President & CEO, LAEDC
Stephen Cheung is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) and its subsidiary, the World Trade Center Los Angeles (WTCLA). As CEO of the LAEDC, Mr. Cheung brings together the capabilities of LAEDC’s mission-delivery department areas, including the Institute for Applied Economics (Research), Business Assistance, Industry Cluster Development, Workforce Development, World Trade Center Los Angeles (International), Strategic Relations, Communications & Marketing, and Public Policy, into a single team that delivers the LAEDC’s critically important, public-benefit mission – Reinventing our economy to collaboratively advance growth and prosperity for all.
In 2023, Cheung was elevated to President and CEO after serving as Chief Operating Office and Executive Vice President of LAEDC, and continues in his concurrent role as President of World Trade Center Los Angeles, a title he has held since coming to the organization in 2014. Prior to that, Cheung was the Secretary General and Managing Director of International Trade and Foreign Affairs for Los Angeles Mayors Eric Garcetti and Antonio Villaraigosa, and was responsible for managing policies and programs related to the Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports, International Affairs, Global Trade and Clean Technology. In these roles, he was the lead organizer for the Mayors’ previous international trade missions to Mexico, China, Korea, Japan, Colombia, Chile and Brazil. Furthermore, Cheung implemented the city’s strategic plan to make Los Angeles a global capital of clean technology by building the infrastructure to support research, development and manufacturing with key partners.
Concurrently, Cheung was the Director of International Trade for the Port of Los Angeles – the busiest container port in North America, and was responsible for developing programs to increase trade through the Port of Los Angeles, and facilitate goods movement through the Southern California region.
Cheung currently sits on the Board of Advisors of UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, UCLA Extension, Coro Southern California and Sister Cities of Los Angeles, while also serving on the Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board.
Vice President, Strategic Relations
In her role as Vice President of Strategic Relations, Melissa Kham oversees membership, events, marketing and communications, as well as vital relationships with LAEDC Board of Governors, Executive Committee, government, philanthropy, and the larger external business community to ensure ongoing revenue and community support. Melissa and her team are responsible for the recruitment and retention of valued LAEDC members, sponsors, and donors that represent LAEDC’s mission to collaboratively advance growth and prosperity for all. The Strategic Relations team curates and leads groundbreaking initiatives, programs, and events including the annual Eddy Awards, Select LA Summit, Economic Forecast, Future Forums, and 88 Cities Summit. Melissa’s extensive experience of revenue generating activities and strategic planning ensure LAEDC’s ongoing success and infrastructure. Melissa and her team create and implement long-term strategies for funding opportunities and ensure consistent private and public growth.
Melissa has expertise in fundraising campaigns, donor cultivation, grant writing, event planning, marketing, external relations, public policy, and strategic planning. Throughout her career, Melissa has raised more than $55 million for grassroots and large nonprofit organizations that include PATH, Alzheimer’s Los Angeles, Youth Speak Collective, and Southern California Grantmakers.
Melissa enjoys being an ambassador, recruiter, and connector for the organizations with which she works. She also has considerable experience working with media in both English and Spanish. Melissa received her Bachelors of Art from Loyola Marymount University and her Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from the California State University Northridge.
Reach Melissa at: [email protected]
Business Assistance and Workforce Development
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Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development
Larry Holt serves as the Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development and is passionate about economic development as a driver for inclusive prosperity and equitable outcomes across LAEDC’s strategic priorities in the Business Assistance, Industry Cluster Development, and Workforce Development departments. Mr. Holt leads LAEDC’s effort to provide business technical assistance to the diverse business community in the Los Angeles region in partnership with key governmental, philanthropic and industry allies.
Mr. Holt was recognized by Consultant Connect as a National Top 50 Economic Development executive in 2019, and brings a proven ability to translate and integrate the needs of governments and businesses. His career reflects a passion and commitment to innovation-based inclusive economic development strategies that drive new investment through trade. In the last decade, he and his teams have attracted $583 million in capital investment and 7,261 jobs. With multisector executive leadership experience in the government, nonprofit, and community sectors, Larry‘s market experience includes Dallas, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Austin, Texas; and Birmingham, Alabama.
