"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.


Xin Li (right) and her colleagues participated in a 2-mile "Bay to Beakers Children's Walk" around Genentech’s South San Francisco campus to raise money for children in Malawi who were orphaned due to AIDS. The walk was one of more than 150 volunteer activities that engaged employees during Genentech/Roche Gives Back week.


Longer Lifeline Makes a Difference for Patients

By Xin Li ('15)

June 20, 2016ON A WINTER MORNING IN 2008 at Genentech, it was almost time for our quarterly meeting to start. This was a meeting I always looked forward to. On this day, the entire product development department would do more than hear presentations and reports from one another about our work. This was a day we would get to hear from patients. Sometimes at meetings like this, we would listen while a patient’s letter was read aloud, but today was different. Today, we had a chance to hear from a patient live and in person!

“The patient brought out a beautiful picture of a bride.”


A WOMAN PATIENT WAS INTRODUCED, and she walked up to the stage and began her story. She is a breast cancer survivor and had been taking one of the medicines we had been working on. She said that when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was scared. Upon learning the news, she thought of her daughter, and hoped that she would survive long enough to attend her daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party. Next, the patient brought out a beautiful picture of a bride. It was taken a few weeks before, at her daughter’s wedding. She looked at our team and said: “I cannot thank you enough. Your medicine has given me time I would not have had!” 

IT WAS A DRAMATIC MOMENT. Although this was not the first time I had heard stories like this, the emotion was overwhelming. Just knowing that what I do every day could make a difference like this in someone’s life was extremely rewarding.

GROWING UP, I ALWAYS HAD A PLAN FOR MYSELF. I knew what I would be: a teacher, because teachers shape the heart, the soul, and the future of children. In particular, I wanted to be a mathematics teacher, as mathematics is such a beautiful and useful subject—it inspires and perfects. I believed that this was the best way to make a difference in this world.


“I became fascinated about clinical trials and how drugs got developed.”

IN 1991, WHEN I WAS IN A PH.D. PROGRAM studying Kac-Moody Lie algebra, I got a summer internship, working for a pharmaceutical company. One of my friends had become ill and was put in a clinical trial, and I became fascinated about clinical trials and how drugs got developed. That’s when I became interested in the pharmaceutical industry. Once I had completed my internship, I realized that this was a better way to make a difference.

TODAY, AS A STATISTICIAN working for one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world, I have been able to work on developing treatments for cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and neurological diseases.

PATIENTS HAVE BEEN MY INSPIRATION.  When I hear them talk about how the medicines we worked on saved their lives or improved their lives, I know I have made a difference.


LAST YEAR, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to learn about California’s trends and issues through Leadership California, which is now celebrating its 25th anniversary. For the past 25 years, it has worked on moving women from success to significance. Through Leadership California, I have gotten to know many amazing women, from university presidents to women entrepreneurs to corporate executives, even a woman judge. Those women have been an inspiration to me, and have taught me that there are so many ways we can make a difference. I am grateful for Leadership California, as it has opened my eyes. 

TODAY, I AM STILL EXTREMELY PASSIONATE about drug development, which can make a difference in patients’ lives; I am equally passionate about Leadership California, as it will make a difference in all of our lives.



XIN LI (’15) is vice president, Global Head of Biostatics–Immunology, Infectious Disease, and Ophthalmology at Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. She is a member of the board of directors at Leadership California.

At Genentech, Xin's team is responsible for drug development strategy and statistical input regarding design, performance, and analysis of clinical trials. Xin also serves as Site Head for biometrics and Product Development for the company’s South San Francisco site. Xin has held roles in the therapeutic areas of cardiovascular, oncology, and immunology.

Born in Tianjin, China, Xin was a whiz early on at math competitions. She attended the University of Science and Technology in China, where she began to appreciate the beauty of pure math, studying Kac-Moody Lie algebra. She continued her studies at the Institute of Mathematics, Chinese Academy of Sciences and at Rutgers University. Changing course to prepare for a career that she hoped would contribute to the world in a more tangible way, Xin earned a Ph.D. in statistics from Rutgers. She started her career as a hematology statistician at the R.W. Johnson Pharmaceutical Research Institute and also worked on oncology at Sequus Pharmaceuticals.






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