Former Rialto City Councilmember and longtime public leader returns home to spearhead local regional agency
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
Western Riverside Council of Government’s (WRCOG) Executive Committee, which serves as WRCOG’s decision-making policy board, has appointed Dr. Kurt Wilson as its next Executive Director, replacing long-time Executive Director, Rick Bishop, who retired in early 2021.
Dr. Kurt Wilson grew up in the Inland Empire and is a local government expert, advocate, and educator with over a quarter century of experience leading local government agencies. He is a former City of Rialto Councilmember, has held senior management positions in five cities across the West Coast, and has served in state and federal capacities including two Gubernatorial appointments from former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
WRCOG Chair and Riverside County District 2 Supervisor Karen Spiegel commented, “After an extensive and competitive search for WRCOG’s next Executive Director, I am thrilled that one of the Inland Empire’s very own will be returning home to lead the Agency. Dr. Kurt Wilson’s extensive background in municipal management, coupled with experience as a former councilmember, and overarching dedication to public service made him in an exceptional choice for the position.”
In his preceding role as Interim City Manager for the City of Beaverton, Oregon, he was tasked with transitioning the organization from a strong Mayor-form of government to a Council manager form of government. He is best known for leading the City of Stockton in a financial turnaround from Chapter 9 bankruptcy and culminating with a ranking of 2nd most fiscally healthy large city in America. He is the current Vice President for the California affiliate of the International City and County Management Association, former President of the City Managers’ Department of the League of California Cities (Cal Cities), and former Board member for the California City Management Foundation. He also teaches courses for the International Association of Government Officials and a graduate course on criminal justice reform for the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy.
For 30 years, WRCOG has been a driving force for leading innovative programs and collaborative solutions in the areas of transportation, planning, energy, environment, and conservation that benefit its members which include the County of Riverside, 18 cities, two water districts, and the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools.
In response to being named as WRCOG’s next Executive Director, Dr. Kurt Wilson stated that “Professionally, I’m excited to take on such an exciting role and am pleased with the range of challenges and opportunities currently facing WRCOG and the greater Inland Southern California region. Personally, I’m looking forward to being closer to family and rekindling many longstanding relationships with people in the area.”
He will begin serving in his new role July 2021.
Driven and Influential Latina Shaping the Expansion of the Small Business Ecosystem
People On The Move
By Josaline Cuesta, California Program Director, Small Business Majority & IEBJ Content Contributor
Based in Southern California, Xiomara Peña is currently the Vice President of Programs & Engagement at Small Business Majority, where she leads a team of 13 to drive the organization’s external engagement efforts and build visibility. Xiomara has grown into an executive position at Small Business Majority, so I sat down with her to learn more about that evolution and her thoughts on the future of the small business community.
For nearly a decade, Xiomara Peña (Xio) has worked in various roles at Small Business Majority to ensure that entrepreneurs feel supported and empowered. To align with Small Business Majority’s mission, she has focused on lifting the voices of diverse small business owners to create an inclusive and equitable table that benefits smaller firms in underserved communities.
She has been named one of the “Top 50 Women Leaders of Los Angeles for 2023;” showcased among changemakers such as America Ferrera, Kali Uchis, and Emeraude Toubia on a list of 100 influential Latinas shaping our world; and she currently serves on the Advisory Council for Support Latino Business, just to name a few of her accomplishments.
As the daughter of immigrant parents born in Honduras and Mexico, Xio knows firsthand the uphill battle many immigrants endure to gain the American dream. “My parents worked hard and were fortunate to be able to apply their entrepreneurial skills towards making a living,” said Xio. She grew up in low-income areas and became a single parent at a young age. But she also became a first-generation college student who hustled through school, being pushed by the example of her immigrant parents, who heavily touted the importance of working hard. “I take from these experiences and lean on them in my everyday work,” said Xio. She continues, “While some may describe them as barriers, they created opportunity and promise to me.”
Indeed, many small businesses–especially those owned by people of color, women, and immigrants–encounter multiple obstacles to small business ownership due to entrenched discriminatory policies and practices exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the daunting consequences of the pandemic, Xio has always searched for the positives. She has been excited to witness the recent surge in new business formation among the Latino community and the pursuit of independent enterprises due to entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities to combat layoffs and cutbacks. “Entrepreneurship is a proven pathway for Americans from all walks of life to build an income, independence, and financial security for themselves, their families, and their employees. This path to finding independence has become even more essential for people in under-served communities who have been shunned by traditional access to capital opportunities.”
