Amy Elaine Wakeland


First Lady of Los Angeles

Amy Elaine Wakeland is the First Lady of Los Angeles. She is also an activist, philanthropist, public policy expert and political strategist. Amy’s professional career includes work as the Senior Political Advisor for the California Dean for America campaign, Campaign Manager for Michela Alioto for Secretary of State, Executive Director of the Coalition for Kids, Director of the Progressive L.A. Network, and Strategic Planner for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services. Prior to her move to LA, Amy worked briefly as a community organizer and judicial clerk and attended graduate school at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. Amy’s non-profit commitments extend primarily to organizations that serve LA’s neediest residents and that work to eradicate sexual violence. Amy currently serves on the Board of Directors of People Assisting the Homeless and the Board of Directors of Just Detention International. She also is active with the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and with the Liberty Hill Foundation, where she helped found the Pobladores Fund, a giving circle that contributes to social justice causes in LA.


LAANE Advisory Board
Sr. Vice President, Programming, Fox Television Studios

Nancy Cotton has worked in the television industry for more than twenty years. She is currently Senior Vice President, Programming, at Fox TV Studios, where she oversees scripted television for several cable series, including the Emmy nominated The Killing (AMC), and the new series The Americans (FX), as well as numerous projects in development. Nancy has been actively involved for over a decade with the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, Los Angeles, whose mandate is to help underprivileged children become productive citizens by providing a long-term program of academic enhancement, mentoring and cultural enrichment with an assured opportunity for higher education. She is currently serving as Vice President of its board, sits on its development committee and has co-chaired their annual fundraiser for the past six years. Nancy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, an attorney, and their two teen-aged sons.


Executive VP/Government Affairs

Lisa Cowell Shams has an extensive background in politics and public affairs. She currently serves as Executive Vice President, Government Affairs for Westfield. Prior to Westfield, she worked with Democratic leaders including: Senators Bob Kerrey, Chris Dodd, Frank Lautenberg and Max Baucus. She serves on the Advisory Board of the California Business Properties Association, the Board of The Los Angeles Fire Department Foundation and on the Advisory Board of the Dolan School of Business at Fairfield University and is active with St. Jude Children’s Hospital. In 2012, Lisa was recognized as a “Woman of Achievement” by the Century City Chamber of Commerce. A Connecticut native, Lisa Cowell resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Ray Shams. She holds a Master of Arts degree with a concentration in Survey Research from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor’s degree in Politics with a minor in Religious Studies, from Fairfield University.


LAANE Advisory Board Co-Chair
Union Labor Lawyer/Partner, Bush Gottlieb

Julie Gutman Dickinson has devoted her career to public service, advocating for the rights of workers, immigrants and underserved communities. She is currently a partner at the labor law firm Bush Gottlieb, where she provides services for private and public sector unions and low-wage workers. Ms. Gutman Dickinson specializes in administrative, state and federal court litigation, arbitrations, organizing campaigns, collective-bargaining negotiations, government relations, political advice and policy advocacy. She previously served as Executive Director of the Program for Torture Victims, Vice-President of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works Commissioners and Senior Labor Advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. During more than a decade at the National Labor Relations Board, she was the only attorney to achieve a 100% win record in voluminous unfair labor practice trials and federal district court injunction litigation.


LAANE Advisory Board
Philanthropist/Community Activist

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Suzy Marks has devoted her life to community activism. With her husband, Wally Marks, she worked on everything from living wage campaigns to health care and campaign finance reform to Families to Amend California’s Three Strikes Law (FACTS) and immigrant rights. She played an instrumental role in the creation of NewGround, a Muslim/Jewish partnership designed to foster closer ties between Jews and Muslims in Southern California.  She shared a deep dissatisfaction with Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory and brought speakers to Los Angeles from the Middle East. After Wally’s death in 2009, Ms. Marks continued her engagement, which reflects her deeply felt belief that none of us can function effectively on our own.  “While I may fervently want there to be a living wage, job programs, affordable housing, clean air for the port truck drivers and healthy food for the disadvantaged, there is no way that I can begin to do any of this on my own,” she says. “None of us can. We need organizations that will do what needs to be done.” Together with Wally she raised four wonderful children and six loving grandchildren.