offers medical, mental health, protective, legal, and social services to victims of family violence and sexual assault.
An ad hoc steering committee no longer, Arts for LA is an accomplished advocacy organization with growing political clout. And Danielle Brazell, its executive director, is a large part of the reason.
We’re all getting older. It’s nice to know Laura Trejo, general manager of the city’s Department of Aging, has got our backs. Since 2002, she’s advocated for L.A.’s seniors, fighting to preserve services and programs. And she reports directly to the mayor.