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Women of Influence: 9 Women Redefining L.A.

| March 16, 2018 | People Feature

The last year has brought a higher level of social consciousness and expanded the conversation surrounding the roles and representations of women in the cultural landscape. The #metoo movement has been a powerful reminder that, though women have made great strides as leaders in every segment of our society, there is still much work to be done. The inspirational and outstanding women we celebrate as our Women of Influence are helping to move the needle with the phenomenal work they do in their careers, communities, philanthropic endeavors and personal lives. Through his portraits, acclaimed L.A. artist Daniel Maltzman captured the physical beauty and sublime spirit of this impressive group of women who make Los Angeles and the world a better, smarter and more steadfast place with their strength of character, integrity and grace.

1400 PARKVIEW AVE. 310.546.7511 | WESTDRIFT.COM


Overseeing the hottest, new property in Manhattan Beach is a job that Stephanie Bauer is uniquely qualified for. In her more than 30-year career, Bauer has served as General Manager at a number of notable hotels, including the Sofitel in Redwood City, The Lodge at Tiburon, where she oversaw the completion of a $6.5million renovation, and the Marriott San Mateo Hotel in San Francisco, where she managed an $11million room renovation project. In her current role as General Manager at the westdrift, Bauer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the 26-acre luxury hotel; the first Autograph Collection property to open in Los Angeles. “The opportunity to create a brand new hotel from scratch is very exciting,” Bauer says. “I’ve built a team of leaders, coached them on excellent service and am very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”

Launching a premiere hotel featuring 392 guest rooms, a nine-hole golf course and a signature restaurant comes with its fair share of challenges. “Creating a work culture that the team could trust, while simultaneously constructing the property was demanding,” Bauer shares. “Building a wall is easy compared to building an atmosphere of excellent service. I am fortunate to have worked with many talented people who taught me what it takes to work inside a luxury property. I reached out to my mentors and received some good advice.”

Teamwork is an idea that Bauer embraces off-property as well. She is a member of the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce where, she says, “I have been able to develop a network of connections and partnerships that both deserve and benefit westdrift.” Bauer is also an avid sports fan and basketball player. “I’m 6’1” and the only woman in a men’s league,” says Bauer. “Being an athlete taught me the value of teamwork and has helped me build my career.”



With a lifelong dedication to the stewardship of art and culture, Suzanne Deal Booth is one of the leading philanthropists, arts advisors and collectors in the world and is committed to the preservation and conservation of visual arts and cultural heritage globally. Deal Booth has had the opportunity to work with some of the most celebrated artists, art collectors and institutions including James Turrell, Dominique de Menil, The Met, The Menil Collection, Centre Pompidou, The Getty and LACMA. “There is a certain resonance that happens when you work with world-class artists, institutions and visionary people,” Deal Booth says. “They have served as my role models.”

One of Deal Booth’s most important legacies is philanthropy. The eponymous Suzanne Deal Booth Prize is an unrestricted award of $100,000 that includes a solo exhibition and scholarly publication for a select artist biannually. Deal Booth is also the Founder and Director of The Friends of Heritage Preservation, which has fostered preservation and conservation projects over the last 20 years. In 2003 Deal Booth and her family established the Booth Family Rome Prize Fellowship for Historic Preservation and Conservation. “This is a one year fellowship opportunity awarded in conjunction with the American Academy in Rome,” Deal Booth explains. “One dedicated person a year can focus on their work in Rome and then return home with greater enlightenment that benefits the larger community.”

In 2010 Deal Booth embarked on a new adventure as a vintner when she and her family purchased the Bella Oaks vineyard in Napa Valley. Along with her dedication to producing distinctive wines and olive oils, Deal Booth is also committed to conserving her land and traditional growing practices. “I love being a farmer because it speaks to stewardship,” says Deal Booth. ‘Plus, I own Bella Oaks with my kids and it has become a shared passion.”

23676 MALIBU RD. 310.317.9348 | DAZZANESTATES.COM


As a Global Luxury Realtor with Coldwell Banker, Malibu’s Irene Dazzan-Palmer has achieved a rare level of success. Celebrated for her masterful marketing strategy, noteworthy negotiating skills and unparalleled understanding of the market, Dazzan-Palmer has generated nearly $5 billion in sales in her distinguished 30-year career and is hailed as one of the nation’s leading real estate professionals. Her roster of heavy hitting clients, a majority of whom are repeat and referral, include celebrities, socialites and global business leaders. She credits good karma and treating people with respect and dignity as key factors in her success.

Dazzan-Palmer’s impressive achievements were further enhanced when her son, Sandro Dazzan, joined her Malibu Colony office in 2005. Over the last 13 years this powerful pair have increased their team’s overall success both locally and nationally, earning them the honor of No. 1 in sales in Malibu and No. 2 in Southern California. “Sandro brings a unique mix of old-fashioned values and youthful energy,” Dazzan-Palmer shares. “He has his finger on the millennial pulse and understands the importance of strong social media, which has been a real asset with our savvy and affluent clientele. Additionally, Jonny Palmer, my youngest son, just joined our brokerage. It’s good to see the family changing and growing.”

