Mary Leslie is president of the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), an advocacy and educational organization dedicated to serving local businesses while informing and impacting positive change at multiple layers of government. For more than 70 years, the LABC has been an influential link between business and government and has had a major impact on public policy issues related to education, housing and environmental sustainability.
Under her leadership, the LABC has developed a national reputation as a catalyst for innovative policy in the fields of housing, transportation, renewable energy development, CleanTech and more. The LABC initiated and supported passage of Los Angeles’ first Green Building Ordinance and provided critical support for California’s multi-billion-dollar housing initiative, 1C. The LABC was responsible for helping qualify a billion-dollar city housing bond (Prop H) and creating the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Office of Civic Engagement.
The LABC created the LABC Institute (LABCi) in 2010 and partnered with researchers at UCLA to develop a large-scale solar energy program for Los Angeles. The LABC and LABCi created and led the CLEAN LA Solar coalition, to advocate for a program, which incentivizes local businesses and residents to install solar panels, whose power is fed into the energy grid. Known as a “feed-in tariff,” the program provides locally generated clean energy, create thousands of local green jobs and be cost-effective for ratepayers. Implemented in 2013, the LABC has successfully supported the launch of the LADWP’s feed-in tariff program, which is now the largest rooftop solar buyback program in the United States.
These advocacy efforts, together with the annual Mayoral Housing, Transportation and Jobs Summit, Sustainability Summit and Architectural Awards Luncheon, are among the LABC’s most significant projects. This fall at the Mayoral Housing, Transportation and Jobs Summit the Mayor announced a new affordable housing policy, advocated by the LABC. The Mayor’s affordable housing proposal reflects the priorities of LABC, pledging to build 100,000 new units by 2021. Ms. Leslie is also President of Leslie & Associates, a consulting firm that specializes in non-profit management, strategic planning and government affairs.
Previously, Ms. Leslie served as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development under Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, and was Deputy Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration, where she oversaw Northridge Earthquake relief funds for Los Angeles for SBA Director Erskine Bowles. Ms. Leslie also served as Executive Director of the California Economic Development Commission, overseeing policy development and trade missions for California business. She was President Bill Clinton’s California Finance Director during his successful 1992 campaign.
Ms. Leslie received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Santa Clara, holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California, and attended the Executive Management Program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. She serves on the Los Angeles Conservation Corporation Board of Directors and served as a Commissioner on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Board and the Advisory Committees of L.A. Family Housing and the California Women’s Law Center.