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Mayor Honors Current and Future Leaders at Inaugural Women Elevate SD Event

Mayor, One San Diego and Regional Chamber Gather More Than 300 City Employees and Promising Youth Leaders to Award Scholarships During Women’s History Month

Women Elevate SD Event Honorees

Monday, March 22, 2019 - NEWS RELEASE

San Diego – As part of an effort to develop leaders and provide more opportunities for women and girls throughout the city, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and over 300 City employees last night celebrated the contributions of women in the workplace at the inaugural “Women Elevate SD” by awarding several scholarships to current and future leaders as well as a new honor for a leader who exemplifies the best in public service.

 “San Diego has a multitude of trailblazing women and young leaders who are moving the needle and making a difference every day,” Mayor Faulconer said. “This event is all about encouraging leaders at all levels to grow by giving them access to more opportunity. We want to level the playing field so that every woman can reach their career goals.”

To encourage future leaders to continue their growth and help them gain access to more opportunities, scholarships were presented to five deserving youth leaders made possible by nonprofit One San Diego. Each of the winners received a $500 gift toward the educational and extracurricular interest of their choice. The winners were:

  • Caylee Van Houten is a Girl Scout and volunteer Explorer with the Chula Vista Police Department. Van Houten is an honors student who carries a heavy academic workload, plays sports and acts as a role model to peers.
  • Natalie Nguyen is the president of the San Diego Asian Youth Organization through the San Diego Police Department. She has a 4.0 grade point average (GPA).

  • Sophia Righthouse is a Master Sergeant in the Young Marines and a Cadet Petty Officer in the Naval Junior ROTC. She is a community role model and a Girl Scout.

  • Alexandra Arreola Contreras has helped her parents with their business supporting elderly patients with dementia. Now 18, she is taking full responsibility of the business to support her family. She has a 4.1 GPA and wants to be a neurosurgeon so that she can help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Chloe Youngflesh is a 5-year-old leader who has already been recognized by her teachers for her “together is better” attitude. She is donating her scholarship to her school to increase Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math programs.

"San Diego is fortunate to have strong and confident girls who enrich our communities and demonstrate leadership every day. It truly is inspiring,” said First Lady and One San Diego Honorary Chair Katherine Stuart Faulconer. “The scholarships given last night are going to help develop these young girls into tomorrow’s future leaders.”

Mayor Faulconer also honored 100-plus women leaders employed at the City of San Diego who are going above and beyond every day to elevate the organization on behalf of residents. Among the honorees, Deputy City Attorney Christine Leone and Supervising Recycling Specialist Chelsea Klaseus were selected to receive scholarships for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Advance program, a seven-month course designed to elevate women leaders in the workplace.

Leone and Klaseus were nominated by their peers and then considered by a review panel who made final recommendations to Mayor Faulconer. More than 130 employees were nominated by their co-workers for this recognition.

Leone was selected for her instrumental work guiding the City through the complex legal and regulatory process for the Pure Water program. She lends her environmental expertise to the City’s Environment Committee and led the Land Use Litigation Unit. Leone is also a trained legal observer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Klaseus was selected for working hard every day to make San Diego and the environment better. Her passion for her work is ever present but is especially obvious to those familiar with her efforts within the City’s Waste Reduction Division. In her spare time, Klaseus serves on the Southeast San Diego Planning Group and the Central Commercial District Revitalization Corporation.

“LEAD San Diego is proud to partner with the City to bring focused professional and career development to the City’s women leaders through Advance,” said Jerry Sanders, President and CEO San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “Businesses thrive and communities benefit when there is gender equity and diversity at all levels. The commitment the City has made to helping elevate women’s careers is a positive step toward achieving that equality.”

The ceremony closed with the presentation of the first annual “Heart of Service Award” to Assistant Chief Operating Officer Stacey LoMedico. The honor recognizes a leader who exemplifies the best in public service.

LoMedico began working at the City as an intern while studying at San Diego State University and steadily rose through the ranks in her 33-year career to her current position as the City’s second-highest executive. A dozen City employees took part in a special tribute to LoMedico, highlighting her many accomplishments and her role as a mentor to hundreds of workers over the years.

“Stacey’s record of accomplishment, results and institutional knowledge is called upon by countless employees who seek her mentorship,” Mayor Faulconer said. “It’s clear she’s been an inspiration to so many employees at the City of San Diego so I’m proud to announce that in the years to come this award will be known as the ‘Stacey LoMedico Heart of Service Award.’”

Earlier this month, Mayor Faulconer called for the creation of a new committee charged with advising city leadership on strategies to develop women leaders and provide more opportunities for women in the workplace. The Committee to Advance Women and Girls, which replaces the inactive Commission on the Status of Women, will consist of volunteer members, each appointed by Mayor Faulconer and confirmed by the City Council. This spring, the Mayor’s Office will bring forward proposed changes to the Municipal Code, guidelines and objectives for the committee.

The City of San Diego is fortunate to have many trailblazing women in positions of leadership. The City Council is made up of a female majority for the first time in history. City Attorney Mara Elliott is the first woman to serve in that role. Other top positions held by women include the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Chief Operating Officer, Assistant Chief Operating Officer, City Clerk, Independent Budget Analyst and 13 department directors.

The creation of the new Committee to Advance Women and Girls scholarship recognition event held last night are part of an inaugural effort led by Mayor Faulconer to honor and recognize the contributions of women leaders during Women’s History Month.

CONTACT: Christina Chadwick at (619) 865-3622 or [email protected]

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