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Pacific Palisades Community Council Meeting Includes Introductions of Area Officials, Camera Updates

LAPD Patrol Captain Alisha Jordan
Photo courtesy of PPCC

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Pacific Palisades Community Council met virtually on Thursday, February 8—covering a wide variety of topics on the agenda, including the introduction of new area officials and updates regarding cameras in public spaces.

At Councilmember Traci Park’s office, Juan Fregoso has taken over the district director position, replacing Gabriela Medina, and Dellarose Santos has joined as a constituent services deputy.

Fregoso previously served one year as director of homelessness and housing for Park’s office, but has garnered almost a decade of experience with the city of Los Angeles under Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (CD 13), so he said that while he was relatively new to CD 11, he is not new to city processes.

Fregoso explained during the PPCC meeting that the team at Park’s office was expanding, expecting to be fully staffed in two to three weeks. The bigger vision for the district is to bring additional resources to areas like the coastal zone, to aid in things like tourism, disaster impact and beyond.

Santos joined the office with a background at Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. In her position, she will work closely with Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and West Los Angeles Field Deputy Michael Amster on individual cases related to things like maintenance and infrastructure.

“There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve just been handling on my own,” Amster explained, “and it’s just awesome to have a partner like Dellarose who’s really well versed in dealing with very complicated issues, especially with the unsheltered population.”

Also introduced during the meeting was Los Angeles Police Department Patrol Captain Alisha Jordan, who has returned to the West Los Angeles Division with nearly 30 years of experience. She previously served West LA beginning in 2011 as a police sergeant.

“Every division has two captains,” explained LAPD Senior Lead Officer for Pacific Palisades Brian Espin. “You have an area captain that runs the whole gamut of the division, and then you have a patrol captain, which is specific to the boots on the ground—all patrol officers that are out driving around in the black and whites handling the radio calls. She is responsible for deployment, how they’re conducting their work and responsible for them.”

Jordan, who had been on the job for eight weeks at the time, said that she is looking forward to getting reacquainted with Pacific Palisades. Her time with LAPD has included patrol, detective and investigations.

“For the years I’ve been on the job, I have enjoyed every bit of it,” Jordan said. “I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I take taking care of my community seriously. And I want to ensure that my officers are also out there doing their part.”

Jordan said she speaks with the officers daily, making sure they understand what she expects from them and that she is available for them to reach out to as well—noting the importance of “open communication” about how to best serve the community.

“What I’ve learned in the 29 years that I’ve been here is that when they have access to their command, that the officers feel more confident about going out there and doing their job and they’re typically more productive,” Jordan said. “So that has always been a part of my goal, as well as listening to my leadership team, my sergeants and my watch commanders.”

Over the next few months, Jordan planned to go out with some of the senior lead officers to meet members of the various communities in person.

PPCC Chair Maryam Zar and Vice Chair Sue Kohl provided updates regarding the placement of cameras in open spaces, including at Palisades Recreation Center—a topic that had been discussed at previous PPCC board meetings.

Zar reported that after speaking to LA Parks Foundation, she and Kohl were informed they would need to use Recreation and Parks technology for the cameras versus going through a company, like Flock Safety.

Before installing cameras, it was suggested to Zar and Kohl that Palisades Recreation Center gets an electric systems upgrade so that the park could accommodate better lights and cameras, which has been done by RAP at other parks.

Kohl reported that she spoke with RAP technician Jimmy Newsom, who said the park would need about 15 cameras and that a minimum $500,000 investment in the electric infrastructure upgrade would be needed.

It was suggested that interested parties advocate with City Council for budgeting.

“We’ll have a plan in the next couple of months and we’ll advocate for it,” Zar said.

How to Vote in the 2024 California Presidential Primary

Photo by Sarah Shmerling

By LILY TINOCO | Assistant Editor

Residents of Pacific Palisades have several options when it comes to casting a ballot in the 2024 California Presidential Primary on March 5.

“Voters in Los Angeles County have the option to cast their ballot in-person at a participating Vote Center,” according to the California Secretary of State website. “Vote Centers provide modern features to make voting safe, easy and convenient.”

In-person Vote Centers will be available beginning as early as Saturday, February 24.

