"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
2017 Program Overview
2016 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.



It’s time to apply for CIT 2017! 


THE LEADERSHIP CALIFORNIA CIT PROGRAM introduces 60 women each year to diverse perspectives and points of view beyond their own disciplines and areas of expertise. Through thought leaders and experts, field trips, unique experiential learning and a rich dialog within the group, our women leaders hear from experts on thought-provoking subjects such as changing demographics, a global view on business and the economy, education, health care challenges, and public policy development.

PARTICIPANTS GAIN A POWERFUL NEW NETWORK of accomplished women and new insights on California in the state, national and global arenas. Apply Now or Refer a friend


Come with us to Washington D.C.
September 24-27, 2017!


SAVE THE DATE for the ultimate Leadership California experience, open to all executive women. Leadership California Goes to Washington DC 2017 is a special opportunity for California women leaders to study how national and international issues influence Californians and California business, and how California’s issues and trends influence the nation and the world. MORE INFORMATION


Statistician and drug developer Xin Li (right) and her colleagues participated in a 2-mile "Bay to Beakers Children's Walk" around Genentech’s South San Francisco campus to raise money for children in Malawi who were orphaned due to AIDS. The walk was one of more than 150 volunteer activities that engaged employees during Genentech/Roche Gives Back week.

Longer lifeline makes all the
difference for patients

By Xin Li ('15)

June 20, 2016ON A WINTER MORNING IN 2008 at Genentech, it was almost time for our quarterly meeting to start. This was a meeting I always looked forward to. On this day, the entire product development department would do more than hear presentations and reports from one another about our work. This was a day we would get to hear from patients. Sometimes at meetings like this, we would listen while a patient’s letter was read aloud, but today was different. Today, we had a chance to hear from a patient live and in person!

“The patient brought out a beautiful picture of a bride.”


A WOMAN PATIENT WAS INTRODUCED, and she walked up to the stage and began her story. She is a breast cancer survivor and had been taking one of the medicines we had been working on. She said that when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was scared. Upon learning the news, she thought of her daughter, and hoped that she would survive long enough to attend her daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party. Next, the patient brought out a beautiful picture of a bride. It was taken a few weeks before, at her daughter’s wedding. She looked at our team and said: “I cannot thank you enough. Your medicine has given me time I would not have had!” 

IT WAS A DRAMATIC MOMENT. Although this was not the first time I had heard stories like this, the emotion was overwhelming. Just knowing that what I do every day could make a difference like this in someone’s life was extremely rewarding.

GROWING UP, I ALWAYS HAD A PLAN FOR MYSELF. I knew what I would be: a teacher, because teachers shape the heart, the soul, and the future of children. In particular, I wanted to be a mathematics teacher, as mathematics is such a beautiful and useful subject—it inspires and perfects. I believed that this was the best way to make a difference in this world.

IN 1991, WHEN I WAS IN A PH.D. PROGRAM studying Kac-Moody Lie algebra, I got a summer internship, working for a pharmaceutical company. One of my friends had become ill and was put in a clinical trial, and I became fascinated about clinical trials and how drugs got developed. That’s when I became interested in the pharmaceutical industry. Once I had completed my internship, I realized that this was a better way to make a difference.


“I became fascinated about clinical trials and how drugs got developed.”

TODAY, AS A STATISTICIAN working for one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world, I have been able to work on developing treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological diseases.

PATIENTS HAVE BEEN MY INSPIRATION.  When I hear them talk about how the medicines we worked on saved their lives or improved their lives, I know I have made a difference.


LAST YEAR, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to learn about California’s trends and issues through Leadership California, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. For the past 25 years, it has worked on moving women from success to significance. Through Leadership California, I have gotten to know many amazing women, from university presidents to women entrepreneurs to corporate executives, even a woman judge. Those women have been an inspiration to me, and have taught me that there are so many ways we can make a difference. I am grateful for Leadership California, as it has opened my eyes. 

TODAY, I AM STILL EXTREMELY PASSIONATE about drug development, which can make a difference in patients’ lives; I am equally passionate about Leadership California, as it will make a difference in all of our lives.


XIN LI (’15) is vice president, Global Head of Biostatics–Immunology, Infectious Disease, and Ophthalmology at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. She is a member of the board of directors at Leadership California.

At Genentech, Xin's team is responsible for drug development strategy and statistical input regarding design, performance, and analysis of clinical trials. Xin also serves as Site Head for biometrics and Product Development for the company’s South San Francisco site. Xin has held roles in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular, oncology, and immunology.

Born in Tianjin, China, Xin was a whiz early on at math competitions. She attended the University of Science and Technology in China, where she began to appreciate the beauty of pure math, studying Kac-Moody Lie algebra. She continued her studies at the Institute of Mathematics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and at Rutgers University. Changing course to prepare for a career that she hoped would contribute to the world in a more tangible way, Xin earned a Ph.D. in statistics from Rutgers. She started her career as a hematology statistician at the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute and also worked on oncology at Sequus Pharmaceuticals.









Yvette Herrera tours the construction site where a permanent campus for LA Family Housing (LAFH), a $51 million, 80,000 square foot homeless services facility in North Hollywood, is set to open in 2018. She's an alumna and past-president of Leadership California, and now the LAFH VP of Development and Community Engagement.

LC Alumna a Heart-Led Leader
in Advocacy for Homeless  

by Carol Caley
October 31, 2016

AS SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COMMUNITIES ENGAGE IN SOMETIMES HEATED DISCUSSIONS about the homeless, their encampments, and the safety and quality of life in neighborhoods, rents continue to rise all over the Southland, making housing unaffordable for many, and leaving growing numbers of families and individuals only one small personal disaster away from living in the streets.

WHEN THAT DISASTER STRIKES—due to a job loss, medical emergency or unexpected expense—many people who lose their homes find their way to the doorstep of LA Family Housing, an organization serving more than 6,400 people annually through its street outreach, housing navigation and placement services, crisis housing and permanently affordable rental housing throughout Los Angeles. Read More


Class of 2016 visits institutions of innovation, tech, health and community, smart city design at Session IV

November 2-4, 2016 in San Diego
“A Thriving California through Innovation”


THE BIG DISRUPTERS: At Session IV, Mary O’Hara-Devereaux, Ph.D., peered into the future with the Class of 2016, continuing a look at trends that the Class examined in Session III. She talked about Gen Z, the education-to-employment gap, racism and multiculturalism, and the Internet of Things. 

HEALTH AND COMMUNITY: The class traveled to the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center for a look at innovation in community service. The Wellness Center provides meals 365 days a year, affordable housing, health services, and community education classes to thousands of disadvantaged seniors each year.

LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP: "Lessons Learned on the Journey" featured women leaders sharing stories about their career choices, trajectories, challenges, and what steps led to their success.

WOO HOO! GRADUATION EVENING: At their last session of the California Issues & Trends program, our Class of 2016 celebrated the completion of their class year. What's next for alumnae of CIT? Find out HERE

INNOVATING WITH THE MOVERS, SHAKERS & MAKERS – A tour of the innovation district in downtown San Diego known as the "Makers Quarter" was on the agenda. Above, a bicycle boutique.

25th ANNIVERSARY IS ALL ABOUT THE FUTURE: In Leadership California's final 25th anniversary event of the year, the Class of 2016, alumnae and friends celebrated at a luncheon and contemplated what the future will hold for the NEXT 25.

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