Eight leaders in LA have been devotedly working with infrastructure, housing, and public space to reshape the city for a stronger future. Hundreds will gather at LA City Hall on January 29th to recognize them among the 31 LA Impact-Makers to Watch. Because these eight are making a positive impact in government, design, and the way people interact in the real world, they have the power to shape the city for generations to come.
John Bwarie, CEO of Stratiscope and founder of the awards, notes, “Without community, you are nothing. These are the people proving that as an individual, you can captivate and activate others to create positive social change. In fact, you have to. Cities like LA are the result of people and places — and we’re lucky that these people are thinking about place in a way that makes it better for all of us.”
Ashley Atkinson, City Planner, Los Angeles City Planning
Ashley Atkinson is a planner in Los Angeles City Planning’s Performance Management Unit where she is working to develop metrics and strategic enhancements for planning while sharing outcomes with stakeholders. As the Chair of APA Los Angeles for 3 years, Ashley helped its members share knowledge, advance their careers, and guide change in both the profession and our communities. Ashley will lead the California Chapter as President in 2021-2022, where she will have an even greater impact on planning in communities.
Lyn Cohen, President, First-In Fire Foundation
Lyn has been instrumental in partnering residents with their local fire stations, fostering friends and funds for the Department, and championing local emergency preparedness. Through her work as President of the First-In Fire Foundation, Lyn has been key in establishing memorials for fallen first responders as well as creating opportunities for citizens to interact with and learn from their local firefighters. In 2020, Lyn is expected to continue her work creating neighborhood fire station gardens and planting and preserving trees. She will also continue to invite the community to get to know their local first responders at events made possible by the First-In Fire Foundation.
Dan Halden, Director, HEART of Hollywood
After transitioning from Hollywood Field Deputy for Council Member Mitch O’Farrell and into leading this strategic initiative, Dan walks the walk—literally the Walk of Fame—each day building relationships and making the connections needed to physically improve the Heart of Hollywood. In 2020 he will be advancing transformative ideas that will manifest in Hollywood Boulevard recapturing its legendary allure.
Karen Mack, Founder, LA Commons
Since founding LA Commons in 2003, Karen Mack has been at the forefront of community arts programing to help reveal the truth about Los Angeles and its residents as CEO of the SouthLA-based non-profit. She brings this approach to her work as an LA City Planning Commissioner and as she co-leads the national Creative Placemaking From the Community Up initiative supported the National Endowment for the Arts.
Jennifer May, Executive Director, Designmatters at Art Center College of Design
Jennifer is a coalition builder, bringing together cross-sector partners and cross-disciplinary teams to collaborate on ground-breaking projects in the areas of social entrepreneurship, public policy, healthcare, and sustainable development. Her exemplary leadership has allowed art and design students to address diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice ,and social innovation challenges both locally and globally. In 2020, Jennifer will make her mark as the new Executive Director of Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design.
Addy Gonzalez-Renteria & Erin Stone, Founders, 11:11 A Creative Collective
Providing more than 800 artists with opportunities to activate and beautify our communities, facilitating the placement of more than 15 permanent and temporary murals and public art installations, providing rich opportunities for emerging artists to hone their craft, hosting more than 60,000 participants at various street festivals including the Canoga Park ArtWalk, Ciclavia – the West Valley, and the annual Reseda Rising ArtWalk, Addy & Erin have programmed art and art-related events throughout 125 square miles of the 818 and beyond.
Megan Sahli-Wells, Mayor, Culver City
In addition to serving as Mayor, Meghan chairs the Westside Cities Council of Governments and co-chairs Elected Officials to Protect California, as well as serving as a founding Board Member of Local Progress, a national network of progressive elected officials. With these various roles, Meghan is committed to turning the largest urban oil field in the US (Inglewood Oil Field) into the “Central Park of the West” while advocating for a just transition from fossil fuels for a future for all Angelenos.
Elizabeth Timme, Co-Executive Director, LA-Más
Elizabeth redefines the role of the architect in our city through her leadership on public space design. In partnership Mayor Garcetti’s Great Street Program, she has championed the inclusion of storefronts and small business support as a vital component of healthy public space. Her design approach is unique—upholding permanence of place, the value of community, and the importance of culture throughout her work. Elizabeth has transformed many small business owners’ storefronts into places that reflect their values in a way that is truly transformative and impactful. In L.A., Elizabeth’s creative approach will further impact neighborhoods in 2020.
About Impact-Makers to Watch
The Impact-Makers to Watch Award is an annual distinction given to those who are doing foundational work to make a positive impact in Los Angeles and will continue to do so throughout the coming year. It is based on the work they have done in the past and the work they are projected to do. Honorees may have a career of impact that continues to show results or may be just starting out, with equally impressive results. Honorees are nominated at the end of the previous calendar year, and a panel of civic leaders helps make a selection of 30 individuals. The award was presented in 2016, and more than 100 leaders have been recognized with it since then.