Most recently a resident of Oak Lawn, the historic center of the LGBTQ community in Dallas, Larry has family in Southern California and enjoys volunteering in the creative arts. Most recently he served as a board member for Music Portland, and the nonprofit Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre in Dallas, Texas.
Director, Business Assistance
As the LAEDC district director, Ms. Levine provides strategic consulting to many types of businesses in south LA County, to resolve challenges and problems and keep companies in business. Many of the projects involve retention, energy efficiency, cost of doing business, permitting, city and state incentives, and site selection. She also assists companies with management and workforce development issues. In her downtime, she is an instructor of marketing management courses at some LA area colleges.
Ms. Levine brings about 15 years marketing management experience in both the private and public sectors, as well as both corporate and client relationship experience in manufacturing, creative services, and healthcare organizations. She has a BA in Economics from UCLA and an MBA in Entrepreneurial Organizations from Loyola Marymount University.
Leonard Barrales joined the LA City WIB Layoff Aversion project as a Regional Manager in January 2011. He is a results-oriented professional with more than 15 years experience in recruitment, marketing, job placement, program management, and employee and business retention service programs for both private and public companies.
Recently, Mr. Barrales served as the Regional Business Services Manager for the Canoga Park and Van Nuys WorkSource Centers under ARBOR RESCARE with the City of Los Angeles to promote the WorkSource Center services to the local San Fernando Valley business community. He holds a B.S. in Political Science and has completed several courses and certifications in Economic Development, Real Estate, International Trade, etc.
Senior Manager, Business Assistance & Development
Linden Johnson has been a part of the Business Assistance team at LAEDC since 2011, and has worked extensively in the administration of the program. He provides field technical assistance and consulting to businesses in the City of Los Angeles, especially where he can help the business overcome challenges, as part of the pro-bono public-benefit mission of LAEDC. Prior to joining LAEDC, he worked as an Executive Assistant/Project Manager for an entertainment company specializing in concert production.
Mr. Johnson graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Senior Director, Workforce Development and Special Projects
Most recently, Jermaine served as the Program Manager of the D.C. Department of Employment Services where he advised the Deputy Director and Operations Manager on their federally and locally funded workforce initiatives while supervising and guiding over 30 workforce development specialists, case managers and administrative support staff. Prior to DC, Jermaine oversaw the Youth, Business and Adult programs at WorkSource DeKalb County Government in Georgia and was Director of Workforce Development at a forward-thinking non-profit, Frendship Place, in DC.
In 2015, the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals recognized Jermaine’s visionary leadership with their Leadership Award.
In his role as Policy Manager, Sulaiman focuses on advancing LAEDC policy priorities on specific key industries and legislation at the local, state, and federal levels. As a member of the Strategic Initiatives team, he also supports LAEDC industry cluster development to strengthen the region’s global competitive advantage. He brings experience in business incubation, issue development, policy research and formation, and stakeholder engagement strategy.
Sulaiman was most recently an Associate at the International Business Accelerator, an early-stage startup incubator in Los Angeles, CA, where he developed an online curriculum to teach companies how to scale into global markets. He also helped cultivate strategic relationships with industry associations, community partners, and business leaders to participate in cohort seminars.
Prior to moving to Los Angeles, Sulaiman spent two years living in Southeast Asia. After backpacking across the region for several months, he settled in Singapore to conduct an independent research project analyzing the business issues and trade dynamics of the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, upon finishing his undergraduate degree Sulaiman served as the Communications Manager at the US-China Business Council in Washington D.C.
Sulaiman sits on the Global Committee of the Los Angeles Venture Association to help create programming that highlights global opportunities and capital sources for companies based in or coming to the Southern California venture ecosystem.
An East Coast transplant, Sulaiman grew up in Richmond, VA and received his Bachelor of Arts in International Business from Morehouse College.
Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF)
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Institute for Applied Economics (IAE)
Director, Institute for Applied Economics
Shannon Sedgwick is Director of the LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics. In this capacity, Ms. Sedgwick oversees and executes the planning and design of economic research projects and develops subject-specific information and data interpretation for economic impact, demographic, workforce development, transportation, and industry and issue studies. She performs research, data collection and organization, analysis and report preparation in addition to managing a team of economists. Her work focuses on demographics, industry clusters and contribution analysis, and occupational analysis. She is also proficient at conducting geospatial analysis and working with IMPLAN. Ms. Sedgwick is a principal contributor to the Center for a Competitive Workforce reports prepared for the California Community Colleges and local Workforce Development Boards (WDB). Other notable works include, Aerospace: The Changing Face of Aerospace in Southern California, The Path Forward: Economic and Workforce Intelligence for Northeast Los Angeles, and Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980 which quantified the economic impact of the series of exhibitions held across Southern California.
Ms. Sedgwick joined the LAEDC in June of 2008, serving in both Economic Research and the Consulting Practice of the LAEDC with data collection and research, managing multiple data sets covering the State of California, Southern California, its counties and their sub-regions.
Before joining the LAEDC, Ms. Sedgwick managed an industrial and steel supply company located in the Inland Empire. There she identified and targeted a diverse customer base, and analyzed product and customer patterns in the local industrial market to successfully increase revenues.
A Southern California native, Ms. Sedgwick received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Southern California (USC) with a minor in Architecture. She is a member of the national chapter of National Association for Business Economics (NABE) and the American Economic Association (AEA). In her free time, she is actively involved with local animal rescue organizations as a foster and volunteers annually as a mentor to undergraduate students selected for the USC Dornsife Gateway Internship Program.
Senior Economist, Institute for Applied Economics
Dr. Justin L. Adams is the incoming Senior Economist at LAEDC. He brings over two decades of experience consulting to federal, State and local governments as well as private-sector organizations. Most recently, Justin served as President and Chief Economist of Encina Advisors, an economics research and analysis firm based in the city of Davis. Prior, Justin spent six years as an economist with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica and worked at Sacramento-based management consulting firms. He has held positions in California state government at the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research, the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Department of Transportation (CalTrans).
Justin received his Ph.D. in Business with a concentration in Political Economics from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He also received his A.M. in Political Science and his A.B. in Economics and Political Science from Stanford. Justin currently lives in Davis with his long-time partner Gina and their three cats. He spends his spare time cycling and serving on the boards of the Sacramento Stanford Association and the Davis Arts Center.
Research Analyst, Institute for Applied Economics
As a Research Analyst, Diego is a key member of the Institute for Applied Economics (IAE) at the LAEDC. He works in partnership with other members of the IAE team conducting applied economic research, analysis and report development, preparation and delivery. Diego is responsible for data collection and cleaning, data organization and data interpretation for IAE’s quantitative and qualitative analysis and research, as well as structuring and overseeing the delivery of key pieces of critical research projects and preparing supporting presentations.
As a graduate student at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO), Diego worked in a small group of five on a project for the World Bank, where he helped develop a program that matches disadvantaged youth to potential employers using psychometric data in developing countries using machine learning and econometric techniques.
Diego received his Master of Science in Quantitative Economics from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly SLO) and his Bachelor of Arts in Economics, with a minor in Psychology, from the University of California, Merced (UC Merced).
Economist, Institute for Applied Economics
Dr. Dan Wei is the new Economist with the Institute for Applied Economics at LAEDC. Before joining LAEDC, she has been a research faculty member in the Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California for over 12 years. She brings extensive research experience in economic impact analysis of public policies and regulations in the areas of energy, climate change, and transportation. She is also an expert in the economic consequence analysis of disasters.
Dan received her Ph.D. in Geography from the Pennsylvania State University. She received her M.S. in Public Policy and Management and B.E. in Engineering Physics from Tsinghua University. Dan spends her spare time reading, cooking, and enjoying time with her family.