August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, a celebration of the anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granting women the right to vote. In honor of the occasion, we’re shining a spotlight on five women in LA who make the city better by killing the game in what used to be considered male-dominated fields.
Chef Niki Nakayama
The ambitious woman with her name on the door at n/naka has risen as a star not just as a chef—which can be a macho enough field to break into on its own—but for making sushi and Japanese fine dining, which remains rare for women. Her episode of Chef’s Table brought additional attention, but she was already filling her dining room with eaters eager to taste her modernist interpretation of traditional Kaiseki service. Whether it's an intentional nod to the sisterhood or not, it’s worth noting that a visit to her chef bio page also includes her sous chef and pastry chef, both of whom are women.
City Council Member Nury Martinez
Much has been written over the years about how LA city politics seems to be a tough place to be a woman. Los Angeles is among a dwindling number of US cities to have never had a female mayor. Currently, of the city’s 18 council offices, only one has a female representative in the city council. That seat, the 6th District, is held by Nury Martinez, who, among her other council duties, has taken on a campaign to encourage girls and women to prepare for leadership roles.
Venture capitalist Dana Settle
Based on records from 2013, only 16 percent of startups that went after venture capital funding were female-led—and only 7 percent of companies that actually got that seed money had women at the top. If we had a company looking for an investment, we would seek out Dana Settle, a founding partner and head of the West Coast office for the venture firm Greycroft. She’s put her cash and smarts behind companies that have hit it huge like Maker Studios, Clique Media Group and TheRealReal, and made the dreams of entrepreneurs of all genders come true.
Comedy producer Abbey Londer
It’s hardly easy to be a woman or a comedian, but the combination can be notoriously challenging. Abbey Londer started out hosting small DIY comedy shows around LA and built up from there to the 2012 launch of Riot LA, a multi-day comedy festival that draws international attention. The 2016 edition drew an assortment of A-List comics and, while Londer could probably have her pick of talent to book at this point, she chose a roster that intentionally represented a diversity of female voices, from the small rooms to the main stage.
Landscape architect Mia Lehrer
Mia Lehrer is the design mind behind many of LA’s most beloved public spaces today—and projects that are sure to become new favorites. She can take the credit on the Annenberg Community Beach House, Vista Hermosa Park, the pool decks and gardens of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the upcoming FABpark. Essentially, if it’s outdoors, beautiful and functional, it might be the work of her firm, Mia Lehrer + Associates.
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