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.



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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

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

Donations in celebration of Tyrone’s memory can be made to the Tyrone L. McGraw scholarship fund at 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.



Capital Fellows: Where are they now?



Laura Speed, Senate Fellow 2003-04

Laura Enderton-Speed is the Supervising Attorney (Assistant Director) over the Office of Governmental Affairs at the Judicial Council of California.    Laura was hired by the Judicial Council in October of 2013 and handles the daily operations of the office of governmental affairs and general legislative advocacy for the judicial branch.  In this role, Laura also serves as the Judicial Council liaison to the Judicial Administration Fellowship Program and serves as a mentor in the program.

Laura has been in governmental affairs and communications since her fellowship ended in 2004.  Prior to working at the Judicial Council, Laura was the Governmental Relations and Legislative Officer for Sacramento County.  In this position, Laura managed state, local and federal governmental relations for the county.  She also managed the communications and media office at the county.

Laura also spent a number of years in the executive branch—as the Division Chief of Stakeholder Relations for the California Public Employees Retirement System (more commonly known as CalPERS) and as the Deputy Chief of External Affairs for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  In both of these positions, Laura managed statewide outreach and communications to interested stakeholders and the public.

Laura also worked in the California State Senate as a policy consultant for the Senate Republican Office of Policy for five years.  This is the same office Laura had been placed in as a fellow.  Through her time at the Legislature, Laura handled a myriad of issues include public safety, judiciary, local government, public employment/retirement, labor and employment, and environmental quality.

Laura also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she currently teaches the course Persuasive Analysis Strategies & Skills.  Laura earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from San Jose State University and her juris doctorate from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

The fellowship is so much more than just doing “work” in your placement, it is an opportunity to learn new professional skills and to build a professional network.  Relationships I built as a fellow continue to impact my career, sometimes on a daily basis.

Center for California Studies Visiting Scholar Program: Now accepting applications for 2017-18!


In 2012 the Center for California Studies, in keeping with our mission to bridge academia and government in the service of strengthening California’s democracy, launched the Visiting Scholar Program.  Supported by a generous endowment from Don and Beverly Gerth, each year our Center selects one practicing researcher to showcase and promote their research on a topic or issue pertinent to the well-being of our state.

The Center is now accepting applications for the 2017-18 Visiting Scholar position.  We welcome applicants from all universities and a variety of disciplines.  Past visiting scholars have hailed from the University of Nevada, Reno, the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the University of the Pacific.  The research featured in our program have included such topics as case studies on municipal bankruptcies, ballot initiative reform and civic engagement, protecting the cultural histories of the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta, and the impact of term limits and lobbying.

Our current visiting scholar, Dr. Richard “Rich” Callahan, hails from the University of San Francisco and is continuing his research into how health care foundations are utilizing innovative new strategies to address the social determinants of health. The Center for California Studies will be hosting his Capital area presentation on Thursday, June 22, 2017, in downtown Sacramento.  The event is free to the public.

If you would like to learn more about our program contact Brian Aguilar at

Spring 2017 Executive Director Message



Steve Boilard, Executive Director, Center for California Studies

Spring this year has brought a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. In the latter category is record rainfall, which has rescued California from a 5-year-long drought. In the former category is pollen, which results in an ongoing chorus of sneezes among the staff here at the Center for California Studies., situated in Tahoe Hall on the Sacramento State campus.

Spring has always been my favorite season, characterized by the themes of rebirth, growth, and renewal. The Center encounters these themes as we renew our various experiential education programs. For example, the entire office has been engaged in the process of reviewing applications (over 1400 of them!) and conducting interviews for our next “crop” of Capital Fellows. We also have been involved with selecting our next DC Fellow (who will spend a year at the California Institute for Federal Policy Research in Washington, DC), the next Panetta Intern (a Sacramento State undergraduate who will represent the campus through the Panetta Institute), and the next class of Education Policy Fellows (our newest fellows program, aimed at mid-career professionals in education policy).

All this focus on selecting fellows and interns has had me thinking a lot about the interview process. Of course, there is no single method that can successfully identify the “right’ candidate for any position. That’s why we rely on multiple methods beyond just interviews, including writing exercises, academic records, letters of recommendation, and others. But interviews fill a unique role. They show us not what someone has already accomplished, but rather what makes them tick. Are they deliberative or impetuous? Confident or reserved? Do they think on their feet? How do they tell a story? How do they connect with others? What do they emphasize in conversation?

I’m often asked what attributes stand out to committee members during interviews. There is no single answer to that question because we use multiple interviewers who view the candidates through their own unique lens. But one characteristic that is valued in all our programs is sincerity. It’s clear to a selection committee when a candidate is trying to impress them with answers and statements or that the candidate doesn’t fully engage with core aspects of the programs such as public service. Such an approach is awkward, like that cringe-inducing Brady Bunch scene when Peter Brady tries to be Bogart. Worse, it conveys duplicity and undermines the legitimate strengths of the candidate. So, perhaps the best interview advice comes from Oscar Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Capital Fellows: Where are they now?


Jacque Roberts, Senate Fellow 2001-02

Jacque Roberts is a senior advisor at the Department of General Services. Appointed by Governor Brown in June of 2015, Jacque provides policy and political expertise to the director and executive team on major initiatives and strategic direction.


Previously, Jacque served as a deputy legislative affairs secretary in the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. from 2011 to 2015. During this time, Jacque was the liaison for the Executive Fellowship Program. She also served as assistant legislative secretary in the Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2006 to 2010, where she also served as a senior legislative analyst from 2005 to 2006. Jacque served as a policy analyst in the Office of the California Secretary of Education in 2005, as floor manager for the California State Senate from 2002 to 2004 and as a Senate Fellow in the Office of California State Senate Republican Leader Jim Brulte from 2001 to 2002.

Raised in Sacramento, Jacque has a bachelor’s degree in Social Science/Political Science from Biola University in La Mirada, California.

“The Senate Fellows Program was an invaluable experience – professionally, academically and personally. As a young professional, I had the opportunity to learn directly from experts – public servants who took the time to mentor me and teach me the ropes. My colleagues had an open-door policy that allowed me ask questions and gain insight on policy and politics. Most importantly, the people I met and the relationships I built still resonate in my life today. That foundation as a Fellow launched my career in public service.”

Research on California City Councils Honored for Use of California Elections Data Archive

The Center for California Studies at Sacramento State has selected the recipient of its annual award for exceptional published research that uses data from the California Elections Data Archive. The article, Business as usual: Politicians with business experience, government finances, and policy outcomes, was published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization in November 2016. The authors are Dr. Brian Beach of the College of William and Mary, and Dr. Daniel B. Jones of the University of South Carolina.

The article explores whether government finances and policy outcomes different under politicians with business experience. As a key source of data, the article makes use of city council elections results that are tabulated in the California Elections Data Archive (CEDA). CEDA is the only statewide database that collects, tabulates and reports candidate and ballot measure results for all local California elections. CEDA reports include all candidates, their ballot designations and vote totals, as well as all ballot measures, their ballot summary information, and vote totals. CEDA is a partnership between the Center for California Studies and the Institute of Social Research (ISR) at Sacramento State, and the California Secretary of State. More information about CEDA, and access to the database, are available at

“We are pleased to be honoring this research, which makes an important contribution to our understanding of how professional experience affects politicians’ policies,” said Steve Boilard, Executive Director at Sacramento State’s Center for California Studies. “We are especially pleased that CEDA data was helpful in answering the researchers’ questions. That’s why we help to support the CEDA project.”

Drs. Beach and Jones will share a $500 award in recognition of their outstanding research. Their article can be accessed at