Amy Elaine Wakeland is a public policy expert, political strategist, and advocate for women and children. She is active with many organizations focused on combating sexual and domestic violence and protecting vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. She has spearheaded several projects that provide women and girls with the resources and opportunities to which they are fairly entitled and that serve low-income Angelenos, undocumented immigrants, and families and military veterans without homes.
In 2013, Ms. Wakeland initiated the first study of the status of women and girls in the City of L.A. Since then, she has been involved with numerous 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. City’s commission and board appointments for the first time in history, and girls now make up at least half of the Mayor’s Youth Council and have made major gains in other youth programs. As a result of a Mayoral executive directive, the City of L.A. now requires all its departments to develop gender equity plans, appoint gender equity officers, and regularly report their progress toward predetermined gender equity goals.
During her time as the First Lady of Los Angeles, Ms. Wakeland has hosted and organized dozens of events focused on diversifying women’s leadership and employment in L.A. Many of these gatherings support women and girls 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 event, over one thousand women and girls learn about what their local government is doing for them and engage with women who have achieved success in sports, science, and public service, among other professions.
Ms. Wakeland led the successful effort to expand L.A.’s Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) program to all police divisions in the city. DART services are now available to all victims of domestic abuse for the first time since the program’s inception. She was also the driving force behind the massive expansion of L.A.’s Girls Play LA program, which promotes physical activity among girls by customizing its programs to them and subsidizing sports and recreation fees for low-income families. A former competitive high school athlete, Ms. Wakeland has led successful efforts to double girls’ sports and recreation participation at L.A. parks and transform L.A. recreation facilities to be more attentive to girls’ interests.
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 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.
As the First Lady of L.A., 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, 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.
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 Los Angeles 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 has been a resource parent with L.A. County’s foster care system for over a decade.