L.A.’s Most Inspiring Women

When it comes to making L.A. better, those who made this year’s list of power hitters aren’t just leaning in—they’re leading the way

Jennifer Howell

Her celebrity-lauded nonprofit, The Art of Elysium, brings artists into hospitals to brighten the lives of children who are ill

Photograph by Christina Gandolfo

Her lightbulb moment: I moved to Los Angeles after film school and was working for Universal when a dear friend who’d had leukemia relapsed. He told me about children he saw in the hospital who were left to go through treatment alone because their parents had other kids to take care of or were working nonstop to pay for medical bills and health insurance. It was the call to action that changed my life.

Her greatest challenge: The only thing keeping us from working with a million children instead of 40,000 across the country is money. We have completed volunteer orientations. We have been approved by all of our hospital partners. We have been published in five medical journals. Our program has been proved time and again. We need financial stability to start taking bigger steps.

The reward: It’s one of the hardest things in the world to see suffering. Every time I walk into a hospital I still, to this day, have to take a moment to ground myself and catch my breath. But when you see these children come alive with the artists—writing a song with a musician or creating a new nightgown with a fashion designer—you realize the power of creativity.

NEXT: Los Angeles Philharmonic president and CEO Deborah Borda