"The program gave me a close-up view of political, business and social issues and trends, information that is invaluable to me as an entrepreneur and active participant in the success of our great state. The speakers were incredible� they inspired us and stretched our minds. The opportunity to connect with successful and dynamic California women leaders was a main highlight. Being part of Leadership California is like being part of a powerful sisterhood."

—Ursula C. Mentjes, M.S., ACC
President and Certified Business Coach
Potential Quest, Inc.
"I have enjoyed my involvement with Leadership California. Our trip to the state capitol was most enlightening. As a result I have gotten involved with the Los Angeles African American Women's Political Action Committee. Thank you, Leadership California, for sparking a genuine interest in the political process."

—Shawn Farrar
Director Corporate Diversity
Sempra Energy
"The CIT program brings together successful women from all over California, and gives them the opportunity to build a network with other successful women. It's a way to learn about the important issues in our state, and to get ready to take the next step in your professional life."

—Isela Vilchis Hoenigmann
"Leadership California has provided me a panoramic view of issues, challenges and opportunities for this lovely state that I live in. The program was my introduction to women of unbelievable talent, experience and passion who are set to make a difference. The feeling to want to be more, to accomplish more, is simply contagious. I hope to know these women for the rest of my life."

—Rosario Montes-Arena
Manager, IBM Software Executive Briefing Program
Silicon Valley & Worldwide Briefing Program
"As a young immigrant woman working in the nonprofit sector, it was inspiring to see women leaders in action, to be able to network with them, and talk about the issues that are relevant to our communities and our state. I feel honored and privileged for the opportunity to participate in such an awesome program that weaves women leaders from different sectors and geographies of California to engage in a conversation about the social, political, and economic fabric of California."

—Winnie Hui-Min Yu
Development Associate
Asian Law Caucus
San Francisco
"I've spent half of my work life in the corporate world, and the past ten years in the nonprofit world, but neither taught me how to be who I am at work�the whole pastiche of talent and spirit. I found role models who excited me, the true state of our state of California (which frustrated me), work partners continually learning like me, and friends."

—Peta G. Penson, Ed. D.
Oakland Unified School District
"Leadership California sessions feature influential speakers and lively discussion on timely issues shaping the economy and workforce. The session on work-life balance struck a chord with me, where key leaders advised us to map out a personal career plan. Networking with other women was invaluable. Leadership California is an engaging and downright fun experience."

—Roberta Tinajero-Frankel
Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Dept.
Healthy Eating, Active Living Project Manager
"Simply put, Leadership California is time well spent that will benefit me personally and professionally for years to come. I've not only kept in contact with my fellow classmates on a social level, but have had opportunities to work with some of them on business projects as our professional paths crossed. The sessions gave in-depth looks at the critical social issues that many Californians face, inspiring me to get more involved in my community�s outreach programs."

—Teena Massingill
Manager of Corporate Public Affairs
Safeway Inc.

Leadership California is a network of accomplished women, dedicated to advancing the leadership role women play in impacting business, social issues and public policy.

Leadership California is also a unique program, designed to develop and mobilize female leaders. From corporate, academic, state and community organizations across the state, Leadership California draws a diverse group of executive women into its California Issues and Trends Program. Alumnae gain new insights on complex global, national and regional issues facing California.

Message from the President
2014 Program Overview
2015 Program Overview


We're looking for successful women to join us for the journey of a lifetime, the California Issues and Trends Program. 
Grow your leadership insights, build your power network, make a positive difference in your professional life and envision your role in California's future.


Apply Now or
Refer a friend

Its time to apply
for CIT 2015!

Submit an application today
or nominate a woman leader you know as a candidate.


SALLY HELGESEN left, signs copies of her book, The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work, for Leadership California class members.


Promoting Yourself: It’s Easier Than You Think—With A Peer in Your Corner

By Sally Helgesen
August 6, 2014

I’m good at a lot of things but I’m bad at self-marketing, which is a problem because I’m self-employed. The challenge has only become more acute as technology provides an ever-bigger platform for those who enjoy sharing their achievements. Yes, I know that if I believe in the value of what I have to offer I should want to actively promote it. Yet some part of me remains haunted by my mother’s voice describing self-promotion as “unseemly,” my father’s comments about “glad-handing salesmen.”

