The Signal holds ‘51’ luncheon, acknowledges ‘most influential’ in SCV

Los Angeles County 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger chats with Richard Budman during The Signal's "51" Luncheon at the Salt Creek Grille in Valencia on Monday, Nov. 22. Jose Herrera/The Signal
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Following the honorees being named earlier this month, The Signal hosted its annual luncheon Monday to acknowledge those who are among the “Top 51 Most Influential” people in the Santa Clarita Valley for 2021.  

Held at Salt Creek Grille in the Valencia Town Center, the event honored all those who had been recognized for their local work, whether it be through philanthropy, community organizing, business, and/or political leadership. 

This year’s No. 1 overall “Most Influential” figure, state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said he was honored to be among the other recipients.  

“I’m honored to be No. 1 because this is such a caring community and everybody at this table is a leader in some way,” said Wilk.  

Signal Publisher Richard Budman told the gathered honorees that the purpose of the luncheon was simple: to thank them for all they do to make the SCV a great place to live. 

“The reason we’re having the luncheon today is for the exact same reason as when I started it 17 years ago: It’s just to say thank you,” said Budman. “Thank you to the people in this community that make Santa Clarita the best place in the world to live.”  

Santa Clarita City Council woman Laurene Weste and City Manager Ken Striplin laugh as they enjoy The Signal’s “51” Luncheon at the Salt Creek Grille Valencia on Monday, Nov. 22. Jose Herrera/The Signal

Fifth District County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who like Wilk has been named to the list in a number of previous years, was No. 2 for the 2021 edition and shared in the feeling expressed by the state senator that it was an honor to be named as one of The Signal’s 51.  

“It’s an honor for me because I don’t do it for the accolades, but it sure is nice to have the work that I’m doing be validated,” said Barger at the event.  

Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, was named to the list for the first time this year at No. 8 and said she was proud to be on the list alongside so many other names she admires. 

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, chats with members of his table during The Signal’s “51” Luncheon honoring the 51 most influential leaders of the Santa Clarita Valley for 2021 on Monday, Nov. 22. Jose Herrera

“Being nominated for anything in this town is a huge honor and particularly at this event it is really made up of the people I think who care the most about our community and have been the most influential,” said Valladares. “We all have the same goal in mind and that is making our community an amazing place to work, live and play.”    

“Needless to say, I am honored to have been nominated and for our branch to have been noticed and recognized here in Santa Clarita,” said SCV NAACP President Valerie Bradford, who had also not been named before but came in at No. 45 this year. “I’m glad to be here.” 

Marlee Lauffer, at No. 27 this year, was recognized for her nonprofit work, and as the president of the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation and vice president of marketing and communications for the hospital. She said she was happy to see so many people recognized by the newspaper.  

The Santa Clarita Valley’s 51 most influential leaders of 2021 can be found in a special edition in October. Jose Herrera/The Signal

“I think a strong community needs a strong newspaper and The Signal is certainly that,” said Lauffer. “And by doing things like this they keep our community united and I enjoy being a part of it, and am humbled by the other people that are on the list.” 

To view the full list of The Signal’s 2021 “Top 51 Most Influential” people in the Santa Clarita Valley, visit

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