As the current Oxnard Leadership cohort moved into the second half of the 2023 program, local experts guided them through two sessions that highlighted three topics impacting the community: history, the arts, and energy. Leadership alumni Zuviam's Joshua Beck ('20-'21), Oxnard Performing Arts Center's Carolyn Mullin ('22), and Catalyst Environmental Solutions' Justin Campbell ('18) were inspired by their experiences in the program and volunteered to coordinate these sessions.
History and The Arts
Guiding the cohort through local history for May's session were Jeff Maulhardt, Director of the Oxnard Historic Farm Park, who discussed the city's foundational history and shared his vast personal collection of historical artifacts. He is a fifth-generation descendent of two of Oxnard's founding families. Joe Mendoza, who just retired after an exceptional 63 years of service in education, also shared his life experience growing up in La Colonia and lessons for today's leaders.
For the first time since 2019, Oxnard Leadership explored the arts and how the creative economy makes the community a vibrant place for residents and business, not just in Oxnard but county-wide. After exploring the one-of-a-kind Mullin Automotive Museum (a first for the majority in the cohort), Ventura County's new Arts & Culture Manager David Yoshitomi highlighted the socioeconomic impact artists and creatives in the community, and his key initiatives including the County's 150th anniversary celebration. The day concluded at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center where participants got to unleash their own creativity with simple art projects and tour the facility with Board Chair Gary Blum. They also learned from leaders whose organizations are influencing Oxnard's artists and culture: Teatro Inlakech's Javier Gomez, Visit Oxnard's Brittney Hendricks, and Streets of Vintage's Jose Celedon.
Turning its attention to Energy for session six in June, the cohort met industry experts to gain a better understanding about local energy sources and and key issues impacting Oxnard residents and businesses. The morning was hosted at Aera Energy's 100-year-old clubhouse in Ventura and kicked off with coordinator Justin Campbell sharing a general overview of current energy operations in the county. Participants then took a deep dive into oil and gas industry, learning from Ben Oakley of Western States Petroleum Association, and Aera Energy's External Affairs Manager Amy Fonzo, General Manager Erin Larner, and additional team mates. The highlight of the morning was an incredible behind-the-scenes tour Aera's oil field that ended with spectacular views of Ventura and Lake Casitas.
The afternoon began with a working lunch at Southern California Edison with Natalie Yanez, Government Relations Manager and WVCVA Board Member. She highlighted SCE's wildfire mitigation plan that includes equipment replacement and upgrades, deploying drones to inspect equipment, vegetation management, and more. The cohort then spent the afternoon in the WVCBA conference room meeting with Vice President Sequoya Cross of Oxnard-based Simpliphi Power, an innovative energy storage solutions company that was acquired by Briggs & Stratton in 2021, and a conversation with Oxnard City Manager Alex Nguyen about the future of Oxnard's power plants at Ormond Beach and Mandalay Beach.
Thank you to all of the coordinators and speakers for volunteering their time and expertise with the Oxnard Leadership Program, and educating this group of committed community leaders!