My parents, of course, didn’t live in an era when self-marketing was the workplace equivalent of a citizenship requirement. In their world, once you landed a job you were pretty well set for life. You didn’t need to constantly update your resume, and you certainly didn’t need to invest time, effort and imagination in cultivating your social media profile.

Pattern of Putting Things Off

We, however, live in a world in which even the happily employed can never assume they are secure. The endemic uncertainty that attends global competition demands that we constantly find fresh ways to keep ourselves out there. Nor can most of us afford the luxury of remaining stubbornly bad at something. We need an action plan, a way to tackle our clumsy spots.

HELGESEN with the Leadership California class in 2013.  

Knowing this is one thing but overcoming our innate resistance to doing things we don’t like is another. To me, the crush of daily work always offered a ready-made excuse for avoiding the simple tasks that self-marketing requires updating videos on my website, following up with someone I met at a conference about what services I might provide. For decades, these were the tasks that failed to get checked off of my daily to-do lists. I carried them over to the next day, and the next, until finally they disappeared.

This lifelong pattern remained in place until I got myself a peer coach. Having someone hold me accountable for acting on my intentions has made getting better at things I dislike a whole lot easier. It’s also been satisfying to serve my peer coach in the same capacity, holding her to account for addressing her challenges and watching her change and grow in the process.

The Coach has a Coach

It all started 7 years ago when I attended my annual Learning Network meeting in La Jolla California—a small group of leadership writers and consultants first convened by the executive coach Marshall Goldsmith in the mid-'90s, and which has been meeting regularly ever since. Marshall seemed particularly energized at our 2007 gathering because he’d recently begun working with a peer coach. Just as Marshall’s professional practice centers on helping senior executives achieve “clear and measurable behavioral improvements” in their daily lives, so his own regularly scheduled work with a peer was enabling him to do the same.

He enthusiastically shared his simple method, which our group practiced together. It starts with each peer partner compiling a list of no more than ten highly specific questions that reflect areas each wants to work on. For example, someone trying to get better at prioritizing tasks might include as an item: “Did you start your day by doing the one thing you most needed to do?”

This list is then shared with a peer coach and a regular time is set at which coaches ask one another the questions on the list. Answers can range from a quick yes or no to a more extended discussion that helps peers probe their reluctance to make needed changes. It’s a reciprocal process, with each peer serving as both coach and coachee for the other.

Trusted Peer in her Time Zone

Following my introduction to the technique, I invited a friend to become my peer coach. I chose someone who lives in my time zone, figuring this would be easier. I also wanted someone who had a pretty good picture of my strengths and liabilities and whom I trusted to keep our work confidential. I used the template Marshall had shared, but my PC and I quickly developed our own habits, routines and methods, including an almost daily check-in by phone.

Having someone hold me accountable for acting on my intentions has made getting better at things I dislike a whole lot easier.”

Right from the start it proved helpful, but after the first few years, it became a necessity, a way for each of us to understand what was happening around us and incrementally improve every aspect of our lives. As we got deeper into our practice, we began to notice that our mutual willingness to share information was a good barometer of whether something was a good idea or not. For example, if one of us “forgot” to tell the other details about an upcoming trip, chances are we were either hiding misgivings from ourselves or laying the groundwork to make an especially poor decision. Having one another regularly offer perspective not just on what we do but on the thought processes that inform our actions gives us a more reliable lens for seeing the challengesand the opportunitiesin our lives.

Not Doing those To-Dos? No Excuses Accepted

There’s also the lash of incentive that comes from having to report on precisely what you have and have not accomplished, which is what helped me become more diligent about self-marketing. It was hard to keep moving items forward on my daily to-do list when I knew someone was going to ask tomorrow if I made that client call. It seemed easier under these circumstances to just do what I didn’t want to do rather than think up an excuse for not having done it.

Given the profound layers of resistance that come with the territory of being human, most of us can benefit from being held to account. Peer coaching offers an efficient, potentially profound yet entirely cost-free way to make that happen.


Sally Helgesen is an author, speaker, and leadership development consultant, whose most recent book is The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work (with Julie Johnson; Berrett-Koehler, 2010). She is a popular speaker at Leadership California Sessions. Learn more at sallyhelgesen.com.

