"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.


The PLUS ME board met at a retreat in August to discuss ways to promote and expand PLUS ME, a non-profit that seeks to inspire high-school students to dream big and achieve. PLUS ME board member Rosa Castro is third from right.


Personal Stories a PLUS for Young People to Succeed


Executive Director and Founder Richard Reyes motivates students in a talk at Vista Middle School in Van Nuys.

By Rosa Castro ('15)

December 1, 2015GROWING UP IN COMPTON, California, I lacked access to positive relatable role models. The youngest of eight children, I was the first in my family to attend a four-year college. But the path to getting into college and obtaining a degree felt so overwhelming. I had no family members that could help. As much as my parents and older siblings loved me, they did not know how to help navigate the college world. But I persisted. Eventually, after six years of going to college part-time and working full time to pay for it, I earned my degree in mathematics from California State University, Fullerton. I am now a few classes away from completing a master’s degree in statistics from Colorado State University. 

DUE TO MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, I strongly believe in the work of PLUS ME, an organization that strives to motivate and inspire students through the sharing of personal narratives by adults who have overcome great obstacles. PLUS ME provides hope and realistic success stories to thousands of students each year in underserved schools in our community for little to no cost. PLUS ME is bringing uplifting presentations to the students who need it most. 

“After six years of going to college part-time and working full time to pay for it, I earned my degree.”


PLUS ME IS LAUNCHING a new five-week program to assist high school juniors and seniors to develop their own personal statements for college applications. Additionally, PLUS ME creates permanent connections with students through social media. Students get a daily motivational quote on Instagram, and can ask questions through Facebook and Twitter. The goal is to provide students with continual motivation and support until they finish college or a vocational program.

I JOINED THE PLUS ME PROJECT as a volunteer board of directors member in August of 2014. After serving on the board for 10 months, I was elected as the board's vice president in June of 2015 by my colleagues. My new role allows me to raise funds for the organization, spread awareness of PLUS ME's mission, and assist in the expansion of this promising non-profit. Last year, PLUS ME visited 50 schools throughout Southern California and impacted over 9,500 students. I look forward to providing guidance in achieving the goal of visiting 60 schools and making a difference in the lives of at least 12,000 students this fiscal year.

The organization's feature program, Guest Speakers PLUS ME, brings dynamic individuals into schools to share their unique paths to success with students. Each speaker shares the story that they know best: their own story.



ROSA CASTRO (’15) is an inspection trip manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, where she is responsible for planning and conducting inspection trips to acquaint stakeholders with water issues and Metropolitan's role in responding to those issues.

The PLUS ME project motivates and inspires students through the sharing of personal narratives by adults who have overcome great obstacles. Their work relates to, motivates, and educates students by showing Proof Learners Ultimately Succeed with Motivation and Education (PLUS ME). To learn more about the PLUS ME project or to make a donation, visit: www.theplusmeproject.org




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