Southern California Leadership Network's 2016 Visionaries Awards Recognizes Four Dynamic Leaders

December 12, 2016 10:00 am
by L.A. Area Chamber

LOS ANGELES, CA — Thursday, as a part of the annual Visionaries Awards celebration, the Southern California Leadership Network (SCLN) recognized four community leaders, who represent diverse sectors and industries, for their exemplary leadership.

The event, which kicks off the organization’s 30th year of driving change through civic leadership, was held at The Ace Hotel and attended by more than 350 area business, government and community leaders.

This year’s honorees were David Ambroz, president, L.A. City Planning Commission and executive director, Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility, Disney | ABC Television, who was recognized as the Southern California Graduate of the Year; Congresswoman Karen Bass, U.S. House of Representatives, 37th Congressional District, as Public Sector Leader of the Year; Chris Essel, CEO, Southern California Grantmakers, as Southern California Leader of the Year; and Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire, president, Berkhemer-Clayton, Inc., Retained Executive Search, with the Empowering Leadership Award.

Visionaries Awards are presented to accomplished individuals in the Southern California region who demonstrate outstanding achievement in civic leadership, honoring those whose vision has inspired action, collaboration and positive outcomes. Past award recipients include Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell; Chet Pipkin, founder, CEO and chair of Belkin International; and Julia Gouw, former president, COO and board member of East West Bank. 

Southern California Leadership Network advances the region and the state by inspiring, preparing and connecting leaders to drive change. SCLN does this through its signature Leadership Fellowships, continued leadership development opportunities and other events to promote lifelong leadership learning. 

 More than 100 leaders from SCLN’s California Connections, Leadership Southern California and Leadership L.A. programs graduated in 2016, joining a network of over 3,000 alumni from across various sectors statewide. SCLN recently expanded its programs to include the Riordan Leadership Institute, preparing its current class of 40 young professionals to serve on nonprofit boards. 

About David Ambroz:

David Ambroz is the executive director of Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility at Disney | ABC Television Group (DATG). In that role, Ambroz leads DATG’s prosocial and philanthropic efforts, aligning charitable giving and other prosocial activities with the business and brand objectives of the DATG family of channels. David oversees all aspects of philanthropy, and leads communication strategies to effectively inform the large and geographically dispersed employee population and enhance employee engagement across the DATG.

Ambroz was recently reappointed to, and is currently serving as president of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission. In that role, he works to review development projects and instigates policies that affect the built environment.

About Congresswoman Karen Bass:

Congresswoman Karen Bass was re-elected to her fourth term representing the 37th Congressional District in November 2016. Congresswoman Bass serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where she is ranking member of the Subcommittee on Africa. She was selected by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve on the prestigious Steering and Policy Committee, which sets the policy direction of the Democratic Caucus, as Organization, Study and Review Chair. Congresswoman Bass also plays a leadership role in the Congressional Black Caucus, where she serves as secretary for the 114th Congress.

About Chris Essel:

Christine Essel is the president and chief executive officer of Southern California Grantmakers (SCG), a regional association of philanthropic leaders whose mission is to support and advance effective, responsible philanthropy for the public good. As president, Essel sets the strategic direction and priorities for the organization, overseeing programming, communications, member services and public policy. She joined SCG as president and CEO on Feb. 1, 2013.

About Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire: 

Chair of the SCLN Board for 2016, and board member for 25 years, Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire is president and co-founder of Berkhemer Clayton Inc., a retained executive search firm in downtown Los Angeles. The firm specializes in searches for boards of directors, and senior management in Corporate Communications, Marketing, Finance and Investor Relations. 



Southern California Leadership Network is a partnership with the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber 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

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