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Thursday, Aug 18, 2022

LA500 2020: Civic Leaders

Adams, Martin L. — L.A. Department of Water and Power

THE LATEST: Adams was unanimously confirmed by the City Council as general manager and chief engineer of the DWP in September 2019. He was nominated to the post by Mayor Eric Garcetti and had filled the role on an interim basis since July 2019. Under Adams, the DWP worked to spread the water melt from last year’s higher-than-normal snowpack throughout its system. Out of concern for the Covid-19 pandemic, the DWP closed its walking trails around the Silver Lake Reservoir and other water sources.

BACKGROUND: A 35-year DWP veteran, Adams was most recently chief operating officer after serving as the agency’s senior assistant general manager — water system. He has touched on almost every aspect of Los Angeles’ water system, including planning, design and operations. A civil engineer by training, Adams is a native of Glendale and attended Loyola Marymount University. He serves as chairman of the board of the new San Fernando Community Health Center and recently completed nine years on the Water and Power Board for the city of Burbank.


Allen, Bill — Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation

THE LATEST: Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the LAEDC has expanded its direct assistance to thousands of small businesses and nonprofits through its new L.A. County Community Connectory, which helps employers access capital, resources and LAEDC’s team of professionals. The LAEDC said these efforts have saved jobs and companies ​across the region. In addition, the organization continues to provide research on impacted industries and workers to inform policy makers and refine relief and recovery​ efforts. 

BACKGROUND: In addition to leading the LAEDC, Allen also heads the organization’s World Trade Center Los Angeles subsidiary. He holds a B.A. from USC’s School of Cinema and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine’s Graziadio School of Business, and has a long history of economic recovery work in Los Angeles. While president of MTM Television, Allen helped start the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, where he is still a vice chair, in response to the 1994 Northridge earthquake.


Butts Jr., James — City of Inglewood

THE LATEST: Butts has been a prime mover for the estimated $5 billion, 70,000-seat Sofi Stadium project due to open later this year. The stadium will be home to the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers and be the centerpiece of an extensive entertainment-commercial-residential development at the former site of Hollywood Park racetrack. As newly elected chair of the Los Angeles County Metro Transit Board, Butts last year allowed a transfer of highway funds that included $233 million for an overhead line that will connect the Crenshaw-LAX light rail line to the stadium.

BACKGROUND: Butts was initially elected as Inglewood’s mayor in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He began his career with the Inglewood Police Department, where he rose to the rank of deputy police chief. Butts then served as Santa Monica’s police chief for 15 years.


Caputo-Pearl, Alex — United Teachers Los Angeles

THE LATEST: Caputo-Pearl led the early call for Los Angeles schools to close during the global Covid-19 pandemic. Together with the Los Angeles Unified School District, UTLA worked to staff more than 60 food-distribution centers, which provided more than 5 million free meals in the first three weeks of the school closures. The union also developed distance-learning guidelines in collaboration with the district and continues to work with community groups to protect families from the economic fallout by calling for debt forgiveness, rent and mortgage moratoriums, support for homeless youth, and other essential actions.

BACKGROUND: Last year, Caputo-Pearl led UTLA’s first teachers’ strike since 1989, securing a contract that raised salaries and cut class sizes. Caputo-Pearl began his career in the Teach for America program. He then spent 22 years teaching in the Compton and Los Angeles school districts, including a long stretch as a history professor at Crenshaw High School. Caputo-Pearl was elected UTLA president in 2014 and won a second term in 2017 with 82% of the vote.


Cordero, Mario — Port of Long Beach

THE LATEST: Cordero is leading the Port of Long Beach through the coronavirus crisis, ensuring that goods keep flowing and putting a priority on the movement of medical equipment while protecting the health of the public and the port’s workers. Last year was the second-busiest in the port’s 118-year history, as it handled 7.6 million containers despite the ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China. In two major votes of confidence for the port, Australian firm Macquarie Infrastructure Partners signed a lease to operate the Long Beach Container Terminal through 2051. And Pacific Container Terminal, marine terminal operator SSA and its partner, Cosco Shipping, agreed to a 20-year lease extension with the port.

BACKGROUND: Before joining the Port of Long Beach as executive director in 2017, Cordero was appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission by President Barack Obama in 2011. Prior to that, Cordero served on the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners for eight years. Previously, he spent more than 30 years practicing law, with a focus on workers compensation cases.


D’Arcy, Brian — International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18

THE LATEST: As business manager for IBEW Local 18, which counts some 8,000 members, D’Arcy helps shape labor policies across California. Local 18 serves a range of public-sector workers, including staff at L.A.’s Department of Water and Power. The organization also represents clerical staff, engineers, custodians and tree trimmers. In the past, Local 18 has partnered with DWP and other unions to maintain apprentice programs for incoming workers. D’Arcy has been a vocal opponent of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Green New Deal proposal.

