Angella Nazarian is an advocate for women’s empowerment. She is the co-founder and president of Visionary Women, a non-profit leadership organization supporting the women of Los Angeles. As a motivational speaker, author, frequent media contributor and commentator Angella encourages personal and professional growth. Her new “My Personal Coach” app puts mentoring tools at women’s fingertips. She is the author of two best-selling books, Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World and Life as a Visitor and is anticipating the release of her third book, Visionary Women, in the fall of 2015. She is also the co-founder of Looking Beyond, a non-profit that funds organizations for children and young adults with special needs. WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? I left my home and my parents when I was 11 years old. I moved to Los Angeles with my older sister, her husband and infant daughter. My brothers were already here studying when Iran erupted in revolution. My parents could not leave, so my siblings created a family that helped me make the transition to becoming an independent and curious individual. My parents joined us five and a half years later. In between, I learned a lot about self-reliance, hope and the importance of education. I studied psychology at UCLA and got my graduate degree from the California State University at Long Beach. I became a professor of psychology in my 20s and felt early on a true passion for advocacy for education. I served on the boards of several schools and am now with a number of universities as well. All these experiences have helped me in shaping my career and philanthropic efforts. My personal mission is to see how I, and our family foundation, can have the most impact on our community with an added emphasis on empowering women. WHAT MAKES YOU PROUD? I am most proud of our recent efforts at California State University Northridge. My husband, David Nazarian, is an alumnus of the California State University at Northridge. In 2014, its business school was renamed The David Nazarian College of Business and Economics in recognition of our financial support. The driving force for our contribution was to provide wider access to quality education - especially to women and minorities, which comprise a large portion of CSUN’s student body. WHY DOES PHILANTHROPY MATTER? For me, it is more than a sense of responsibility. Philanthropy provides the person who is “giving” a sense of fulfillment. I find it not only rewarding but healthy to be thinking beyond myself and my immediate life. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE VISIONARY WOMEN ORGANIZATION? One of my goals is to have the new non-profit, Visionary Women, become one of the leading national women’s initiative platforms. I have co-founded this organization with some of the most dynamic women in Los Angeles and I believe it can have a powerful voice in supporting women’s leadership initiatives. We are very excited about hosting Leymah Gbowee in May. She is the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Gbowee has emerged as an international peace-building leader who changed history of her war torn Liberia. It truly is a privilege to have Ms. Gbowee in Los Angeles, talking to a relatively small group of women leaders. We hope that her sharing of her experiences inspires our community of women to do more on a global level. DESCRIBE YOUR PHILANTHROPIC WORK WITH YOUR EXTENDED LOS ANGELES FAMILY? I serve on the Board of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, doing work with USC, UCLA, Cedars-Sinai Hospital, and various universities and cultural centers, in Israel and around the world. WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT LOS ANGELES? Angelenos have a real sense of openness to new ideas. I love the city’s diversity. I am also a big art enthusiast and Los Angeles has become the epicenter of a vibrant art scene, as well. WHAT ARE THE NEXT BIG CHALLENGES THAT YOU WOULD LIKE LOS ANGELES’S PHILANTHROPIC AND BUSINESS COMMUNITIES TO EMBRACE? Public, private, corporate, and philanthropic partnerships are the wave of the future. Mentorships, internships, educational and training opportunities are becoming the strongest of society’s tools for advancement. All layers of Los Angeles’ varied communities should seek to make these connections and offer these tools. WHAT WILL BE YOUR LEGACY? I would like to know that I was positive force for change.
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