The Meeting Room at Palisades Branch Library (861 Alma Real Drive), Pacific Palisades Presbyterian Church (15821 Sunset Boulevard), Rustic Canyon Recreation Center (601 Latimer Road) and Paul Revere Charter Middle School (1450 Allenford Avenue) are LA County Vote Centers, according to the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website.

They will be open March 2 through March 4 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. On Tuesday, March 5, the hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Vote Centers also serve as a Vote by Mail Ballot Drop Box location—no need to wait, simply drop off your voted ballot at the front,” according to the California Secretary of State website. “There are convenient and secure Ballot Drop Box locations open and available to voters throughout their communities … Ballot Drop Boxes provide voters with a safe, accessible and contact free method to return their voted ballot.”

Votes can be dropped off through March 5 at 8 p.m.

“If your ballot is postmarked by Election Day and received within seven days … by our department, we will process, verify and count that ballot,” the California Secretary of State website read. “By mail, remember, no postage is necessary.”

Same Day Voter Registration will be available for Californians who missed the deadline to register to vote or to update their registration information. Individuals can complete this process at the county elections office, a polling place or Vote Center.

In California, the Primary Election determines who will be on the November 5, General Election ballot. Voters will see a number of candidates running for a spot on the March ballot, but—in most cases—only two will make it to the General Election.

The Primary Election ballot will include candidates for running for President, the U.S. Senate—one for the six-year term, and another for the remainder of the current term, which is slated to end in January 2025—representatives in U.S. Congress and the California State Legislature and Proposition 1, a proposed law for California.

On a hyper-local level, the ballot includes Measure HLA and Los Angeles District Attorney.

For more information or to register to vote, visit lavote.gov.

Malibu-Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce Honors Local Women Leaders

Ingrid Steinberg
Photo courtesy of Chamber of Commerce

Palisadian Ingrid Steinberg to Receive Woman in Philanthropy Award

By LILY TINOCO | Assistant Editor

The Malibu-Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce has revealed its picks for the 2024 Women’s Leadership Awards Luncheon, which will take place on Thursday, March 21, and honor local leaders in both communities—including Palisadian Ingrid Steinberg.

Honors to be bestowed at the event include the Emerging Leader Award, Member of the Year-Women’s Leadership Committee, Woman in Philanthropy, Lifetime Legacy Award and Woman of the Year.

Steinberg will be honored with the Woman in Philanthropy Award, which honors those who have significantly contributed to the community through philanthropic efforts.

“It recognizes a woman whose generosity and commitment to giving back have made a substantial difference in the lives of others in our community,” according to the Chamber.

Steinberg co-founded and serves as board president of Resilient Palisades, the community’s first environmentally focused nonprofit organization. Resilient Palisades’ goal is to unite residents and local institutions to address climate and ecological crises.

“I am honored to be recognized by the Chamber of Commerce for my work in co-founding and growing Resilient Palisades,” Steinberg said to the Palisadian-Post. “Resilient Palisades is a valuable resource and community ally for any local business that would like to become more sustainable. I hope that this award will be a vehicle for forming new collaborations as well as strengthening existing relationships between neighborhood businesses and Resilient Palisades.”

Steinberg was previously recognized by Pacific Palisades Community Council in 2021, when she was honored with a Golden Sparkplug award.

“Ingrid’s environmental organization is focused on educating, empowering and supporting the reduction of local emissions and the establishment of new community alliances and infrastructure in order to face environmental challenges,” PPCC wrote in 2021.

The Emerging Leader Award, which celebrates a “dynamic individual” early in their career, who shows “remarkable” leadership potential, will be granted to Bridget Thompson.

The Member of the Year-Women’s Leadership Committee Award will be presented to Diane Kale. This award recognizes an “outstanding” member of the Women’s Leadership Committee for their contributions over the past year.

Ani Dermenjian will be honored with the Lifetime Legacy Award, a prestigious award that celebrates a woman who has an extensive track record in leadership, and the Woman of the Year Award—recognizing a woman who has demonstrated excellence not only in business, but in her community and the world—will be presented to Alice Meyering.

The fourth annual Women’s Leadership Awards Luncheon, which will take place at Duke’s Malibu from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature Deborah Crown, dean of Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, as its keynote speaker, as well as live entertainment by Eduardo Del Signore.

The Awards Celebration will continue into the following day, March 22, with an invitation-only cocktail soirée. Councilmember Traci Park will be a guest panelist for the event.

