On the evening of January 29, 2020, more than 200 civic leaders gathered at the historic Los Angeles City Hall to celebrate the 32 2020 Impact-Makers to Watch Award recipients. Attendees drove from across Los Angeles, conquering rush-hour traffic to come into Downtown and be a part of the fifth annual presentation that recognizes Angelenos who are working to make the city better through their commitment to the community.
Award Founder and Stratiscope CEO John Bwarie hosted the program in the City Council Chambers, where he explained the importance of this annual award:
“For five years, we’ve seen the power of people making change, and tonight is no exception. And you know that it is the community that enables change to happen. Without a community, you are nothing. Tonight, we truly celebrate the community of Los Angeles.”
The program included an “impact address” from Ana Geurrero, Mayor Garcetti’s chief of staff, who has spent a career working to make change in people’s lives from inside and outside of government. She was asked to speak because her work is fundamentally about empowering others to make the change they want to see in the world. It’s modeled in her day-to-day work, as a parent, and as a leader and advisor to many local and national organizations.
Six Steps to More Impactful Community Engagement
Her remarks started by acknowledging the power of those being honored and the work done, “As LA goes, so goes California; as California goes, so goes America; and, frankly, so goes the world,” she explained. She then shared six key reflections on how to get “the work” done:
- Be deliberate and intentional about building power. “So how can you build power? It all comes down to relationships. If you have deep and meaningful relationships, you have the ability to organize and mobilize people towards a shared goal.”
- Lead collaboratively. “Practice the art of coalition building. Find allies to join your cause. Help them achieve their goals and ask them to help you achieve yours. As the old saying goes: ‘If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to far, go together.’”
- Lead with civility. “Don’t confuse civility with weakness. Remember, there are no permanent enemies… we’re human, and interests change. Don’t burn those bridges because you’re going to need to cross them next time.”
- Lead with generosity. “Share your power. Use your power to create opportunities for others and help them build their own power. You can scale your own impact by expanding your network of leaders.”
- Lead with optimism. “You just don’t get very far with a negative spirit. Be a positive inspiration to the people in your orbit. People want to follow a leader who can articulate what he or she is for, not just what he or she is against.”
- Take care of yourself. “Protect your own wellbeing. When you’re doing big things, the victories will be few and far between. Nurture the relationships that sustain you. Don’t allow your quest to be all-consuming don’t neglect your soul. We need you to thrive as leaders. You’re helping to lift up Los Angeles; you’re helping to lift up our community so we can all thrive.”
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Following her remarks, the awardees were introduced, with the acknowledgment that they’re all coming from different places and points in their impact-making journey. You can read about this year’s honorees here.
Each honoree was presented with the annual award: a bottle of wine from an LA winery engraved with the recipient’s name.
On the horizon: An exciting vision of LA’s future and potential
Before the program ended, Bwarie announced the creation of a 10-year program to celebrate the city:
“As we look at the year ahead, we know great successes and great challenges are coming to the community of Southern California.
“We are a resilient community, and we have a long history of beating the odds, going the distance, and coming back even stronger. In fact, from our city’s founding back in 1781 to today, we have much to acknowledge and celebrate. In keeping with that history, Stratiscope is spearheading the launch in 2020 of a decade-long effort to celebrate the city.
“In just over 10 years, in 2031, Los Angeles will celebrate our Sesquicentennial—250 years of community coming together. In the coming months, you’ll learn more about the ways that you and every Angeleno can share a story while making the changes that matter, as we work towards a celebration that is as local as they come—and with global impacts. I invite you to be some of the first to be part of this monumental celebration.”
The formal program closed with Bwarie directing all attendees—honorees and guests alike—to look around them in their seats, introduce yourself to someone you don’t know, and tell them why you’re here and what work inspires you most. With the room abuzz with connections and relationships forming, the group moved to the reception in the ornate City Hall Rotunda where food and refreshments were provided by Gigi’s Cafe and La Moscota.
About the Impact-Makers to Watch Award
The Impact-Makers to Watch Award is an annual distinction given to select individuals who are doing essential work to make a positive impact in Los Angeles and will continue to do so throughout the coming year. Honorees may have had a career of impact across the city or may be just starting out, with equally impressive results. Individuals are nominated at the end of the previous calendar year, and a panel of civic leaders helps make a selection of approximately 30 honorees, based on the work they have done in the past and the impact they are anticipated to make. The award was first given out in 2016, and more than 100 leaders have been recognized with the honor since then. Created and presented by Stratiscope, the award is bestowed to the honorees each year at Los Angeles City Hall. Meet the 2020 Impact-Makers to Watch.