Heather Abrams is the Town Manager of Fairfax, California. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She earned an Executive Certificate in Public Leadership from the Harvard Kennedy School, and she earned her MBA from California State University at Monterey Bay.
Ms. Abrams has 20 years of experience managing local government operations and programs. 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.
Ms. Abrams is the recipient of an ICMA Award of Excellence, two employee recognition awards from CH2M/Jacobs, four Beacon Spotlight Awards for Sustainability from the Institute for Local Government, the Silicon Valley Water Conservation Award, and she won special recognition for her work on the City of Menlo Park’s General Plan update.
Town of Fairfax
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
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
Bio coming soon!
Community Development Director
City of Moorpark
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.
Immediate Past President
Senior Management Analyst
City of Santa Clarita
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
Karen Pinkos is the City Manager for the City of El Cerrito. As the City Manager, Karen serves as the City's chief executive officer, and is responsible for the management of all affairs and departments operating within the City. Karen is committed to the mission, vision, and values of El Cerrito, and works with the City Council to turn policies into results for the residents, businesses, and visitors of our community.
A native of Michigan, Karen has over 25 years of experience in professional management, beginning her public sector career in the City of Oak Park, Michigan before coming to El Cerrito in 2001. Karen served as the Assistant City Manager for over 12 years, and was appointed City Manager in December 2018. She is passionate about local government and is dedicated to promoting professional, efficient, ethical management in California, across the country, and around the world.
Karen served as the 2019 President of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), having previously served as a Vice President of the ICMA Executive Board for the West Coast Region, and is the Past President of the Cal-ICMA Board, the state affiliate of ICMA. She is the President-Elect of the League of California Cities City Manager's Department and a member of the California City Management Foundation Board of Trustees. She is an ICMA Credentialed Manager, an Executive Member of the Municipal Management Association of Northern California (MMANC) and a 2022 Fellow of the ICMA/Kettering Foundation/National Civic League Leadership Institute on Race, Equity, and Inclusion. Karen is a recipient of the 2007 MMANC Wes McClure Outstanding Assistant Award, the Municipal Management Association of Southern California (MMASC) 2021 President's Award, and the California Women Leading Government (WLG) 2022 Career Excellence Award.
Karen holds a Master of Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and is a graduate of the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She is also a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley Executive Seminar program.
City of El Cerritos
Debra Rose is the City Manager of Lake Forest, California. Debra emphasizes teamwork, ethics and communication in her leadership of the City. Since 2017, Debra has implemented innovative new programs, expanded City communications and marketing, as well as oversaw the development of the new $80 million Lake Forest Civic Center which was built without issuing debt. Prior to joining Lake Forest, she worked for the cities of Cypress and Garden Grove.
Debra’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Public Administration from the California State University, Fullerton. Debra lives in Orange County with her rescue dog Donnie Darko.
City of Lake Forest
This is modal title
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.
Patricia E. Martel
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