Message from Donna Bojarsky

Message from Donna Bojarsky, President and Founder, Future of Cities: Los Angeles

June 27, 2019


L.A. has always been my home. I’m second-generation—daughter of a father born in Boyle Heights in 1919, raised on L.A. stories. My dad took me on one of the last runs of the original Angels Flight and I knew that the great Broadway movie palaces in the 1930s cost 10 cents and you got a free Abba-Zaba bar at intermission. I hiked the mountains of Griffith Park, celebrated birthday parties at Genie Land, Bob Baker Marionette, and of course Beverly Park (I liked riding the fast lane on Goldie). L.A. Dodgers and Roman Gabriel’s Rams were central in my life. 

Los Angeles also grabbed my professional life from the beginning, with Assemblymember Richard Katz in the northeast San Fernando Valley. Then, the honor of working for Tom Bradley. Next, the founding of two L.A.- centric organizations, the volunteer action center L.A. Works and the civic-focused Jewish Federation New Leaders Project, plus two decades on the L.A. County Human Relations Commission. And I was a kid in the candy store consulting at Los Angeles magazine. 

Viscerally the frontier imagery of the West feels like second nature. On the frontier, we are not bound by the conventions of the past. 

I believe in cities. 

I see the energy, the promise, where the best and brightest have an opportunity to mix and dream and build. The opportunity to set a tone. And now, the obligation to push for inclusive cities, where all can rise. Cities have never been more key to ensuring the health and wellbeing of their inhabitants. 

I believe in leadership. 

From dedicated grassroots leaders to generous philanthropists, a great city needs a devoted cadre of people who can catalyze energy and movement, who are willing to foster important connection across all lines, helping ideas meet resources. 

Furthermore, leadership must have an ever-evolving definition as times and needs change, as this study demonstrates. 

I believe we need more people to make L.A. a priority. 

We are at another crossroad here in L.A... where we have the chance to fulfill our promise to be a world-class metropolis of and for the future. 

Look to the past to see where we are going, the authors of this study tell us. 

The players may have changed but the stage remains. We have new and different industries, an ever more diverse population, new and ample 21st-century challenges, and new groups arising to respond to them. 

Let’s support those efforts and push the frontier. Let’s swell the ranks of those willing to take on civic roles and help make new histories as advocates, philanthropists, social entrepreneurs, public servants, state and local commissioners, artists, writers, and more. 

Look at a map of the Los Angeles region, simultaneously dense and sprawling. Look at the history of our civic institutions, at once unburdened and unsupported by other cities’ long-established ways of doing things. It is up to us to take the good fortune of our diversity and innovation, our creativity and perennial newness, and, indeed, our geography and history to develop something even more extraordinary that will last for generations of Angelenos to come. 

Donna Bojarsky, 
Founder and President, Future of Cities: Los Angeles