A new generation of women leaders is emerging on the Central Coast.
They may fare better than their predecessors in coping with the nagging problems of slow growth, high housing prices and the need to foster a culture of innovation that keeps the job engine of the region humming.
In San Luis Obispo County, Caren Ray, a teacher with business and City Council experience, was appointed as 4th District Supervisor, replacing Paul Teixeira, who passed away suddenly this summer. Ray was serving as an elected member of the Arroyo Grande City Council before being appointed to the Board of Supervisors by Gov. Jerry Brown. Ray has also been an active board member at the SLO County Economic Vitality Corp., the countywide economic development group.
Meanwhile, in Santa Barbara County, as of press time, the Board of Supervisors was in the process of approving Mona Miyasato, the chief assistant administrator in Marin County, to take over when CEO Chandra Wallar departs at the end of the month. Wallar’s contract was not renewed after word leaked that she was in the running for the top job in Orange County. Since taking over in 2010, she cut millions of dollars and announced scores of staff reductions in order to get the county budget in balance. Miyasato’s background in information technology and human resources should help her get her arms around a county government that is in need of longer-term vision.
During an email exchange with the Business Times, Ray said her participation, via EVC, in the development of the county’s economic plan “will greatly inform the decisions I make as a Supervisor.”
She added that the emergence of a vibrant startup culture in SLO County is “an exciting development. It is important for government to support these up-and-coming businesses, and to guide them toward future success rather than impede their progress through bureaucracy,” she wrote.
In the corporate ranks, the Tri-Counties has seen a slow shattering of the glass ceiling in banking, in professional services and even in the technology sector. Can a new generation of women executives in the public sector also lean forward and spur innovation, private sector jobs and fiscally sound behavior? So far we’re encouraged.