Envisioning California Conference: A recap

The Center for California Studies hosted the 28th Annual Envisioning California Conference last week in Sacramento.  The topic of this year’s conference was Homelessness in California.  Given the relevancy of this issue in communities across the state, the day’s discussion and panels with ripe with insight and thoughtful conversation.  Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg delivered the keynote address at lunch, touching on many of the sensitive topics and policy points surrounding homelessness.

The Center also hosted a post-conference reception to celebrate our 35th anniversary along with the notable anniversaries of the four Capital Fellows Programs (60th anniversary of the Assembly Fellowship; 45th anniversary of the Senate Fellowship; the 32nd anniversary of the Executive Fellowship; and the 20th anniversary of the Judicial Fellowship).  Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen was on hand to accept the joint resolution from the State Senate and Assembly commemorating the special occasion.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Fall 2017 Executive Director Message


Steve Boilard, Executive Director, Center for California Studies

Around 6:30 each morning I arrive at the Center’s office on Sacramento State’s campus, and recently I’ve noticed that I have to make the trip with my headlights on. That, and the paucity of open parking spaces on campus signals the fall semester has begun. Summer is already fading into a memory.

Most of our key programs are built on an academic calendar. Our Capital Fellows Programs and our LegiSchool Project launch their programming in the fall. As I write this, Center staff are busily preparing orientation activities for 64 new Fellows and readying to welcome over 100 high school students to our first LegiSchool Town Hall Meeting of the academic year.  We are also working with Sacramento State faculty to prepare graduate seminars for our new Fellows. At the same time, we are gearing up to launch outreach activities around the state to encourage applicants for the next  (2018-19) Fellowship year. (Applications open in October.) It’s truly a year-round process.

Meanwhile, we’re deep into preparations for the 28th annual Envisioning California conference, which will be held on Thursday, October 5, in downtown Sacramento. This year’s conference theme is Homelessness in California. As always, the conference will highlight a large and diverse range of perspectives on a topic of great importance to our state. State and local government officials, academics, advocates, students, journalists, and others will come together to explore various facets of homelessness, including government and social programs, mental health factors, regional housing policies, and other topics. The centerpiece of the day-long conference will be a keynote address by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg during a catered lunch. Registration is free, but space is limited. You can register here.

At the end of this year’s conference, we will hold a reception marking the 35th anniversary of the Center for California Studies, as well as milestone anniversaries of our Capital Fellows Programs. It’s humbling for me to think of the vision, commitment, hard work, and sacrifice that went into creating and expanding the Center and its mission. Some of the people most closely associated with the Center, including Jeff Lustig and Tim Hodson, have passed. But one instrumental figure, former Sacramento State President Donald Gerth, remains active in supporting the Center (among numerous other good causes). I hope you’ll come to the reception to thank him personally!


October 5: 28th Annual Envisioning California Conference and Reception celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Center for California Studies, Tsakopoulus Library Galleria


Capital Fellows Alumni: Where are they now?





Kristen Torres Pawling, 2009-10 Executive Fellow

Kristen Torres Pawling is the Sustainability Program Director for the County of Los Angeles.   Appointed in June of 2017, she is responsible for crafting the sustainability plan for the county on behalf of the Los Angeles County Chief Sustainability Office.  This office provides comprehensive and coordinated policy support and guidance for the Board of Supervisors, County departments, and the region toward making healthier, more equitable, and more sustainable communities.


Kristen has been involved in air quality, transportation planning, and climate change policy for almost a decade.  After graduating from UCLA with a BA in Geography and Environmental Studies in 2009, she served as an Executive Fellow in the Office of Chairwoman Mary Nichols at the Air Resources Board (ARB) in the California Environmental Protection Agency.  She was involved in the implementation of the landmark greenhouse gas legislation AB 32 and SB 375, along with drafting the Strategic Growth Council’s Federal Transportation Policy Consensus Document.  Kristen continued her work with ARB in the Transportation Planning branch in Los Angeles, and after graduating with a Master’s in Urban & Regional Planning from UCLA worked with the Southern California Association of Governments as a regional planner and then with the Natural Resources Defense Council advocating for climate change solutions.

Kristen cites her experience as an Executive Fellow as a formative time for her as a professional. She also credits the fellowship for providing important lessons and experiences in leadership.

