ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR
Park Place Payments
As a dedicated champion of women, Sam Ettus has devoted her career to advocating and supporting women in the pursuit of their dreams. Thousands of women from C-level leaders to administrative assistants to moms returning to the workforce have benefitted from her unique guidance. In her quest to help women achieve financial independence, she launched Park Place, a company fundamentally changing the lives of people seeking opportunities to reenter the workforce and revolutionizing the payment processing industry at the same time.
Since earning her undergraduate and MBA degrees from Harvard, Ettus has become a best-selling author of five books, a renowned speaker, host of a nationally syndicated call-in radio show, and founder of the premier personal branding agency called Experts Media. She is co-host of an I Heart Media podcast with Amy Nelson, and founder of The Riveter, that will launch later this year.
Cooper Harris is the founder and CEO of Klickly, an A.I. impulse-payments platform at the nexus of payments, commerce, and big-data. Emerging as a pivotal figure in the Los Angeles tech scene, Cooper has been nominated for Google’s “Young Innovator” award and L’Oreal’s “Digital Woman of the Year” award.
Harris invented a payments layer that leverages machine-learning to make purchasing directly within digital UIs possible. This innovation creates a huge efficiency in the market – the platform’s machine-learning identifies payment situations and uses sophisticated cross-origin calls to facilitate the transaction. She has been invited to share insights at international summits including the United Nations, CES, Cannes Lions, SXSW, ShopTalk, Sundance, Los Angeles TechWeek, London Technology Conference, and Jason Calacanis’ LAUNCH Scale. Harris speaks on topics including: FinTech/Retail Tech/MarTech, and disrupting the status quo.
Gifts for Good
Laura Hertz believes in the use of business as a force for good. That is why she founded Gifts for Good, an organization that is reinventing the $100 billion U.S. corporate gifting industry as the first source for business gifts with a social impact. As a B2B marketplace, Gifts for Good sells life-changing products made by over 40 nonprofits and social enterprises to businesses purchasing employee and client gifts in bulk.
The platform helps companies send more meaningful gifts, while providing the B2B marketing team these cause-based organizations need to better sustain themselves and grow their reach and impact. Gifts for Good’s clients include National Geographic, Facebook, Amazon, The Special Olympics, Madison Square Garden, Redbull, NPR, American Express, Dell, Google, and A-List celebrities like Kate Hudson. Since launching less than three years ago, Gifts for Good has helped to better the lives of over 75,000 people around the world.
Melanie Stricklan’s passion for aerospace technology has driven her since she was a young girl in rural West Texas. In 2016, she combined her military experience and indomitable spirit to co-found Slingshot Aerospace, an analytics company that uses observations from satellites and other sensors to help people make better, more informed decisions.
As Chief Strategy Officer, Stricklan is responsible for the company’s strategic vision and growth strategy. Having proudly served in the United States Air Force for 21 years, she possesses a unique blend of leadership and technical expertise that she uses to create and execute winning business and product strategies. During her Air Force career, she logged over 1500 flight hours onboard ground surveillance aircraft, commanded experimental spacecraft missions, and led the development of space control technologies for the Department of Defense.
CEO OF THE YEAR
City National Bank
When Kelly Coffey took the helm of City National Bank in 2019, she became the fourth CEO in City National’s 66-year history, CEO of the largest bank based in Los Angeles, and one of only three women CEOs of the country’s largest 50 banks. She had a clear vision for how to make a great company even better – then the pandemic hit.
A big part of Coffey’s focus, even pre-pandemic, has been making sure that with the bank’s growth and digital transformation, City National retained what’s kept it successful: its culture of always putting clients, colleagues and communities first. During the pandemic, that culture became more important than ever. When the crisis hit, Coffey put colleagues first, especially their health and safety. She also announced there would be no layoffs in 2020 due to the pandemic. Then she focused on clients and stepped up for the bank’s communities.
Jean Freeman leads the largest female-owned, full service creative agency in both the advertising industry and Los Angeles. Since she took the helm as principal and CEO in 2017, she took a fledgling agency and expanded its offerings to include cross-communications strategy, creative, media and analytics services, a female consumer insights practice, and production division. Today, the agency is seen as an industry powerhouse and has attracted top clients including The TaylorMade Golf Company, Coca-Cola Company, Ultimate Software, and Apple’s Beats by Dre. And she’s accomplished all of this without any outside investors or private equity money, and without incurring debt for her firm.