‘Les Misérables School Edition’ Begins Two-Weekend Run at Pierson Playhouse

Photo by Ashley Pomeroy

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

“Do you hear the people sing?”

If so, that could be the 54 students of Theatre Palisades Youth and Theatre Palisades Teens who are performing in “Les Misérables School Edition” over the course of two weekends, February 23 to March 3 at Pierson Playhouse.

“‘Les Misérables’ recounts the struggle against adversity in 19th-century France,” according to a synopsis. “Arrested for stealing a loaf of bread, petty thief Jean Valjean spends 19 years in prison. Upon his release, he becomes an honest man, the mayor of a prosperous town and a loving adoptive father—violating his parole in the process and causing him to be relentlessly pursued by Inspector Javert. Only after a bloody student uprising, when Valjean saves the life of a young man who’s in love with Valjean’s adopted daughter, does the ex-convict finally feel fully redeemed.”

The show is directed by Lara Ganz—who said she felt like the program was “called to do this show”—with gaba as music director and choreography by Rebecca Barragan, Mark Marchillo and Aaron Jung.

The production focused on “innovative costumes,” which are designed to “pull from past, present and future,” all with an “eco-conscious bend.” The show’s costume designer—Gillian Calof—has dedicated her career, as director of finance and grants management at ClimateWorks Foundation, to “sustainability and justice for communities most impacted by climate change.”

“The issues of social justice so prominently highlighted in ‘Les Mis’ are many of the same we face today,” Calof said. She “weaves this passion for the environment” into design work—repurposing, reimagining and reusing materials and existing pieces whenever possible.

The costumes in the show are designed to be “steam punk meets the Paris Uprising of 1832,” with the costume team featuring Calof, multimedia artist Zoë Poledouris-Roché, David Montgomery and Vanessa Schachter.

“I like to reconstruct and alter clothing to become extensions of the characters who wear them,” Poledouris-Roché explained. “Lara’s vision of a timeless ‘Les Misérables’ opens the costume doors open a bit wider than with a traditional, period-based presentation. We maintain the overarching themes of the haves and have-nots, but with a few modern and futuristic touches alongside the familiar, timeless looks.”

Donning the costumes will be the cast, comprised of students, ranging in age from 7 to 17, from schools in the Palisades, Brentwood, Santa Monica and Topanga, as well as Pasadena, West Hollywood and West Hills.

“At the end of every rehearsal, gaba and I have the kids sing ‘One Day More,’” Ganz said. “We keep telling them it’s because they need to practice it—but really, we just want to hear them again because they sing it with such bright, strong energy. It’s a moment in the story where everyone is gathering their courage, feeling their fears and deciding to take the next step, even though they don’t know what’s going to happen. This inspiring song speaks to us every time, and we know it will be a healing experience for the audience, too.”

Performances of “Les Misérables School Edition” will take place at Pierson Playhouse, located at 941 Temescal Canyon Road, on Friday, February 23, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, February 24, at 1 and 5:30 p.m.; Sunday, February 25, at 1 p.m.; Thursday, February 29, at 7 p.m.; Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 2, at 1 and 5:30 p.m.; and Sunday, March 3, at 1 p.m.

Tickets are $22 for general admission, and $17 for students or seniors.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit theatrepalisades.org/youth.

Green Tip: Reuse and Food

Compost scraps
Photo courtesy of Denise Nys

The Palisadian-Post has partnered with locally founded environmental organization Resilient Palisades to deliver a “green tip” to our readers in each newspaper. This edition’s tip was written by Lisa Kaas Boyle.

We Palisadians are fortunate to live in a walkable community with many excellent restaurants and a thriving farmers market. But are we making the most of these resources in a waste-free fashion to protect our environment and our health from the impacts of waste?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food and food packaging materials make up almost half of all municipal solid waste. Takeout food is often placed into plastic or Styrofoam containers, and put into paper bags or plastic grocery bags. These bags may contain plastic cutlery, napkins and straws. That’s a lot of waste beginning with its creation and most often ending in landfill and in our environment.

There is so much accumulated plastic in our water ecosystems (by some estimates, 8,300 million metric tons of plastic has been produced since around 1950) that some scientists view plastic accumulation as a “key geologic indicator” of our current geological time period, dubbing it the Anthropocene.