“My time as the Air Resources Board fellow gave me a thorough education on public service, credibility, collaboration, leadership, and more. During my fellowship years (2009-2010) the state’s economic situation was still incredibly tough. The value and impact of air quality and climate change policies were under fire nearly every single day.

As a fellow, I worked with and learned from some incredible women who were pioneers in a male-dominated field.” I learned that being prepared and being self-confident would put your ahead of so many others who may only have one of those two parts of the equation under their belt. I saw that principle in action when our chief counsel squared off with cowboy boot-wearing railroad attorneys who resisted clean equipment at California’s most polluting railyards and I saw it when my mentor went to face anti-environment legislators who questioned California’s role as global leader on climate change. Applying that lesson to my career today years after my fellowship is especially meaningful when I enter a room to find I’m the only millennial, only woman, and/or only Latina.”

Profile in Leadership: Lisa Cardoza




Lisa Cardoza, Ed.D.
Sacramento State, Chief of Staff to the President and Interim Vice-President, University Advancement

A key component of the Center’s mission is the goal of fostering in California’s future leaders a dedication to public service and a commitment to the values of a representative democracy.  The opportunity to connect to and learn from established leaders in our community is just one of the ways the Center seeks to fulfill this goal. To that end, we will be profiling, on the Californiana Blog, leaders in our community who demonstrate a high level of dedication, commitment to public service, and who work “behind the scenes” in very influential roles.  This is an opportunity to learn more about the leaders who inspire us and who are responsible for getting the job done.


Lisa Cardoza, Ed.D., is the Chief of Staff to President Nelsen and is also currently serving as the Interim Vice-President of University Advancement here at Sacramento State.  We had the chance to sit down with Lisa earlier this summer and get her take on leadership and the importance of public service in higher education.

What motivates you in your professional career?

I am motivated most by my desire to assist in providing opportunities for students to succeed, regardless of background.  I grew up in an under-resourced community in South Texas, but I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to pursue higher education because of people who cared, and education has made all the difference in my life.

Please share your leadership style.

I consider myself an authentic leader, and I believe the best leaders lead by example.  If I want my team to remain motivated and committed, uphold a solid work ethic, and project a positive attitude, then I’d better be doing those things myself.

Who was a significant influence on your career in public service?

There have been several individuals in my life who have influenced my life and my career in public service: 1. My parents – my mother was a teacher and my father was a business entrepreneur; both care tremendously about the communities they serve; 2. My mentor, Dr. Francisco Guajardo, who taught me the value of people, place, and stories and sealed my commitment to education, and 3. My boss, Robert S. Nelsen, who has taught me to lead with my heart and always put students first.

What challenges do you think our state needs to focus on over the next 10 years?

The state needs to identify and pursue common goals, with a major focus on education. In addition, I think the state needs to focus on becoming more efficient. I have been surprised at how many processes and policies are outdated and inefficient; we must not remain complacent as there is always a need to improve our services.

Where is your favorite place to travel to in California?

California has so many picturesque and exciting places – from mountains to beaches to everywhere in between.  My favorite places to visit so far have been Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, and Amador County. I look forward to exploring more of California in the years to come.



To keep up to date on all the happenings at the Center for California Studies subscribe to the Californiana Blog now!

2nd Cohort of Education Policy Fellows Selected

Blog image.pngThe California Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP) is pleased to announce our second cohort of Fellows. California EPFP is jointly administered by the Center for California Studies and EdInsights at Sacramento State. Each year, the professional development initiative brings together 20 Fellows from K-12 and higher education to explore topics related to student success.

This year’s Fellows will attend three intensive weekend seminars and engage with policy experts about big issues in public education. The curriculum is designed to build strong networks of systems thinkers who can help improve policy creation and implementation in California to support students across the K-16 pipeline.

According to one former Fellow, “The biggest success of California EPFP is the wonderful network. I feel like I have someone to call if I have a policy or implementation issue who could give me advice.” Through participation in the program, California EPFP Fellows gain access to alumni in this state, as well as a national network of approximately 300 current Fellows and more than 3,000 alumni from 17 other EPFP sites across the country.

The program’s opening weekend seminar will be in October at Asilomar in Pacific Grove. Applications for the 2018-19 cohort are available in Spring 2018. If you’re interested in receiving a note when applications are available, email epfp@csus.edu.

California EPFP is supported by grants from College Futures Foundation, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

Capital Fellows: Where are they now?


