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Lorenzo Cordova

District Aide to Supervisor Dennis Rodoni

Marin County Board of Supervisors

Civic Center Drive, Room 326, San Rafael

415-473-3092

www.marincounty.org/depts/bs/district-4/home

Professional background: Government administration

Education: B.A., University of Redlands; MSc, London School of Economics; graduate degree in land-use planning and management, University of California, Davis

Tell us your story and that of your organization: I did not grow up wanting to go in the government. In fact, growing up as a first-generation Latino immigrant in the Canal neighborhood of San Rafael, I have no idea there was such thing as a city council or board of supervisors. It wasn’t until I got to high school that I began to learn about local government and community leadership.

And now, ten years later I am lucky to be working with my current boss, Supervisor Dennis Rodoni. My job varies from day to day, but I essentially, support the supervisor in his role as the elected representative for District 4.

I handle land use and development, equity, and telecommunication, public utilities and immigrant policy as well as special projects.

As his representative in our community, I am responsible for building and maintaining relationships with community stakeholders, elected officials, and community leaders/organizers. I am also the assistant public information officer (PIO) for the County of Marin’s Emergency Operations Center during emergencies.

Is there a major accomplishment in the past year or so that you would like to share?

In 2017, our office decided to declare 2018 as Year of the Older Adult. This is a year-long calendar of events and programs focusing on the vitality, contributions and challenges of Marin’s older adult residents.

The program will also initiate new policies, programs and resources to promote an age-friendly Marin County. I was the project lead in our office and helped activate a group of community leaders to make this year long event possible.

What is the achievement you are most proud of?

Being the first person in my family to graduate college has been by far my most proud accomplishment. I grew up in a single-parent home, so college attainment was not the clear path for my future.

Luckily, my mom instilled in a strong work ethic and ability to reach out for help when needed. However, I did not have it easy. I was lucky to become a part of a college access organization in San Rafael called Next Generation Scholars. With their help I was able to secure pathway towards college. And with the generosity of 10,000 Degrees I was able to fund my college journey. There was no better feeling than crossing that college graduation stage and seeing my mom in the audience.

What is your biggest challenge today?

Every day presents a new set of challenges. However, the biggest challenge in field is funding. So often we hear from our constituents about the lack services we offer or how the services we are offer are not enough.

This is particularly challenging because we are constrained with finite resources to provide our services and the number of folks who depend on our services is increasing. So, we must get creative and apply for outside funding and foster public-private partnerships to enhance the funds for our services.

As a successful professional, what were the biggest obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?

My biggest obstacle is definitely my age. Often, I am the youngest person in the room by multiple decades. And it can be very easy for more established professionals to be dismissive of someone like me. However, being the huge nerd that I am, I strive to be well-informed in every meeting that I walk into make sure that I can add substance and move the conversation forward.

Lorenzo Cordova

District Aide to Supervisor Dennis Rodoni

Marin County Board of Supervisors

Civic Center Drive, Room 326, San Rafael

415-473-3092

www.marincounty.org/depts/bs/district-4/home

How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?

I am hoping that in five years our community will continue to believe in their local government and that projects that are currently in the planning stages, will come to fruition. I enjoy working for Supervisor Rodoni, and should he be in office then, I look forward to being on his team.

Who was your most important mentor?

I have had many mentors in my life that have inspired me, challenged me, or helped me deepen my understanding of the world.

However, John Walsh, the chaplain at the University of Redlands,has had the most impact in my life.

He was the first professor I ever had and he introduced me to authors like Howard Zinn, Malcolm X, and various religious texts. He never pushed me to believe anything I wasn’t comfortable with, but he did push me to expose myself to someone else’s perspective.

One of my most valuable pieces of advice came from him, “Lorenzo, a person’s opinion depends on where they have been standing their entire lives.”

And that has been my internal sound board when interacting with people who think differently than I do.

John has been instrumental in guiding me through all my life transitions. He is an honest man and always gives you the time to speak. But what makes him so special, is that he believes in people’s ability to accomplish greatness and that everyone—no matter their pathway—has goodness inside them.

Tell us about your community involvement: I am strong advocate for educational equity for all. I believe that our public schools have the power to transform a generation.

I serve on the board for 10,000 Degrees, Marin Kids, and Marin Promise Partnership. All these organization are striving to shift the educational outcomes through programmatic changes to how we fund schools, educate our children, and prepare them for college. I am passionate of the work that they all do and I am lucky that I get to be a part of this work.

What advice would you give to a young person today?

My advice is simple. Believe in yourself. None of my accomplishments would have been possible if I did not believe in myself. It took me a long time to get there, but as soon as I did the work I do became more meaningful.

Most admired businessperson outside your organization: I admire many business leaders in our community. And appreciate business leaders who give back or partner with local governments to make their communities a better place for all.

Quick takes...

Words that best describe you: Kind. Adaptable. Gregarious.

Current reading: I just finished reading “The Ostrich Paradox” by Robert Meyer and Howard Kunreuther. This book draws on years of teaching and research from both Meyer and Kunreuther to explain why disaster preparedness efforts consistently fall short.

In my opinion, “The Ostrich Paradox” is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why we consistently under prepare for disasters, but critically important for private and public leaders, planners, and policy-makers who want to build better prepared communities.

Most want to meet: I have fond memories of watching the show Cristina with my mom, so I would say Cristina Saralegui. Often referred to as the “Latina Oprah”, but I believe she is on a league of her own.

I would enjoy grabbing a cup of Cuban coffee and talking about her journalistic career and talk show.

Stress relievers: I really enjoying going to the beach. I feel most at peace when I am closer to the large bodies of water. I often spend my weekends at Dillon Beach and Stinson Beach. I’m a huge reader too, so anytime I am entrenched in novel.

Favorite hobbies: I like to stay active. I am big fan of running and High Intensity Interval Training work out classes. I enjoy cooking too and making meals from all over the world for my family and friends to enjoy.

Is there something we didn’t ask that you would like to add?

I am the only Latino, bilingual, LGTBQ staffer for the entire Marin County Board of Supervisors and I am proud that my boss, Supervisor Rodoni, is supportive and encouraging of my background, experience, and potential. I would not be receiving this recognition today if it were not for his priorities to have an office that is representative of the community he serves.