Amy Elaine Wakeland is a public policy expert, political strategist, and advocate for women and children. She is active with organizations focused on combating sexual and domestic violence, protecting children from abuse and neglect, and improving the economic circumstances of low-income families. She has spearheaded numerous projects that provide women and girls with the resources and opportunities to which they are fairly entitled and that serve undocumented immigrants and Angelenos without homes.
In 2013, Ms. Wakeland initiated the first-ever data-driven analysis of the status of women and girls in the City of L.A. Since then, she has advised a multitude of programs designed to strengthen the civic power of women and girls and boost their access to government services. As a result of her work, women now comprise at least half of L.A.’s commission and board appointments for the first time in history, while girls make up at least half of the Mayor’s Youth Council and other important youth programs. In addition, L.A. now requires all City departments to develop gender equity plans, appoint gender equity officers, and regularly report their progress toward gender equity goals.
As L.A.’s First Lady, Ms. Wakeland has organized a wide range of events designed to diversify women’s leadership and employment by justly including, supporting, and promoting women of all backgrounds and experiences. Many of these events are targeted toward women in professional fields in which they are dramatically under-represented, such as firefighting, technology, and engineering.
Ms. Wakeland launched and hosted LA.’s first State of Women and Girls Address and Young Women’s Assembly in 2017. At this now-annual gathering, over 1,000 women and girls learn about how their local government is serving them, advocate for their needs and interests, and engage with women who have achieved success in areas dominated by men, such as sports, science, and elected office.
Ms. Wakeland led the successful effort to double the size of LA.’s Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) program so that all residents of L.A. have access to its services. DART’s mental health, housing, and legal services are now available to domestic abuse survivors on a universal basis for the first time since the program’s inception. A former competitive high school athlete, Ms. Wakeland also was the driving force behind the massive expansion of Girls Play LA, an initiative that promotes physical activity among girls by customizing sports and fitness activities to their interests and subsidizing recreation fees for low-income families. Today, girls’ sports and fitness participation at L.A. City parks and recreation centers has increased from 10,000 girls per season to 20,000 girls per season.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Ms. Wakeland helped launch several important emergency relief programs. Working with the not-for-profit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, she raised funds and developed the criteria for the highly-successful Angeleno Card program, which has provided nearly $37 million in critical cash assistance to more than 100,000 L.A. residents who were living in poverty prior to the pandemic and faced additional financial hardship as a result of it. Ms. Wakeland was also part of a small team that designed and implemented L.A.’s privately-funded Senior Meal Emergency Response Program, which delivered 120,000 meals per week at its peak to isolated seniors without access to meals.
During her time as L.A. First Lady, Ms. Wakeland has actively partnered with the Getty House Foundation’s Board of Directors to open Getty House – the L.A. Mayor’s official residence – to more members of the public and reinvigorate its programming. Between 2014 and 2020, more than 25,000 Angelenos visited Getty House, most of them for the first time. Campaigns launched or unveiled through Getty House programming include tripling the number of jobs available to L.A.’s youth, funding L.A.’s ambitious efforts to defend immigrants, and initiating L.A.’s drought education campaign. As part of the latter campaign, she oversaw the privately-funded restoration of the Getty House gardens, which cut water use at Getty House in half and served as a citywide model.
Ms. Wakeland helped found the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, which builds parks in L.A.’s most park-poor neighborhoods; the Pobladores Fund, which contributes to local social justice causes; and the XX Fund, which invests in the comparatively small number of organizations dedicated to serving women and girls in L.A. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Organizing Committee for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games and a past board member of People Assisting the Homeless, Just Detention International (formerly Stop Prisoner Rape), and the Liberty Hill Foundation. She has advised many groups on their human rights and economic justice work on behalf of women and girls, including the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking and the L.A. Alliance for a New Economy. Ms. Wakeland is the founding chair of Women for a New Los Angeles, one of the largest annual gatherings of progressive women each year.
Ms. Wakeland’s professional career includes positions with the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan, Michigan’s 37th Circuit Court, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families. In L.A., she served as Strategic Planner for the County Department of Public Social Services and Director of the Progressive L.A. Network prior to her work on presidential, statewide, and local political campaigns.
Ms. Wakeland met her husband, Eric, while both were studying as Rhodes Scholars at Oxford University. They have one daughter together and have been foster parents for over a decade.