"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.


Alumnae in the News

Alumnae of our programs successfully fill roles as college and university presidents, high-ranking executives in corporate America, members of state legislatures and the U.S. Congress, public officials, successful entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.

Read news of the accomplishments of a few of our successful Alumnae.

Here’s that Photo We Promised You

August 1, 2015—“Not a Photoshop trick but the real deal!” said Kay Iwata, mom of Audrey Yamamoto (’10), who posed with President Obama for this photo on a visit to the White House on May 5.

“She was in DC for a meeting of foundation leaders, and got to meet a couple of Cabinet members. She had an invite to a reception with the President, and was just hoping he would not be called away so she could at least see him in person," wrote Iwata as she distributed the photo of her daughter to friends and family.

"Lo and behold, the White House called her that morning and asked if she would like to be in the photo line. According to her account, it went by in a flash, but she did get to tell the President that Justin, her 7-year old, really loved reading the book he wrote for his daughters. The President asked if she had it with her, as he would be happy to sign it! She did not, but sent one in to be autographed later. Who would think!!!” Iwata signed off as “Proud Mama.”

Audrey is a foundation representative of the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship initiative, the reason she was invited to the White House on May 5, the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Kay is a faculty member of Leadership California's CIT program and Central Valley Women's Forum, a member of LC’s Executive Advisory Council, and a specialist in diversity and inclusion.

Leadership California congratulates Audrey for her recognition and for participating in the public policy dialog on citizenship and immigration.

Cynthia Teniente-Matson, Ph.D. (’05), left, and
Audrey Yamamoto (’10) at the White House

Teniente-Matson and Yamamoto Visit White House, Meet President Obama and Officials

June, 2015 - Two alumnae were invited to the White House for meetings and a celebration on May 5: Cynthia Teniente-Matson, Ph.D. (’05), President, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, and Audrey Yamamoto (’10), Executive Director & President, Asian Pacific Fund.

Audrey visited the first family's official home to attend a briefing with administration officials including Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Director of Domestic Policy Cecilia Muñoz. The purpose of the meeting was to share information about the administration's and funders' efforts to promote citizenship. Audrey served as a foundation representative of the San Francisco Pathways to Citizenship initiative. Her organization is one of five funders of that initiative. Representatives from seven other foundations also attended. Following the meeting, Audrey was invited to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at a reception in the East Wing, where she received a surprise invitation to have her photo taken with the President.

Cynthia was invited to the White House to attend the Cinco de Mayo reception, where she heard President Obama address guests and mingled with Administration officials including Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former 3-time mayor of San Antonio Julián Castro. The reception, as well as celebrating the Mexican and American holiday, was a gathering of representatives of advocacy groups and organizations involved in public policy and social issues affecting Latino populations. Cynthia attended in her role as President of Texas A&M-San Antonio, an emerging university with 67% of its population self-identifying as Latino.

Congratulations to Audrey and Cynthia, two of Leadership California's accomplished and engaged women leaders, for their recognition at this event, and for adding their voices to the national discussion on citizenship and immigration.

Cynthia Teniente-Matson, Ph.D. met luminaries including Julián Castro at the White House Cinco de Mayo celebration.


2017 Highlights

Kim Stone Launches Lobbying Firm
Kim Stone ('13) has launched a lobbying firm in Sacramento, Stone Advocacy. She was formerly president and CEO of the Civil Justice Association of California, where she worked in the state legislature and courts for lawsuit reform. Stone also has served Blue Shield of California as its director of government affairs, as a deputy district attorney for San Mateo County, and as special assistant to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California.

Kjelstrom and Staley-Brooks are Mentors at Business Journal Event
Judy Kjelstrom, Ph.D. (’08), Director of Biotechnology, UC Davis and Rhonda Staley-Brooks (’12), Executive Director, Nehemiah Community Foundation were chosen to participate as mentors in Sacramento Business Journal's Bizwomen’s Mentoring Monday. The event was one of 43 held nationwide, involving 8,600 mentees and 1,700 mentors.

