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

Deborah Borda

The president and CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2000, she oversaw the opening of Walt Disney Concert Hall and had the idea to hire conductor Gustavo Dudamel

Photograph by Mathew Imaging

Her lightbulb moment: I was about four years old when I heard a record of “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” by Mozart. It was love at first sound. I had one of those 45 rpm record players, and I played it again and again.

Her greatest challenge: Classical music has been typecast and as such has been somewhat removed from the central discourse of society. That troubles me because it makes it harder to attract new audiences and have them absolutely adore this art form in the way it deserves to be adored.

Her ten-year plan: It is frightening to keep pushing the boundaries, but if you succumb to fear, progress does not occur. The Phil has its centennial coming up in 2019. I want it to be definitional in the world of classical music.

NEXT: City Year Los Angeles executive director Allison Graff-Weisner