The Leadership California Board of Directors met on July 26 and 27 to map out programs and initiatives for the organization. Among big plans in the works: a trip to Washington D.C. in 2015.


Board Of Directors Guides
Leadership California’s Mission of
“Success to Significance”

The 18-member Leadership California Board of Directors is composed of dedicated alumnae who work behind the scenes on oversight of the CIT program and a number of exciting initiatives designed to ramp up diversity and inclusion outreach, improve PR efforts to increase recognition of the Leadership California brand, activate task forces, and coordinate with CIT Alumnae for opportunities to grow programs and support the organization.

Plans are in the works for a special event in the Central Valley, recruitment events throughout the state, and a second trip to Washington D.C., planned for Fall of 2015.

Board members in the photo, from left, Trina Horner, PG&E; Cecily Joseph, Symantec; Christine Coats (ex-officio), Symantec; Diana Baughman, Chevron; Pam Hemann, Leadership California; Yvette Herrera, Burbank Community YMCA; Danell Scarborough, City of San Diego Human Relations Commission & Citizen's Review Board on Police Practices; Mary Sue Allen, UPS; Margie Wheeler, Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles; Celina Zacarias, CSU Channel Islands; Marily Mondejar, Filipina Women's Network; Ann-Marie Connolly, Boeing; Sandy Cha, Wells Fargo.




Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Executive Strategist MARGIE WHEELER ('11) engaged a Leadership California class on water issues when they visited the Edward C. Little Recycling Facility, West Basin Municipal Water District in July. She has worked on water issues for the past 20 years at MWD.

MWD’s Margie Wheeler
Deals with the Drought

September 5, 2014

“Water is serious business in California, and droughts are a fact of life now,” says Margie Wheeler, executive strategist with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

With no end in sight to the drought, conservation from the public and businesses is critical.

Over Margie’s 20 year career with the water agency, she has dealt with several multi-year droughts that have seriously impacted California. If she’s learned one lesson well, it is the value of planning and preparing for uncertainty.

The Southland requires a reliable water supply for its millions of residents and thousands of businesses that drive the region’s $1 trillion economy. As the regional water planner and importer of supplies for the six-county region, MWD has a comprehensive plan to prepare for and manage through drought cycles.

Preparing for Drought

Within the span of Margie’s tenure, Metropolitan and its 26 member agencies have strengthened the reliability of the region’s water supply. Diamond Valley Lake, constructed in the late 1990’s, now provides critical water supplies and has nearly doubled the region’s surface water storage capacity. MWD’s network of surface and groundwater reservoirs now stores more water than the state’s largest reservoir—Shasta Lake—and allows water to be banked and stored in wet years for use in future drought years and for emergency needs.

WATER HISTORY - At the Metropolitan Water District’s Los Angeles headquarters, Wheeler spoke on the history of California's water. "There's everything from drama to comedy in determining who gets to have it,” she said.    
Metropolitan’s Integrated Resources Plan identifies a diverse portfolio of water resources to meet future demands: imported and local supplies, such as recycled water, groundwater storage and recovery, desalination, and stormwater capture. MWD stands out as a leader in Demand Management, or conservation. As the co-sponsor of state legislation in 2009 requiring urban agencies to reduce per-capita water use by 20 percent by 2020, MWD’s cumulative investment in conservation and reliable local supplies now exceeds $1 billion and prepares the region well for future drought cycles.

Managing through Drought

In her role as an executive strategist, Margie works closely with water resource managers throughout the state on efforts to extend limited water reserves and make the state’s water system more resilient. “California is in the third year of an unprecedented drought with record dry conditions,” she said. “We need increased conservation—it’s a top priority because it allows saved water to remain in storage. With no end in sight to the drought, conservation from the public and businesses is critical.”

Over $40 million in rebates and incentives are available for businesses and residents for efficient plumbing fixtures, commercial kitchen equipment, HVAC systems, and landscape irrigation systems. Incentives are also available for recycled water connections and custom efficiency projects, such as manufacturing process improvements. One of the most popular programs is turf removal. Information on MWD’s rebate and incentive programs is on Bewaterwise.com®.

