Cohort Reflections


Step Up & Run

Bev Dransfeldt

Elected Director, Pleasant Valley Recreation & Parks Board

Ventura County Leadership Academy has been such a moving, wonderful program filled with so much eye-opening information, inspirational speakers and a legendary cohort. I counted down the months until the Sacramento trip and had everything ready to go early on. Pattie Braga, our fearless leader, made sure to tame our expectations and reminded us with the Capitol being renovated and COVID, that the trip would look very different. Let me just tell you, if there’s one thing you’ll learn about Pattie, nothing gets in her way to execute the best program she can deliver.

Something that moved me more than anything else is the heart each cohort member has for their community; furthermore, the authenticity and passion that drives them. Yes, VCLA allows members to hear from some of the trailblazers of the county, but you also have some of the greatest leaders sitting right next to you.

Some of us received an informal tour by Atticus Reyes of the Capitol during our lunchtime. I got to hear about his experience working in the Capitol and fun historical facts. We went down the hall featuring photos of all the current representatives. PJ Gagajena shared his experience as well and how awesome it was to see some leaders he worked with featured on the wall. He also made a poignant comment how years ago, this wall looked very different. Term limits have helped diversify the legislature whether it is in ethnicity, gender, age, or experience. It felt like a more accurate portrayal of California’s beautiful, unique population.

Later that day we got to hear from our local elected Assembly Members Jacqui Irwin & Steve Bennett and State Senator Monique Limon. Getting to know their background was awe-inspiring. Each representative was already working for a cause they believed in either through a school board, PTA or as a teacher – at the insistence of the community they stepped up; it wasn’t necessarily something they saw themselves doing. It’s something that is so important to remember, we all offer a unique perspective, and each person has the ability to step into a role of leadership.

If there is someone you know that would make an incredible representative nudge them to run, and then nudge them again because with women they have to be asked a few times before jumping in NPR article from 2014: . If you need help mustering the courage to run or to get that badass mama on the ballot, check out some of these amazing organizations encouraging women to run: Close the Gap and She Should Run .

It was a joy to learn more about Cohort 26 & 27. I can’t wait for the next time I visit Sacramento to see some of their smiles gleaming in the hall.

Don’t forget to vote June 7th, 2022!!!