Often one of the problems with these sorts of lists is their seemingly arbitrary nature. Our intention, however, is not to be definitive, but reflective. Much like our annual Women in Business issue, we looked to who has drawn our specific attention and the attention of other community members who pay at least as much attention as we do. It is not remotely comprehensive—when it comes to a city (and surrounding area) as dynamic and culturally “oversized” as Pasadena, that would be an impossibility for a publication such as ours. We live in a small pond that harbors an inordinate number of big fish. And that is precisely why we all love this area and the people who make it sparkle and shine, not just locally, but often nationally and even internationally as well.
Many of the faces you’ll find in our 50 Influential People of Pasadena may already be familiar. But if they’re not already somebody you know about, they should be. These 50 people are decidedly not alone in their influence on the life of our community. Were there space for three times that number we could have legitimately filled it. But that’s a feature, not a bug. This list is a small but representative sample of the area’s abundant human resources that ultimately benefit us all. We suspect you’ll agree that those you know belong here, and come to appreciate the contributions to Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley from those you may be meeting for the first time. Meet our 2020 influencers.
Business Phil Hettema President and Creative Executive, The Hettema Group
When it comes to influence, there may be nothing more powerful than the stories we tell about ourselves as a society. Phil Hettema believes that the power of an unforgettable experience to tell a story and thus shape our cultural narrative in positive ways is unmatched. Educated at Cal State University, Long Beach and his hometown’s ArtCenter College of Design, Hettema cut his teeth at Disney; during the 1984 Olympics, where he was production head for the Opening Ceremonies; and ultimately, as the person responsible for everything Universal Parks did in the experience and attraction business. Now, Hettema is the creative leader of Pasadena’s Hettema Group. Since 2002, he has worked on some of the world’s most important experiences, including One World Observatory in New York City—the stunning observation deck experience that provides meaningful subtext to the tragedy of 9/11, along with a compelling story that keeps us looking forward.