Collaborative honored as Top Non-Profit
Alisha Smith (’17), co-director of the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative in Sacramento, has announced that her organization is recognized as the 2017 non-profit of the year from the U.S. Small Business Administration. The Collaborative is one of nine businesses and individuals to be honored.

Aquila Polonica Book wins Gold Award
Terry Tegnazian (’04), president of Aquila Polonica Publishing in Los Angeles, has announced that the book, Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded by John Z. Guzlowski, won the Gold Award for Poetry at the Benjamin Franklin Awards. The award, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, is one of the highest national honors for small and independent publishers.

2016 Highlights

Susan Muranishi Receives Distinguished Service Award
Alameda County Administrator Susan Muranishi was selected by a statewide association of her peers to receive the county's Distinguished Service Award.

Muranishi, a member of Leadership California's Executive Advisory Council, was chosen by the County Administrative Officers Association of California as the award’s first-ever recipient due to her exemplary work, creative solutions, status as a role model for other county executives and leadership in championing innovative programs that improve the delivery of public services.

Muranishi’s strong fiscal leadership helped guide Alameda County through the recession while avoiding major service reductions and layoffs.

Christine Coats Awarded Impact Winner at Oracle
Christine Coats (’04) was honored as In-House Impact Winner for her work at Oracle by law journal The Recorder. Oracle, the world's largest enterprise computing company, received the distinction of Legal Department of the Year. Coats took over as Oracle’s vice president of legal operations one year ago. In addition to working on budgets, fine-tuning e-billing, and analyzing reams of internal data, Coats is focused on expanding Oracle's Legal Global Knowledge Management System, a program that puts key information at attorneys' fingertips and engages key staff in knowledge-sharing. Coats has served as treasurer Leadership California.

Celia Esposito-Noy Named President, Solano Community College
Celia Esposito-Noy, Ph.D. ('03) has been selected from among four finalists as the next superintendent-president of Solano Community College. She is currently vice chancellor of Educational Services and Student Success at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District. Prior to that she had been the vice president of Student Services and Enrollment Management at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento since 2004.

She has a bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University, a master’s from Stanford University, and a doctorate in education from Mills College.

Governor Brown Announces Appointment of Sonia Delen
Sonia Delen, (’11) has been appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Health Professions Education Foundation (HPEF) Board of Trustees. Delen has been a senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch since 1994.

HPEF was created to encourage members of underrepresented communities to become health professionals through scholarship, loan repayment and programs for students and graduates who agree to practice in California's medically underserved communities.


2015 Highlights

Fiona Ma Sworn in as Board of Equalization Member
Congratulations to Fiona Ma, ('14), who was sworn in on January 6 as a member of the California State Board of Equalization, District 2. She has been a key helper and promoter of Leadership California’s Session I visit to Sacramento, where she has served  as emcee at the annual breakfast with elected leaders in the Capitol dining room. Fiona won the elected seat with over 68% of the vote in District 2.

Cathleen Greiner, Ph.D. Promoted
Irvine Valley College has named Anna Cathleen Greiner, Ph.D. (’03) dean of its School of Business, Online and Extended Education. Cathleen has had a long career in higher education as a teacher and administrator. Cathleen has been a board member, vice president and president of Leadership California. She holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration and public policy from Claremont Graduate University.

Nora Vargas Elected to College Board
Nora Elvira Vargas, (’09) Vice President of Community & Government Relations, Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest, was elected to the Southwestern Community College Board in 2014.

Emily Murase Elected School Board President
The San Francisco Board of Education has elected Emily M. Murase, Ph.D., ('09) to serve as its president, becoming the first president of Japanese ancestry in the board's 160+ year history. Over the past year as a board member, Emily has participated in a strategic planning effort to "reimagine public education in San Francisco for a new generation."

Reynolds Heads Up Statewide Building Industry Group
Eileen Reynolds (’12) has been named chair of the California Building Industry Association (CBIA), where she will direct policy for the statewide housing trade association. She is the second woman to hold the top governing post in CBIA’s 71-year history. Reynolds credits her experience with Leadership California for her decision to move up the leadership ladder at CBIA. “The CIT program made me understand that more of us must take the challenge when leadership opportunities present themselves,” she said. Eileen is vice president of government affairs at Tejon Ranch Company.

Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Dr. Judy Kjelstrom
Dr. Judy Kjelstrom (’08) was selected to receive the Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity and Community at UC Davis, in recognition of her contributions in enhancing inclusiveness and diversity in the campus community. Nominated by her students in response to her strong support of women in STEM disciplines, Judy is director of the UC Davis biotechnology program.

Stephanie Doute appointed to Sacramento LGBT Community Center Board
The Sacramento LGBT Community Center has named Stephanie Doute (’13) to serve on its board of directors. Well versed in nonprofit management and operations, Stephanie is VP of membership and group services at Leading Age California, an association representing California’s not-for-profit senior living and service providers.

Janice Doucet Thompson Receives Ed.D. Degree
Janice Doucet Thompson ('97) has completed her doctoral studies and received her Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University. Her dissertation studied  emotional management, a critical skill for leaders.

Eve Sprunt is VP of Applied Geophysicists Group
Eve Sprunt ('04) has been elected first vice president of the board of directors of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. The nonprofit organization promotes the science of geophysics and provides educational opportunities through its publications, conferences, and online resources

Kathleen Marran VP of UPS Marketing
Kathleen Marran (’15), has been promoted to vice president of U.S. marketing at UPS, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Most recently, she was vice president of marketing, UPS West Region. During her 21-year career at UPS, she has been responsible for revenue management, pricing, international marketing, business planning, communications and public relations.

Tech Mentors, Mentees in TechWomen Program
Honored by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke at a Washington D.C. luncheon honoring TechWomen from Silicon Valley, including Class of 2011 member Patricia Bovan-Campbell

September, 2012- Patricia M. Bovan-Campbell, Esq. of Symantec Corporation is serving as a mentor under a 5-week TechWomen program, a public-private partnership developed to implement President Obama's vision of greater collaboration between the U.S. and communities in countries with predominantly Muslim populations. Bovan-Campbell was selected to participate in the inaugural program, and was honored along with 37 mentees and their mentors at a luncheon last week in Washington D.C. featuring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Bringing together the power of global business, technology, and education, TechWomen paired women mentors in San Francisco and Silicon Valley with counterparts from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Territories for a professional exchange program at leading tech companies, including Facebook, Cisco, Symantec, Intel, Adobe and HP.

Patricia Bovan-Campbell

“The program wrapped up last week officially, but I’m continuing to work with my mentees,” said Bovan-Campbell, who forsees a lifelong connection to the women she spent five weeks coaching as they learned the ropes. She's also staying in touch with women mentors at nearby tech-sector companies.

Using innovative technologies, cutting-edge content, and social networking tools, TechWomen aims to foster and develop the next generation of women leaders in the technology field by providing women and girls with the access and opportunity needed to pursue tech-based careers. Learn more: www.techwomen.org

Debbie Manning First Woman
Chief Sergeant-at-Arms at Capitol

September, 2014—Debbie Manning ('02) has been appointed Acting Chief Sergeant at Arms of the California State Senate by the Senate President Pro Tempore Darryl Steinberg, in concert with Pro Tem elect Kevin DeLeon. One of only two elected staff positions in the Senate, her election will take place at the start of the new legislative session in December. As a peace officer she is responsible for security of the State Capitol and the safety and decorum of the Senate at the Capitol and statewide. Debbie formerly held the position of Deputy Chief, from which she retired in 2008. As the first woman and person of color to hold the Chief Sergeant at Arms position in its 165 year history, she is honored to serve the Senate and the people of the State of California. She served two terms as president of Leadership California.

Soraya Coley is First Woman President
at Cal Poly Pomona

"Education, for me, it’s personal, it’s a passion and it’s a sense of purpose," Coley has said. "I understand, very directly, how important a quality education is to the trajectory to an individual’s, a family’s and a community’s lives."

