The Santa Clarita Valley’s most influential people gathered beside one another over lunch Wednesday in honor of all their efforts to make the area a great place to live. A total of 51 individuals were recognized as part of The Signal’s list of the “51 Most Influential” people for 2018, an annual compilation created 14 years ago by the newspaper’s Publisher Richard Budman. “When I started the list 14 years ago, it was for 51 people that ran the city, 51 people that made the city a great place to live, a great place to work and a great place to go to school,” said Budman. “Santa Clarita is the best place in the world,” Budman said at the gathering. In recent years, the selection process has used several different formats, but this year’s selection process was brought back to its roots, where Budman compiled the list and rankings, with input from Signal Editor Tim Whyte and Managing Editor Perry Smith. Those selected, including educators, business leaders, activists, government officials and politicians, each received a “Top 51” portfolio, pin and license plate frame. College of the Canyons Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook took the No. 1 spot. She was recognized for 30 years of leadership, helping grow the institution’s size and reputation across the state. “None of us get where we are alone,” she said. “It’s the result of shared vision, shared efforts and collaboration. This luncheon signifies that — a way to recognize what’s good in Santa Clarita.” Honoree John Shaffery, attorney at Poole & Shaffery, LLP, said the group represents the community’s best leaders. “Being with people who have a strong passion for Santa Clarita, with those that are willing to say yes and help out in their community, is amazing,” said Shaffery. “It’s nice to be recognized among all these great leaders.” The complete list of 2018’s Top 51.