SBJ/Sept. 11-17, 2017/Game Changers

Renata Simril, LA84 Foundation

Photo by: LA2024

F
or a third-generation Angeleno, you could hardly imagine a better job than facilitating the city’s love affair with the Olympics. But it’s no caretaker job — maintaining the legacy of the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games after all these years takes an ambitious, thoughtful business mind.

Renata Simril
LA84 Foundation // President and CEO
Renata Simril has brought that and more in her 20 months as president and CEO of the LA84 Foundation. Not content to merely manage an endowment and pass out grants, Simril has supercharged the organization, helping leverage the 1984 legacy as a selling point in the city’s quest to bring the Games back in 2028.

“I tell people I have the greatest job in America,” Simril says. “I get to talk about sports all day long. I love all sports. And to steward this incredible organization, that has impacted and will continue to impact the lives of young people, it’s just an incredible, incredible blessing.”

In her first year, she took a small youth sports summit that used to draw 100 people to foundation headquarters, moved it to the JW Marriott at L.A. Live, got corporate sponsors and quadrupled attendance. Using data analytics to steer grant funding, she and the foundation discovered that skateboarding over-indexed among African-American children in L.A. And she led the charge to add just the second and third female sports figures to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s Court of Honor, among other wins.

Without the lessons sports taught her, Simril says, she never would have made it to her senior positions in real estate and politics, or with the Los Angeles Dodgers or Los Angeles Times.

“I take true to heart the Olympic values: citius, altius, fortius — faster, higher, stronger. And it’s part of my DNA,” she said. “If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it at an excellent level. Certainly the work we do here and the kids and community we serve deserve nothing less than the best we have to offer.”

— Ben Fischer



  • Where born: Hollywood, Calif.
  • Education: Loyola Marymount University, B.A. in urban studies; University of Southern California, master’s in real estate development.
  • Attributes I look for when hiring: Smart, passionate, innovative doers looking to change the world.
  • Networking tip I’ve learned: Network outside of your industry.
  • Best advice I’ve received for career development: Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.
  •  Sports business industry can foster a healthier work-life balance by: Having more women in leadership and decision-making positions.
  •  If I had it to do over again: Have been a professional tennis player.
  • Woman in sports business I’d most like to meet: Amy Trask, former CEO of the Raiders. I am a HUGE football fan. As CEO of the Raiders, she was one of the most powerful women in the NFL; dying to find out what that was like.
  • Is discussion about challenges women face working in sports necessary or played out? One of my life mottos: Deeds not words.
  • Causes supported: Sports and structure play for all youth, LMU’s leadership/mentoring program for incoming African-American freshmen.

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