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Practical Politics Soiree
January 11 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
***NEW LOCATION! United Church of Christ, 11245 Los Osos Valley Road, San Luis Obispo
***Limited seating – please register and print your ticket!***
“Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints.” Shonda Rhimes
The Women’s March SLO invite all women to Practical Politics Soiree. In 2017, women hold only 19.6% of the seats in Congress, and represent only 25% of the state legislatures. Let’s change that. Come have a conversation with women who were elected for office and are politically active, and get inspired to forge your own path. From school boards to federal executives to volunteering for campaigns, we need women’s voices and leadership to achieve true representation. Enjoy refreshments, listen to the panelists and their experience, ask questions, and meet other women who are ready to shatter that glass ceiling for good.
Practical Politics Soiree Panelists:
Malia Cohen – San Francisco Supervisor (update – unable to attend)
Heidi Harmon – Mayor of San Luis Obispo
Caren Ray – Arroyo Grande City Council
Erica Reyes – Vice-Chair with the San Luis Obispo Democratic Party
Ellen Sheffer – San Luis Coastal Unified School District Board of Trustees
San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen is running for the state Board of Equalization to put the interests of the people before those of special interests on the Board of Equalization. She has fought her entire career to put the interests of the people first, which is why she took on Big Soda last year and passed the sugar-sweetened beverage tax, which is expected to generate over $14 million annually to fund public health and physical education programs in San Francisco. The measure passed with 62 percent of the vote and paved the way for soda tax initiatives across the country. Malia Cohen has the strong financial background necessary to be an effective voice on the Board of Equalization. She serves as Chair of the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee, which oversees appropriation ordinances and measures concerning bond issues, taxes, fees, and other revenue measures, redevelopment, and real estate. She also serves as the President of the San Francisco Employee Retirement System (SFERS), which manages a $20 billion pension fund. In this role, she has led efforts to divest from fossil fuels and thermal coal investments, and moved $100 million into a fossil fuel-free index fund. Cohen is a fiduciary member of the San Francisco Transportation Authority, which manages the proceeds of a half-cent sales tax that generates $100 million annually for transportation investments in the County. Cohen has dedicated her time in office to supporting small businesses, including authoring landmark legislation that prevented the displacement of dozens of manufacturing businesses and saved hundreds of jobs in San Francisco. She was also a co-sponsor of the Small Business Revolving Loan Fund, which supports the investment in new and existing businesses in San Francisco. Cohen authored the Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance, prohibiting limited-service pregnancy centers from making false or misleading statements about their services. After passage, this measure was challenged in the United States District Court and upheld in its entirety. Most recently, Cohen championed the efforts on the Neighborhood Preference legislation, which prioritizes 40 percent of all affordable housing in new development projects for those who live in the existing neighborhoods. Malia Cohen was born and raised in San Francisco. She earned a BA in Political Science from Fisk University and a MS in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.
Mayor Heidi Harmon came to the central coast 30 years ago as a college student, and like many, she found the charm and community irresistible. She stayed to make a life and raise her family in San Luis Obispo. After graduating from Cuesta and Cal Poly she worked as an early childhood educator in SLO for many years. The more she got to know the young people and families in our area, the more of her time and energy she gave to the community to make it even better for future generations. She is an experienced community organizer, climate change activist and public speaker. As the Director of SLO 350 ,a point person with Protect SLO- Stop Oil Trains and a board member of the League of Women Voters Heidi has focused on the big picture and dedicated herself to public service. She has a track record of success impacting positive change through coalition building, policy advocacy and public education. In November 2016 she was elected as Mayor of San Luis Obispo. Heidi is committed to creating innovative housing solutions, revitalizing the unique culture of our downtown, and enhancing community resilience through energy efficiency and sustainability. She keeps the voice and concern of local citizens at the forefront of everything she does, and believes each person and perspective deserves the right to be heard.
Ms. Ray began her political career in 2005 when she was appointed to the Arroyo Grande City Planning Commission, on which she served three years as Chair. She joined the Arroyo Grande City Council in 2010. As an Arroyo Grande City Council member, Ms. Ray helped guide the city through the worst fiscal crisis in two generations. A strong proponent of economic development, she played a role in bringing numerous businesses into the city. In addition, Ms. Ray worked with local non-profits providing mental health services and low-income workforce housing. She participated in the establishment of Five Cities Fire Authority, which resulted in improved emergency services while saving thousands of taxpayer dollars annually. She left the Arroyo Grande City Council in 2013 when she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to fill the remainder of late Supervisor Paul Teixeira’s term on the County Board of Supervisors. In addition to serving on the Board of Supervisors, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Economic Vitality Corporation, a Director on the Air Pollution Control Board, a Director on the Integrated Waste Management Authority, and on the Arroyo Grande Tourism and Marketing Committee. She was elected back to the Arroyo Grande City Council in November 2016. Ms. Ray is committed to ensuring balance and integrity within the political process and is a strong advocate for an open and collaborative approach to problem solving. She is driven to support her community and honored to serve, and she believes there is no greater professional reward than serving her community as a public official.
Erica Reyes is a human rights advocate and self professed politics and policy nerd. She grew up on the Central Coast in Nipomo, California and can not keep away. After circumnavigating the globe, lobbying in Washington DC, and obtaining her BA in Sociology from UC Santa Cruz, she has found herself back in San Luis Obispo County. The proud Banana Slug began her career as an AmeriCorps volunteer which quickly turned into grassroots political organizing. Now a District Representative for Congressman Salud Carbajal, she enjoys advocating for constituents and keeping her pulse on the local political scene. Her extracurriculars include advocating for women’s reproductive rights with the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund Board and she is a Vice-Chair with the San Luis Obispo Democratic Party. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out in downward facing dog and walking the beach with her partner in crime.
Ellen Sheffer has served on the San Luis Coastal Unified School District Board of Trustees since 2010. She recently completed the California School Board Association’s Masters in Governance program and has served on the planning committee and been a presenter for the Annual Education Conference of that organization. She has been board clerk and president and is currently serving on the policy sub-committee. She wrote and brought forward the Safe Schools Resolution passed by the board in December 2016 which states that no child or family member will be asked about his or her immigration status and that every school district site is a safe place for students and their families to seek help, assistance, information, and safety if faced with fear and anxiety about immigration enforcement efforts. Ellen has twice run unopposed for the office and continues to be passionate about serving the public education needs of the students in San Luis Obispo, Los Osos, and Morro Bay. She will be on the ballot in the November 2018 election. Originally from the Midwest, Ellen moved to California in 1987 and has lived just outside San Luis Obispo since 1994 with her husband and two children. In addition to her trustee work, she works as a paralegal and author and serves on the Advisory Board of the San Luis Obispo College of Law, is on the Board of Directors for Canzona Women’s Ensemble, and is a volunteer for Hearst Cancer Resource Center.