CPF Former Fellow Maria S. Salinas Headshot
Center for the Political Future

Fall 2022 Fellow

Maria S. Salinas is the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, the largest business association in Los Angeles County representing member companies and serving the interests of more than 235,000 businesses across the Los Angeles region. Ms. Salinas took the helm of the organization in August of 2018 and became the first woman and Latina to lead the Chamber in its 132-year history. An accomplished business woman, entrepreneur and a determined community leader, Ms. Salinas’ business acumen and financial expertise provides her with the right experience to lead the L.A. Area Chamber.

Ms. Salinas, a steward of the Chamber’s new vision, “A Thriving Region for All,” has re-imagined the role of the Chamber. The Chamber looks to the future with a vision to build an inclusive economy and lead in three pillar areas of focus: advocacy work, global engagement and through community collaboration for economic growth and mobility. The Los Angeles region, which is the 14th largest economy in the world, and the Chamber membership represents a broad spectrum of industries, small businesses, corporations, academic institutions and nonprofits, which are all examples that the Los Angeles economy is diverse, dynamic and that business is a force for good.

Ms. Salinas is an appointee to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Commission on the Future of Work and named to his Business and Jobs Recovery Task Force. She was appointed to the US Chamber of Commerce’s Committee of 100, a distinction reserved for the top 100 Chambers across the country. She represents the Los Angeles business community in state- wide policy initiatives with the Coalition of Regional Economic Association Leaders (R.E.A.L.), she is a member of the Board of Directors of Mobility 21, a regional transportation effort, and an appointee of Mayor Eric Garcetti to the MEXLA Commission, a foreign policy initiative between Mexico and Los Angeles. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Music Center, Pacific Council, UnidosUS and Southern California Leadership Network among others.

Ms. Salinas lives in Pasadena, California, with her husband and their four sons.

Study Group: Politics for a New Generation

This group covered the future of political campaigns in Los Angeles. As CEO of the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, Maria Salinas has vast business and elections expertise, especially in the City of Angels. Using case studies such as Dulce Vasquez’s L.A. city council campaign, topics included the growing role of social media in campaigns, a recap of the June 7 primary, candidate recruitment, and the role of the business community in L.A. politics, among others. Guest speakers included local candidates and campaign staff.


Fall 2022 Semester Recap

Group Photo of CPF Fellow Maria Salinas's Fall 2022 Study Group
Group Photo of CPF Fellow Maria Salinas’s Fall 2022 Study Group

USC students in Maria’s Study Group shared this about their experience:

“I enjoyed all the guest speakers and how we got the opportunity to ask them questions. It was quite extraordinary being exposed to so many inspiring individuals who had very interesting and integral information to share. I’m so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to be a part of this program; I learned so much.”


“Maria Salinas was always available to answer our questions and give us insight into her work. I gained more perspective about politics in general as we were able to view politics through multiple facets. I appreciated all the nuances that arose out of Maria’s conversations with the guests. I gained a more holistic picture of the city of L.A. and gained some perspective on how change can be (and is) justly enacted.”


Maria shared her thoughts on the importance of politics, her first political experience, and her advice for having respectful political discourse in her “Quick Takes: Q&A with CPF Fellow Maria S. Salinas” video.