2018 Discover Los Angeles Market Outlook Forum Guest Speakers

The Discover Los Angeles Market Outlook Forum is the strategic forecasting conference for any business interested in capitalizing on L.A.’s record tourism growth. In 2017 Los Angeles achieved a record high with 48.5 million overnight and day visitors and forecasts call for continued growth with 50 million visitors by 2020. This valuable event will help you prepare to welcome them and benefit from the tremendous anticipated growth in visitation.

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GEORGE CAO

George Cao leads the Dragon Trail team with more than 20 years of experience in the travel and technology industries in China and in America. An accomplished entrepreneur, George previously co-founded two travel meta-search engines: California-based Search Party and Beijing-based Go10000.com. Previously in Silicon Valley, George worked for WorldRES, one of the early B2B hotel distribution platforms and Talus Solutions, a leading revenue management solutions company based in Mountain View, California and Atlanta, Georgia.

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SUSAN FENIGER

Co-Chef/Owner, Border Grill Restaurants & Truck, and Blue Window
Susan Feniger is a celebrated chef, author, and entrepreneur. Her professional collaboration with Mary Sue Milliken (CITY, Ciudad, Too Hot Tamales) has led to the groundbreaking Border Grill empire (Los Angeles, LAX Airport, The Huntington, and Las Vegas). Susan welcomed her new solo venture, Blue Window, with Kajsa Alger at LAX Airport and The Huntington in 2016. A classically trained graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she was a trailblazer from the start, landing a job at Chicago’s famed Le Perroquet as one of the first women in the all-male kitchen. Following that, Feniger worked at Wolfgang Puck’s infamous Ma Maison in Los Angeles, and then further honed her culinary skills on the French Riviera. She opened City Café in 1981, which forever changed the culinary landscape of L.A. by offering eclectic dishes from around the world. This led to a much larger CITY restaurant in 1985, a pivotal year in which the tiny space was transformed into the first Border Grill, a “taco stand” serving authentic home cooking and street foods of Mexico. Susan has co-authored six cookbooks, including her latest, Susan Feniger’s Street Food. Susan is a veteran of 396 episodes of The Food Network’s popular “Too Hot Tamales” and “Tamales World Tour” series and competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” in 2010. In June 2013, Susan and Mary Sue were awarded the California Restaurant Association’s Elizabeth Burns Lifetime Achievement Award, joining the ranks of just a handful of other women who have made history in the restaurant industry. In 2014, the duo was inducted into Menu Masters Hall of Fame and most recently they were named the recipients of the Los Angeles Times’ annual Gold Award. Susan shines a light on a number of worthwhile organizations and has been on the board of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, the board of the L.A. LGBT Center, and involved with Share our Strength and the Human Rights Campaign. She’s an active member of the culinary community, providing a leadership role in many organizations such as co-founding the Chefs Collaborative, sitting on the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and serving as an active member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs.

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Seleta J. Reynolds

General Manager, Los Angeles Department of Transportation|
Seleta Reynolds is General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) appointed by the Administration of Mayor Eric Garcetti. Ms. Reynolds is responsible for implementing Great Streets for Los Angeles, a plan to reduce traffic fatalities, double the number of people riding bikes, and expand access to integrated transportation choices for Angelenos and the region.

Ms. Reynolds has over 20 years of transportation experience throughout the United States. She has advised transportation technology companies like WalkScore, contributed to the state-of-the-practice as an Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Board Member, mentored young professionals through Women’s Transportation Seminar, and nurtured research on Transportation Research Board committees. Ms. Reynolds serves as the President of the National Association for City Transportation Officials.

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KRISTIN SAKODA

Executive Director, Los Angeles County Arts Commission
Kristin Sakoda is Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission providing leadership for Arts Commission strategies in arts and culture countywide. Ms. Sakoda most recently served as Deputy Commissioner & General Counsel of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) where she advanced a wide range of strategic, programmatic, legislative, and policy initiatives. During her tenure she was instrumental in diversity and inclusion, capital projects at cultural facilities, public art, creative aging and affordable workspace for artists. She served as chief legal officer of DCLA and chief executive officer of the city’s Theater Subdistrict Council awarding grants to cultivate diversity and inclusion on Broadway and beyond. Ms. Sakoda is also a creative professional and lifelong arts practitioner whose work continues to be informed by her professional career in dance, music, theater and songwriting. She has appeared on stages across the U.S. and internationally including with the Urban Bush Women dance company and in hit musicals Rent (National Tour) and Mamma Mia! (Broadway). Ms. Sakoda holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, where she received the Jack J. Katz Memorial Award for Excellence in Entertainment Law, and a B.A. from Stanford University in American Studies with a specialization in Race and Ethnicity and a secondary major in Feminist Studies.

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KATHRYN SCHLOESSMAN

President, Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission
Founded in 1995, the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC) partners with the City of Los Angeles to seek, host, promote and retain major sporting and entertainment events in Los Angeles. These events have a significant economic impact on the local economy and continue to spotlight Los Angeles as the Entertainment Capital of the World. The competition for attracting high-profile events is intense, so LASEC works to ensure that these events enjoy a positive experience and the full support of the city so that they are successful and want to return. As president of the LASEC, Schloessman oversees and manages the day-to-day operations of the Commission. Some of the major events the Commission is working with, to help market and promote, include the U.S. Amateur and the Walker Cup (August/September 2017), the NBA All-Star Weekend (February 2018), the NCAA Men’s Regional (March 2018) and the Super Bowl (February 2021). LASEC also hosts four annual events that bring LASEC board members and supporters together with other industry leaders – Rams All-Access, Lakers All-Access, the LASEC Golf Classic at The Riviera Country Club and Dodgers All-Access. Prior to joining the Commission, Schloessman was a 13-year veteran of CB Commercial (now CBRE), the largest commercial real estate company in the United States. She held the position of managing officer of CB Commercial’s downtown Los Angeles office, where she was responsible for business development, operations and management of the Los Angeles region’s office professionals and oversaw CB Commercial’s community relations efforts. Previously, Schloessman served as marketing director for CB Commercial’s Western Division. She also has more than 10 years of experience as lead broker for major lease transactions in the downtown Los Angeles market. Schloessman serves on the advisory board of the USC Sports Business Institute. She is also an active member, and on the regional board of, Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). Schloessman graduated with a B.S. degree in business from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. LASEC is a private nonprofit organization and affiliated with the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board.

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Marielle Wakim (Moderator)

Arts and Culture Editor, Los Angeles Magazine
Marielle dutifully pops all things culture as the Arts and Culture Editor for Los Angeles magazine. She earned a Masters in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California and a BA in English Literature from Miami University (the one in Ohio). Both degrees came in handy when she appeared on Wheel of Fortune. Some other places you can read/hear her: the New York Times, NPR, Relevant, DAME, and elsewhere.