BACKGROUND: D’Arcy, a native of New York, has been with the union since 1992. He sits on the Labor Center Advisory Board at Los Angeles Trade Technical College.


Diamandis, Peter — XPrize Foundation

THE LATEST: Diamandis heads the XPrize Foundation, which stages large-scale competitions to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. The XPrize recently launched its Pandemic Alliance, which seeks unconventional solutions to conquer pandemics. Diamandis is also executive director of Singularity University, an educational organization dedicated to next-gen technologies such as artificial intelligence, biotech and robotics. In addition, Diamandis serves as vice chairman and co-founder of Human Longevity Inc., which is creating the world’s largest genome database.

BACKGROUND: Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Diamandis attended Hamilton College, MIT and Harvard Medical School. In 1994, he founded the X-Prize to encourage private-sector space flight. The competition’s $10 million award was eventually expanded to include education, life sciences, energy and the environment. Together with Steven Kotler, Diamandis has co-authored several New York Times best-selling books.


Feuer, Mike — City of Los Angeles

THE LATEST: Feuer has thrown his hat into the ring for the next Los Angeles mayor’s race. His neighborhood-focused approach to problem solving has dramatically expanded his office’s influence throughout the city. Feuer more than tripled the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program and engaged hundreds of volunteers in his Neighborhood Justice Program. His office is also tackling consumer scams and price gouging tied to the Covid-19 pandemic.

BACKGROUND: Feuer has served seven years as the city’s chief lawyer and prosecutor. Together with federal partners, Feuer’s office was the first government agency to bring action against Wells Fargo, securing restitution for customers and penalties of $185 million for the bank. He has also taken on counterfeit and fake pharmaceuticals, student debt-relief scams, and fraudulent immigration services. 


Galperin, Ron — City of Los Angeles

THE LATEST: Galperin has served as Los Angeles City Controller since 2013, when he became the first member of a city neighborhood council to be elected to citywide office. This independently elected watchdog for taxpayers at City Hall completed more than 30 audits of municipal departments and programs and helped recover millions of dollars in misspent public funds last year. In addition to watching over the city’s assets, payrolls and liabilities, Galperin released the first comprehensive reviews of the city’s approach to homelessness, recommending more data-driven outreach and calling for efficient, cost-effective housing solutions. 

BACKGROUND: Galperin practiced law for 20 years before running for controller. In a quest for greater municipal transparency, he implemented Control/Panel L.A., which allows citizens digital access to information about public spending and the city’s general assets and fiscal liabilities. Galperin is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and Loyola Law School.


Garcetti, Eric — City of Los Angeles

THE LATEST: Eric Garcetti has played a prominent local and national role during the Covid-19 pandemic with frequent news conferences and other forms of regular communication. He instituted citywide “safer at home” regulations in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. In 2019, Garcetti launched a Green New Deal initiative in a bid to make L.A. into a leader in the global fight against climate change. The city’s homelessness epidemic is an ongoing priority for Garcetti’s administration, which has been criticized for a perceived lack of progress on the issue. 

BACKGROUND: Garcetti has led the nation’s second-most populous city since 2013. Last year, he helped end the L.A. teachers strike. He also led the city’s successful bid to host the 2028 Summer Olympics. Garcetti represented the 13th City Council District from 2001 to 2013 and served four terms as City Council president. He served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve.


Hamai, Sachi — Los Angeles County

THE LATEST: After announcing last year that she would retire in early 2020, Hamai decided to postpone her departure in order to maintain continuity in county government and streamline the process of securing emergency services and supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic.

BACKGROUND: The first Asian American woman to manage day-to-day operations — including a $30 billion budget — of the nation’s most populous county, Hamai has held her post since 2014. Under her leadership, Fitch Ratings, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s Financial Services have raised the county’s long-term credit ratings to the highest level in a decade. Hamai also heads the county’s Homeless Initiative, which is funded by 2017’s Proposition H to address the homeless crisis. During her tenure, Hamai successfully combined the county’s three health-related departments into a single agency. She serves on the board of the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and is a member of the U.S.-Japan Council.


Huerta, David — Service Employees International Union, United Service Workers West

THE LATEST: Huerta is currently overseeing the union’s response to the Covid-19 crisis, which has ranged from Good Friday food programs for airport workers to a massive April agreement between Walt Disney Co. and the other 12 unions of the Master Service Council to maximize benefits for laid-off workers. 

BACKGROUND: The SEIU-USWW represents more than 45,000 janitors, security officers, airport workers, and allied and entertainment workers throughout California. Huerta has been with USWW for more than 20 years, working in almost every capacity from organizer and coordinator to janitorial division director, organizing director and staff director. Huerta also helped create an immigrant-integration program that includes English classes for union members.


