How will L.A. fill the leadership void after Eli Broad?
6 min read
Eli Broad's death leaves a conspicuous void in both philanthropy and leadership in Los Angeles.
When Eli Broad imagined the future of Los Angeles, he saw a thriving metropolis whose cultural and artistic resources matched the tastes, appetites and ambitions of its residents, and as one of its wealthiest, he was able to shape and finance his personal dream of what the city should be.

Grand Avenue, on the crest of the city's former Bunker Hill, was perhaps his signature achievement. He helped pay for the Museum of Contemporary Art. He similarly financed the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and he built the Broad museum. Speaking at its opening in 2015, he declared Grand Avenue "the cultural center" of the city that "has become the contemporary-art capital of the world."

But even as he was crafting and executing his vision, the city was changing around him. Over the decades, a vast economic divide has opened up, polarizing communities and laying bare inequities in housing, income and opportunity.

Broad's death on Friday at age 87 leaves a conspicuous void in philanthropy and leadership. But many believe the civic leaders of Los Angeles' future need to be different in order to meet the vast challenges of a city that needs not just building and development but also fixing and healing.


"Los Angeles will never have one single kingmaker or leader who will take charge of all the challenges we're confronting," said Miguel Santana, a longtime top official in both city and county government who now heads the Weingart Foundation. "That person will have to be inclusive and representative to solve our problems."

Broad represented a long line of wealthy business leaders who used their power to exercise their personal vision. But in a city as diverse and complex as L.A., some say it's hard to see another person like him filling that exact role.

"Eli was of a generation where an individual could have a singular and outsized effect on the city, but in many ways, he and some others were so successful in expanding what was happening in the city, that the city…
Thomas Curwen
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