Skip to content

Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class of 2024- Government Day

On February 2, 2024, the Leadership Santa Maria Valley Class had the opportunity to dive in and learn about the different Government Sectors represented locally as well as explore new sectors and how they pertain to government.

The day started off with a visit to the Government Center where we were greeted by the Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino as well as Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson. Both Supervisors explained their roles and responsibilities and provided a better understanding of how they serve their constituents and community. A highlight from this visit included a tour of Hope Village, an interim supportive housing community specifically for people experiencing homelessness in the Santa Maria Valley which will provide 94 rooms.

Next, we had a very special visit from Assemblymember 37th District, Gregg Hart who discussed how he began his professional career as a Legislative Assistant for former State Assemblymember Jack O’Connell and embarked on his journey as elected to the California State Assembly. Assemblymember Hart provided the group with a great overview of his vital role in representing the 37th Assembly District and representing local issues at the state level. Assemblymember Hart shared an encouraging story of being persistent and making the first impression count no matter what the challenges or obstacles may be, to fulfill your purpose and achieve your goal.


Our next stop was at the historic building of City Hall where we met with Mark van de Kamp, Public Information Manager for the City of Santa Maria and Councilmember Carlos Escobedo. During this visit, we learned about the process and structure of the monthly city council meetings and the opportunities that are available during the meeting such as public comment that allows concerned community members to address concerns directly with the councilmembers. We learned about the rich history of the building, structure, the purpose of the American flag being placed next to the podium, and past Mayors of Santa Maria and their strong connections to the city. There is a glass hutch that displays pictures of everyone who has served as Mayor, however one picture notably stands out from the rest. The picture belongs to our current Mayor Alice Patino, who is the first and only female mayor of Santa Maria. Erica Flores, CEO of Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, was the topic day speaker and led us in discussing, “ The Power of Story Telling.” Erica’ s journey was not only inspirational, but it also allowed us to take a step back and rethink our purpose, journey and left us feeling empowered to take risks, be memorable, have a purpose and to not be afraid to be vulnerable. “ As leaders, we have to be able to be vulnerable, if we expect others to do the same.” Erica Flores.

Our final stop of the day led us to the Santa Maria Airport where we were enlightened with new information and a better understanding of the connection of government and the airport along with a special tour led be Ignacio "Nash" Moreno-Board President, Martin Pehl-General Manager, and Rick Tokoph-Operations Manager. The Santa Maria Airport has its own board with five representatives who each represent a geographic area divided by population and are elected by residents. The group had the opportunity to be adventurous, walking up numerous stairs up to the command tower where we saw airplanes take off from the runway. As our journey continued, we made our way to the hangars where we found a hidden gem, named Teresa Arredondo, President and CEO of ArtCraft paint. Teresa shared her journey, knowledge as a women and business owner who conducts business with people all over the world. She was a true inspiration, showing that perseverance, hard work, and determination can conquer all obstacles. “ I may only have a sixth-grade education, but I have a Doctorate Degree in common sense” Teresa Arredondo. Throughout the day, our group was immersed in learning about Government of all sectors that ranged from, City Councilmembers, District Supervisors, Assemblymembers, SMX President which left us with a better understanding of our local representatives. Additionally, we were so grateful for the opportunities created on this day such as touring Hope Village, the Santa Maria Airport and all our speakers that took the time to share such touching words and inspire us to continue our very own journey as leaders.

A special thank you to our sponsors, Driscolls, The YMCA and Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley and to our Topic Day Advisors: Michael Nash, Hugh Rafferty, and Anthony Ojeda.

LSMV Class members pose for a group photo with Assemblymen Gregg Hart and topic day advisors: Michael Nash, Hugh Rafferty, and Anthony Ojeda. 

The LSMV Group toured the Santa Maria Public Airport with Nash Moreno-President, Martin Pehl-General Manager, and Rick Tokoph-Operations Manager including a visit with Teresa Arredondo, President and CEO of ArtCraft paint. 

The Class also heard from 
Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino and Fourth District Supervisor Bob Nelson, learning more about their roles as County Supervisors and the work they are leading. 

The LSMV Class toured Santa Maria City Hall with City Councilmember Carlos Escobedo and Mark van de Kamp, Public Information Manager for the City of Santa Maria

Scroll To Top