Zambezi has been recognized as one of the 100 Fastest Growing Companies in LA, was ranked one of the Largest Woman-Owned Businesses in LA by the Los Angeles Business Journal, and has been included on the Inc. 5000 list for multiple years in a row.
Ship & Shore Environmental, Inc.
As the pollution abatement industry’s only female CEO, Anoosheh Oskouian is unique within the environmental sector. She has over two decades of experience in industrial air pollution capture and control equipment - from engineering, design, fabrication, to maintenance.
At age 14, Oskouian convinced her parents in Iran to send her to the US to receive an education. After seven years at Fluor Daniels, she tapped the savings from her 401k and bought a sheet metal company which she has since transformed into a successful engineering firm, Ship & Shore Environmental, with $12 million in annual sales. The company produces pollution control systems that help plastics, printing, aerospace and chemical manufacturers reduce emissions. Her vision for the company capitalizes on years of experience gained while helping her clients implement a variety of energy reduction strategies including alternative energy sources.
Habitat for Humanity
In 2020, Habitat LA celebrates its 30th Anniversary and Erin Rank has served as its first and only President and CEO for the last 23 years. Prior to her arrival, the organization was run by volunteers out of their homes, who raised enough to build on average one home per year. Rank saw the great need for affordable housing in Los Angeles and challenged herself and the organization to do more. Since 1998, she has helped to grow the organization from a team of one to a multi-million-dollar organization with 140 employees that has served more than 1,000 families in L.A. with affordable housing solutions.
Through her vision and leadership, Rank has sustained development and construction projects during challenging real estate markets, making Habitat LA the only non-profit to be named in the Top 25 Residential Developers in LA four years in a row, and one of the most respected Habitat affiliates in the country.
EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
Nicole Duckett built the Clippers’ legal department from the ground up as the organization’s first in-house counsel. She is the NBA’s first woman of color to serve as chief legal officer. Duckett advises on all strategies related to protecting the business and focuses on innovations in new media, digital platforms and broadcasting. She also oversees the L.A. Clippers Foundation as its President. Duckett has also led the formation of the Clippers’ G League team, executed several innovative new team partnerships, and led the All-Star Weekend Supplier Diversity Program in 2018, among many other responsibilities.
Duckett’s previous experience includes serving as the General Counsel for Regal Assets LLC, a commodities brokerage firm headquartered in L.A., where she built their in-house legal department as well. Prior to that, she was the managing partner of the Los Angeles Office of Milberg LLP, and also advised multi-national companies at Thelen LLP and Mayer Brown LLP.
Erica Huggins, a veteran Hollywood executive and producer, is president of Seth MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door. She oversees all development and creative direction for the production company’s content creation, including its recent, massive $200 million overall television deal with NBCUniversal Content Studios, as well as film, literature, music and digital media. She has applied her experience to curate and define the Fuzzy Door brand, which is behind many of today’s most successful film and television projects, with a focus on science, drama, comedy, science fiction, politics, and music.
She is a producer on Hulu’s anticipated “Books of Blood,” a feature film based on Clive Barker’s acclaimed horror anthology book of the same name, coming out in October. Under her helm, she oversees the production of “The Orville,” “Family Guy,” “American Dad!,” and the award-winning Cosmos series, “Cosmos: Possible Worlds,” making its broadcast debut this Fall on Fox.
Leila Rouhi joined the Ring team in June 2016 and spent her first two years as Ring’s general counsel, later becoming president in April 2018. Rouhi spends a significant amount of time ensuring every decision that is made drives Ring’s mission of making neighborhoods safer. From managing Ring’s sales and marketing operations, to overseeing the day-to-day of Ring’s nearly 2,800 employees, Rouhi inspires her team to deliver the best possible experience to Ring customers, everywhere. Now more than ever, Rouhi is focused on delivering Ring’s mission — including helping neighbors stay connected with one another and informed by providing them tools and resources through the Neighbors app.
Before joining Ring, Rouhi served as the director of Legal Affairs at True Religion Brand Jeans, prior to which she practiced M&A and corporate law at Milbank Tweed, and a small boutique firm in Los Angeles.
Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Kelli Sager is a nationally-renowned First Amendment lawyer. For 35 years, she has represented content providers in every medium, including newspaper and magazine publishers, book authors, film studios, broadcasters, and Internet publishers. Her work includes defending against defamation, privacy, and copyright claims, protecting journalists’ shield law rights, and fighting for press access to government records and proceedings. She is regularly at the forefront of high-profile media cases, securing landmark decisions that protect her clients’ First Amendment rights.