But you can break the cycle of food packaging pollution by bringing your own reusable containers for takeout from our local restaurants and refusing plastic cutlery and straws. California Assembly Bill 619 was passed in July 2019 allowing reusable containers provided or returned to the food facility to be filled by either the employee or the owner of the container. Reusable containers must be clean, and also designed and constructed for reuse. A wide variety of reuse containers is available on the site lifewithoutplastic.com.

In addition, bring your own bags to the farmers market, grocery store and restaurants for takeout. Resilient Palisades hands out free reusable bags for produce at our farmers market to encourage the practice.

Finally, make sure to put your food waste in the green bin for composting. In addition to yard trimmings, LA Department of Sanitation allows for the following in the green bin:

  • Food scraps: fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggshells, bread, cereal, grains, pasta, rice, beans, meat, bones, fish, shells, coffee grounds
  • Food-soiled paper products: including pizza boxes and coffee filters
  • Natural wood: including clean untreated wood and wood chopsticks that are not lacquered
  • 100% natural bamboo: clean, untreated, not coated
  • Natural corks (consider a web search for “cork recycling”)

Your Two Cents’ Worth


Stickball in the Palisades—the most fun you can have with a broom stick! All ages can play with no experience required. This is just a fun way to play a form of baseball (pitching, batting and fielding—just no base running). A casual (very casual!) group of players assemble Saturday mornings at 8:00 at Pali High School (north, outside wall of gym), pick teams and play. Text Bruce at 310-743-3999 or Pat at 310-625-3153 if you are interested in trying it out.


As I read the cover story February 8 on tenants moving out and new moving into Palisades Village, I thought to myself that most of the stores in the Village are the same with different names. Women’s clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories. Stores may be closing as there is an overabundance of the same thing. How about a book store? A store with high quality items and equipment for the kitchen? A Supreme Store, or something boys might be interested in? A Vintage shop? Burro? Paper Source?


It would be fun to see a rain gauge drawing showing the seasonal rain accumulation in every issue of the Post.
(Editor’s note: This is a fun idea and we will consider it going forward.)

Gauge Placement

Where are the Pali weather gauges kept? Geography matters!
(Editor’s note: Thank you to Craig Weston, who shares his weather data with the Post from the Huntington.)

Dogs Response

I agree the dog situation is out of hand at Pacific Palisades Farmers Market. I don’t think they are making any effort to keep dogs out other than posting passive signs that are easy to ignore. I’ve never seen anyone asked to leave the market with their dogs. On the occasions when I have gently asked dog owners if they know dogs are not allowed I’ve been met either with belligerence or genuine ignorance of the rule. Obviously, hardly any are service dogs. If owners were actually discouraged by an official at the entrances I think that only the most “entitled” Pali people would keep bringing their dogs.

Got something to say? Call 310-454-1321 or email 2cents@palipost.com and get those kudos or concerns off your chest. Names will not be used.

Topanga Lagoon Restoration Project Draft EIR Available for Review, Comments

Topanga Lagoon
Photo courtesy of RCDSMM

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

A Draft Environmental Impact Report for the Topanga Lagoon Restoration Project was released on February 12, and the 60-day public review and comment period is now underway.

“The Topanga Lagoon Restoration Project is a multiagency cooperative effort that seeks to protect and restore precious biological and cultural resources, create an integrated program for coastal access, emergency response and interpretation, and proactively address the effects of sea level rise,” according to a summary on the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains website.

Other key restoration goals are to expand the beach, maintain the surf break and “minimize harm during construction.” Additional elements include the expansion of an existing Caltrans PCH bridge “to improve endangered fish passage and habitat,” as well as determining the fate of the Topanga Ranch Motel.

The area is managed by three public agencies: California State Parks (Topanga State Park), Caltrans (area highways), and County of Los Angeles Department of Beaches and Harbors (Topanga Beach).

“Topanga Lagoon is special—one of the last remaining wetlands in Southern CA,” read a synopsis of the project. “The current half-acre area is a shadow of the 30-acre extent once present. The lagoon is a natural filtration system, stormwater buffer, and hosts rare and endangered species. Over one million visitors enjoy the associated beach each year.”

