The 25 Most Influential Angelenos Revealed

Laura Eckstein Jones | October 5, 2020 | People Feature Features

This October we honor the local luminaries leading the charge in our community. From equality and inclusivity advocates to innovators finding solutions to current challenges, these formidable forces drive change, pushing L.A. forward for the greater good. Here is our list of the 25 most influential people in Los Angeles.



The challenges 2020 has brought on influenced L.A. native Jrue Holiday and his wife Lauren to help out and make a difference. In July, Jrue—a New Orleans Pelicans team member—vowed to donate the rest of his yearly NBA salary to support social justice and equal education opportunities in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Indianapolis, cities close to the couple’s hearts. In addition to supporting Black-led nonprofits and citywide initiatives for the Black and Brown communities, the $5 million Jrue and Lauren Holiday Fund is also dedicated to helping Black-owned small businesses affected by the pandemic. “Nothing is ever too small to give back to your community as long as you’re giving from the heart,” says Jrue. Adds Lauren, “The world needs more understanding of others’ experiences. Just because you haven’t been in someone else’s shoes doesn’t mean you can’t show compassion and understanding.”



As the founder of TOMS, Blake Mycoskie has made a career out of giving back, famously founding the brand’s One for One model, where for each pair of shoes sold, one is donated to a person in need. Since then, he’s embarked on a new mission with Madefor, a 10-month program that applies the principles of modern neuroscience, psychology and physiology to help better the mind and body. “Use business as a force for good,” says Mycoskie of his mission. “Be more present—with ourselves and others.”



“Ultimately, my mission is to push inclusivity and diversity within the fashion industry,” says Danielle Williams Eke, design director of 11 Honoré, “specifically focusing on normalizing size inclusivity and the representation of people of color within an industry that I have loved for many years.” Founded in 2017, the brand was created with the vision of bringing designer fashion to the plus-size market, collaborating with existing labels—including Adam Lippes and Diane Von Furstenberg—to expand their sizing. Earlier this summer, 11 Honoré launched Private Label, a line of timeless essentials designed in-house by Williams Eke. “What I am most proud of is finally being in a position to use my voice to bring light to issues I have observed over my 10-plus years working in fashion,” she says. “The lack of diversity and inclusivity, specifically in contemporary and high-end fashion, has existed for such a long time, and I am honored to be a part of changing the narrative and pushing the industry forward.”



As a bestselling author and sought-after international speaker, the co-founder of women’s empowerment nonprofit Visionary Women has plenty of advice on how to better the community.

How would you describe your mission? I have always been a caretaker at heart, driven by helping others reach their full potential and find their overall success and happiness in all realms of life. Visionary Women’s mission has now fully become my own: to unite and inspire a community of female leaders in support of causes that uplift the community as a whole.

How are you helping the community? Since its launch, Visionary Women has dispensed over $2 million to various initiatives that enhance the status of women both nationally and internationally. Most recently, we deployed $100,000 toward COVID-related relief across our Los Angeles community.

What do you hope the world learns from these challenging times? This pandemic has reprioritized our vision and values. I wholeheartedly hope that we can come together in rebuilding a more equitable and just world for all.


"Work on yourself first. There is so much insecurity and fear out there holding us back as a collective community. Working on understanding and valuing what makes YOU extra extra special and dismantling what’s in the way of you showing that to the world—that will make this a world worth living in for all of us. I want to see what you’ve got! Once you’ve got this down, helping others see the light would be a good next step."



"At Chrysalis we believe that a job is the key to helping individuals overcome the barriers and challenges that prevent our clients from thriving and achieving their individual and family goals. We know from experience that our clients are ready, willing and able to work—but sometimes need a bit of encouragement and support to do so. If there was ever a time for community, cooperation and understanding, this is it!




The CEO of House of AN —Crustacean, Da Lat Rose, AnQi, Tiato, Thang Long, AN Catering—has always factored in philanthropy.

How would you describe your philanthropic mission?

My family and I consider it a duty and a privilege to contribute to our community. Whether Beverly Hills, Orange County, Santa Monica or San Francisco— where we have our restaurants—we make it a point to support through charitable meals and monetary donations.

How has the pandemic affected you?

The unprecedented nature of this pandemic has been financially and emotionally difficult. However, I understood that many others are also met with the same hardships and maybe even more so. As a mother of six, it was important I showed my children the importance of perseverance and reminded them that in the darkest of times, we have a responsibility to do what we can to help our community.

And how are you helping out?

Back in April, we launched the #BuyABox campaign and gave away more than 800 boxes of needed essentials to support those in need in the restaurant industry. We also created #BuyABowl, where for each bowl of pho or noodles purchased through our takeout service, we donated two bowls of pho to our local medical community on the front line. And with #BuyABag, we turned Tiato into a supermarket and gave bags of groceries to the elderly.