Future Droughts: New Investments

As the co-sponsor of state legislation in 2009 requiring urban agencies to reduce per-capita water use by 20 percent by 2020, MWD’s cumulative investment in conservation and reliable local supplies now exceeds $1 billion.

Although the current drought shows no signs of ending, Margie and her colleagues are already working on strategies to help Metropolitan prepare for a future of droughts, changing weather patterns, growing population, and pressing environmental needs.

Protecting Northern California Supplies: About 30 percent of the Southland’s water supply comes from Northern California. A single wet year in Northern California can replenish Southland reservoirs. Unfortunately, pumping restrictions due to environmental problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are causing cutbacks, while seismic conditions threaten the reliability of water. Modernizing the Delta’s water conveyance system, via the state-federal Bay Delta Conservation Plan, can protect water reliability for decades.

Managing Colorado River Supplies: About 25 percent of the region’s water supply comes from the Colorado River, where a long-term drought continues. MWD is working with others in the Colorado River basin to add storage, increase conservation, and augment water supplies.

IN WASHINGTON D.C. - Wheeler’s presentation on the California Bay Delta Conservation Project gave Leadership California’s 2013 delegation to Washington D.C. a picture of the serious water questions California faces.    

Developing New Local Supplies and Achieving More Conservation: MWD will continue to partner with its member agencies to advance recycling, groundwater cleanup, stormwater capture and desalination. Metropolitan is also investing in projects to permanently lower outdoor water use and partnering with business to improve water use efficiency. The plan is that all new demands will be met entirely by local efforts. This requires new strategies that recognize uncertainties and the value of this resource to Southern California. For Margie, water is serious business.


Margie J. Wheeler is an executive strategist for The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, where she has held positions in water planning, public affairs and the executive office over the last 20 years. She currently works on the Bay-Delta Initiatives program focused on long-term strategic planning. She holds a masters degree in advanced management from the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University and a MBA from the University of La Verne. She is pursuing a Doctor of Policy, Planning and Development at USC. She also serves as an adjunct professor in the MBA program at the University of La Verne. Margie is a Leadership California alumna, Class of 2011, and a member of the Leadership California Board of Directors.

About Metropolitan: The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-chartered cooperative of 26 member agencies–cities and public water agencies–that serves nearly 19 million people in six counties. Metropolitan imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies and helps its members develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.


A distinguished panel of women leaders included, from left, Jan Perry, General Manager, Economic & Workforce Development, City of Los Angeles; Sharon L. Tomkins, Acting General Counsel, Southern California Gas Company; Ann McElaney-Johnson, Ph.D., President, Mount St. Mary’s College. Moderator, right, was Barbara Kaufman, Ph.D., President, ROI Consulting Group, Inc.

Key Takeaways from Leaders on the Pathway to Significance

By Barbara Kaufman, Ph.D.
August 1, 2014

I had the privilege of hearing from three gifted leaders about their "Lessons Learned" on Sunday, June 27th, along with the Leadership California Class of 2014 at Session III in Los Angeles. 

Key takeaways from the evening session got to the heart of the passion these leaders feel for their work:

  • Take the time to build trusting relationships and networks and make them a cornerstone of your effective leadership. Transactional leadership is not a long term strategy.
  • Seize opportunities to learn from the informal mentors all around you. Be fully present and mindful to make the most of these opportunities.
  • Let your passion fuel your self-confidence.
  • Reframe self-doubt and demonstrate resiliency. Learn from your failures.
  • Be kind to yourself and retire the superwoman image. Asking for help and recognizing that we can't be all things to all those in our lives at the same time is a strength, not a weakness.
  • If you want to move from success to significance, you must be passionate about contributing to the success of others.

I look forward to Session IV and another opportunity to hear from a panel of women leaders about their journeys!


Barbara Kaufman, Ph.D. is founder and president of ROI Consulting Group, Inc., offering high-value customized programs and services for senior leaders and their teams to accelerate leadership effectiveness, including executive coaching, on-boarding advice, leadership assessment, retreat facilitation, comprehensive performance reviews for senior administrators and board development services. She is an alumna, Class of 1995, and a past-president of Leadership California. www.roiconsultinggroup.com




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