The roots of Dazzan-Palmer’s and her family’s amazing success can be attributed, in large part, to Malibu’s exceptional beauty and spirit. This includes her husband, Jim Palmer, creator and owner of the award winning Malibu Vineyard. “I’ve been here most of my life,” Dazzan-Palmer says. “The Malibu beaches, bluffs and canyons make this the most spectacular and desirable real estate in the world.”

9595 WILSHIRE BLVD, SUITE 900 855.346.3588 | PERFECT12.COM


Trust is at the heart of Simona Fusco’s life and work. As the Founder and CEO of Perfect 12 Introductions she is dedicated to advising and matching sophisticated, successful people who are looking to make the ultimate connection. Over the last decade, Perfect 12 has become the gold standard in executive matchmaking with a more than 90% success rate and Simona being presented with the Global Excellence Award in Women’s Entrepreneurship by Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The most rewarding part of my business is when I get the call to place a client’s membership on hold because they are focused on another client exclusively,” Simona shares. “It’s even more rewarding when I’m invited to their wedding.”

Born in Milan, Simona began a successful modeling career there as a young girl. At 14, with Hollywood beckoning, her mother moved the family to L.A. After a lucrative career modeling, acting and producing, Simona launched Perfect 12 as a result of her own experience with matchmakers. “Over the years I was approached by matchmakers to introduce me to successful, eligible bachelors,” Simona confides. “I noticed that most didn’t do their due diligence, particularly when it came to verifying their clients. Perfect 12 is a boutique agency where privacy is our number one priority. We conduct thorough background checks, in-person interviews and a personalized search for each and every client in their respective location.”

In addition to being a successful businesswoman and mother, Simona is the Founder and Chair of The Maria Gruber Foundation, an organization that honors her late mother by assisting and supporting people living with terminal cancer. “Our vision is to turn the fear, grief and helplessness caused by this disease into awareness, compassion and support,” Simona says. “I like to spend my time helping others, whether that is making love connections or supporting causes close to my heart.”



Michele Moses’ diverse life experience lends a well-rounded approach to her work as a lead agent and partner at Ernie Carswell and Partners. A native New Yorker who has spent most of her life in Los Angeles, Moses brings a high level of sophistication and energy that is unmatched in L.A.’s booming luxury real estate market. As the daughter of a jazz musician and through her work in the music industry, Moses has a strong creative and aesthetic sense that influences her career. “Working with clients is a creative endeavor for me,” Moses says. “Whether my clients are buying or selling, the ability to really listen to their wants and needs smoothes the way and provides harmony to what is a pivotal, life changing transaction and often requires that I bring something unexpected to the table for a positive outcome.”

As a member of the Alphonzo Bell family, the renowned developer of Bel Air who was influential in the development of Westwood and the Pacific Palisades, Moses embraces that heritage. “Alphonzo Sr. was founder and benefactor of the Bel- Air Country Club, Bel-Air Bay Club and donated land for UCLA’s beginnings,” Moses reveals. “I feel fortunate to be connected to that history. Mostly, it is the source of some great anecdotal stories that I can share with clients and friends.”

Moses is passionate about providing her clients with the best of herself. “The majority of my business is repeat and referral,” Moses shares. “I love when my clients appreciate the job I’ve done and refer their friends and family.” She also knows that the key to a successful life is striking a balance. Moses recently started painting, which is teaching her patience and the ability to slow down and allow the process to take over. Moses adds, “I’m better at real estate than painting.”



As a young girl in Taiwan, Evie Jeang had a fascination with the law. “When I was little, my grandmother would take me to court to see cases being judged,” Jeang remembers. “When I saw the judges looking so powerful in their black robes, it made me want to be powerful too.” Today that little girl is the Founder and Managing Partner of Ideal Legal Group, a practice focused on family law. “I am from a broken home,” Jeang says. “The decision to practice family law comes from my own experience and a desire to be a voice for kids dealing with divorce; I lived through it.”

For nearly 15 years, Jeang has helped couples and families deal with a wide range of difficult matters including separation, divorce, child custody support, division of property and restraining orders. As the child of immigrants, Jeang’s practice has a particular focus on the laws governing international family, personal and business concerns. “My firm helps immigrants and immigrant business owners with a number of issues,” Jeang says. “Often people have a Green Card, but don’t know how to go about becoming citizens, so we do a lot of citizenship workshops. We also help business owners whose first language isn’t English understand our labor laws.” Jeang’s sense of community also encompasses philanthropy. She served as Vice President for the Asian Youth Center, an organization that provides mentorship for immigrant youth, before going on to start Raised by a Village (, which works alongside various non-profit organizations to connect volunteers and resources to children as they go through divorce. “R.B.A.V. provides kids with someone to talk to,” says Jeang. “We offer guidance and a more objective point of view, so that they feel comfortable and safe. The help I provide others comes from my life experiences.”



