L.A. Area Chamber Announces New Board Members

L.A.’s leading business organization welcomes to its Board of Directors Metro CEO Art Leahy; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips Partner George Kieffer; Nestlé USA VP Kenneth Bentley; USC VP for Government and Community Relations Thomas Sayles; and Para Los Ni

May 14, 2009 2:00 pm

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce today announced five new appointments to its Board of Directors including: Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Chief Executive Officer, Art Leahy; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP Partner, George Kieffer; Nestlé USA, Inc. Vice President, Kenneth W. Bentley; University of Southern California (USC) Vice President for Government and Community Relations, Thomas Sayles; and Para Los Niños President and CEO, Gisselle Acevedo.  The new members accepted their posts and joined the prestigious 121-member Board at the May 14, 2009 Board of Directors meeting.

“The L.A. Area Chamber is pleased to welcome Art Leahy, George Kieffer, Kenneth Bentley, Thomas Sayles and Gisselle Acevedo to our Board of Directors,” said Gary Toebben, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.  “These renowned leaders from our community will bring important business, political and civic experience and perspective to our Board as we work to grow business, create jobs and accelerate economic recovery in the Los Angeles region.”

One of the nation’s leading transportation executives, Art Leahy brings more than three decades of transportation management experience to the L.A. Area Chamber Board of Directors.  Recently appointed as Metro’s CEO, Mr. Leahy previously led the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) and served as General Manager for the transit agency in Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Mr. Leahy has been instrumental in regional, state and federal advocacy efforts to increase transit safety and funding in Southern California, and currently serves as the Chairman of Mobility 21, a regional transportation coalition formed in partnership with the L.A. Area Chamber.

Returning to the L.A. Area Chamber Board of Directors, Former Chair of the Board George Kieffer oversees major business litigation, business transactions and government-related and land use matters for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.  Mr. Kieffer chairs the firm’s Government & Regulatory Policy Division and has played a role in major strategic legal and policy issues for business and public entities including the rewriting of the Los Angeles City Charter.  Mr. Kieffer also currently chairs the Los Angeles Civic Alliance, serves on the Board of Directors of Promerica Bank and was recently nominated by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to the University of California Board of Regents.

As Vice President of Nestlé USA, Inc., Kenneth Bentley oversees community affairs, educational programs, the Nestlé USA Foundation and Workforce Diversity.  Prior to joining Nestlé, Mr. Bentley held sales and marketing positions with Carnation (a division of Nestlé), the Phillips Organization, Anheuser-Busch, Spaulding Sporting Goods and Xerox Corporation.  An accomplished writer, Mr. Bentley is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and Phillips Temple CME Church where he serves on the Steward Board.  He is also a member of the board of directors of the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine, Harold Pump Foundation, Reading Is Fundamental, and the Arthur Learning Center.

As USC’s Vice President for Government and Community relations, Thomas Sayles oversees public outreach in the neighborhoods surrounding the university.  Previously, Mr. Sayles held government and community affairs positions with Sempra Energy and served as the California Commissioner of Corporations and California Secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing.  Appointed by Gov. Gray Davis, Mr. Sayles also served on the Governor’s Task Force on Diversity and Outreach, and the Commission on Building for the 21st Century.  Mr. Sayles is currently a member of the boards of Unified Grocers and the Los Angeles Industrial Development Authority.

A community leader of distinction, Gisselle Acevedo leads Para Los Niños, an L.A.-based nonprofit organization that provides educational and support services to at-risk children and their families from 28 sites throughout Southern California.  Prior to joining Para Los Niños, Ms. Acevedo served as President and General Manager of the Los Angeles edition of Hoy, Vice President of Public Affairs at the Los Angeles Times and President of the Los Angeles Times Foundation.  Ms. Acevedo has also held leadership positions with AT&T and the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).  Ms. Acevedo provides leadership in the areas of government, public, foundation and donor relations serving on several boards including The John F. Kennedy School of Government,  Women’s Leadership Board and Farmers Insurance Company.  Ms. Acevedo is also a Regent at Loyola Marymount University.


The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of business in L.A. County. Founded in 1888, the Chamber promotes a prosperous economy and quality of life in the Los Angeles region. For more information, visit www.lachamber.com.

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Gwen Oldham, 213.580.7532