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Meet Trailblazer Tati Simonian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tati Simonian.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Tati. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’m an Armenian American Angeleno. My parents met in Los Angeles. My father emigrated from Soviet Armenia, my mother from soviet-aligned Romania. Their first date was at the Denny’s on the corner of Sunset and Van Ness. We did not speak English in the home, my grandmother watched my brother and me while my parents worked – they were very strict. My world was homework, school, and practicing the piano. I’ve always been creative, daring, and curious, but very shy. I think my shyness helped save me from the parts of my personality that could have landed me in a lot of trouble. When I got to college, I chose the path of being a classical musician. From my parents’ strict, post-soviet point-of-view, this was an acceptable outlet to express myself. I won many awards and scholarships and excelled amongst my peers. Then, I realized the life I had chosen wasn’t the life I wanted.

Just before I would go on stage, I would take a moment in the wings. I was always a little nervous, no matter how confident or prepared I was. I would stand in the dark, center myself, imagine the audience, and the story I’d like to tell them. I have always been interested in audiences. There’s a magical transaction that happens between the performer and audience that I was fascinated by. I went to graduate school in New York to study the business of the arts and marketing. From there, my evolution untangled from a very niche elitist space to one of service. I began my career in agency life, in live entertainment, then transitioned to public programming. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to build the brand and marketing program for LA County’s Grand Park – the park for everyone, where we hosted 52 weeks of free cultural programming for all of Los Angeles. From this experience, I transitioned to the public sector, exploring the role local government plays in supporting art, public space and community services. I believe in the democratization of art, and I think Los Angeles – regionally – is a place where this is encouraged and celebrated.

Has it been a smooth road?
The pressure of coming across as likable is an unfair expectation disproportionately shouldered by women. I have felt this expectation throughout my life – during my childhood, at home, and at work. My advice for young women to keep focused on accomplishments as a way of measuring success and to worry less about likability. Relationships are important, I’m not saying that they’re not. But when you’re looking for a new job, you’re selling your skills, and you’re being judged on what you’ve accomplished, and less on whether you got along with everybody.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I’ve spent the majority of my career working at large organizations. I understand how to work horizontally across an organization and loop a diverse amount of products under one umbrella. At Grand Park, I took a wide array of programs and buttoned them up under one brand. I wanted to ensure that the brand had a voice that invited people in. Not one that shepherded checkbox after checkbox, but one where people felt that the success of Grand Park was as important as the Dodgers winning the world series. I wanted them to feel proud of where they came from and welcomed if they were from somewhere else. After five years of a roller coaster ride, Grand Park’s iconic pink became the unofficial color of Los Angeles, and it was time for me to move on.

At my public sector job, I was hired to build a communications strategy from the ground up across multiple divisions and departments.

I also produce a podcast called Hundred to One and I’m working on a screenplay with my husband Mitch, who is a filmmaker, about some of my life experiences as an Armenian American Angeleno.

At the end of the day, I want to create opportunities for people to find commonality in order to connect with one another. So, if it’s through art, or just by being in the same space, I want to do what it takes to make that happen.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
Frida Kahlo
Tracee Ellis Ross
Aleshea Harris
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sasha Digiulian

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Bike photo: Photo courtesy of Tati Simonian
Yellow Cardigan photo: Photo by Javier Guillen
Of my husband Mitchell Colley and I: Photo by Duncan Woodbury
Denim Shirt Photo: Photo by Mitchell Colley

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