Relationships have been central to Alina Mardesich’s 25-year career in commercial real estate. “Despite being a deal-junkie, this is a ‘relationship with a capital R’ business,” Mardesich says. “It is essential to take time to get to know people in a personal way and build trust. Relationships are more important than any single deal.” This ethos brought her to George Smith Partners, a boutique, Capital Advisory firm that boasts 140 deals and $2 billion in financing in 2017. “I had a 20-year relationship with the firm despite having joined last year,” Mardesich adds. “The family atmosphere and culture of GSP will enable me to provide a very personalized experience for my clients.”

Mardesich’s impressive career has included new business development, asset management, loan workouts and loan originations, where she has funded and/or managed over $2 billion in development projects to date. “My experience and expertise has revolved around the heavy lift deal,” Mardesich adds. “Understanding a developer’s vision and being transparent to investors about risk while providing appropriate mitigants and often complicated funding and management structures has led to an almost perfect track record of performing loans, even during the last economic downturn.” Mardesich’s background as a lender is a tremendous value-add to clients seeking to raise capital.

In the spirit of relationship building both in and out of commercial real estate, Mardesich became a member of Gen Next two years ago. This powerhouse, non-partisan, invitation-only organization brings together exceptional people with the goal of tackling some of the globe’s most pressing challenges to create a better world for future generations. “We work with institutions like Congress and Homeland Security on a wide range of issues including fighting terrorism, local politicians improving education and successful entrepreneurs across many industries to encourage and promote economic growth for the next generation,” says Mardesich. “I have three kids, so Gen Next’s mission speaks to me.”



As the Director of Sales and Marketing at the Waldorf Astoria, Vanessa William has been at the epicenter of the most exciting property to open in L.A. in years. Over her nearly 30-year career, Williams has worked at some of the most iconic luxury hotels around the world including the Raffles L’Ermitage, Sandy Lane, Hong Kong’s Mandarin Oriental, Waldorf Astoria Beijing and Conrad Seoul. Williams’ global perspective means that she has very exacting standards regarding hospitality and service, but she exercises her role with humor and understanding. “Being culturally exposed has taught me the importance of winning hearts,” Williams says. “It is most important that my team trust my suggestions, but I also want them to embrace their own way of doing things because strong individuals make exceptional hotels.”

Launching the Waldorf Astoria had some unique demands, including gaining the confidence of the Beverly Hills community. “The biggest challenge was how to win over our neighbors,” Williams shares, “When we opened, everyone wanted to be on the rooftop, but it was so popular that reservations were a must. People felt that wasn’t neighborly and it became polarizing. The rooftop definitely kept me up at night! As the dust settled we found our rhythm and the neighbors are regulars.”

Williams understands that success in life requires balance; something she impresses upon her team. “As a young woman I threw myself into my career. One day I looked up and realized I hadn’t invested in my personal life,” she admits. “I am happy to say that I’ve been married for 17 years. I tell my team they need to be as passionate personally as they are professionally. I go home every night and prepare dinner. It’s the one meal a day I actually get to sit down for with my husband.”



After nearly 20 years with a thriving divorce law practice, Rebecca Zung decided last year to utilize her platform as one of the top attorneys in the nation, to transition into being the foremost Divorce Transformation Strategist. A few years ago, Zung published her bestselling book, Breaking Free: A Step-by-Step Divorce Guide to Achieving Emotional Physical and Spiritual Freedom, and while she received accolades such as Best Lawyer in America and Legal Elite, she still wasn’t satisfied. “I wanted to do more.” Zung says. “Writing the book helped, but I wanted to empower more people as they weathered one of the most traumatic experiences of their lives.”

With that in mind, Zung relocated to L.A. and launched her new career. “80% of my legal work was educating people about the divorce process,” Zung shares, “so I took that part and created something that everyone could access. I now help women navigate the trauma and chaos of divorce and lead them to lives of freedom, possibility and prosperity through my virtual divorce masterclasses and divorce tools.” Zung is also a well-known speaker who shares her knowledge as a media expert on national television, radio and from stages around the world. “I really enjoy speaking because I am waving the flag for revolutionizing the conversation about divorce,” Zung says. “Divorce doesn’t have to mean stigma and failure. It can mean an opportunity to live an inspired, whole and empowered life.”

A recent arrival in SoCal, Zung, her husband and their daughter are enjoying their new home. “I love the beach,” she says. “We moved close to the water and walk the beach every day. Hearing the roaring ocean, crashing waves and smelling the salt air is a form of meditation for me. It refreshes and renews my spirit.”


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