"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.


Diversity and Inclusion

Alumnae Tara Hall Agid and Elaine Washington

Diversity and inclusion are essential to not only the work but the spirit of Leadership California. We believe we must reflect all the women of California, not just one geographical area, not just one ethnic group, not just one sector. We are committed to:

•  bringing women together to learn from one another and to see the California that all of them represent, and
•  promoting the role of women as leaders—competent, talented and qualified to seek the highest levels of achievement in business, academia, government and community.

Diversity and Inclusion are a critical core competency for our board and staff and the organization as a whole. It is what powers our success and sustainability. Our commitment must be seen in the women we serve, our faculty and presenters, the experiences and intellectual content we provide, the legacy of leadership we foster, and in those we honor.

•  Racial and Ethnic Diversity - Leadership California has actively recruited from underrepresented communities across California, and has improved our recruitment outreach to women’s organizations across sectors, ethnic groups and regions of the state.

•  Regional Diversity - Active recruitment efforts in the Central Valley, Central Coast, and the Inland Empire have expanded the organization’s regional diversity. Leadership California is the only statewide leadership program with attendees drawn from all regions across the state.

•  Cross-sector Diversity - Class participants are drawn from positions in the corporate sector, business, community, government, academics, entrepreneurships, non-profits and from the ranks of professionals such as attorneys and CPAs. An expanded nonprofit sector scholarship program supported by our sponsors has made a positive difference in the participation of women from the nonprofit sector.

A Review of Diversity and Inclusion Efforts at Leadership California


A survey of program alumnae revealed the need for the organization to embrace greater diversity—ethnically, geographically, and by sector. The Leadership California board of directors resolved to make sure that going forward, diversity and inclusion would be primary core values.

Through stepped-up recruitment efforts, the program increased in racial and ethnic diversity over time. Non-white CIT participants increased from 23% in 2001-2006 to 46% in 2007-2010.


In a formal independent assessment of its CIT program alumnae, Leadership California found that it had reached a significant milestone: overall racial and ethnic diversity of its alumnae group closely mirrors that of the nation, with 66% of study participants self-identifying as white/Caucasian and 34% self-identifying as non-white:


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. READ THE STUDY HERE

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.

Highlights from “Our Diversity Competencies” with Kay Iwata

Kay Iwata, President, K. Iwata Associates, Inc. and Leadership California Executive Advisory Council Member, leads a thought-provoking and sometimes challenging presentation on learning to thrive in diverse environments at work and in the community.


Racism, sexism and ageism can play a part in workplace tensions. Iwata gives tips and leads the class in interactive exercises on how to deal with stereotypes, overt bias and unintentional bias in the workplace.

The class takes a quiz about facts and perceptions that address myths about racial groups. Iwata offers ways for women leaders to “get off their eggshells” and take a hard look at barriers to communication.


The session includes group discussion work. Class members can share stories of how they have been perceived at work and their strategies to deal with others' assumptions about their race, gender, or age.

Feeling excluded can affect a team member's performance and can diminish that employee's value to the company.

Leaders can implement policies providing opportunities for advancement and satisfaction with pay among women, and women of color. Women who enjoy privilege can learn to step forward and work to level the playing field. All can benefit from mentoring networks that include both women and men.





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