Four people standing outside in front of L.A. City Hall

Photo caption: LA County CEO Sachi Hamai discusses the use of technology and innovation for transformative change in LA County with Innovate@UCLA’s Board Members Don Olender, Executive Director of Innovate@UCLA; Thomas Phelps, CIO of Laserfiche; and Debbie Simkins, VP of IT of Molina Healthcare.


Sachi Hamai, CEO of LA County, Dennis Gilmore, CEO of First American Financial Corporation, and Ara Mahdessian, Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceTitan, to receive Innovate@UCLA Distinguished Executive Leadership Awards


LOS ANGELES, NOV. 1, 2019 — Innovate@UCLA (formerly known as UCLA IS Associates), a member-based executive IT leadership organization, announced three winners today for its annual Executive Leadership Awards in the Public Sector, Corporate Enterprise, and Emerging Tech categories. 

Awardees include Sachi Hamai, CEO of LA County; Dennis Gilmore, CEO of First American Financial Corporation; and Ara Mahdessian, Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceTitan.

The awards celebration will open with a keynote speaker, Yvonne Wassenaar, CEO of Puppet, who will focus on the importance of increasing the diversity in leadership and how to make a difference either by raising your own hand or pulling people up with you. She will share her own career challenges and learnings with an eye towards imparting practical tips to leverage individual journeys to the top and she will preview what to expect when getting there.

After 41 years under UCLA IS Associates, the organization recently changed its name to Innovate@UCLA, “to reflect a broadening and deepening of programs that not just inform but act,” said Jim Davis, Vice Provost of Information Technology and Chief Academic Technology Officer at UCLA.

“The Executive Leadership Award celebrates the top examples of digital change in SoCal,” added Davis. “The awards also represent the culmination of all our programs that bring the IT leadership community together to address a changing technology world.” 

“All three leaders share the essential insight that the innovative and successful application of technology in their businesses will always provide immense customer value and drive to positive, bottom-line results,” said Don Olender, Executive Director of Innovate@UCLA. “While this year’s recipients have provided the requisite leadership to ensure technology remains an inherent component of their diverse business plans, each also brings a unique personal story that influenced and guided their professional decision-making.”

During the event, the three awardees will discuss their personal journey to CEO, and their viewpoints on emerging technology disruptions, managing technology risk, and preparing for the workforce of the future in a panel discussion with moderator Frank Mottek, the voice of business news in Los Angeles.

          Sachi A. Hamai will receive the Public Sector award.

She is Chief Executive Officer of Los Angeles County. She is responsible for managing the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the nation’s largest municipal government.

As CEO, Hamai is instrumental in developing, implementing and advancing the Board of Supervisors’ key priorities. These include the unprecedented response to the region’s homeless crisis, streamlining access to health services, justice reform, child protection, immigrant rights protection and environmental monitoring and oversight.

As champion of transformative change within local government, Sachi has successfully challenged LA County’s workforce to break down barriers, collaborate and innovate across a broad range of society’s most challenging issues. Addressing these issues requires understanding patterns of service utilization and enabling the coordination of services across multiple County departments and programs. Therefore, The Information Hub, deployed by the County CIO, was developed to securely share and exchange data across the County. The Information Hub provides data integration services to enable real-time and in bulk secure data exchange, data management and governance of a countywide data catalog of client profiles and service histories, and successfully access client-centric information.

          Dennis Gilmore will receive the Corporate Enterprise award.

He is CEO of First American Financial Corporation, a leading provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for real estate transactions that traces its heritage back to 1889.

Gilmore’s leadership approach places a priority on engaging, developing and empowering employees, who are encouraged to focus on continuous improvement of the customer experience. Gilmore frequently notes in his public presentations that engaged, enthusiastic employees drive customer satisfaction which, combined with disciplined management, creates superior results for shareholders. His approach and leadership have been instrumental in First American being named to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list for the fourth consecutive year in 2019.

During his more than 25-year tenure at First American, Gilmore has consistently emphasized the need to innovate, while deepening the partnership between the company’s business segments and information technology department. A variety of First American’s current technology initiatives are helping reduce risk, increase efficiency and improve the real estate transaction process, including eClosings, secure transaction portals, artificial intelligence, robotic processing automation implementation and the application of blockchain technology.

Named CEO of First American Financial Corporation in 2010, Gilmore previously served in executive leadership positions with several of the company’s largest subsidiaries, including his role directing the creation of its data services group.

          Ara Mahdessian will receive the Emerging Tech Award.

He is the Co-Founder and CEO of ServiceTitan. Mahdessian has used his background in engineering, sales, and domain expertise to help ServiceTitan to become the leading software provider for home service professionals.

As sons of residential contractors, Mahdessian and ServiceTitan Co-Founder/President Vahe Kuzoyan were unable to find a software to help their fathers manage their growing home service businesses which led them to start ServiceTitan in 2012, an all-in-one software to empower thousands of trade professionals to manage its home service businesses.

ServiceTitan was named no. 347 on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America and Inc. Magazine’s Best Places to Work in 2019. While ServiceTitan, as a company, is focused on serving the businesses in the home and commercial services trade, its overall mission is founded on the desire to help people, specifically those in underserved markets or areas. ServiceTitan is committed to investing in their community through partnerships with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, 22Kill, and “Women in Tech” initiatives in Armenia. 

ServiceTitan values each employee’s contribution to its mission and success. This year, they implemented initiatives in supporting diversity and inclusive environment with employee led diversity charter groups, external panel discussions, and leadership track mentorship program.


About Innovate@UCLA

Innovate@UCLA’s enterprise-wide membership provides benefits to all executives and professionals within its member organization. Benefits include: a series of professional networking events, real-life practitioner and speaker presentations on today’s most strategic business and technology challenges, CIO Exchanges, student tech bootcamps, professional education curriculum, and university partnerships such as applied research projects, tailored Hackathons, and access to the Silicon Beach Innovation Lab. Innovate@UCLA' s value contributes to its members’ innovation agenda and pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved together.


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See full Press Release on Business Wire.