Johnson, Earvin “Magic” — Magic Johnson Foundation

THE LATEST: Johnson, the basketball megastar who became a key figure in the 1990s fight against AIDS, has become an outspoken advocate for black Covid-19 victims. “African Americans are leading in terms of dying from the coronavirus,” Johnson told USA Today. “We have to do a better job as African Americans to follow social distancing, stay at home and make sure we educate our loved ones and our family members and do what we’re supposed to do to keep safe and healthy.

BACKGROUND: Johnson is chairman and chief executive of Magic Johnson Enterprises and chairman of the Magic Johnson Foundation. He’s also part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Football Club. Johnson made his name as a Hall of Fame point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers. He forged a partnership with Sony Pictures to develop Magic Johnson Theatres and in 1998 entered a partnership with Starbucks Corp. to open more than 100 stores in underserved neighborhoods. Johnson stepped down as president of basketball operations with the Lakers last year after helping to bring free agent LeBron James to Los Angeles.


Kightlinger, Jeffrey — Metropolitan Water District

THE LATEST: Under Kightlinger’s leadership, the Metropolitan Water District last year opened the Regional Recycled Water Advanced Purification Center, which can process 500,000 gallons per day. The facility is a major step toward a possible a 150-million-gallon-per-day plant, which would be the world’s largest water recycling plant and put Southern California on a path toward water independence. MWD also assisted Congress’ drought planning on the Colorado River and supported a bill to ensure that disadvantaged California communities have access to safe drinking water.

BACKGROUND: For 14 years Kightlinger has managed the MWD, the largest supplier of drinking water in America. MWD is comprised of 26 member agencies and delivers water for 19 million people. Kightlinger also serves on the UCLA Sustainability Board and the Los Angeles Economic Development Council. He graduated from UC Berkeley and has a law degree from Santa Clara University.


Lane, Bret — SoCalGas

THE LATEST: Lane, who took the reins at SoCalGas at the end of 2018, last year developed a plan to transform the 150-year-old company into the cleanest gas utility in North America. The goal is to deliver affordable and increasingly renewable energy to SoCalGas’ 22 million customers. Lane’s vision, which follows the company’s 2019 settlement from the leak at its Aliso Canyon field, includes a commitment to 20% renewable natural gas by 2030. Lane is also overseeing the company’s Covid-19 response, including plans to provide uninterrupted service for cash-strapped families and small businesses, and safety practices to protect SoCalGas’ front-line employees.

BACKGROUND: Lane joined SoCalGas in 1982. He has served in several leadership posts during his tenure with the company, most recently as chief operating officer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from Oklahoma State University.


Moore, Michel — Los Angeles Police Department 

THE LATEST: Moore’s 2018 appointment as chief of the LAPD followed a 37-year career during which he held nearly every position of responsibility in the department, from budget and personnel to counterterrorism and special operations. He had been in contention for a position as Dallas police chief before he was chosen as the 57th LAPD chief by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

BACKGROUND: Moore joined the LAPD at age 21 in 1981. He attained the rank of captain in 1998, deputy chief in 2004 and assistant chief in 2010. Before he was appointed as police chief, Moore was director for the office of operations, where he oversaw the department’s patrol divisions and geographic bureaus. Born in Porterville, Moore has a BA and an MBA from the University of Redlands.


Payne, Kevin — Southern California Edison

THE LATEST: Payne, who oversees one of the country’s largest electric utilities, is helping to lead the company’s vision of a clean-energy future. With its 15 million customers, SCE has established a pathway to carbon-free electricity by 2045 and is implementing the nation’s largest electric truck and transit utility initiative. SCE is also focused on mitigating the threat of wildfires.

BACKGROUND: Payne has served in several leadership positions during his 30 years with SCE. He currently serves on the Electric Innovation Management Committee of the Edison Electric Institute, the Los Angeles Sustainability Leadership Council and the Southern California Leadership Council. Payne earned a degree in mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley.


Pizarro, Pedro J. — Edison International

THE LATEST: Under Pizarro’s leadership in 2019 Edison donated $23 million to more than 800 nonprofit organizations within the company’s service area, including those providing assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the funds provided, 92% were targeted to help underserved communities. Pizarro oversees the Fortune 500 company and its subsidiaries, Southern California Edison and Edison Energy. He is working to position Edison International as a leader in sustainability and public safety, including mitigating wildfire risk.

BACKGROUND: Pizarro previously served two years as president of SCE. He is currently on the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board and the boards of Argonne National Laboratory, Electric Power Research Institute, Edison Electric Institute and Caltech. Pizarro holds a PhD in chemistry from Caltech and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University.


Rich, Michael — Rand Corp.

THE LATEST: Under Rich’s leadership, Rand Corp. has launched several notable independent research projects, including its Countering Truth Decay series and its Gun Policy in America initiative, the latter which aims to establish a shared set of facts about gun policies. The nonprofit is also pursuing a series of research projects related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since becoming president and CEO of Rand in 2011, Rich has focused on extending the impact of Rand’s work — challenging the organization to broaden its legacy of innovation.

