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Valley Leaders Celebrate Ackerman’s Life

City officials, business leaders and friends and family of Bruce Ackerman celebrated the life and accomplishments of the man who headed the Valley Economic Alliance for a decade. About 350 people met for a “Celebration of Life” reception at the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn in North Hollywood on Sept. 1 to watch a commemorative video of Ackerman and hear about his impact on the San Fernando Valley and its surrounding communities. Ackerman died of cancer on Aug. 26. The event followed a rosary and public viewing Aug. 31 and a funeral mass and burial on the morning of Sept. 1. About 100 people attended the rosary and public viewing, and about 500 people attended the mass, said Harvey Berg, the organization’s interim president and CEO. Those who publicly spoke about Ackerman at the event included Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and former Valley Economic Alliance president and CEO Bill Allen, Calabasas Mayor Pro Tem Dennis Washburn, and Valley Economic Alliance and chamber leaders. “He was always there, always aiding, always supportive, always helping,” Bob Scott, director of the organization’s Mulholland Institute division, said. “I don’t think there were very many things that he really took on that he didn’t accomplish.” Scott later described Ackerman’s strength as being able to help communities in the region collaborate. “Bruce is a peacemaker, and he was able to reconcile different groups and different agendas in ways that were very meaningful to the San Fernando Valley,” he said. “The one thing you don’t need when you’re an underrepresented region is conflict, and he was able to smooth over those conflicts and work as a member among other groups, which is precisely what the Alliance was supposed to do.” Berg said some of Ackerman’s key accomplishments were his contributions to the creation of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments, development of the Orange Line and the group’s workforce initiative program, which he said has stimulated job growth in the region. Former chamber and Valley Economic Alliance employees of Ackerman described him as someone who provided professional guidance and support, had high expectations of his staff, kept meticulous watch over projects and maintained a sense of humor. M C Townsend, president and CEO of the Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, publicly reminisced about how Ackerman served on her corporate advisory board and helped the chamber receive approval to close off two major streets for the group’s “Juneteenth” event in 2004. He also helped her connect with other business leaders and city officials, she said. Valley Industry and Commerce Association President Stuart Waldman called Ackerman an icon of the San Fernando Valley. “He really made something work and took the Economic Alliance to new heights and helped create a business environment that prospered,” Waldman said later at the event. “When the economy took a turn, he helped protect businesses from failing. He will be missed.”

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