September 16, 2014—The top job at Cal Poly Pomona is now held by a Leadership California alumna, Soraya Coley Ph.D. (’99), the first woman to sit in the president’s seat in the history of the university. She currently serves as provost and vice president for academic affairs at CSU Bakersfield, and will begin her new position on January 1. Prior to CSU Bakersfield, she was an administrator and professor at CSU Fullerton.

Key goals in her new role are to promote higher education’s life-changing influence on individuals, families, and communities, and to increase the number of women and minority students pursuing degrees in STEM fields.

Coley holds Ph.D. and M.S.W. degrees from Bryn Mawr College, School of Social Work and Social Research.

Former LC Pres Denise Morrison Named
First Woman CEO of Campbell Soup Company

June 2011 - CAMPBELL'S SOUP, which sold 2 billion cans of its signature product in the U.S. last year, has named Denise Morrison its CEO. Denise is a Leadership California alumna, Class of 1995, a frequent speaker at Leadership California events, and served as its president in 1997.

SELECTED IN JUNE 2011, she is the only woman to serve as CEO since the company’s founding in 1869. Campbell’s is largely family-owned, based in Camden, N.J.

PREVIOUSLY SERVING as president of Campbell USA, Morrison was responsible for efforts to lower the salt content in many of the company’s regular soups. As CEO, she promises to create "taste adventures," with new recipes designed for a younger audience. She’ll emphasize soups for cooking, with cool iPad apps for recipes, new vegetable-based energy drinks and more than 200 "heart healthy" products, with a continuation of low-sodium varieties.

THE COMPANY'S U.S. soup, sauces, and beverages business accounted for almost half of an overall $7.7 billion in sales last year. Morrison will also be in charge of Campbell's other brands, which include Pepperidge Farm cookies and crackers, V8 juices, and Prego spaghetti sauce.

MORRISON BUILT her reputation at companies such as Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Nestlé, and Nabisco, where she promoted innovations such as crackers and cookies in single-serve packages.

Lending a Hand for Clean Safe Water
in Rural India

Class of 2012 member Mojgan Hashemi traveled to West Bengal as a volunteer to conduct surveys for a water program serving rural communities. Above, she joined local women and children to attend a ceremony marking the startup of a new water pump.

by Mojgan (MJ) Hashemi
May 3, 2012

AS A PROGRAM MANAGER with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and a member of the Leadership California’s Class of 2012, I care about safe water for communities everywhere. So I traveled to India in March to volunteer with Water For People.

Water For People is an international water and sanitation nonprofit that believes investments made in water supply today must lead to lasting and transformative change. The Water For People organization is unique in its emphasis on innovative programming, long term support, and impact monitoring.

My mission was to help support the implementation of a new community-owned maintenance management system of water sources, called Jalabandhu or “friend of water.” This initiative promotes maintenance and repair of water pumps, allowing rural communities to gain sustained access to safe water. I worked as part of a volunteer team providing an impact assessment of the Jalabandhu program. I traveled to numerous remote islands in the Sundarban region of the State of West Bengal and conducted interviews with NGOs, government officials, local water and sanitation boards, community members, and mobile mechanics. The assessment results will identify gaps in the program, offer recommendations for improvement, and guide program expansion into additional areas with similar needs.

The WFP philosophy mandates access to potable water for everyone. Every household, every school, and every clinic is covered in the regions where WFP works. Water For People builds strong partnerships with local public and private sector institutions, secures local financial and sweat equity investments, and designs reasonable tariff systems that can provide long-term operational support.

Where clean water is concerned, WFP works to make sure that no one is left behind.

Mojgan and Water For People India staff test a community water pump.

Leadership California Women's Voices Heard
at Dialogue with National Labor Secretary

April, 2011 - U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, left, with Leadership California President Debbie Manning, and Executive Director Pam Hemann, at the National Dialogue on Workplace Flexibility. Leadership California alumnae participated in dialogue sessions and heard Secretary Solis and Women's Bureau Director Sara Manzano-Diaz speak at the event. The main focus of the afternoon event was flexible work schedules, which would enable workers to care for family members. Equal pay, and higher pay, for women, and financial security for homeless women veterans, were additional challenges discussed.



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