A woman in leadership—growing into a new role
By Jeanette Sanchez-Palacios
District Director for California State
Assemblymember Das Williams
When I think about what I do and where I am today, I can’t say that at every moment along the way I was sure things would work out as they have. As a matter of fact, if you’d asked me a year ago what I would be doing now, I wouldn’t have been able to give you an answer. All I knew was that I cared about my family and my community and I cared about who I was as a Latina. I am blessed to have a boss who also embraces those ideals.
As the District Director for Assemblymember Das Williams, I realize that I’m in a powerful, influential position and how I handle that power is entirely up to me. Politics may not be for everyone, but regardless of whether you care about political issues, politics will always affect your life.
Not so long ago in a classroom filled with college students, when asked, no one in the room could name their Assemblymember. They probably couldn’t even name the members of their city council, but everyone could name the President. That’s the reality of our community today. People are less interested in politics at the state and local levels. And yet, everyone needs to remember that national politics depends on what happens at the local level.
My job can can be as simple as writing a letter of support to answering questions about who to call or what’s the first step to take? But my job goes beyond that. I have the power to educate, to influence people, to bring solutions. Not just about State Budget issues, but about anything impacting our district.
I am also an avenue by which to relay feedback about what is working and what is not. While Das spends Monday through Thursday in Sacramento, I am in the district as a resource to our constituents; taking the pulse of the community. I am the heart, eyes and ears for Das. Yet most people don’t see me as a resource. By the time I get their call or they walk into the office, they are frustrated, angry and hopeless. It is up to me to analyze and decipher next steps and hopefully bring a solution to their concerns. The “successes” are not always evident, though.
It takes patience, persistence and giving my all to the work I do every day. That is why it’s important for me to be proactive and not reactive. I take every opportunity to interact with constituents to address the concerns that sometimes they can’t address. It is empowering to be in this position because it’s not only an opportunity to lead where typically men have led, but it allows me to have a voice for myself and for the rest of the community.
Das has made conscious decisions to empower women. Women run all of his top managerial positions: Chief of Staff, Legislative Director and District Director. As a woman, this is important for me because access to leadership means the opportunity to address the challenges and the real needs of our communities. When we look at our world today, women play a pivotal role. The future lies in the hands of women, whatever the circumstances. I believe we can play a direct, thoughtful and meaningful role. Women need to be prepared to take on leadership roles. Sometimes we are asked to be in or are put into positions of power whether we’re ready or not. A year ago, I might not have known what my future held, but I didn’t let that deter me from developing leadership skills and learning, so that I could grow into a new role. And I have really grown.
I hope you’ll join me in embracing opportunities for women and continuing to support women in leadership positions. To learn more about me and the office of Assemblymember Das Williams or his upcoming events, please visit his website at: www.asmdc.org/members/a35/ Jeanette Sanchez-Palacios is the District Director for California State Assemblymember Das Williams.