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On the morning of April 5, 2018, the Degenkolb Engineers hosted the City Impact Lab’s breakfast. The speakers this month were Marissa Aho, Chief Resilience Officer at the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Judy Kim, Deputy Director at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

Marissa spoke about how she ended up in an unusual role that directs a city of 4 million people to become resilient in nature and structure. As the Chief Resilience Officer, Marissa coordinates and executes a wide range of resilience efforts: disaster preparedness and recovery, climate adaptation, infrastructure modernization, economic security, civic leadership, community engagement, and more. Marissa emphasized that the following three tactics allow her to approach the caliber of the resiliency plan.

  • “You have to say yes to things that maybe you don’t want to say yes to.”  Marissa emphasized the power of saying yes to opportunities. To build resilience, her team has adopted a mentality for working with various and sometimes unconventional partners and platforms.
  • Partners are an inevitable thread in the resiliency plan. Marissa says, “Everyone has a role in resilience building no matter what your background, no matter what your interest.”
  • To activate over 4 million people that have a different understanding of the history of Los Angeles, Marissa’s team is identifying what “the city can do in solving for more than one problem with limited resources, in using technology and data-driven decision making, in de-siloing the conversations that we have.”

You can learn more about the resilience pivot Los Angeles is taking by reading the plan, “Resilient Los Angeles” that was prepared by Marissa and her team.

Marissa’s insightful talk showcased that there is no shortage for innovation in Los Angeles. In the arts community, Judy Kim is leading the Luca Museum of Narrative Art to become a unique space that transforms the understanding of narrative art.

  • Judy began her talk by talking about where she believes any successful project begins: a clear vision. Referring to George Lucas and her team, Judy says “We were very clear from the get-go about what we wanted to do, what impact we wanted to have in our city, in our community, and it was to really create a place where, especially young people, their imaginations could be ignited.”
  • While the concept for this museum had been crafted by the team, Judy made a point to mention that the Lucas Museum is dedicated to listening to the community and embedding them in the creation of this space. “To be a good leader… it’s about gathering data from all different sources, every interaction you have so you’re better informed to design your thinking.”
  • Judy wrapped up her talk by sharing how her personal background is relative to the work she’s doing for the Lucas Museum. Throughout her career in the arts, Judy often finds herself to be the only non-white person in the room. So the Lucas Museum is redefining art to include non-traditional pieces, such as the original drawings from Black Panther or Superman, that are relatable to children from diverse backgrounds. Judy shares, “just the fact that those drawings that you understand and have access to is valuable enough to hang on the museum wall, that’s a very different experience,” and she hopes to showcase that “…all forms of creativity are equally valuable.”

While Marissa and Judy are transforming Los Angeles in different fields, they shared complimentary tactics that emphasized partnership, innovation, and just showing up. Both speakers said that the most powerful thing you can do is say yes to the opportunity in front of you and to show up in your most authentic self.

Thanks to all the attendees for showing up to our City Impact Lab breakfast every first Thursday of the month. We look forward to seeing you all next month!