Sager’s work over more than three decades has required her to adapt to an ever-changing media environment, applying her analytical skills and expertise to new technologies, as well as to changes in the economic and political landscape that affect her clients. Throughout her career, she also has been a strong advocate and role model for women litigators, striving to eliminate disparate treatment and perceptions of women in the profession.
COMMUNITY IMPACT ADVOCATE OF THE YEAR
Sandra Evers-Manly joined Northrop Grumman as a summer intern in college and has been with the company over 20 years. She is currently the vice president of corporate social responsibility at Northrop Grumman. Prior to her current role she was vice president of ethics and diversity. She is also the president of the Northrop Grumman Foundation, which she helped found.
In addition to her leadership roles at Northrop, Evers-Manly founded the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center. She is also passionately dedicated to the development and advancement of students. She is currently sponsoring a student led program at USC Marshall titled the Forward Summit that showcases Black and Latinx businesses.
Glaser Weil, LLP
Patricia Glaser is head of Glaser Weil’s Litigation Department and tops the short list of trial attorneys in the nation sought after for high-stakes litigation. Respected as a business trial lawyer, she also provides general legal counsel to publicly and privately held companies across a range of industries, including intellectual property, real estate, entertainment, banking and securities. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies, major studios, real estate investors and developers, financial institutions and high-profile entertainers and public figures.
Glaser also maintains formal associations with a number of organizations including being a member of the board of directors for Los Angeles Music Center Theatre Group; The Geffen Playhouse; The National Judicial College, former member of the Board of Trustees; the Western Region of the American Friends of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and the UCLA Israel Studies Program; among others.
Suzanne Lerner, successful serial entrepreneur and co-founder and president of fashion brand Michael Stars, inspires emerging business leaders with her fierce advocacy of racial and gender equity. Through the years, she has overcome her own challenges with gender inequity in the male-dominated fashion industry. Her most decisive battle came just five years ago when her late husband and co-founder Michael Cohen passed away.
Grieving and fighting for her company, Lerner could have stepped down. Instead, she stepped up. She broke down silos, encouraged collaboration, and diversified the workforce — opening up new opportunities for growth. Today, the company is women-led with a dedicated team that engages its customers in philanthropic initiatives and gives away millions to support mentorship, empowerment, and social justice programs for women and girls of color.
Beverly Hills Escrow and Working Dream
Lola Levoy is undoubtedly one of the most well-known and highly influential people in Beverly Hills. Growing up locally, she befriended many people in the community who she calls friends and clients today.
Now serving as owner and president of both Beverly Hills Escrow and Beverly Hills Deferred Exchange (started in the mid 1980s), she’s earned over 55 years of experience in all phases of escrow including having the ability to close complex transactions that are unmatched in the industry. Levoy’s expertise has been called upon many times by UCLA’s Finance Department. She frequently lectures at both USC and UCLA. Levoy is very involved in the community in a number of organizations with a special place in her heart for children. She has been an active and passionate advocate for Foster Youth, being a mentor for hundreds and a foster parent for many.
RISING STAR OF THE YEAR
Green Hasson Janks
Frances Ellington, DBA, CPA, is the State and Local Tax (SALT) Practice Leader at Green Hasson Janks with a focus on multistate income and franchise tax, indirect tax, and credits and incentives. Dr. Ellington assists her clients on state and local tax issues related to tax audit controversy, nexus and reporting requirements, and various state tax planning initiatives.
In addition to her leadership in the firm’s SALT Practice, Dr. Ellington is a leader in the firm’s Women’s Empowerment Committee and well known for her support and mentorship of women both in and outside of the firm. Due to her significant contributions in the community and accounting industry, Dr. Ellington was a recipient of CalCPA’s 2019 “Women to Watch” award in the Emerging Leader category.
The Sage Group
Marissa Lepor is an associate at The Sage Group, specializing in corporate financial advisory for fashion, beauty and other branded consumer businesses. She plays an instrumental role in prospecting new brands, managing investor relationships, and executing mergers, acquisitions, and capital raises.