Alongside the organization’s small business engagement team and other leadership, Xio works collaboratively to strengthen relationships with policymakers, small business owners, and organizations nationwide to amplify an equity lens in the small business ecosystem. She understands the power of community-based organizations and the strength of knowledge. Although she has worked with various small business owners and small business organizations across the country, her deep-seated work in California has given her a unique perspective on the true needs of Latino and Black small business owners who have faced systemic barriers to ownership. She has described these challenges as a “broken infrastructure that promotes chronic job loss, income instability, and a continuous cycle of poverty.”
Ahead of National Hispanic Heritage Month, Xio is once again helping to lead innovative thinking and working to expand access to capital for under-resourced communities. Presented by Small Business Majority and powered by Support Latino Business, Xio will helm the 2023 #SupportSmallBiz Grant that opens on September 14 and will award four grant prizes totaling $2,500 each to eligible small businesses. This grant is a fantastic opportunity for Hispanic-owned small businesses to access the capital they need to grow and expand their businesses.
Additionally, starting in September, Xio will take on more opportunities to fix the broken small business lending infrastructure by supporting a new partnership with Small Business Majority’s Venturize.org and Community Reinvestment Fund, USA (CRF) to expand a network of responsible small business lending partners and assistance providers to support entrepreneurs nationwide. “Inequalities in the small business ecosystem have always existed, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic only exacerbated the barriers that have always been present and created even greater vulnerabilities for entrepreneurs, especially in the lending industry. Small business owners of color are huge contributors to our economy, and we want to be certain they have the tools, resources, and capital they need to thrive. I’m excited to help build transparency in this space and create sustainable generational wealth through entrepreneurship,” said Xio.
Join our mailing list to learn more about Small Business Majority and Xio’s work to support small businesses. Find free, unbiased education and resources, including how to apply for the #SupportSmallBiz Grant, by visiting: Venturize.org
People On The Move — Claudia Medina Salazar, PA-C
Claudia Medina Salazar, PA-C Joins Optima Health
Claudia Medina Salazar, PA-C is the newest member of the Optima Health medical team.
“I’m excited to begin my career as a physician assistant alongside the highly respected and accomplished Optima Health medical staff,” said Ms. Salazar. “I look forward to gaining added insights into primary care while working with patients to collaborate on care plans that they can incorporate seamlessly into their everyday lives.”
Ms. Salazar received her BS in Biology from the University of California, Riverside and her MS in Physician Assistant Practice from the University of Southern California. Her path to the medical field was formed through personal tragedy.
“My dad passed from a heart attack when I was a very young girl,” explained Ms. Salazar. “Recollections of that experience made me very passionate about preventative health for myself, family and friends. Today, that extends to the patients I treat.
“So many chronic conditions that are prevalent today are rooted in the minor choices we make every day. I make it a point to address ‘little things’ that can lead to an improved quality of life.”
The mission of Optima Health is to improve the health of patients served with a commitment to excellence and to offer the highest quality patient-centered care in a caring, convenient and accessible manner. Practices are located in Riverside and Crestline.
For more information, call 951-788-0008 or go to optimahealthgroup.com.
Mountain View Services, Inc. Recognized and Awarded as Medium-Size Family Business of the Year
Mountain View Services, Inc. (MVS, Inc.) Recognized and awarded as MEDIUM-SIZE FAMILY BUSINESS OF THE YEAR, BY ORANGE COUNTY BUSINESS JOURNAL AT THE 24TH ANNUAL FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS AWARDS.
MVS, Inc. has been named and awarded by the Orange County Business Journal as Medium-Sized Business of the Year for Orange County and the Inland Empire at the 24th annual Family-Owned Business Awards.
This award recognizes MVS, Inc. and the Goodman Family for their business accomplishments, and contributions to our local community, as an Orange County-based family-owned business, with at least 2 or more family members actively involved in the business. Since President/CEO took 100% ownership of MVS, Inc., several of the Goodman family members, have joined their team, some of which, have supported MVS, Inc. for serval years. Employed by MVS, Inc. are Eric’s wife, Roxanne Goodman as Finance Manager, daughter Vanessa See, as Marketing Manager, son Grant Goodman, as Social Media Manager; and son-in-law Mark See, as Internet Manager. Each of the 43 nominees for Family-owned Business of the Year, through Orange County Business Journal, range from restaurateurs to construction, to wealth management, all of which have a legacy that grows their roots and moves the needle in Orange County.
“The more people we meet, the more we can help.” – Eric Goodman, President/CEO, MVS, Inc.
“Together we can move mountains.” – Crystal Cook, Executive Director, MVS Foundation.
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