As the senior vice president of development for a national corporation, an LMU regent, a wife and the mother of two children, Renata Simril ’93 knows a lot about leadership. It is also why she will receive the inaugural Rising Leader Award at the 6th Annual African American Alumni Association (AAAA) Scholarship Gala on Saturday, March 29.
“It’s an honor to be a recipient of the award,” Simril said. “LMU means so much to me, and the university has given me so many gifts.”
The Rising Leader Award recognizes alumni who have graduated within the last 15 years who demonstrate professional leadership and a commitment to the LMU community. Prior to her current position, Simril was the deputy mayor of L.A. for economic development under former Mayor James Hahn’s administration. Currently, she manages the Southern California division of Forest City Residential, Inc., a national real estate company. Her main responsibilities include keeping the office focused on its goals for L.A. and making sure projects are completed on time and on budget.
“I am proud to work for a real estate company that has a phenomenal history of doing what’s right for the cities in which we develop,” Simril said. “Forest City takes community service to heart, and it is a blessing that my position incorporates all my moral and political philosophies.”
Simril is the highest-ranking African American employee in the company. “It is very unique that an African American woman holds a position like mine, especially in an industry dominated by non-minorities,” Simril said.
Simril is equally committed to serving her alma mater. She has been a member of the LMU Board of Regents for the past year and participates in many on-campus activities with the African American Alumni Association and The Learning Community, a summer bridge program for incoming African American students.
“[As alumni], we all have a responsibility to our university,” Simril said. “Every little bit counts. It’s important to get over ourselves and to give of ourselves.”
As for future and current LMU students, Simril offered this advice:
“Follow your heart. Do you what you love, and the [rest] will follow,” Simril said. “Make choices that will affect something greater than yourself.”
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