Profile Final

Ryan Kawamoto, Assembly Fellow 2002-03

Merging non-profit management, policy consulting, and business operational skills, Ryan Kawamoto is currently the Executive Director of Yu-Ai Kai, a trusted senior community center that has provided services to over 3,000 seniors and their families annually for over 43 years. Yu-Ai Kai’s Neighborhood Meals on Wheels program, senior nutrition program, health and wellness activities, Senior Day Services program, and customized case management program have been credited with saving many lives. Additionally, as an author and illustrator, Ryan is the CEO of Little Hawk Comics, which published his 365-page graphic novel for youths to discuss and learn about racism.

He was a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow in 2002-2003 for Majority Leader Wilma Chan and later became a legislative aide for Assemblymember Mike Feuer, where he staffed a successful legislative campaign generating $40 billion in transit funding for Los Angeles County. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego, in political science with a minor in visual arts and a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He holds leadership positions on the Aging Services Collaborative Leadership Council, Age-Friendly San Jose Advisory Council, and Japantown Community Congress of San Jose, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project.

“I credit the fellowship program with providing me an unparalleled foundation to cultivate my analytic and strategic planning skills with real-world consequences in an incredibly supportive environment. The fellowship program has also provided me with an unshakable view of always perceiving issues as a policy advocate first and foremost even if my role is in the business or nonprofit sector.“


In Memoriam: Tyrone L. McGraw


Fellows 051 10-23-13

Tyrone L. McGraw, Assembly Fellow, 2013-14

The Center and Capital Fellows community lost one of our most beloved alums, Tyrone L. McGraw, on Sunday, June 18 after a three-year battle with cancer.  Tyrone arrived in Sacramento in October 2013 as a member of the 2013-14 Assembly Fellows class.


Fellows arrive in Sacramento every Fall eager for the chance to make a difference and leave their mark on state government.  From the start, Tyrone stood out for his humanity – shaping and defining the class and the experience of his fellow fellows by his willingness to share his story and inspire through his commitment to public service.  Tyrone uplifted all of us with his kindness, positivity, determination, and spirit of giving like no other.  He brought this same light to the Capitol community after his fellowship year, continuing on as a staffer in the state Assembly.

Steve Boilard, Executive Director of the Center for California Studies had this to say about Tyrone, “I’m often asked by applicants “what do you look for in a Fellow?” And as I go down the list – enthusiasm, humility, a commitment to public service, integrity, idealism – I visualize Tyrone. He achieved so much for himself and accomplished so much good for others. One wonders what he would have gone on to do if he’d been given more time. But I know that he’s made an impact on all of us, and his spirit of public service will continue. It’s people like Tyrone who make me optimistic about California’s future.”

The immense outpouring of love, loss, and support since his passing is a testament to the impact he had on all those that he encountered.  We are proud to have had Tyrone as a part of our Capital Fellows family and he will always be remembered.

A celebration of the life of Tyrone L. McGraw will occur on Saturday July 8, 2017 at 11 AM at Archbishop Riordan High School in San Francisco.  Please rsvp here https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrating-the-life-of-tyrone-l-mcgraw-tickets-35780372056

Donations in celebration of Tyrone’s memory can be made to the Tyrone L. McGraw scholarship fund at http://tinyurl.com/tlmcgraw under the “Tyrone L. McGraw Scholarship”

California Through My Eyes: LegiSchool photo contest winners announced


BC 376 E Caballero

First Place Winner: Elysse Caballero, 12th Grade
Community Health Advocates School at Augustus F. Hawkins High School, Los Angeles, CA

Each year, the LegiSchool Project invites California high school students to submit a photograph illustrating what California looks like and means to them from their point of view. The “California Through My Eyes” photography contest allows students to exercise their creativity while at the same time, think critically about what California symbolizes.


Submissions to the photo contest reached a record number this year, 520 photos!   The photo submissions were excellent and selecting 5 cash winners was extremely difficult.  A huge thank you to the photo contest judges: Sacramento State’s Media Production Specialist, Jessica Vernone; Photographer and Design Coordinator, Bruce Clark; and interim LegiSchool Director Elisia Hoffman.

The photos awarded top honors will be on display at the State Capitol building on the 3rd floor of the annex from July 10 – August 10.  A sampling of the winning photographs is below. To view the all the winning photos online check out the LegiSchool Blog.