Sarona Vivanco is a founding member of Women Leading Government, and she has served on the WLG Board since the organization started. She is very passionate about local government, and is committed to supporting women who aspire to leadership roles in the profession. Sarona has spent the bulk of her professional career at the local government level. She has a strong background in local government operations, administration, management, and finance. Sarona is the Senior Management Analyst for the City of Santa Clarita, and has worked in a management capacity for almost every department in that organization.
Sarona holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the California State University, Northridge, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. In addition to her dedication to WLG, Sarona is active in other professional organizations. She is a past president of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California, and a recipient of that organization’s J. Michael Dutton Summit Award and Stewardship Award. She regularly assists the California City Management Foundation with the planning and implementation of the annual New and Future City Managers Seminar, and she has been a member of the International City/County Management Association for the last 16 years.
Senior Management Analyst
City of Santa Clarita
Marcella Marlowe has been the City Manager for the City of San Marino since 2017, after having served as the Assistant City Manager for the City of San Gabriel for six-and-a-half years. Prior to San Gabriel, Dr. Marlowe served as the Human Resources Manager for the City of Duarte, the only person to ever hold that position there. She started her career with the City of Calabasas as a human resources generalist, and spent two years with the City of Phoenix, AZ, specializing in classification & compensation and benefits administration.
Dr. Marlowe is a devoted Trojan, having received all of her degrees from the University of Southern California: B.A. in Classical Greek Civilization, M.A. in Political Science, and Ph.D. in Political Science. She is also a Credentialed Manager through the International City/County Management Association, carrying the ICMA-CM designation. She holds an adjunct teaching appointment with the University of La Verne’s College of Business and Public Management, and also taught at USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy for almost ten years as an Adjunct Associate Professor. She is the author of Jurisprudential Regimes: The Supreme Court, Civil Rights, and the Life Cycle of Judicial Doctrine, published in 2011.
City of San Marino
Amy Chang has been a financial professional for the past 20 years in the private, non-profit, and local government sectors. Currently, she is serving as the Director of Finance and Administration for the San Elijo Joint Powers Authority. Amy believes in embracing each person as an individual and empowering them to impact the world in their own way. She has a passion to coach and mentor her team to integrate their life’s purpose in their work. Through the Leadership Mastermind Executive Coaching Program with Dr. Michelle Pizer, she has learned about Daniel Goleman’s emotional intelligence model, and has been instilling and practicing this skill set to strengthen herself and her team. Amy holds a master’s degree in Information Systems Auditing from Cal Poly Pomona and a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Cal State Fullerton.
Director of Finance and Administration
San Elijo Joint Powers Authority
Antonia has twenty years of experience working for local government and leading sustainability initiatives. She is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Orange County Power Authority a four city Joint Powers Authority implementing a Community Choice Energy program to nearly 300,000 customers. Prior to her role at the Orange County Power Authority, Ms. Graham held increasingly responsible roles in local government including serving as the Deputy City Manager for the City of Fullerton and the Assistant to the City Manager/Energy and Sustainability Manager for the City of Huntington Beach, overseeing a variety of administrative programs including leading the Citizen Academy, Intergovernmental Relations, and all environmental and sustainability related programs. Ms. Graham also implemented regional efforts collaborating with Orange County cities to create the Orange County Recycling Market Development Zone, which is an economic development program aimed at creating an innovative circular economy.
Ms. Graham has successfully secured millions of dollars in grant funds during her time in local government and while at the City of Huntington Beach partnered with the University of California, Irvine and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create an advanced energy community in a disadvantaged part of the City; this project was one of four selected in the State for funding. Additionally, after leading the acquisition of 11,000 streetlights from Southern California Edison, she led the effort to work with telecommunications carriers to embark on deploying smart city solutions that will improve city services and connectivity for residents in Huntington Beach. This included the deployment of 200 Smart Fusion Poles, a first-of-its-kind smart pole that will be deployed in the City – the 1st in the nation. While in Fullerton she led the Sifi project a fiber to the premises project throughout the entire City.
She holds a BA in Political Science and American Studies, an MPA with a concentration in Public Finance, and a Master’s degree in Sustainability from Arizona State University. Ms. Graham also teaches courses focused on sustainability at California State University Fullerton and Irvine Valley College. Ms. Graham recently had a case study published in the book, Sustainable World: Approaches to Analyzing & Resolving Wicked Problems and was selected as the Arizona State University School of Sustainability Alumni of the Year (2018).
