From banking to real estate to security, the Business Journal tips its hat to some of L.A.’s celebrated chief execs.



President and Chief Executive - Center for Nonprofit Management

As head of the Center for Nonprofit Management, a management consultant to Los Angeles-area non-profits, Regina Birdsell is known as a bridge builder. She’s admired for her communication skills – she’s a former journalism professor at USC’s Annenberg School – and the value that she brings to non-profits through collaborative efforts. “Regina is a highly strategic thinker who understands how the pieces of the chessboard should work together,” said David Porges, a community involvement leader at Deloitte Services LP, who has worked with her frequently since 2006. “She believes strongly in the benefits of collaboration and has been an instrument for that. She also understands that, in order to get anything done, you have to be able to communicate clearly and she’s really good at that.”

Age and birthplace:

54, Whittier


USC, B.A. in journalism, M.S.W. in public administration,

What does it take to be a successful boss?

Hiring smart people you trust and respect and then listening to what they have to say before you make a decision.

What is your management philosophy?

I never liked being micromanaged, I feel it kills motivation. Instead I see myself as the coach of the team but it is up to them to determine how to get things done. I like to set goals that stretch people beyond their own expectations. I really enjoy watching them surprise themselves. It builds confidence and sets the stage to tackle the next big challenge.

What are your strengths?

Connecting the dots in creative ways and thinking bigger.

What are your weaknesses?

I get frustrated when things take longer than I think they should.

How do you balance the demands of work with family time?

Not very well. I limit the number of weekend and weekday evening events to keep a better balance.

What’s the best advice you ever got?

Two themes that help me keep the proper perspective: all storms pass and don’t swing at every ball.

They say we learn from our mistakes. What was a big mistake you made and what did you learn from it?

I spent 10 years in the news business and I was used to always making deadlines, trusting your instincts and moving fast. When I left that industry I did not understand that the rest of the world doesn’t move at that pace and I drove my staff crazy rushing from project to project. Eventually I learned it was OK to admit that I didn’t always have an answer right away, and that I would need to think about a course of action before moving ahead.

Something your colleagues don’t know about you:

I get together with my college roommates every year, eat junk food, watch the Miss America Pageant and hope for world peace.

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