The lagoon is a “last sanctuary for endangered fish,” like the tidewater goby, and the “only reproducing population in Santa Monica Mountains” of steelhead trout. The area provides an “important surf break” and “popular beach” with “limited visitor services.” The land also includes “Gabrielino/Tongva cultural sites.”

“Three alternatives have been identified to restore the Topanga Lagoon area,” read the synopsis. “All alternatives address the key project goals.”

The Draft Environmental Impact Report is now available for public review and comments through April 12. The document can be accessed online, as well as in person at Topanga Library, Malibu Library, Calabasas Library, Malibu Creek State Park Administration Office and RCDSMM Office.

Public comments, which will be accepted through April 12 at 5 p.m., can be sent via the project’s website (topangalagoonrestoration.org), email (topangalagoonrestoration@gmail.com) or mail (California Department of Parks and Recreation, Attn: John Ota, Environmental Scientist, 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302).

The project timeline includes environmental review from 2019 to 2024, with the EIR expected to be finalized in June. The design phase is expected to take place between 2024 and 2026, with construction slated for 2027 to 2031, and post-construction monitoring from 2031 to 2036. It is currently funded through December 2026.

Two upcoming public meetings regarding the project are scheduled to take place on Saturday, February 24, at 10 a.m. at Annenberg Community Beach House and Wednesday, February 28, at 6 p.m. at Topanga Community Center. The meetings will also be recorded and available to view via youtube.com/@rcdsmm.

“Restoration will preserve and expand the unique biological, cultural and recreation resources of Topanga Lagoon for the future,” the synopsis concluded.

Those who wish to learn more about the project, including information about upcoming meetings, may sign up for an email list at topangalagoonrestoration.org.

Top Markets and Eats on the Westside

By MERV HECHT | Restaurant Critic

love to cook at home, so I do a lot of shopping. Gelson’s in the Palisades is my go-to. The Gelson’s on Lincoln is not too shabby either. Not to mention Ralphs, Vicente Foods and Whole Foods Market (especially the one on Lincoln).

None of these compares to the beautiful, new Gelson’s Market on Olympic near Bundy. There are many reasons to explore there.

First of all, they have free covered parking. I know this is Southern California, but what a pleasure on those rare occasions when it’s cold or raining.

Second, they have lots of wide-open space making it easy to maneuver a cart. Third, pleasant people make themselves available to answer questions, quite helpful with a store that big.

The kicker is the sushi bar. They serve sushi under the attentive eyes of Tony from Hong Kong. It’s not just sushi—the last time we were there, I had tempura and miso soup, and my friend had a delicious hamburger.

The product selection is extensive, and my only negative thought is that the wines are priced higher than at Trader Joe’s nearby. This is countered by the large selection and some finer wines that are not available at Trader Joe’s.

Good thing there are such great markets around because a lot of restaurants have closed. Who would have thought that the Palm in Beverly Hills—an icon for 50 years—would ever close?

I wasn’t sad to see Tallula’s close, and I was glad to see the pizza place in the Palisades Village close. I hope my review wasn’t the cause.

Luckily, the Caruso folks are on the ball and now Jemma’s Pizzeria has taken over that space. Jemma’s serves a perfectly acceptable pizza. That’s not to say that I don’t have suggestions—I always do. A little more cheese would be welcome, and I don’t care for the white ranch dressing sprinkled on top. Hopefully they’ll take heed to my unsolicited suggestions so that we will all enjoy the pizza there for many years to come.

Jemma’s also has a nice selection of hard-to-find Italian products to take home, and the salads and sandwiches look wonderful.

While there is no inside seating, I have a suggestion for that as well. Perhaps they could make an arrangement with Porta Via next door—customers could sit in Porta Via, order a drink, have an appetizer, order a pizza from Jemma, and have coffee and dessert at Porta Via. What a wonderful life that would be!

Merv Hecht, like many Harvard Law School graduates, went into the wine business after law. In 1988, he began writing restaurant reviews and books. His latest book “The Instant Wine Connoisseur, 3rd edition” is available on Amazon. He currently works for several companies that source and distribute food and wine products internationally. Send comments to mervynhecht@yahoo.com.

Fostering Connections

Photos courtesy of Ready to Succeed

Palisadians Romi Lassally and Patrick McCabe Founded Ready to Succeed to Support College-Age Foster Youth in Los Angeles

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes the right connection can make a world of difference. That is the foundation Ready to Succeed, launched in 2016 by Palisadians Patrick McCabe and Romi Lassally, is built upon.

