Monterey Park, CA – On Saturday, April 21st, CAUSE held the fourth Leadership Institute Training Session of 2018 at the SoCalGas Monterey Park Learning Center.
The day’s sessions started off with a discussion policies surrounding utilities and disaster preparedness. Jeanne Woo, Disaster Program Manager at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region, started off by explaining the American Red Cross’s role in ensuring Los Angeles communities are prepared for and properly serviced during disaster situations. She emphasized that as a region that is not only very large, but also extremely diverse, there are many vulnerable communities within Los Angeles that need more attention and language support. In addressing these issues, Jeanne shared their ongoing efforts to work directly with community organizations, stating, “Our strengths are partnering with our communities…You as a community, you as a state, need to tell us how to spend the money…we need to reach into the community before the disaster occurs to tell us.”
Next, Uduak-Joe Ntuk, Petroleum Administrator at the Office of Petroleum and Natural Gas Administration and Safety of the City of Los Angeles, explained his role as a coordinator between government utility and environmental agencies. Specifically, he spoke on the prevalence of oil drilling sites throughout Los Angeles that residents are uninformed or misinformed about, leading to complex safety concerns. Facing similar language-barrier issues as a result of the diversity of Los Angeles communities, Udak explains that conveying accurate information is a continuous challenge.
After a lunch break, fellows had the opportunity to sit down with Anne Shen Smith, retired Chairman and CEO of SoCalGas and current Board Director of PG&E Corporation. Anne shared some of the early struggles she had starting out in the states as an 11 year-old immigrant, including the pressures that come from feeling out of place as a foreigner. Despite these hardships, she encouraged the fellows to make the best of each difficult situation should they inevitably come across them and to never compromise their values. She emphasized the importance of building bridges and uplifting others, stating “As you are reaching up, don’t forget to reach out.”
Lastly, Dan Schnur delivered a workshop on messaging and public speaking. He explained how to tailor a message to resonate with individuals that would most likely side with your cause, and discouraged wasteful efforts to convince those who have a clearly different stance. Additionally, he underscored the importance of relating to the audience by using accessible language and by finding a way to connect with them, bringing up the saying, “We want our leaders to be like us, only better.”