Celebrating Local Women in Leadership

March 12, 2019
by Erin Taylor

Celebrating Local Women in Leadership

This article originally appeared in the March edition of Seascape

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked some of the leaders in our community to talk about their connection to Santa Monica, what inspires them, and what advice they have for the young women of Santa Monica.


Linda Greenberg

Executive Director, Santa Monica Education Foundation

My vision for the future of Santa Monica
My wish is that all children in our public schools, regardless of their socio-economic background or what school they attend, have access to enriching programs, like arts, science, technology, wellness programs, and more. This is our mission at the Santa Monica Education Foundation.

Misti Kerns
President, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism

My connection to Santa Monica
My connection to Santa Monica is an emotional one. I moved to Santa Monica over two decades ago and fell in love with this city. The people, ocean, sunsets, restaurants and the many choices of things we have to do in our 8.3 square miles have kept me here, along with the overall vibe of the city. My husband, Chris, my daughter, Kalei (a student of SMMUSD and Santa Monica College), and I are very proud to call Santa Monica our home and as President/CEO of Santa Monica Travel & Tourism I am fortunate to enjoy the diversity that visitors provide our community.

My advice to the young women in Santa Monica
The best advice I can give to the young women in Santa Monica is to be involved in your community, we need more strong, powerful and brave women in leadership roles. Serve as or seek out a female mentor. Your opinion matters and should be heard, please speak up. Be sure you are with a partner who supports your ambitions and your success. Life is a journey make it your own. Expand your horizons and have fun.

Paula Larmore
Attorney, Mom, Supporter of Local Schools and Businesses

My connection to Santa Monica
I’m fortunate to both live and work in Santa Monica. I’m a land use attorney and mom to two energetic kids who enjoy Santa Monica’s parks, beaches and libraries. I support our public schools as a volunteer fundraiser on the Santa Monica Education Foundation Board. I’ve also served on the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Board and mentored young women living in Santa Monica who were transitioning out of the foster care system.

My advice to the young women in Santa Monica
To the youth of Santa Monica, I advise them to be engaged and present in the community, and in all they do. Explore and seek out new opportunities. Work hard and with purpose.

Judy Abdo
Community Activist and Former Mayor

My greatest accomplishment to Santa Monica in my past role
I was one of the few openly lesbian mayors ever elected in the US. I also participated in the rebuilding of the Santa Monica Pier after the 1983 storm demolished part of it. And perhaps the most lasting accomplishment was persuading the City staff to recommend to the City Council that they fund the creation of Community Corporation in 1981.

My advice to the young women in Santa Monica
No matter where you work or go to school, get involved in local groups, apply for commission appointments, get to know your neighbors and others within the city, attend local events, and volunteer to help whenever you can.

Sylvia Ghazarian
Chair, Commission on the Status of Women

My involvement in Santa Monica
The rights of women and girls is something I am actively involved in personally and professionally, whether it is mentoring girls or working on policies that effect our human rights. The Commission on the Status of Women has offered me the opportunity in the last 9 years to help our city build on the needs of the majority of the population of Santa Monica—women—in a way that fulfills my passion and activism. Our city ratified CEDAW—an international human rights treaty—to condemn all forms of discrimination, retaliation and violence against women and girls. The treaty calls on each city to overcome barriers to discrimination in the political, social, economic, and cultural fields.

Gleam Davis
Mayor of Santa Monica

My most memorable moment in Santa Monica
The night in May 2004 that the City Council made a commitment to provide steady, predictable funding to our public schools through what ultimately became known as the Master Facilities Use Agreement. I was one of the many education activists that had worked hard to draft and qualify for the ballot a proposed charter amendment that would have required the City to share its relative economic prosperity with the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District. That agreement remains in effect and annually provides millions of dollars to our schools.

My advice to young women in Santa Monica
Agility is the key to success. Life rarely follows a straight path towards your goal but it is important to take all the speed bumps and detours in stride and keep your eye on the prize. Don’t be discouraged. Sometimes the obstacles we face make us better able to realize our dream; sometimes they open the door to new possibilities.

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