Ready to Succeed—a “career and personal development nonprofit”—is designed to empower foster college students to graduate, launch careers and “reach their full potential.”

“Romi and I come from similar backgrounds in that we’re both recovering business executives,” explained McCabe, who moved to the Riviera neighborhood less than a year ago after living for 33 years in the same house in Santa Monica. “Romi worked in the film business for over 20 years, and I worked in cable television sports.”

After exiting the television industry, McCabe co-founded New Roads School in Santa Monica with partner Paul Cummins, the founder of Crossroads. McCabe was there for about 12 years, as head of the Lower School.

Through New Roads, McCabe worked with high school-aged foster youth as part of a program where students were placed in private and parochial schools, like Marlborough, Archer and Brentwood schools, in addition to New Roads and Crossroads.

“I saw these foster youth … I saw clearly, I wasn’t worried about them academically,” McCabe explained, since they were studying at “high-end private schools,” “but I was worried about them sociologically … I certainly wondered what happened to them once they got to college.”

After New Roads, McCabe became executive director of Covenant House, a shelter in Hollywood for people experiencing homelessness, where he garnered additional experience working with foster youth.

“After Covenant House … I really wanted to have my own agency,” McCabe said. “And then I just had the incredibly great fortune of meeting Romi through another mutual friend named Abby Adams, who runs something called CareerSpring here in Los Angeles.”

In addition to work in the film business, Lassally—who has lived above the Alphabet Streets since 2007—was also involved with several other entrepreneurial ventures, she explained. When thinking about her through line, Lassally said, for her, it was all about connecting people.

“It definitely fuels me to connect the dots, whether it’s resources or opportunities,” Lassally said, “and I really love working with young people.”

She was able to flex that connection muscle when she created a career day when her daughter was in high school, as well as helping build out mentorship programs through UCLA.

“I found some old notes from an interview I did, and it said I went from developing content, developing material, developing stories for film to developing young people,” Lassally said. “That’s really when I took my, you know, StrengthsFinder test. I should have always been working with people, like what was I doing? It’s just so much more fulfilling.”

At first, Lassally said, she began looking into a way for the work to be a for-profit business, that every student could use “additional career support and doors opened” if they did not have access to someone in the field they were exploring.

“I was thinking about that and quickly realized that there was probably a much greater need in marginalized communities than in communities where the students might have more access, including my own,” Lassally explained. “I was lucky enough to meet Pat.”

Lassally said she and Pat realized they weren’t going to be able to tackle the whole systemic problem foster youth in Los Angeles were facing—so they decided to focus on one piece of it, founding Ready to Succeed.

“These foster youth who make it to college are superheroes,” Lassally added. “The number’s gone up a little bit, but 4% will graduate from four-year schools. They’ve had some support to get into school, but no support there.”

“Foster youth faced some of the worst outcomes among their peers,” according to data shared by Ready to Succeed, with “extremely low college graduation rates and high rates of unemployment, housing insecurity (29%) and criminal convictions (42%).”

Lassally, who has three kids who have gone through college, and McCabe, who has two, said they thought about what was most helpful for their children, which, for them, was access to internship opportunities. So together, Lassally said, “we were going to leverage our networks for good” to connect foster youth with various industries.

“One of the first things I did was sit down with Pat with a legal pad and say, ‘OK, tell me everyone you know,’” Lassally recalled. “I realized between the two of us, we had the entire city covered in every industry.”

Starting with a few students, the nonprofit has, to date, helped nearly 500 program Scholars and alumni, with more than 90% of participants graduating college in four and a half years and 92% securing “strong entry-level jobs” within six months of graduation. Each year, Ready to Succeed forms a class of up to 50 students across 35 four-year universities in California.

Students join Ready to Succeed during their sophomore, junior or senior year of college, remaining in the program throughout their first couple of years of full-time employment—an extension, McCabe explained, is crucial.

“Graduation day for these foster youth is the greatest day in their life because they are that 4% … of all foster youth that are going to graduate a four-year school, so it’s an incredible victory,” McCabe said. “It can also be the worst day of their life because they lose their food, their housing, their mental health support and their social circle. And they can’t go back to Mom and Dad’s basement for six months to think about it. It’s not an option. So that’s why we continue to keep an eye on everybody.”

