"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

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.



Session I: Class of 2017 engages powerful network of women leaders
at State Capital

Session I
March 5-7, 2017 in Sacramento

“The Political Landscape: California's
Dynamic Government Today”

The CIT Class of 2017 met for the first time in Sacramento. They posed for a class photo at the Third District Court of Appeal, where they engaged in a conversation with Associate Justice Hon. Elena J. Duarte.

The class convened at the Capitol for a breakfast meeting with legislators, a visit to the Governor's office, and conversations with women leaders on the floor of both the Senate and Assembly chambers.

In the Senate Chamber, the class had the opportunity to sit at Senators' desks and heard a presentation from Daniel Alvarez, Secretary of the Senate.

A breakfast with Capitol Leaders featured table discussions with legislative leaders including Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, center. Senator Connie M. Leyva, Dist 20, vice-chair of the Senate Women's Caucus presided.

Women leaders from the Office of the Governor welcomed the class to the Governor's private council room, where they studied the legislative process with alumnae Diane Boyer-Vine, legislative counsel for California, and Sue Parker, assistant chief clerk, California State Assembly.

At the historic Stanford Mansion, the state’s official reception center for leaders from around the world, the class received a tour and luncheon featuring a keynote featuring Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis, former Ambassador to Hungary.

A tour of the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Sciences featured a look at test kitchens, brewing and winery facilities, and tastings of wine, honey, olive oil, and foods designed from remainders of food processing operations, such as carrot cake.

Leadership coach Laurie Cozart led a session on "Connecting and Communicating with Purpose" designed to help the new Class of 2017 get acquainted.

State of California Librarian Greg Lucas met with the class for a tour of the State Library and Third Court of Appeals. He has served as a journalist, historian and senior editor for news organizations and publications focused on California history and politics.



Monday, April 24, 2017

Children’s Bureau:
2017 Community Leader Award

Children’s Bureau President & CEO Alex Morales and Board Chair Julia Stewart will accept the Community Leader Award on behalf of Children’s Bureau at Leadership California's Legacy of Leadership celebration on April 24, 2017 in Los Angeles.


Children’s Bureau changes the lives of at-risk children by providing a foundation for their development into caring and productive adults by: preventing child abuse and neglect; protecting, nurturing and treating abused children; bringing together families and communities to create safe and secure environments; and advancing the welfare of children and families through programs in foster care, adoptions, child development, parent education, mental health, research and advocacy.


Alex Morales, L.C.S.W. has served as president & CEO of Children’s Bureau since 1988. Under his visionary leadership, the organization has raised more than $22 million through the generosity of 600 individuals and foundations, enabling construction of the Magnolia Place Family Center in Los Angeles.

The Center was the founding spark of the Magnolia Community Initiative, now a national model for programs enhancing community wellness, resiliency, prevention and family support. The Initiative seeks to help 35,000 children and youth within a 500-block area in southwest Los Angeles, enabling them to receive nurturing care from their families and community as they achieve success in education, health and economic stability


Julia Stewart is Board Chair of Children’s Bureau. Her passion for the well-being of vulnerable children corresponds with a lifelong passion for the restaurant business. She started in her first job as a teenage food server at IHOP in her native California.

As a nearly 40-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Julia is the former Chairman and CEO of DineEquity, Inc., one of the world’s largest full-service restaurant companies. In 2007, she led the merger of Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and IHOP Restaurants into a $7 billion company in system wide sales. She has served in previous roles as the first female CEO of IHOP, president of Applebee’s, and has held key executive restaurant industry positions.

She is also dedicated to the development and advancement of women in the foodservice industry, as one of the founders of the Women’s Foodservice Forum, WFF, which today has over 4,000 members and whose mission is to advance women to the C-Suite and onto the boards of companies operating in the $6 billion foodservice industry.


The Legacy of Leadership Awards is an annual event, created to recognize leaders whose achievements have made a positive difference for the people of California.


Alex Morales and Julia Stewart

Children’s Bureau: Two leaders bring brighter future,
big dreams for children and youth of LA

by Carol Caley
March 2, 2017

This article has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Alex, you’ve been engaged as president and CEO of Children’s Bureau for nearly 30 years, at an organization that has been working to serve children and families for 110 years. You have spearheaded the evolution of your organization over a long period of time. This must be a labor of love for you.

Alex: VERY MUCH SO. When I came to Children’s Bureau in 1988, I had been leading another nonprofit. Coming here was just a strategic career move. But that was then. After a few years, my role became more than a career, it became a personal mission. I actually considered it a kind of ministry. My parents were both ministers, so people used to say to me, “you ought to become a minister.” I now say, “Children’s Bureau is my ministry.”

Q: As a leader, how do you define success?

Alex: CHILDREN'S BUREAU IS IN THIS WORLD called “nonprofit.” What I don’t like about that term is that it’s focused on how much money an organization makes—does it create a financial return, in the traditional sense, for the owners and investors? A nonprofit is a public benefit corporation, and our corporation has been formed to create a benefit to society. The board of directors, the investors, the staff, my leadership—is based on creating a benefit to the world of vulnerable children and families around us.

Q: So success is measured in terms of the value to the community, not the dollar value.

Alex: YES, FOR CHILDREN'S BUREAU, the benefit we’ve promised is to help vulnerable children grow up to become successful and caring adults. So our nonprofit leadership should be about creating that, and our leaders, investors and supporters all contribute to that. We’re a mission-driven organization. We’ve been successfully creating that benefit for a century.

CHILDREN'S BUREAU WAS DOING different things a century ago—it still focused on helping vulnerable children, but the help they needed then was a little different than what they need now. The ability for an organization to stay relevant, to keep delivering that public benefit in changing times—that’s what successful leadership is.

Q: Julia, you’ve just recently left your role as Chairman and CEO of DineEquity, where you had a remarkable career trajectory over more than 16 years. You started out as a food server at IHOP, learned the food service business from the inside, and experienced what it’s like to move up a ladder of success. Now you’re in your 5th year as board chair of Children’s Bureau, having been on the board since 2005. You’ve said that there is just one thing that took you from your days of waiting tables to the corner office—the honor and privilege to serve. Tell us about your role at Children’s Bureau.

Julia: I DON'T BELIEVE there is any greater privilege or higher calling than serving others. Our hard work at Children’s Bureau is incredibly important. But your own individual legacy is based on what you do for others, not what you do for yourself. Serving is a feeling not like any other.

THAT'S HOW I FEEL about Children’s Bureau. For me the service comes in many forms. It’s a cause and an opportunity that’s near and dear to my heart. So, it starts with that: how one makes a difference.

Q: Has your business leader role given you insights into your board leadership?

Julia: I DON'T DISCOUNT THE WORK that I do as a business leader: I provide opportunity, development, employment, income for people. But one makes a lasting difference by serving those who are less fortunate, those who have unique challenges, and those who might not be served by anyone else. At the Children’s Bureau, I’m so proud of the difference we make. We see lives changed. We see families changed. Those are long-lasting changes. And our work is difficult. We don’t necessarily look for short-term solutions, but rather solutions that improve families for current and future generations. I take that very seriously.

Alex: ONE THING I WOULD LIKE TO ADD: It’s very hard for organizations to find people who will extend their caring as READ MORE



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