Message from our Founder / CEO Donna Bojarsky

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Future of Cities: Los Angeles (FOC:LA) was founded by activist Donna Bojarsky in 2015 with the aim of reinvigorating LA’s civic identity by inviting leaders from every sector to participate in the conversation and decisions that affect Los Angeles’ 13.1 million residents and the city’s future. 

Our efforts combine academic study with public engagement, blending innovative collaborations and special events to bring together a cross section of accomplished civic, business, philanthropic, cultural and community leaders. FOC:LA marries vision, leadership and results to fulfill LA's ambitions and achieve our potential. 

Cities are now recognized as the most important laboratory for a successfully organized society, and ground zero for creative ambition. Los Angeles is an important hub with powerful symbolic value.

The Handicap of LA’s Weak Civic Spirit

However, the LA metropolitan area’s potential is hampered by its dysfunctional, diffused governing structure, which has thwarted many reforms. LA, which has more residents than all but four U.S. states, is a segmented urban network lacking a dynamic, engaged and representative leadership cadre. Its 10 million people are governed by a patchwork of overlapping municipal entities, but there is no central authority to express and implement the people’s will. Local taxes fund dozens of local agencies and hundreds of mandated activities, so it is almost impossible for the Los Angeles public sector to marshal fiscal resources for any major new initiatives, no matter how urgent or popular. Furthermore, we have precious limited infrastructure to foster the rise of a new generation dedicated to a sustainable world-class metropolis.

Yet history shows that progress on issues that matter to the quality of life and opportunities for LA residents does happen, in spite of our haphazard governmental structure. This is the perfect time to promote a new kind of civic stewardship representative of today's Los Angeles – a region of unparalleled diversity, technology, entertainment, media, venture capital, environmental consciousness, and creative capital. Accomplishing this here would not only benefit our own community, but also have an impact far beyond our coast.

What is the recipe for change? What can history teach us about making progress today?

Fostering Leadership In LA

FOC:LA believes that cross-sector leadership is the key – and history shows that, in LA, leadership emerges from unconventional, unexpected places – starting with you. Each of us, individually and working together, has the potential to change LA, to join in stewardship of LA, if we have the passion to create a legacy of hope and reform. 

Los Angeles is not the only city that needs to revive its civic dialogue. Urban advocate Carol Colletta wrote, “The complexity of cities means that cities need leadership from all sectors, most especially a community-spirited civic sector that leaves its individual interests at home and speaks instead for the city at large.” What we accomplish here in LA will reverberate through the cities of the world, and will lift up urban residents across the globe.

Catalyst for Change

FOC:LA’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for leaders to create positive change in Los Angeles. Since our founding, we have presented and convened inclusive conversations about the future of LA, and drawn into those conversations dynamic, diverse voices from every sector: grassroots activists, business executives, philanthropic leaders, elected officials, academics, journalists, chefs, entrepreneurs and leaders in the media, sports and entertainment. Los Angeles’ global brand is creativity. FOC:LA taps LA’s creativity to engage in the civic conversations that will bring forth change. 

The conversations about LA that FOC:LA convenes are not always about policy however. We celebrate what’s unique and good about Los Angeles, what draws us to this region and what binds us to each other – our embrace of a diverse culture, its art, its music, its local media, its games, its communities and the many traditions and events that are “only in Los Angeles.” We know that to make constructive change happen, we must draw on our special strengths and our love for our neighbors.

Among our initiatives:

  • The Seam – FOC:LA’s “Great LA Conversation” of 2018
  • Space to Lead – An academic study commissioned by FOC:LA on the historic importance of collaboration across sectors to Los Angeles’ successful reform efforts
  • The FOC:LA Calls to Action – Embracing LA to become more civically engaged
  • The FOC:LA Book List, Curated by Huntington-USC Institute on California and the West Director William Deverell
  • Future of Cities: Leading in LA – FOC:LA’s first summit in 2015

LA’s brand is creativity. We are home to the world’s most creative thinkers in every field. FOC:LA believes that tapping into our region’s creativity to form new coalitions is essential to reviving LA’s civic life. We hope you will join us on our journey to a future of lasting change and new visions of civic leadership across Los Angeles. 

To get on FOC:LA’s email list and get our bulletins, updates and event invitations, CLICK HERE.

If you want to sponsor a FOC:LA event in your organization CLICK HERE

We survive on donations from civic-minded lovers of Los Angeles. To donate: CLICK HERE.