The program focuses on providing resources (one-on-one career and personal coaching), relationships (making 20-plus introductions to professionals in their networks) and opportunities (internship and entry-level job opportunities at “sought-after and prestigious” companies). There are also scholarship opportunities for participants.

“We know that it’s a solvable problem if these students can get what they need, when they need it,” Lassally explained. “Urgency is a huge driver for us. So it’s holistic, it’s urgent and it’s tailored. It’s really curated and selective and intentional and tailored to our students. And that’s why it works.”

The first step in the program is “new scholars are paired with career and personal development coaches,” according to the website. Scholars then “attend monthly workshops, receive one-on-on communications coaching and are introduced to major players in their industry of choice.”

Coaches then help Scholars create Individual Career Plans, as well as navigate the application and interview process. Once they are placed at a job, Scholars receive ongoing “career and personal support.”

Another facet of Ready to Succeed is Project Dorm Room, described as a collaborative effort with Make Good Inc. that ensures “foster youth move into college with the resources they need.” On average, according to the program, the cost per student for dorm room supplies—including sheets, blankets, pillow, mattress pad, lamp, shower caddy and more—is $750.

There is also the McCabe Impact Fellowship, which “provides select RTS Scholars with paid project-based fellowships,” where “participants gain critical work experience and build their professional networks.”

“RTS Scholars are eager to make real change and bring their voice and ideas to social impact organizations,” according to the description. “However, learning experiences like these are often limited and unpaid. The McCabe Impact Fellowship solves this problem by providing paid experiences with innovative partners.”

To date, more than 50 fellows have been served with 12,000 hours worked across 14 impact partners, including CASA, In a Perfect World, National Center for Youth Law and more.

In many cases, the alumni now form the network and connections in which Ready to Succeed scholars are placed. Two decades later, the very first ninth-grade student McCabe worked with through New Roads, Emmanuel Benton, is now a member of the Ready to Succeed board.

McCabe and Lassally recalled several program alumni who continue to help Scholars. “They’re the models and mentors,” Lassally said, adding the program has created “such a beautiful, virtuous cycle.”

Palisadians who are looking to support Ready to Succeed’s efforts have a couple of options, including donating funds to support programming or joining the Ready to Succeed network.

“People who want to leverage their networks for the good of people outside their networks, who are connectors and get a thrill from making introductions, it’s really gratifying,” Lassally said. “You really get a lot by giving.”

Looking forward to the future, McCabe and Lassally shared plans to continue the program—Lassally saying she hopes to infiltrate more campuses and help every foster student, and McCabe noting that the program could be replicated anywhere in the country to serve more students.

“Like a lot of things, it’s a very, very basic idea that Romi and I had,” McCabe said of the program, “but it’s really turned out quite well.”

“It’s in our DNA,” Lassally said. “We’re lucky to be living our lives of purpose.”

For more information, visit readytosucceedla.org.

Crime Report


17300 Pacific Coast Hwy, January 28 at 1:45 p.m. Group of 200 to 300 bikers entered business, removed property without paying for items and fled location (flashmob theft).

15700 Pacific Coast Hwy, January 30 between 1 and 1:40 p.m. Suspect removed victim’s property from beach.

1000 Swarthmore Ave, February 1 at 5:08 p.m. Two suspects entered business and removed items from display area. Suspects fled location without paying for items.

Burglary/Theft From Vehicle

1500 Will Rogers State Park Road, January 29 at 4:33 p.m. Suspect entered locked vehicle, removed victim’s property and fled location.

800 Alma Real Drive, February 2 at 3:30 p.m. Suspect entered unsecured vehicle, removed property and fled location.

W Sunset Blvd & Pacific Coast Hwy, February 3 at 11 a.m. Suspect entered victim’s secured vehicle, fled with victim’s property.


600 Haverford Ave, February 1 at 6 p.m. Suspect smashed basement window, entered residence and fled with victim’s property.


16700 Charmel Lane, February 2 at 9:05 p.m. Suspect entered victim’s residence through unlocked door, brandished a handgun toward victim. Suspect demanded property and fled location. Suspect was being followed by undercover officers and later arrested.

Provided by LAPD Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin. In case of emergency, call 911. To report a non-emergency, call 877-275-5273.