"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.


2015 CIT Session IV
November 1-3, 2015

A Thriving California through Innovation
Class of 2015 Gives Back

A special class project, a tour featuring energy innovation, and a visit to a quarter devoted to design, art, and entrepreneurship brought the class full-circle on California as an innovative engine.

FAREWELL TO THE CLASS: Session IV provides one more chance to renew friendships that have grown over the past year. The final session of the year featured a graduation ceremony, wine reception, dinner and presentation of pins and certificates of recognition from the California State Senate. Above, class members enjoy a visit to the rooftop lounge after the ceremony.

SMART CITY INITIATIVES: The Class toured areas of the city known as the Innovation District/Makers Quarter™, where they learned about and visited hubs for technology and economic development, including a new engineering lab and art studio for children's creative endeavors, and learned about a co-working space for female entrepreneurs, Hera Hub.

FASHION INSTITUTE OF DESIGN & MERCHANDISING: The design school provided a venue for the class to learn about San Diego's creative enterprises and its efforts to promote innovative businesses. 

A SPECIAL PROJECT FOR WOMEN IN POVERTY: Session IV featured an opportunity for class members to participate in a special service project: filling tote bags with useful items for distribution to 300 of San Diego's neediest senior women. The Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center hosted the bagging workshop and will distribute the goody bags to to shut-ins at Thanksgiving and the holidays.

WELL-BEING ADVOCACY AND ACTION: A visit to The Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center featured a tour and overview of its many programs. The Wellness Center provides meals 365 days a year, affordable housing, health and wellness services, and community education classes to thousands of disadvantaged seniors each year. The Mind, Body, and Spirit Room embodies the holistic approach to comprehensive health services at the center. 

ENERGY INNOVATION AT SDG&E: A tour of the San Diego Gas & Electric Energy Innovation Center offered a firsthand look at energy-efficient products and technologies. The center is a working showcase that demonstrates smart energy initiatives and green building practices, housed in a unique setting. The parking lot features "solar trees" that swivel to face the sun and provide shade for cars and power for the region.

A Community Service Project
for Seniors in Poverty

As a class project, the Class of 2015 engaged in a special effort to donate and fill 300 gift bags, providing clothing, blankets, toiletries and more for senior women in poverty.

The Class assembled the gift bags at the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center. These gently used paperbacks were tucked into the bags for home-bound seniors.

The project was a way to give back to San Diego, a city that has welcomed Leadership California for more than a decade. 

Tote bags for the project as well as gift items—both practical and fun—were donated. The majority of items came from class members themselves and from their companies. Small blankets, towels and toothbrushes were purchased with cash donations from the class, supporters and friends.

Tote bags and water bottles from company exhibits at expos and trade shows found a new purpose as useful items for seniors on limited incomes.

The class was a model of efficiency as the women quickly divided up tasks and filled the bags in short order. The bags were stowed for distribution over Thanksgiving and December holidays.


Leading the Way through Civic Engagement
with Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed. D.


Rabbi Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., Executive Director, Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, and Chair-elect, Board of Directors, San Diego Convention Center, addressed the group about the importance of learning to follow as well as lead.

Coskey's been a rabbi, civic leader, activist and advocate in both the public and private arenas.

Coskey said leadership is more than being a good manager. It involves asking followers to engage in transformational change, and the ability to take the chance to make changes in oneself.


A Visit to Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center


The class traveled to the Gary & Mary West Senior Wellness Center for a look at innovation in community service. The Wellness Center provides meals, affordable housing, health and wellness services, and community education classes to thousands of disadvantaged seniors each year.

The Center in downtown San Diego is a high-energy place, "Definitely not your grandma's senior center," said Paul Downey, right, president and CEO of Serving Seniors, the organization which provides services at the Wellness Center.

The Wellness Center offers health education, lifelong learning, and supportive services such as healthcare screening and financial counseling.

Health screening services create a link to healthcare providers and mental health professionals for seniors in poverty. Above, a new dental service center is under construction. A dentist will soon be on the premises to serve seniors who lack dental care.

A cyber cafe allows seniors to learn computer skills, open social media accounts and communicate with family members.

A community room provides clean, comfortable respite for homeless seniors, who can rest in comfortable chairs, watch television, chat with friends or play board games.

The Wellness Center provides meals 365 days a year in its full service cafeteria.

A service dog strolls the halls of the center dispensing canine affection.

Leading the Way to Energy Innovation: A Visit to Energy Innovation Center, San Diego Gas & Electric Company    

The class toured the San Diego Gas & Electric Energy Innovation Center for a firsthand look at energy-efficient products and technologies.

