"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.



Diversity & Inclusion Study Released

On its 25th Anniversary in 2016, Leadership California commissioned a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Assessment of the outcomes of its D&I practices and program content. Conducted by Framework LLC, the study focused on the experiences of individual women participants, and measured the knowledge and understanding they took back to their organizations after participating in Leadership California's CIT program.

Through the assessment, Leadership California sought to better understand and articulate its diversity and inclusion core value by developing proof points, both qualitative and quantitative, that demonstrate the organization’s unique learning opportunities and program outcomes.



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

2017 Corporate Trailblazer Award

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


Dr. Wanda M. Austin is an American businesswoman who is internationally recognized for her work in aeronautics and systems engineering. She is co-founder of MakingSpace, Inc, a systems engineering and leadership development consultant and motivational speaker.

She is the former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the application of science and technology toward critical issues affecting the nation's space program. From January 2008 until October 2016, Austin led the organization's 3600 employees and managed annual revenues of $950 million at 17 U.S. locations. As the sixth president, she was the first woman and the first African American in the 57-year history of the organization.

Austin served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology until January 2017, advising POTUS on science, technology and innovation as keys to forming effective U.S. policy. Austin is currently a member of the Defense Science Board and the NASA Advisory Council. She is an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a counselor of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a trustee for the University of Southern California and on the Board of Directors for the Chevron Corporation.

Austin is committed to inspiring the next generation to study the STEM disciplines and to make science and engineering preferred career choices. Under her guidance, The Aerospace Corporation undertook initiatives in support of this goal, including participation in MathCounts, U.S. FIRST Robotics, and Change the Equation.


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.


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.

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 to do that which is most important, most transformative, or most enabling for other good things to happen. You’re distracted by having too many things on the radar screen.

  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.”

Women do tend to over-commit, believing they can multitask and take care of everything, when in fact it just dilutes what your main mission and goals need to be.

It’s the dilution that I’m worried about, which is: you end up doing a “C” or a “B” job, on something very important, when you could have done a first-class job, an “A” job. 

Is technical and scientific leadership more challenging than leadership in, say, politics or the arts?

There are significant consequences on both sides of that equation. In my business, it’s known to be a high-consequence, high-risk, but high-payoff challenge. In both science and politics, you have a lot of unknowns—you arm yourself with the best data, the best information, the best tactical expertise that you have. But in the end, you have to assess the risk, and try to decide if you’ve mitigated it.

So the challenge is the unknowns?

On the science and engineering side, you’ve got thousands of people working on projects, and lots of different parts and materials and new technologies you’re trying to integrate, so there are lots of unknowns to account for as you go forward. 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, so you have to live with it.

In politics and the arts, the unknowns are people. You don’t know how people are going to respond, how they will act, or whether they will act, what emotional issues will really energize people, and which ones won’t. As you look across the world in recent elections, people have been surprised.  READ MORE



Alumnae Login | REGISTER for Events | About Us | People | Activities | Calendar | Women Leaders: First Person Profiles | Watch our Videos | Contact Us | Subscribe to our e-News | Support Us
Privacy Policy
Web services provided by i4a