"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 II: Class of 2017 studies how history, demographics influence California's future

Session II
April 23-25, 2017 in Los Angeles

“California's Heritage Shaping its Future: Diversity & Inclusion at the Core”


The CIT Class of 2017 reconvened in Los Angeles at Session II.

Eye popping blooms drew the class into the cactus garden on a visit to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens.

Class members enjoyed a breakfast and an overview of California history from William Deverell, Ph.D. before venturing into the galleries and gardens. Above, the Shakespeare Garden.

Barbara Kaufman, Ph.D. led a workshop on defining personal values to enable leaders to engage and connect.

A special session featured a panel with women leaders from the City of Los Angeles, including, from left, Seleta Reynolds, General Manager, Dept. of Transportation; Ana Guerrero, Chief of Staff, Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti; and Nury Martinez, Councilwoman, City of Los Angeles. Michelle Hahn served as moderator.

Kay Iwata, right, led a workshop on diversity competencies.

The Legacy of Leadership Awards was a highlight of Session II, where the class met CIT Alumnae, honorees, and supporters.


Join Us!

Bay Area Alumnae
Happy Hour & Mixer

Reconnect, Network, and Have Fun!

Tuesday, June 13

PG&E General Office at 77 Beale Street, San Francisco

  • Learn how to do “speed networking,” then practice
    your skills!

  • Bring a woman from outside your own company as a complimentary guest who might want to join
    the CIT program

  • Enjoy food and wine/beverages

  • Meet and talk with other interesting women moving from success
    to significance

Alumnae $25.00 each

Bring a guest! Potential future alumnae attend at no charge!


Questions? Call Leadership California 626-793-7834


Dr. Wanda M. Austin interacts with winners of The Aerospace Corporation’s high school science competition in 2016. A champion of STEM education, she received the Corporate Trailblazer Award at Leadership California's Legacy of Leadership celebration on April 24, 2017 in Los Angeles.

Aeronautic Engineering Leader brings People and Systems Together for Mission: STEM Success

by Carol Caley
April 17, 2017

Dr. Austin, you’ve been a systems engineer and also a corporate leader. A systems engineer needs vast technical knowledge, a president/CEO requires skill in making connections and cultivating relationships. Can you help us understand how these two roles overlap and synchronize? What leadership principles guided your accomplishments in both?

What attracted me into engineering, systems engineering in particular, was having an impact on society, solving complex problems, and recognizing that any problem you look at is multidisciplinary. There are lots of different aspects that have to work together. You need to understand how a change on one side will impact what’s happening on the other.

When you design a satellite, for example, if you change the weight, that impacts how much power you need. If you change the material, that may change the thermal properties. So you have to step back and think before you jump in with a solution.

So you step back to see the big-picture issues when you’re engineering something, right? And of course, people are a crucial part of any system.

Yes, getting people to work toward a common goal means making sure everybody understands the goal. Then you have to help them see how they all contribute to that solution, then figure out a way for them to work together seamlessly. You’re systems engineering complex technical problems, but as a CEO, you’re systems engineering complex organizational challenges. It’s not only about getting people to work together, it’s about making sure you have the infrastructure and organizational support you need for people to be successful.

  In satellite engineering, once you launch something into space, you don’t get to say, ‘oh, we didn’t get that quite right, let’s change it.’ It’s gone.”

Going back to the leadership principles you’ve followed, which ones guided your accomplishments in both areas?

One thing I point to is transparency. It’s important that you earn the trust of your team, and share with them what you need them to do. People don’t wake up in the morning and say, how can I screw up or be disruptive? But they do ask me, what am I supposed to be doing?—or what the priorities are. You cannot over-communicate about that.

So it’s communication, above all. Transparency depends on that?

Yes, and you have to be willing to listen. People frequently think a leader has all the answers. If the leader is smart, that leader knows they’ll get the best answers from the team, then put them together in a way that will help us solve a problem together.

Jackie Lacey said to me, you’ve got to be an ‘aerobic listener.’

She’s exactly right. A lot of people want to jump in and get to the solution, just get to the answer. I say, wait a minute, let’s take time to think about the problem and get to a better answer.

So, communication is key, listening is key. But it is also about figuring out what you’re not going to do. There are usually more things on your plate than you can effectively do well. It’s key for leaders to step back and say, OK, I’d like to do all these things, but I don’t have the resources, I don’t have the time, I’ve got to figure out my priorities. What is it that I absolutely have to get done?

So it’s a strategy of not-doing, then?

It’s a strategy of making sure you’re doing the most important thing. It’s tempting to say, oh, this is easy, this will be quick, we can do this. You don’t realize you’re siphoning off resources and maybe missing an opportunity READ MORE


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