"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.


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April/May 2017


April 24, 2017

The Omni Hotel, Los Angeles



April 23-25, 2017
Leadership California
Session II, CIT Program
California’s Heritage Shaping its Future: Diversity & Inclusion at the Core
Los Angeles


July 19-21, 2017
Leadership California
Session III, CIT Program
California’s Global Business & Economy: Opportunities & Challenges
San Francisco


September 24-27, 2017

The ultimate Leadership California experience, open to all executive women. Leadership California Goes to Washington DC 2017 is a special opportunity for California women leaders to study how national and international issues influence Californians and California business, and how California’s issues and trends influence the nation and the world.


November 1-3, 2017
Leadership California
Session IV, CIT Program
A Thriving California through Innovation & Inspiration
San Diego




Monday, April 24, 2017


2017 Corporate Trailblazer Award

Dr. Wanda M. Austin greets winners of The Aerospace Corporation’s high school science competition in 2016. A champion of STEM education, Austin will accept the Corporate Trailblazer Award at Leadership California's Legacy of Leadership celebration on April 24, 2017 in Los Angeles.

President and CEO, The Aerospace Corporation, Retired

Aeronautic Engineering Leader brings People and Systems Together for Mission: STEM Success

by Carol Caley
April 18, 2017

Dr. Austin, you’ve been a systems engineer and also a corporate leader. A systems engineer needs vast technical knowledge, a president/CEO requires skill in making connections and cultivating relationships. Can you help us understand how these two roles overlap and synchronize? What leadership principles guided your accomplishments in both?

WHAT ATTRACTED ME INTO ENGINEERING, systems engineering in particular, was having an impact on society, solving complex problems, and recognizing that any problem you look at is multidisciplinary. There are lots of different aspects that have to work together. You need to understand how a change on one side will impact what’s happening on the other.

WHEN YOU DESIGN A SATELLITE, for example, if you change the weight, that impacts how much power you need. If you change the material, that may change the thermal properties. So you have to step back and think before you jump in with a solution.

So you step back to see the big-picture issues when you’re engineering something, right? And of course, people are a crucial part of any system.

YES, GETTING PEOPLE TO WORK toward a common goal means making sure everybody understands the goal. Then you have to help them see how they all contribute to that solution, then figure out a way for them to work together seamlessly. You’re systems engineering complex technical problems, but as a CEO, you’re systems engineering complex organizational challenges. It’s not only about getting people to work together, it’s about making sure you have the infrastructure and organizational support you need for people to be successful.

Going back to the leadership principles you’ve followed, which ones guided your accomplishments in both areas?

ONE THING I POINT TO is transparency. It’s important that you earn the trust of your team, and share with them what you need them to do. People don’t wake up in the morning and say, how can I screw up or be disruptive? But they do ask me, what am I supposed to be doing?—or what the priorities are. You cannot over-communicate about that.

So it’s communication, above all. Transparency depends on that?

YES, AND YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING to listen. People frequently think a leader has all the answers. If the leader is smart, that leader knows they’ll get the best answers from the team, then put them together in a way that will help us solve a problem together.

Jackie Lacey said to me, you’ve got to be an ‘aerobic listener.’

SHE'S EXACTLY RIGHT. A lot of people want to jump in and get to the solution, just get to the answer. I say, wait a minute, let’s take time to think about the problem and get to a better answer.

SO, COMMUNICATION IS KEY, listening is key. But it is also about figuring out what you’re not going to do. There are usually more things on your plate than you can effectively do well. It’s key for leaders to step back and say, OK, I’d like to do all these things, but I don’t have the resources, I don’t have the time, I’ve got to figure out my priorities. What is it that I absolutely have to get done?

So it’s a strategy of not-doing, then?

It’s a strategy of making sure you’re doing the most important thing. It’s tempting to say, oh, this is easy, this will be quick, we can do this. You don’t realize you’re siphoning off resources and maybe missing an opportunity to do that which is most important, most transformative, or most enabling for other good things to happen. You’re distracted by having too many things on the radar screen.

Women do tend to over-commit, believing they can multitask and take care of everything, when in fact it just dilutes what your main mission and goals need to be.

It’s the dilution that I’m worried about, which is: you end up doing a “C” or a “B” job, on something very important, when you could have done a first-class job, an “A” job. 

Is technical and scientific leadership more challenging than leadership in, say, politics or the arts?

There are significant consequences on both sides of that equation. In my business, it’s known to be a high-consequence, high-risk, but high-payoff challenge. READ MORE

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Network with our Alumnae from every class year!


Fruitridge Community Collaborative honored
as Top Non-Profit of the Year

Alisha Smith (’17), co-director of the Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative in Sacramento, has announced that her organization will be recognized with an award from the U.S. Small Business Administration at a ceremony on May 5.

“We are thrilled to be recognized by the Small Business Administration as 2017 non-profit of the year,” she said. “Fruit Ridge Community Collaborative is definitely emerging and accomplishing great things for our community now, and growth in the future is limitless.”

The Collaborative is one of nine businesses and individuals to be honored that day at the Sacramento district office of the SBA.

Aquila Polonica Book wins Gold Award

Terry Tegnazian (’04), president of Aquila Polonica Publishing in Los Angeles, has announced that the book, Echoes of Tattered Tongues: Memory Unfolded by John Z. Guzlowski, won the Gold Award for Poetry at the Benjamin Franklin Awards on April 7. The award, sponsored by the Independent Book Publishers Association, is one of the highest national honors for small and independent publishers.

Using both poetry and prose, Guzlowski told the story of his Polish family, who were taken by Germans in WW II to work as slave laborers in German concentration camps.

“This is a haunting look at a virtually unknown aspect of World War II,” said Tegnazian in her acceptance speech, with “reflections relevant to today’s refugee situation. Guzlowski’s writing, with its powerful imagery, will stay with you long after you close the book.”

Aquila Polonica Publishing, www.AquilaPolonica.com, specializes in publishing the Polish WWII experience in English.

ALUMNAE let us know your news! Do you have an update to publish? Email details to carol@leadershipcalifornia.org


LEADERSHIP CALIFORNIA is a network of diverse, accomplished women leaders from the California Issues & Trends program (CIT), who are engaged in shaping the future of California. Learn more about Issues & Trends by visiting our website at leadershipcalifornia.org. We accept applications on a rolling basis for CIT: Click the APPLY NOW link on our home page. Click here to register for LC Goes to DC, our biennial Washington DC program.

Visit us online: leadershipcalifornia.org or call: 626-793-7834



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