Chief Operating Officer
Orange County Power Authority
Lori Sassoon is Deputy City Manager of Administrative Services with the city of Rancho Cucamonga, where she is responsible for operations in Human Resources, Finance, Technology, Purchasing, and Special Districts administration. Previous roles include serving as City Manager for the city of Villa Park, and as Assistant City Manager for San Bernardino. Lori is President of the California chapter of Women Leading Government, an organization dedicated to supporting the growth of women in local government leadership roles. She is also a founding board member and volunteer with Redeeming Love, a faith-based organization that provides safe housing and trauma care for survivors of sex trafficking in the San Gabriel Valley. She has a BA in Political Science from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, an MPA from California State University, San Bernardino, and is an ICMA Credentialed City Manager.
Immediate Past President
Deputy City Manager
City of Rancho Cucamonga
DeAnna Hilbrants has served as the Assistant Director of Business for City of Santa Clara | Silicon Valley Power since 2020. Silicon Valley Power is a municipal electric utility. This role has provided DeAnna with the opportunity to work in an industry that is new to her without leaving local government service. Prior to Santa Clara, DeAnna served as the Deputy City Manager and Finance Director for the City of Millbrae and Finance Director for the City of Sonoma. In both of those roles, DeAnna provided leadership to the Finance Department of the City including oversight of all financial functions and implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in both organizations. As Deputy City Manager in Millbrae, DeAnna took on additional projects including briefly serving as Acting City Manager, as Recreation Director, improvements to purchasing system and process, insurance settlement negotiations for Millbrae’s Community Center destroyed by arson fire, and community-engaged conceptual design of Millbrae’s replacement Recreation Center as well as rate and fee studies, labor negotiations, and support of Community Development Departmentsduring vacancies of department heads.
DeAnna’s previous roles included Treasurer for the Valley of the Moon Fire Protection District while serving as Finance Director in Sonoma, County of Monterey, Riverside, and San Bernardino, Cities of Torrance and Manhattan Beach.
DeAnna has an MBA and BS degree from the University of California at Irvine. DeAnna has been active in MMANC since arriving in Northern California in 2006 and has served on the Board of Women Leading Government for several years. DeAnna served as chair or co-chair for the Women’s Leadership Summit in 2010, 2013, and 2014. In 2013, DeAnna was awarded the Rising Star Award from MMANC. DeAnna is married to Carl who is a Senior Planner at Santa Clara County. She has a 28 year old son, Alex. Outside of work, DeAnna maintains an active lifestyle including hip hop classes, boot camps, indoor cycling, and hiking.
Silicon Valley Power - City of Santa Clara
Valerie Barone has served as the City Manager for the City of Concord, CA (pop 129,000) since February of 2012. Concord is a full service City with over 400 full-time employees. Valerie has experience in the public and private sector. Prior to her role as City Manager in Concord, she served as the Assistant City Manager in Concord, the Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Walnut Creek, and as Community & Recreation Services Director for the City of Milpitas. She also worked as a land use and environmental planner for the Company of Eric J. Toll, a Nevada Company, and served in the Peace Corps as a Community Development Specialist on Panay Island in the Philippines. She holds a B.S. degree in Natural Resources Planning from Humboldt State University, earned an MBA from Cal State Sacramento, and completed the Harvard Kennedy Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. She is on the Boards of the City Manager’s Department of the League of California Cities and Women Leading Government, an affiliate organization to the International City and County Manager’s Association, as well as on the Board of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership.
City of Concord
As the Assistant City Manager for the City of Milpitas, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, Ashwini oversees an organization of over 500 employees, serving a population of over 80,000. Prior to joining Milpitas, Ashwini worked for the City of San José where she served as the Assistant Director of Environmental Services, a department with a budget of $310 million and 550 employees. In addition to oversight of the budget, regulatory compliance, legislative affairs, and sustainability, Ashwini led a $1.4 billion capital improvement program. In previous roles, she led the implementation of the San José Green Vision, a 15-year strategic plan for economic growth and environmental stewardship, the coordination of the city’s multi-billion-dollar capital improvement program, and the development of several policies and citywide initiatives. Ashwini is a licensed architect and has 10 years of experience in the private sector as a project architect and 20 years of experience in local government. Ashwini has undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture and a graduate degree in public policy and administration and is also a graduate of Harvard’s Senior Executives State and Local Program. Ashwini is passionate about building vibrant and sustainable communities that will serve current and future generations. She also enjoys helping others grow professionally and has been a mentor to many throughout her career.
Assistant City Manager
City of Milpitas
Heather Abrams is the top executive of the Tamalpais Community Services District in Marin County, California. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, she earned an MBA from California State University Monterey Bay and a Certificate in Public Leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School.
She brings a varied perspective as a result of having worked for a large multi-national corporation, owning her own business, and working for San Francisco Bay Area local governments. In local government, Ms. Abrams has worked with Cities, Counties, and special districts.