BACKGROUND: Rich, who came to Rand as an intern in 1975, has led the Santa Monica nonprofit public policy think tank since 2011. He sits on the boards of several public policy and service organizations, including the Council for Aid to Education, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council and Wise and Healthy Aging. Rich has a BA from Berkeley and a JD from UCLA.


Salinas, Maria S. — Greater Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

THE LATEST: Under Salinas’ leadership, the Chamber introduced a Covid-19 resource guide and is providing one-on-one advising for small- to medium-sized businesses on how to survive and thrive during the crisis. The organization is also championing new ways to address the deep-seated problem of homelessness in the region.

BACKGROUND: Salinas oversees L.A. County’s largest business association, representing more than 250,000 businesses. An experienced entrepreneur and businesswoman, Salinas is the first Latina and first woman to lead the organization in its 130-year history. She stewards the Chamber’s new initiative, “A Thriving Region for All,” which seeks to amplify the voice of businesses while encouraging an

inclusive economy. Salinas also serves on the mayor’s MEXLA commission and the board of the Pacific Council. 


Seroka, Gene — Port of Los Angeles

THE LATEST: The past year has brought two consecutive challenges for Seroka. First was the trade war with China, which resulted in 25% fewer ship calls and a 19.1% volume decrease at the Port of Los Angeles in October from the same month the previous year. Then came the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to a 30.9% decrease in cargo activity at the port. In a bid to efficiently marshal resources in the fight against the coronavirus, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tapped Seroka to head the city’s logistical operations and supply chains.

BACKGROUND: As executive director, Seroka interacts with industry partners, elected and appointed officials at all levels, port customers across the globe, business leaders, and residents. A respected global trade expert, Seroka has advocated for rules-based trade agreements that benefit American exporters and manufacturers. He is responsible for managing a budget of more than $1.6 billion. Seroka began his career at American President Lines in the company’s Cincinnati office after earning an MBA and a BS in marketing from the University of New Orleans.


Soboroff, Steve — Los Angeles Police Commission

THE LATEST: After serving two terms as president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, Soboroff has moved back to a commissioner role with the organization due to term-limit regulations. The civilian board, which sets policies for the Los Angeles Police Department and oversees its operations, initially brought on Soboroff in 2013.

BACKGROUND: Soboroff has long been active in civic matters around Los Angeles, in both official and unofficial capacities. He played a key role in the creation of Staples Center while serving as an adviser to then L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan. He also spent six years as president of the L.A. Recreation and Parks Commission. And when the California Science Center decided to bid to bring the Space Shuttle Endeavor to the museum, Soboroff served as a senior adviser for the operation.


Vein, Jon — L.A. Convention and Tourism Development Board of Commissioners

THE LATEST: Veteran entrepreneur Vein is active in a number of community service and philanthropic efforts in Los Angeles. He serves as president of the L.A. Convention and Tourism Development Board of Commissioners and also acts as the city’s intermediary for securing hotel and motel accommodations for the homeless. As chair of the Young President’s Organization Gold Los Angeles Chapter, Vein won the 2019 Best of the Best Award globally for planning the best full-year program, with the intent of informing people to recognize and appreciate other points of view. 

BACKGROUND: Vein cofounded the data marketing and analytics company MarketShare in 2005 and sold it in 2015 for $450 million. Before that, he was chief operating officer of Michael Ovitz’s Artist Management Group. He is also an Emmy-winning TV producer who has been involved in national Democratic political campaigns. A native Angeleno, he holds an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley and a JD from Harvard Law School.


Washington, Phillip — Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro)

THE LATEST: Under Washington’s leadership, Metro has made systemwide adjustments to meet changes caused by the coronavirus. This includes service reductions, increased cleanings of buses and trains, and sanitizer at major stations. Thanks to a $1.3 billion grant from the Department of Transportation, Metro is fast-tracking construction of the Purple line extension to Westwood. Reduced traffic as a result of the Covid-19 crisis means the agency can work on the project seven days a week versus only on weekends.

BACKGROUND: Washington manages a balanced budget in excess of $7 billion, is responsible for overseeing between $18 and $20 billion in capital projects and provides oversight of an agency that transports 1.2 million boarding passengers daily. As the lead transportation planning, programming and financing agency for L.A. County, Metro oversees bus, rail, highway and other mobility-related infrastructure projects — the largest modern public-works program in North America. Previously, Washington was chief executive of Denver Regional Transportation District. Born in Chicago, Washington is a 24-year Army veteran who held the rank of command sergeant major, the top enlisted rank after the sergeant major of the Army.


See the full LA500 list and features in the 2020 LA500 Special Edition.


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