New program brings 6 consultants to L.A. City Hall at no cost

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday announced a new fellowship program that would bring young business executives and workers into city government to assist with efforts to create jobs and help companies.

The salaries of the six fellows chosen for the program are being paid by private sponsors, and the program is being coordinated by the United Way. Those chosen include a former Navy SEAL, who is now a UCLA business student, and a business manager at a Chatsworth film studio.

“In these tough budget times, hiring people is just not the easiest thing to do; in fact, we’re moving in the other direction,” Villaraigosa said. “So looking for public-private partnerships that will bring fresh ideas, new energy and not cost the city any money on the general fund is my kind of new idea.”

The program was suggested by Villaraigosa’s deputy mayor of economic and business policy, Austin Beutner, the former head of a successful private equity firm who was recruited by the mayor to spearhead the city’s push to create jobs and attract more companies to L.A.

Villaraigosa said that bringing Beutner aboard and creating the fellowship program are part of his effort to counter L.A.'s reputation of not being a business-friendly city.

Beutner praised the qualifications of the fellows, chosen from a field of 200 applicants. Beutner said he was looking for people who would infuse the city with a “different level of energy, a different level of can-do,” and help give the city a more service-oriented mission.

The fellows will serve as liaisons between the mayor’s office and the business community, and will be assigned specific projects in areas that include creating “green” jobs, attracting new business and advancing redevelopment in some of the city’s low-income areas.

The fellows, considered independent consultants, will each be paid $80,000 a year by the United Way.

The companies sponsoring the program include: CB Richard Ellis Inc., which donated $500,000; AECOM, which provided $100,000; Herbalife, $100,000, and the Goldman Sachs Foundation, $80,000.

The fellowships announced Thursday went to: Alida Garcia-Okoebor, a litigation associate at K&L Gates LLP; Jeremiah Jackson, a project manager for Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson; David Kim, a former summer associate of Momentum Biosciences in L.A.; David Reich, an Iraq War veteran and former Navy SEAL studying for his MBA at UCLA; Peter Vu, a private equity associate at American Capital; and Nicole Williams, a business development manager at Gigapix Studios in Chatsworth.

Each fellow has committed to working for the city for at least one year.