Dawn Welch, Director, Commercial & Industrial Services San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) spoke to the class on energy sustainability. San Diego is a leader in implementing renewable energy sources, with 34% renewables currently in the company's power acquisition mix. 

A vegetable garden provides opportunities for community volunteers to grow fruits and vegetables using water-wise and space-saving techniques.

The center's construction earned the facility a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Double-Platinum certification. Formerly a retail grocery store in a shopping center, about 85% of the original building’s materials were reused or recycled into the current design.

A demonstration kitchen helps restaurant owners learn energy-efficient ways with energy-saving appliances.

A "smart home" inside the center offers a firsthand look at energy-saving devices.

The class learned how SDG&E mixed energy efficiency, water conservation and sustainable materials to make the Center an eco-friendly state-of-the-art learning center. Above, water-wise plants provide a demonstration landscape garden the parking lot.

An EV (Electric Vehicle) charging station features a super-fast charger that takes less than an hour. EVs play an important role in transitioning to a cleaner environment and energy independence.

Even street lights can be innovative. This one is completely self-sufficient and operates off the grid, requiring no electrical connection, since it's 100% solar-powered.

Women Leaders:  Lessons Learned on the Journey  


Three panelists shared stories about their professional careers as they looked back on their leadership experiences, career moves and personal and workplace challenges.

From left, Vivian Sayward, Chief Executive Officer, Vivacity Sportswear Inc.; Rita Steel, President, Central & Western U.S., Professional Staffing Operations, Robert Half; and Randa Trapp, Superior Court Judge, San Diego Superior Court. Trapp is also a member of Leadership California's Executive Advisory Council.

Sayward became an entrepreneur after finding an unmet need for chic women's golf wear. Steel parlayed her knowledge of accounting and finance into a successful career, but switched to staffing so she could work with people. Trapp went to pharmacy school and served in the U.S. Navy before discovering her true passion lay with the law.

Leading the Way through
Community Innovation - San Diego Named one of Six World Smart Cities by the National Geographic Society

Danell Scarborough, Ed.D. (’00), Executive Director, San Diego Human Relations Commission and Secretary, Leadership California Board of Directors, convened the class at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to introduce the City of San Diego's forward-looking initiative on innovative technologies, called "Smart City San Diego."

City government promotes innovation in programs such as the first all-electric car-share fleet in North America, an open-data platform for construction permits, partnering with GE on an LED streetlights project, and using technology to achieve municipal climate-change goals.

David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, City of San Diego, introduced the class to the City of San Diego's efforts to harness high-tech solutions to land-use, economic development and infrastructure issues.

Felena Hanson, at left, founder of Hera Hub, and Navrina Singh, head of Qualcomm Innovation and director of product management, discussed the ways they promote and enhance innovative thinking.

Singh encourages employees to think like entrepreneurs within the big corporate structure of Qualcomm. "Thinking out of the box is not the right metaphor," she said. "Invent a new box and then think within it."

The class got a look at creative designs from FIDM students.

Tour of the East Village Innovation Hub
and Makers Quarter

The class toured the East Village, which includes a Makers Quarter™ where entrepreneurs, artists, and designers make leather goods, furniture, craft beer, and teach their crafts at locations in the area. Old buildings such as the brick one, above, have been retrofitted as workshops, housing and retail space.

The area offers a creative environment that inspires entrepreneurs and artists to challenge convention and achieve new heights in innovation. Above, a blighted corner slated for development was repurposed for short-term community needs. Known as the "Quartyard," the space now has a performance stage, coffee cafe, bar and dog park.

Design schools such as FIDM and the NEW School of Architecture and Design, above, are a good fit in the creative environment provided by the East Village.                        

The area is part of San Diego's "Smart City" initiative. Even bicycles are "smart" in the East Village district: you can share, rather than own one. The bikes can be rented at the kiosk and dropped off in another part of town. 

The FabLab is a hub for innovation and a workshop where entrepreneurs and inventors can tinker and take classes. Young people also have access to the site's resources. Low-income designers can use the facility at little to no cost.


Products from FabLab include toys, planters, models and objects produced on 3-D printers.

A cyclery workshop makes bicycles from recycled parts. The neighborhood is overflowing with artistic endeavors, ideas, resources, and creative learning opportunities.

An urban farm provides food for catered events.

The class enjoyed a picnic lunch in a mural park that is slated for development. The food came from the urban farm next door.


Congratulations, Class of 2015!


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