"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.








Monday, May 2, 2016
2016 Legacy of Leadership
Trailblazer Award

OATH OF A CHIEF Debbie Manning received the Oath of Office as Chief Sergeant-at-Arms of the California State Senate along with Secretary of the Senate Daniel Alvarez, administered by California Supreme Court Justice Tani Cantil-Sakayue on December 1, 2014. Debbie will be honored with a Trailblazer Award at Leadership California's Legacy of Leadership celebration on May 2, 2016 in San Francisco.

DEBBIE MANNING was elected by the members of the State Senate to the position of Chief Sergeant-at-Arms in December of 2014, and is the first woman and person of color to hold this important role. As the top peace officer at the State Capitol, she is tasked with maintaining the security and decorum of the California Senate by protecting and supporting the legislative process.

Debbie first joined the Office of the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms in 1977, where she was the first woman to become a Senate Sergeant. In September 1998, Debbie went on to become the first female Deputy Chief and has performed diverse assignments throughout her career. She is trained in threat assessment, domestic terrorism, and protection of public officials, and is responsible for emergency management and protective services to legislators, their families, staff and visitors to the Capitol.

With her more than three decades of service to the Senate and the people of the State of California, Leadership California recognizes Debbie for exemplary leadership and as a mentor and role model for women at the State Capitol. Debbie is an alumna of Leadership California’s CIT Class of 2002 who went on to serve on the board and as president. She currently serves on the Leadership California Executive Advisory Council.


Chief Sergeant-at-Arms
California State Senate

Debbie Manning: Capitol Security Buck Stops Here

by Carol Caley
February 19, 2016

Q: Debbie, you’ve had a remarkable leadership journey, one of dramatic changes. In some ways, your story reflects the journey of so many women leaders who reach the pinnacle: persistence and hard work brought you success and influence. Can you look back at changes that you’ve experienced in your career at the Capitol?

A: I STARTED AS A DEPUTY IN THE SENATE in 1977, and my career mirrored what was happening at the time to other women who were moving into the workforce, particularly into non-traditional jobs. Back then, most men and women in the Capitol were skeptical that a woman, especially a young black woman, could do a law enforcement job. Probably seventy percent of my coworkers were retired from city, county and state law enforcement agencies where there were few black officers and fewer women.

THE FIRST WOMAN EVER ELECTED to the Senate was in 1976, one year before I started. I look back and realize that in my career at the Capitol, I have worked with every woman ever elected to the California Senate—all 48 of them.

Q: In 1998, you won the job of Deputy Chief Sergeant-at-Arms of the California State Senate, and you came face-to-face with your future as a leader. At that point, you have said, you realized you had a responsibility to lead, but you held back. Can you give us some insight on why you held back, and how you moved forward?

A: I HELD BACK because I felt that technically I knew my job—I had the day-to-day work down, and basic supervisory skills—but I did not feel like a leader who could implement change. As the deputy chief, I felt that I should only implement the chief’s vision, not my own ideas. I took the deputy chief title too literally. I didn’t want to seem pushy, egotistical or brash. Because I was a peace officer, I didn’t care if I wasn’t viewed as ladylike, but I didn’t want to seem full of myself.

THEN I ATTENDED THE LEADERSHIP CALIFORNIA PROGRAM. When I graduated, I realized that as deputy chief, I needed to be prepared to step in as chief when the need arose, instead of always deferring. I lifted my head and started to see the whole room, not just a small portion of it. I finally recognized the power within my position that I wasn’t using—but should. I felt liberated to reach and strive for more. I needed people in the building to recognize my authority.

I ALSO SAW MY ROLE as a woman in a leadership position in the Capitol. Because I was the first woman with that title, I needed to become a much better role model for women and minorities who were looking up to me. I needed to realize that my position wasn’t just about me, but represented an opportunity for women and minorities to be considered as leaders in the future. I needed to pave the way for them, or at least not set up roadblocks because I somehow failed to measure up. I didn’t want people to say we tried a black woman before and it didn’t work out.

Q: You thought you had retired for good in 2008 as Deputy Chief, after 10 years of service in that role. But it turned out that you were ready to come back into the role that you were so prepared for, that of the Chief. The Senate called you back. How do you lead now that’s different than before?

A: I HAD BEEN RETIRED FOR SIX YEARS, and I loved retirement. Coming back was a difficult decision not only for me, but for some of the Senate leadership who didn’t know me. I had been part of the old administration. I had to prove to people why they should take a chance on me. I spent a lot of time building trust and gaining the Senators’ faith in the competence and trustworthiness of my staff. I did have a breadth of knowledge, and I had strong, useful connections with people outside the Capitol that made me a qualified candidate. There were definitely hurdles, but the effort paid off. I hit the ground running. Having been on the outside and coming back has made me a better leader.

THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE IN HOW I LEAD NOW is that I am chief—an elected officer of the Senate, which places me in a position of authority that extends statewide. The buck stops with me on a multitude of things. There is no upstairs for the majority of my responsibilities. I take that very seriously.

  Leadership California totally changed the trajectory of my life. I went from being just a hard worker to a hard working leader. I became fearless.

Q:  It’s a big year for us here at Leadership California, with the 25th anniversary of our California Issues & Trends program. In so many ways, Debbie, you have helped us to get here. You attended CIT, Class of 2002. Can you tell us what got you interested in us, and what the program meant to you?

A: I HAD NEVER HEARD OF LEADERSHIP CALIFORNIA until a dear friend and former LC president Amy Dean came into my office, closed the door and told me that I had been selected to attend the program. Because of the popularity of the program, the Legislature has always had an in-house selection process. At the time, my first thought was, “oh, no, more work!” I thought if I had a choice, I should say no. At that time in my life, I didn’t see myself as senior staff being offered something special. I felt that Amy was talking to the wrong person. But I read the papers she gave me, and I saw Ann Richards’ name. Ann was someone I admired. And one of the sessions was supposed to be in Santa Barbara. Sold! I said yes the next day.

AS I HAVE SAID MANY TIMES, Leadership California totally changed the trajectory of my life. I went from being just a hard worker to a hard working leader. I became fearless. I would take on assignments that in the past I would have avoided. I joined several organizations that before LC, I thought were above my pay grade. I not only joined, I ran for office in those organizations. Some of those groups were close to 90% male in law enforcement. And I didn’t wait my turn and I did voice my opinion. LC taught me that just because they were male didn’t mean they knew any more than I did.

Q: Is there a key message you would like to share with our diverse group of more than 2,000 women leaders?

A: WHAT I HAVE TO SAY, the 2,000 women leaders of Leadership California already know: Go for it. Don’t you become the impediment to your own success.



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