Lili Bosse has long been considered one of Beverly Hills' most accessible and effective community leaders. Having served as Mayor of Beverly Hills (twice), as a proactive City Councilmember and as founder of the Visionary Women organization, her contributions to the region have been significant. Her colleagues on the City Council, as well as residents and local business owners, have regularly recognized her foresight, work ethic and level of preparation. Here she responds to a series of questions about her career and unique path.
When did you first realize that you have what it takes to be a leader and someone who could make a difference?
Bosse: I actually have never thought of myself that way. I have always loved people and approach each person I meet with an open heart and open mind. My philosophy in life is to start with “yes” and then figure out how. I suppose since I do believe generally we are more alike than we are different and that we can accomplish anything by starting with “yes,” together, positive change can happen.
In basic terms, what does it mean to you be a visionary?
A visionary is someone who sees something in his or her mind’s eye as a future possibility and then makes it happen. Fear is a motivator, not a deterrent. A deep passion, strong determination and an unwavering belief in all things possible all combine to make someone a visionary.
Aside from being a visionary woman yourself, you are also a co-founder of the Visionary Women organization. What was the genesis of the organization?
My best friend Angella Nazarian and I wanted to create a nonprofit organization that brings together dynamic trailblazing women to support initiatives specifically designed to empower women and girls. It is a true sisterhood of women supporting other women in the deepest, most inspiring way.
What have been some of the most rewarding highlights of your remarkable career thus far?
During our city’s centennial, I brought forward my Beverly Hills Healthy City Initiative. The focus was “Healthy People, Healthy Economy and a Healthy Government.” I still use that lens when an issue is before me. I ask myself if this will add to the health of our city. I am also proud of my “Walk with the Mayor” program that brought hundreds of people every Monday morning to the steps of city hall as we walked our city and visited nearly 100 businesses. It helped usher in open government, connection, and a great bringing together of our business and residential community.
You have done so much for the Los Angeles region — and Beverly Hills in particular — as Mayor, as a proactive City Council member, etc. When did you first move to Beverly Hills and what is it you love about the city?
My parents were immigrants that moved to Beverly Hills to provide their only child the American Dream — and Beverly Hills did just that. What I love most about our city is that although it is renowned throughout the world, it remains a city that feels “small town” and is made up of an extended family. We are a city with heart and a lot of soul.
What are some of the most significant changes you have seen Beverly Hills undergo since you first moved here?
I have lived here since I was nine years old. Gone are some of our local favorite gems like Pixie Town, the Luau and the five-cent ice cream scoop at Thrifty drug store, but what remains is still the charm and unique beauty of our city.
How were you able to help the city move forward during such a challenging new retail environment?
Beverly Hills was built on vision and out-of-the-box thinking. As I saw the changing retail realities, I created, along with our business partners (The Conference and Visitors Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and Rodeo Drive Committee), our Bold Beverly Hills Program, which provided vibrant and fun experiential opportunities throughout our city. We saw a tremendous increase in residents and visitors enjoying our restaurants and shops like never before.
What’s the story behind the historic parking code changes you spearheaded?
The existing parking codes had been in our books for well over 40 years. Times have changed with the realities of ride-share options and people using their own cars less to get around. Our guidelines were outdated and didn't reflect the current environment we live in, which was also making it difficult for new restaurants to open in our city because the code requirements made it impossible to do so. I am happy that within 24 hours of our new parking changes, a few fabulous restaurants signed leases to open in our city. It is all very exciting!
Looking forward, what is your vision for the future of Beverly Hills?
I have 20/20 vision for this next decade! I do believe these next four years will determine the future of Beverly Hills for generations to come. There are wonderful opportunities ahead. We have a subway coming, a changing and evolving retail environment that needs to be nurtured and creatively thought through; we must keep our schools, places of worship and community safe; and there are housing needs that must be addressed.
You inspire many. Who has been your biggest influence?
My mother was a holocaust survivor who escaped the Auschwitz death camp. Her motto that she instilled in me every day of her life was to “never give up” … never, ever, EVER give up! I carry that with me every day. I have that belief in me. I imagine that is where my sense that anything can be done comes from.
What advice would you give women who want to be impactful in their own communities?
That’s easy: “Never give up!” Approach everyone with an open heart and open mind. Start with “yes,” and figure out “how” together … and get it done. Trust me, it can and will get done.
What’s next for Lili Bosse? What can we expect from you in 2020?
I am hopeful to serve my beloved community for another four years. I love our city with every fiber of my being and look forward to the brightest of possibilities that we will share together. It is a vision of heart and hope … and I am all in!
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