“I remember my dad always making sure we knew who we were, what our history was and that we always participated; in school, our community [and] church,” said Mona Pasquil, Chairperson of this year’s California Women Lead: Women’s Conference.
Born and raised just two hours outside the city of peace and love, San Francisco, to a tight-knit Filipino family and a social-worker father, it’s no wonder Pasquil ended up being a leader in CWL and the California state government.
While living in her hometown just outside Sacramento, the chairperson babysat for longtime political couple John and Patricia Garamendi beginning at age 12.
This experience, being in their home, volunteering on campaigns, and attending rallies, along with her father’s conscientious upbringing is ultimately what she accredits her inspiration to pursue a career in politics.
“I always looked at situations and tried to figure out; whose voice is missing?” said Pasquil.
She made the move to Washington, D.C., to begin her career by working with the Clinton administration in 1995 as the president’s Western political director.
Following her time in D.C., the California native longed for home and moved back to Los Angeles.
She was appointed as the Deputy CEO for the Democratic National Convention in 2000 and oversaw the election of Terry McAuliffe, then chairperson of the DNC, now governor of Virginia, and continued on with her career, ultimately leaving the DNC to work with IBM.
Pasquil made her way back up the coast to Sacramento and began working with the state government.
In 2009, former employer John Garamendi became a colleague as he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, leaving the position of lieutenant governor vacant; a position to which then governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Pasquil.
During her childhood, the leader admits she didn’t always understand what was going on at demonstrations or protests. “Why are they talking about this?” she often wondered.
However, she always recognized that people were talking about issues, and from an early age understood that “community empowerment” was something very important.
Although women are holding more government positions than ever before, the political arena still remains male dominated. An issue that the organization California Women Lead, which Pasquil chairs, tackles head on.
CWL works towards supporting women to achieve more appointed roles in state and local governments. Their story begins 40 years ago during Governor Jerry Brown’s first term, when women legislators, including now Senator Dianne Feinstein, put together a binder of eligible women to fill appointed positions and put it on his desk.
Pasquil became an example of CWL’s mission when she was appointed to lieutenant governor, being the first woman in California’s history to hold such office.
Her work with CWL is part-time, however, as she works with Brown as appointment secretary, handling the placing of over 3,000 individuals in offices up and down the coast of California.
Pasquil’s “labor of love” with CWL and her full-time position both focus on the same issue at hand: bettering the lives of the people.
“[Being able to show] ‘actually, yes you,’” is something the secretary says is very important to her.
Being the oldest of five helped Pasquil learn leadership skills early on. Along with her immersion in the tumultuous culture of the 1960s and exposure to compassion, her path makes sense.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had,” she said, and it doesn’t look like she’s going to stop blazing the trails any time soon.