Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Career & WorkplaceOpinion

Exceptional Women Leaders in Government


EASTVALE, CA–The City of Eastvale would like to highlight women contributing to the organization’s goal of exceeding Eastvale’s expectations every day. The City of Eastvale’s first Management Team, which was created in July 2018 to provide growth, service, and development opportunities consists of over 60 percent women (seven women and four men). In addition, our contract City Attorney, Erica Vega, is also a leader from Burke Williams & Sorrensen.

While we have many exceptional leaders at all levels of our organization at the City of Eastvale,we want to take this opportunity to highlight three leaders specifically. Their stories and successes will hopefully provide inspiration to others to also believe in yourself, dream big, and work hard to spread your wings and soar.

Angelica Zepeda, who started as a volunteer Office Assistant with the City in July 2011has carried various titles in different divisions such as Account Clerk, Senior Account Clerk, Management Analyst and through her hard work was promoted to our Talent & Special Project Manager, where she currently oversees the Talent Attraction and Development Team (rebranded from Human Resources and Risk Management). Angelica has led large scale successful initiatives, all contributing to the goals in the Strategic Plan. She has successfully enhanced professional and organizational   development   efforts   to   include launching the first Employee Recognition Committee (ERC) in 2017 designed to enhance employe engagement and moral, elevating Eastvale’s workplace culture. It is comprised of City team members, who have rotating volunteer assignments that focus on investing in employee recognition and team building. The ERC continues to thrive today serving our teammates so that they in turn can serve our residents and businesses to the best of their ability.

“One of her greatest strengths is Angelica’s ability to connect with people and seek to understand to help them move in the direction of their full potential,” said City Manager, Bryan Jones. “Her primary focus on attracting and developing people have helped create an amazing people-centric workplace that has helped address historical attrition rates to an all-time low and receiving incoming applications for hiring talent is at an all-time high. She has done all this while being an incredible mother to two very active, well mannered, scholar-athlete boys.”

Olivia Applegate, who started as a Communication Specialist with the City in November 2017 was quickly recognized for her talent in community and organization engagement and promoted to Public Information Officer/Communications Manager in July 2018. Olivia has led large scale successful initiatives related to the Strategic Plan such as but not limited to the first Community Satisfaction Study, Website Redesign Project, our most recent State of the City two-day event, Financial Priorities and Public Safety Community Workshops, and others. Olivia has significantly increased communication and engagement for the City of Eastvale. While working full time and countless hours to Exceed Eastvale’s Expectations, she also completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications in April of 2019 from Grand Canyon University with Magna Cum Laude and most recently received a Professional Certificate in Advanced Public Engagement through Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership through Pepperdine University. One of her greatest strengths is her ability to strategically engage and communicate to bring people together. Her leadership, innovation, and creativity have contributed to elevating our communications and engagement practices.

“Olivia’s leadership and forward thinking have elevated the City of Eastvale’s communication and engagement efforts to be one of the most active in the region; setting a new standard of excellence,” said City Manager, Bryan Jones. “Olivia was also recognized as one of our Top Performers in 2018 because of her grit, passion, and perseverance, as well as, her ability to always focus on serving the community first.”

Gina Gibson-Williams, our first Community Development Director and first women in a Director level position, joined the team in March 2019 with over 27 years of hands on, local government planning leadership experience. She is overseeing the Public Works/Engineering, Planning, Building and Safety, and Community Enhance & Safety Team which provides code enforcement, Neighborhood Watch Program support, CERT, and Emergency Management roles. She is an expert in all facets of residential, commercial and industrial private land entitlement and development and capital projects. She has been instrumental in facilitating and permitting Tailgate Fest, one of the Nationals Top Musical Festivals coming to Eastvale on August 17 & 18, which is putting Eastvale on the map with Country Music. She also streamlined the permitting of the first hotel in Eastvale, a 4.5-starStaybridge Suites with rooftop bar, conference & event center and vegan food option hotel, and the first steakhouse/fine dining restaurant Tony’s Chop House by the Meat Cellar. Both are key strategic focus areas for economic development and creating new revenue opportunities for our City to thrive.