Founded in 2013 by Jacquelin Napal and Kat Emery, Art Angels boasts flagship galleries in Los Angeles and Miami, and permanent art curations at Catch Restaurant locally, and Nobu Hotel and Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. “Art Angels was built out of a shared love for art and the belief that everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy and acquire art in an environment that is both welcoming and inspiring,” says Emery. Most recently as part of an initiative to support the community and the Black Lives Matter movement, the L.A. gallery donated 10% from proceeds of all art sales during the month of July 2020 to Black Girls Code and the Thurgood College Fund. “There are so many ways in which one can help both directly and indirectly, but the most important thing is that one takes the steps to do it,” says Napal. “However big or small, find a local organization, charity or foundation that’s important to you and get involved with donations, time, spreading the message and encouraging others to join you in paying it forward.”



With its #masksforall initiative, Heather Taylor Home has donated 100,000-plus masks to those in need.

How are you helping your community?

We have donated masks to hospital workers, social workers, teachers, community organizers, and are especially proud to have donated 10,000 masks (and counting) to St. Joseph Center, an organization that provides life-saving services for the unhoused community here in L.A.

What do you recommend to those wanting to follow in your footsteps?

Figure out ways to enact change and activism offline. Organize a fundraiser, seek out a volunteer opportunity, or find a way to donate.

What's your 2020 motto?

Vote for change.



While working as a line cook at L.A. restaurants Providence and Bäco Mercat, Ellen Bennett yearned for an apron that stood the test of time. From that need, the ambitious entrepreneur launched Hedley & Bennett, a beloved line of sturdy-yet-stylish aprons and gear. When the pandemic hit, the company switched gears and went into mask production. “We were a first responder at the beginning of COVID-19 in Los Angeles,” she says of Hedley & Bennet’s buy-one-donate-one model, where, so far, 275,000 masks and counting have been donated. “These times are a reminder of how delicate life can be,” says Bennett, who hopes that the world learns patience and grace through these challenging times. “It reprioritized what really matters and what’s really important, like family, health and community.”


The Hollywood legend’s The Sherry Lansing Foundation is helping make the world a better place.

How would you describe your mission?

The SLF is focused on three key missions: Cancer research, predominantly through Stand Up To Cancer; K-12 public education, through the EnCorps STEM Teachers Program and PrimeTime LAUSD; and career opportunities for retirees seeking their next chapters.

What do you hope the world learns from these challenging times?

To trust science in guiding us toward safe and healthy practices while we await an effective COVID-19 vaccine. To advocate for civic reforms that will help ensure equal protections under the law for all Americans.

What is your 2020 motto?

Approach life one day at a time with optimism and grace.

What do you recommend to those that want to follow in your footsteps?

Focus and commit to your goals; enjoy the present while preparing for the future.

What has been your silver lining this year?

Lots more quality time with my husband and children.

What does the world need more of now?

Equality, compassion, integrity and optimism.


14 | ANN LEE

“CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort, is dedicated to saving lives and strengthening communities affected by or vulnerable to crisis,” says Ann Lee, co-founder and CEO. “Shocks, like pandemics, earthquakes or hurricanes, only ‘uncover’ the underlying and more protracted emergencies that plague communities.” While best known for its relief effort in Haiti, publicly led by co-founder Sean Penn, the organization is currently devoting ample time to dealing with the pandemic. “CORE has mobilized a national response to COVID-19 and is committed to a multipronged, integrated approach, inclusive on streamlined testing with timely results, comprehensive and timely contact tracing, and supported quarantine and isolation services that provide shelter, food, hygiene kits and other wraparound services.” In these challenging times, Lee hopes that truth and experience prevail. “Following simple expert guidance—such as wearing masks—should not be politicized. As for what the world needs now, she points to action and accountability. “We need more selfless people to step up and volunteer their time and resources, in recognition that individual sacrifice benefits the collective good,” she says. “Most of all, we need kindness and empathy.”


Before landing at Netflix, where she’s served as chief marketing officer since August this year, Bozoma Saint John held a variety of high-level roles at Uber, Apple Music and Pepsi-Cola North America, to name a few. Now, she’s at the forefront of putting her stamp on the streaming giant, one that’s kept the world entertained throughout the pandemic. “Bozoma Saint John is an exceptional marketer who understands how to drive conversations around popular culture better than almost anyone,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos in a statement. “As we bring more great stories to our members around the world, she’ll define and lead our next exciting phase of creativity and connection with consumers.” In addition, Saint John acts as curator of The Badass Workshop, which offers inspirational classes to “provide the tools to create conscious choices for building your life on your terms,” she explains. Her motivational quotes also pepper the site. “None of us will have any impact or influence if we stay quiet,” she says. “So don’t be quiet. Be loud as hell.”


“In the city of Los Angeles, there’s a rapid rate of construction and demolition,” says Jaime Rummerfield, who, along with fellow interiors whiz Ron Woodson, works with nonprofit Save Iconic Architecture to landmark, preserve and protect notable architecture. “Save Iconic Architecture brings awareness to the buildings at risk and puts a spotlight on architectural preservation and education through social media and events.” SIA has nominated works by legends like Richard Neutra, Paul R. Williams and more for landmark protection over the years. “As Los Angeles natives, we care about preserving our history,” says Woodson. “Once these special properties are gone, they are lost forever.” And it’s not just the buildings that need protection: It’s the legendary stories and Hollywood heritage that are worth saving. “Not everything has to be new—preserving the past is important,” Woodson explains. “The old and the new can coexist beautifully.”



