Calling All You Angels: The Leadership Exchange Is Heading To L.A.

It’s that time again … application season is in full swing for this year’s Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange, our annual initiative designed to strengthen connections and kindle big thinking among our region’s business, civic, and public sector leaders. Since 2005, we’ve visited places as diverse as Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto, and Boston, and we’ve seen how new collaborations and relationships seeded at the Leadership Exchange have led to change in Greater Philadelphia. This fall’s learning visit to Los Angeles marks our first foray into Southern California.


In choosing a Leadership Exchange destination, we always look for regions with similarities to Greater Philadelphia – whether in size, form, or economic mix. And while popularized images of Los Angeles may have contributed to some lingering biases about the region, we promise that the more you get into the real L.A. story, the more you will see just how much Philly can learn from the nation’s second largest metro. Here are just a few of the questions that we’ll be addressing on this year’s Leadership Exchange:


How is Greater Los Angeles tackling its most pressing challenges in effective ways? From catalyzing a dramatic downtown revitalization to investing in the nation’s most ambitious rail and transit development program to working across governmental lines to address the region’s acute homelessness crisis, Greater Los Angeles is tackling its biggest – and most visible – challenges head on.


How is Greater Los Angeles nurturing a dynamic tech startup scene (and giving other metros a run for their money)? A growing technology sector, born of the region’s entertainment and healthcare strengths, has emerged on L.A.’s west side in an area dubbed “Silicon Beach.” In addition, an innovative collaboration among the City of Los Angeles, the region’s business community, and local universities has given birth to a clean energy hub where entrepreneurs are developing next-generation green technologies.


How are diverse ethnic and racial communities building coalitions to drive neighborhood development and political change? Los Angeles County has the largest Latino population of any county in the nation, and the city of Los Angeles is one of only two U.S. cities without a majority ethnic population. People from 140 countries, speaking approximately 86 different languages, currently call Los Angeles home. In a region defined by its diversity, Greater L.A.’s cross-cultural coalitions are driving positive change at the neighborhood, city, and state levels.


How is Greater Los Angeles finding new ways to work with at-risk populations? The Los Angeles region, oft-dubbed the “gang capital of the nation,” has given birth to one of the largest and most successful gang intervention programs in the country. And while K-12 education is a particularly thorny challenge in any metro we visit, we are heartened by innovative improvement efforts in Los Angeles that are giving hope to severely distressed schools.


Indeed, the program is coming together nicely for our Los Angeles Exchange. Now it’s a matter of getting together our delegation. While we take great pride in the quality of speakers, learning visits, and innovative approaches to regional improvement featured at each year’s Exchange, we know what truly sets this annual event apart – the participants. We’re looking for a mix of emerging and established leaders who are open to new ideas, clear-eyed about Greater Philadelphia’s prospects and challenges, and ready to engage and connect with their colleagues.


So, put aside your preconceptions about L.A. (but don’t forget your shades!) and join this fall’s leadership delegation from Greater Philadelphia for an in-depth learning visit in the City of Angels. Applications are available until April 29 at


Steve Wray

Executive Director, Economy League of Greater Philadelphia