“I love that she always brings a can-do attitude and her leadership motto is ‘service, solutions, success’, as Eastvale utilizes a lot of alliterations in our leadership and service capacity building approaches,” said City Manager, Bryan Jones. “Gina is a mother of three children and has shared how her daughter was raised at hundreds of Planning Commission Meetings and can probably do a Conditional Use Permit or at least present it to the Commission. What her daughter had the opportunity to see is her mother in action; a true public servant leader.”

Eastvale is focused on utilizing a three-prong approach of Exceptional Performance, Talented People, and Effective Process. We know that by investing, influencing, and inspiring our talented people to move in the direction of their potential with a people-centric workplace culture, that the byproduct is 2-3 times more productive teammates serving our community than just those who are merely satisfied. So, it is by focusing on the people and performance, not just the results, that creates a thriving workplace, incredible customer service, and an exceptional community.

“It’s inspiring to see a government’s culture thriving because of the amazing contributions of great women leaders,” said District 2, Riverside County Board of Supervisor, Karen Spiegel. “The City of Eastvale has done an excellent job of seeing the talent and strength that women can bring to local government, promoting, hiring and developing them into management positions, all which help provide opportunities to break barriers and glass ceilings.”

The City Council approved a 5% Cost of Living Adjustment in January 2019 for all City employees since it had been several years since an adjustment was recommended or made which was attributing to attrition. Over the last 18 months, Angelica Zepeda and Olivia Applegate, meritoriously earned well deserved salary increases to be more competitive in the region for their roles and help retain valuable talent to serve our community. The City of Eastvale historically has lagged behind with competitive salaries with class and comp studies (last one conducted in 2016 and approved 2017) and will be updating those studies this fall.

“As Mayor and a father, I am proud to have extraordinary role models for our children at the City of Eastvale,” said Mayor, Todd Rigby. “Many of these outstanding leaders are women who mare innovative, determined, and dedicated to the success of Eastvale and are passionate about the people they serve. We are honored to have a very hard working and notable team who are majority women, coming from all walks of life.”

The City of Eastvale will be implementing a Women’s Leadership Program, “A Women Like Me” to continue to invest in building the leadership capacity within our organization and lifting each other up and influencing one another to achieve their full potential. If you would like to support building leadership capacity among other women, we invite you to connect with us so we can learn from you and your story.

“Women are leading our communities and improving community life in our cities,” said President of Women Leading Government and City of Rancho Cucamonga Deputy City Manager Lori Sassoon. “We are excited to see that the City of Eastvale is passionate about valuing and appreciating its women leaders.”

Over the past year, since July 1, 2018 we have made a number of new hires and promotions, through our Talent Attraction and Development Team, including many women that are making great contributions towards our ability to Exceed Eastvale’s Expectations Every Day. Currently, over 60 percent of our workplace is made up of women.

“Women as decision-makers should be viewed as the norm rather than the exception,” said Council Member, Jocelyn Yow. “It is important to empower and embolden girls and women, whether it is a seat at the table, or a glass ceiling broken—and together we can create a more cohesive society and enhance the fabric of our community. It is an honor to have a platform that demonstrates that when women are included and seen in this narrative, our communities are better for it.”

The City of Eastvale is committed to recognizing and valuing the leadership at all levels of the organization and making sure that our culture reflects our diverse community that we serve.


About the City of Eastvale

The City of Eastvale was founded on October 1, 2010 as an independent local government agency, governed by a five-member, elected City Council.  The City of Eastvale serves over 73,700 residents and encompasses 13.1 square-miles in western Riverside County.  The City is strategically poised between Interstate 15 and California State Routes 91, 60, and 71, making access easy for residents, visitors and businesses alike.  Eastvale is a young and dynamic community filled with economic opportunity, tremendous growth, and strong values.  For more information on the City of Eastvale, please visit: www.EastvaleCA.gov

Inland Empire Business Journal
The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.