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The Power List
michaela mendelsohn Jerod Harris/Getty Images

The Power List 2019: Michaela Mendelsohn

Advocating for inclusion

The annual NRN Power List is the definitive list of people setting foodservice trends today and shaping them for tomorrow. See the full list >>

Michaela Mendelsohn, CEO, Pollo West Corp.

• Transgender activist Michaela Mendelsohn opened her first El Pollo Loco in the late 1980s. She now runs six locations in Southern California. She said the restaurants give her the opportunity to dispel ignorance from those who see challenges in hiring transgender employees.

• Mendelsohn’s company hired its first transgender employee around 2012. By 2016, transgender workers represented about 12 percent of her company’s workforce. She initially started hiring trans employees because she thought it was the right thing to do. But she later discovered that it was great for business. Trans employees thrived because they were happy to be on equal footing.

• She is the founder of TransCanWork, an organization formed to educate business leaders on best practices for transgender inclusion.

• Mendelsohn is nationally recognized as a transgender activist. In 2018, she was the grand marshal at the LA Pride Festival and Parade.

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