Tamalpais Community Services District
Carol Jacobs became the assistant city manager for the City of Newport Beach in 2015. She supports the City Manager by providing administrative guidance to City departments and directing the implementation of the organization’s strategic initiatives and special projects to ensure they align with the goals and policies of the City Council. She also leads interdepartmental efforts to address key issues affecting the community.
Carol has nearly three decades of professional experience working in the public and private sectors, leading organizations and managing community development, municipal accounting, budget, finance and information technology operations. She previously served as the City Manager for the cities of Stanton, Eastvale and Grand Terrace and held staff positions for the City of Costa Mesa. Jacobs also worked in the private sector as a senior manager for a financial services consulting company.
During the course of her career, Carol was responsible for redevelopment of key neighborhoods, new park facilities, fire stations, and a new public works yard and police substation. Working with the communities in which she has served, she built strong public/private partnerships, improved long-term fiscal health and improved operations with innovative solutions. Carol earned a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the California State University, Fullerton. She is a member of the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) and is an ICMA Credential Manager, a special designation that reflects her education and experience, adherence to high standards of integrity, and commitment to continuous learning.
Carol is the Past President Women Leading Government, a statewide group dedicated to growing talent and encouraging women in their profession. She is also a member of the International City/County Management Association and the Municipal Management Association of Southern California. Carol and her husband have two children and live in south Orange County.
Liaison to the Advisory Board
Assistant City Manager
City of Newport Beach
Patricia E. Martel
ICMA West Coast Regional Director
Recently appointed as ICMA West Coast Regional Director following thirty-eight years of distinguished service in California local government, Pat Martel held executive leadership positions with the cities of Inglewood, South San Francisco, Daly City, San Francisco and Hayward. Serving as an Assistant City Manager, General Manager of Public Utilities and City Manager, Ms. Martel was responsible for managing public services in communities ranging in size from 67,000 to 850,000 residents.
Most recently, Pat served as City Manager of Daly City from 2005 until retiring in June, 2018. She previously served as Assistant City Manger of Daly City from 1995 to 2001 before moving to the City and County of San Francisco to serve as the General Manager of the Public Utilities Commission. Throughout her career, Ms. Martel was committed to delivering high quality public services efficiently and cost effectively, enhancing community engagement and civic leadership, supporting organizational development and excellence, working collaboratively with elected officials to enhance governance and leadership, providing staff leadership development, advancing women and diversity in local government through inclusive recruitment, selection and professional development practices.
As West Coast Regional Director for the International City/County Management Association, Pat is responsible for coordinating ICMA’s presence in the West Coast Region which includes the states of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Providing support to well over 1500 ICMA members in the region, Pat serves as ICMA’s liaison to each of the state associations in making available the resources required by local government management professionals to successfully fulfill their public service responsibilities. The Regional Director also supports the ICMA Executive Board Vice Presidents representing the west coast.
Throughout her tenure in public service, Pat was actively engaged in professional development as a member of the International City and County Management Association (ICMA). She served on the Governmental Affairs and Policy Committee, Task Force on Women in the Profession, Task Force on Financing ICMA, Task Force on Leadership, and the Task Force on Strengthening Inclusiveness in the Profession. Currently, she is the ICMA co-chair, in partnership with the Center for Public Safety Excellence, of a white paper research project on 21st Century Fire Services.
Ms. Martel was elected a member of the ICMA Executive Board as West Coast Regional Vice President, 2010-2013. She was selected by the Executive Board to serve as the 102nd President of ICMA in 2015. Pat has also served the profession as a member of the California City Management Foundation Board, the City Managers Department of the League of California Cities, Women Leading Government Board, the Local Government Hispanic Network Board, and was most recently selected to serve on the Board of the Institute for Local Government. Ms. Martel was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2015 where she has served on the Fellows Nominating Committee.
Martel is the recipient of numerous awards and recognition for her contributions to local government, public service and the city management profession including: California City Management Foundation “City Manager of the Year” (2017), Elected a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration for sustained exemplary contributions to the improvement of Public Administration (2015), Women Leading Government Career Excellence Award (2013), San Francisco State University Award for Significant and Outstanding Public Service (2013), Daly City/Colma Chamber of Commerce Cypress Business Award for Leadership (2013), KQED Public Broadcasting Corporation and Kaiser Permanente Hispanic Heritage Month Local Hero for outstanding contributions and commitment to community service (2004), San Francisco Business Times Top 100 Women Business Leaders (2003) and 100 Most Influential Business Leaders in the Bay Area (2002).
A graduate of the University of Southern California, Martel holds a B.S. degree in Public Affairs and Journalism, as well as a Masters degree in Public Administration.
Ex-Officio ICMA Liaison
ICMA West Coast Regional Director
Retired City Manager