Since joining the firm upon graduating from Columbia University in 2016, Lepor has stretched beyond the responsibilities typically associated with her title in business development, financial analysis, legal negotiation, deal strategy, and problem solving. She has been influential in the sale of Oribe to Kao, Pura Vida to Vera Bradley, and Blenders to Safilo, among others. In addition, she runs the firm’s intern/analyst recruiting and training programs, helping to define, develop and mold its talent and culture. Genuine and self-driven, her personal and professional accomplishments are motivated by her innate passion for helping others.
In four years, Liz Waldeck-Pinckert has made significant contributions to the AdColony company with her work in Publisher Growth. She played a seminal role in establishing this new department that would use data analysis, account management, and strategic planning to drive growth from top revenue clients. While facing multiple layoff rounds and organizational restructuring, Waldeck-Pinckert stepped up by becoming proficient in the product technology and creating detailed processes to build a solid team.
Despite being one of the few women in a male-dominated space, Waldeck-Pinckert has not only developed a strong voice among executive leadership in the company but also among clients and partners. She led her team to increase revenue by $2 million within an eight month period and continues to have the largest impact of enabled revenue for AdColony. She took over the User Acquisition business earlier this year which has since increased revenue by $1 million each quarter.
Caroline “Cay” Young
Los Angeles Sparks
Cay Young joined the LA Sparks in 2016 as a coordinator and became VP of the department in just over two years with the team. Having a background in equestrian sports did not look like a logical transition to the WNBA but she thrived.
Since joining the team, Young has helped pilot new corporate and community initiatives while increasing revenue and monetizing new assets. Additionally, the Sparks were number 1 in the WNBA for sponsorship revenue in 2019 and won Franchise of the Year for the first time under the newest ownership group led by Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR
Kendall Brill & Kelly LLP
Arising star at one of L.A.’s larger law firms, Laura Brill took the risk and launched a new law firm with Richard Kelly 11 years ago. Today, Kendall Brill & Kelly, is ranked among the top boutique firms in the state by the Daily Journal. The publication ranked her among the state’s Top 100 Lawyers and its Top Women Lawyers. Lawdragon named her one of the nation’s Top 500 lawyers, and Chambers & Partner lists her among the state’s top appellate lawyers.
Brill is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, earning her the Good Neighbor award from Equality California and Defenders of Democracy Award from People for the American Way. She serves on the Lambda Legal National Leadership Council and has served on several of its committees. She also serves on Cedars Sinai Medical Center’s Board of Directors, Marlborough School Board of Trustees and Los Angeles Copyright Society Board of Trustees.
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority
Sarah Dusseault serves on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission. Appointed by Supervisor Solis, she is outgoing commission chair and is currently chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Governance Reform. She also served as co-chair of LAHSA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Women & Homelessness. She is committed to including women’s unique experiences and investing in systems change to bring a crisis response to homelessness.
Throughout her career, Dusseault has gained a reputation as a passionate advocate, policy expert, and an innovative problem solver. She serves in various leadership roles in her community, including as a mentor to many young women, an Advisory Board member for the Los Angeles Business Council and Board member of the Los Angeles LGBT Center assisting in their work to open an intergenerational campus addressing the needs of people experiencing homelessness.
Bank of America
In Linda Kim’s 20 years of service at Bank of America, she has experience in consumer banking, background screening investigations, hedge funds investigations, fraud investigations, global financial crimes compliance, enterprise fraud intelligence team and currently with global commercial banking.
During this year of in response to the critical needs of the pandemic, Kim has donated over 1,000 reusable face masks to the Bresee Foundation, Asian America Professional Association and Chinatown Service Center to be provided for staff protection; and to the communities they serve who are in need of this essential item. At Bank of America, Kim drives volunteer efforts as the Greater Los Angeles Associate Engagement co-chair; chair emeritus for the Asian Leadership Network (ALN) and volunteer co-chair for the local region to get associates involved and engaged. She also serves on the board of directors at the Bresee Foundation and Asian American Professional Association.
For Merrill Lynch, Rebecca Rothstein works with high net worth individuals, families, and institutions, helping them advance their wealth management goals. As a managing director and private wealth advisor in Merrill Private Wealth Management, Rothstein focuses on wealth management, tax minimization, and estate planning strategies for affluent clients.
Rothstein is also very active in the community. In her free time, she participates in a number of charitable efforts in Los Angeles. She is the proud mother of four sons and recently became a grandmother. Among her most significant achievements is that her sons are successful in their chosen careers but also active in supporting Teen Cancer America. Rothstein supports Teen Cancer America with a significant contribution of her time and financial expertise. TCA would not exist without her.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.