Though best known for being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, LeBron James has a passion for activism and has donated generously to a variety of causes close to his heart over the years. In addition to founding the LeBron James Family Foundation in 2005—which invests millions in education in his hometown of Akron, Ohio—the Brentwood resident has actively supported After-School All-Stars, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Children’s Defense Fund. Most recently, the dad of three took a stand against racial justice, threatening to boycott playing out the rest of the NBA season before changing his mind, making the decision to finish it out after all. Whatever his next move is—both on and off the court—it’s bound to be one that catches the attention of the world in a positive and inspiring way.



“My unofficial mission has always been to get into ‘good trouble,’ as the late Rep. John Lewis said,” says Suzanne Lerner, activist, co-founder and president of Michael Stars. “Joking aside, my personal mission has always been to inspire people to fight for gender and racial equality.” Since the Michael Stars Foundation launched in 2005, Lerner has done just that, raising millions to support grassroots organizations. Most recently, they’ve donated several $10,000 grants during the pandemic to various organizations in need, collaborated with Gloria Steinem on voter registration and the ERA Coalition to support the Equal Rights Amendment, and more. “A loving society is an equal society,” says Lerner, when asked about her motto this year. “I think that one’s going to last beyond 2020!”



“There are no borders when people are in need,” says Edward Mady, regional director and general manager of The Beverly Hills Hotel. The hotel’s parent company, Dorchester Collection, has stuck to that motto throughout the pandemic, guaranteeing jobs to all employees at The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, and donating thousands of meals and significant funds to various organizations throughout the city. “Take care of the person on your left, take care of the person on your right, and everything else will take care of itself,” he says. “There is one race called the human race.”



When the pandemic first struck, the Röckenwagners took action. From partnering with FreeForm—a Mar Vista-based nonprofit that helps survivors of domestic violence gain financial independence—to sell their products through Röckenwagner Market to working with fellow chefs and restaurateurs to sell their goods, the husband-and-wife team behind Dear John’s and The Röckenwagner Bakery Group ( are helping keep small businesses alive. “Since the quarantine started, we transformed our cafe into a market, set up our own in-house delivery system [to keep staff employed], launched an e-commerce platform, partnered with organic farmers to distribute their goods, launched a TV dinner business and built an outdoor dining room in the Dear John’s parking lot, and we’re not done yet,” says Patti, who points to the word “pivot” as her 2020 motto. Her advice to those wanting to follow in her footsteps? “Develop nerves of steel and a deep reserve of optimism.”


As CEO and founder of The Shade Room —which just surpassed 20 million followers on Instagram—Angelica Nwandu’s mission is to be an authentic news source for Black culture. And by donating significantly, her brand is changing the media landscape while also giving back.

How are you helping your community?

The Shade Room gives 10% of our profits back to the community. Each month we commit to funding a different mission to empower our community including bail funds, [preventing] human trafficking, education, housing stipends, rent stipends, business scholarship giveaways and more. [But] perhaps the most important thing we do is keep our audience informed of breaking political and world news. Our conversational style of delivering the news allows our audience to digest serious, and even mundane topics in an engaging way.

What do you hope the world learns from these challenging times?

The importance of being present.

What is your 2020 motto?

Adaptation is the key to survival.

What do you recommend to those who want to follow in your footsteps?

No matter what resources you have, just start that task, get the dream out, and get it moving!

What does the world need more of now?




The co-owners of The Lucques Group are doing their part to keep independent restaurants alive.

How are you helping your community?

CS: I am a member of the advisory board of the Independent Restaurant Coalition and am lobbying Congress to co-sponsor The Restaurants Act, a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation that could literally save our industry.

SG: Aside from dealing with the big-picture issues, I’ve gotten to know an amazing group called No Us Without You that provides free groceries to undocumented families in need since the pandemic started.

How can people help?

CS: They can contact their Congressional representatives and senators and ask them to sign on in support of The Restaurants Act. Also, dine out or order in as much as possible.

What does the world need more of now?

SG: I think Elvis Costello said it best: ‘peace, love and understanding.’

Photography by: Lauren & Jrue Holiday photo by Abigail Keenan Photography
Blake Mycoskie photo courtesy of Madefor
Danielle Williams Eke photo courtesy of 11 Honoré
Ange Lla Nazarian photo courtesy of Visionary Women
Elizabeth An photo courtesy of House of An
Heather Taylor photo by Lindsay Kindelon
Ellen Bennett photo by Anna Maria
Ann Lee photo by Samuel Bayer
Lebron James photo by Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images
Suzanne Lerner photo courtesy of Michael Stars
Edward May photo courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel
Patti & Hans Röckenwagner photo by Reto Guntli
Caroline Styne & Suzanne Goin photo by Ray Katchatorian