Hispanic Lifestyle is pleased to recognize Southern California Gas Company public affairs manager Maria M. Ventura as a 2017 Latina of Influence. Ms. Ventura along with our entire list of 2017 Latinas of Influence are invited to participate in Hispanic Lifestyle’s 2017 Latina Conference taking place April 5 – 6, 2017 in Ontario, California.
In our video interview with Maria she talks about growing up Southern California, Community Service and what it means to be a Latina.
Maria M. Ventura is the public affairs manager for the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) in Ventura County. She represents SoCalGas to local governments, community organizations, media and the community at-large.
She joined SoCalGas in fall of 2013 as the Advanced Meter, Stakeholder Education & Outreach Project Manager. In this role, Maria led the implementation of education and outreach strategies to prepare SoCalGas customers, elected officials, and stakeholders for the gas meter communication enhancement known as advanced meter in the Northern Region. The region managed by Maria included Fresno, Kern, King, Northern most portion of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Tulare and Ventura Counties.
Maria has over 15 years’ experience in both private and public sectors with proven leadership in communications, community organizing, and government affairs. Most recently, Maria was the District and Communications Director for Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Tamar Galatzan where she managed community outreach efforts in the West San Fernando Valley, Social Media, Hispanic Media outreach, and served as a bilingual education expert with appearances on Telemundo, Univision, Mundo Fox and CNN Latino.
Previously, Maria served as field deputy to then-Los Angeles Council President Alex Padilla and as a Policy Deputy to then-Los Angeles Councilman Tony Cardenas.
From 2008-2011 Maria worked for State Farm Insurance based in Washington State, where she managed the corporation’s philanthropic giving program, media relations and governmental affairs in multiple states: Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. She developed high level grant partnerships linking company services and products, media, elected officials, State Farm agents and key markets in an effective manner. Maria developed the first-ever English and Spanish Language media training for State Farm leadership and agents in the Pacific Northwest.
She earned her B.A. from San Diego State and her Masters of Science in Public Administration from California State University, Los Angeles. She is also a graduate of the following programs; Hispanas Organized for Political Equity (H.O.P.E), National Hispana Leadership Institute (NHLI), Harvard University-John F. Kennedy School of Government-Executive Series, Leadership LA, Center for Creative Leadership, Leadership Tomorrow and Ventura County Leadership Academy.
Maria believes in giving back to the community and serves on several community boards including the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County (EDC-VC), Boys and Girls Club of Greater Ventura, El Concilio, United Way of Ventura County, Ventura Economic Development Association (VCEDA) Ventura Economic Development Association (VCEDA) and the American Red Cross-Central Coast Region. She enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband Jose and five year old son, Diego.
Nomination Statement submitted by 2013 Latina of Influence Inez González Cal State Fullerton, College of Communications Founding Director, Latino Communications Initiative
Maria professional’s experience speaks for itself with positions at Fortune 500 companies and prominent elected officials; however, while this is a significant accomplishment for a daughter of immigrants, what makes Maria extraordinary is her desire and ability to elevate the image of Latinos in the community and secure opportunities to support her community. It takes leadership courage to move forward with these initiatives as Maria is often the only Latino or woman in the room. She takes on that responsibility wholeheartedly and believes she has been placed in those situations to be the voice of many Latinas who are not at the table starting with her mother and other women who were denied the opportunity to educate themselves.
Here are some examples of her commitment to the Latino community- during her tenure with Los Angeles School Board Member Tamar Galatzan, Maria successfully persuaded the board member to allow her to conduct DACA trainings at schools in the school board member’s district in the West San Fernando Valley. At the time, Maria conveyed immigrants were being taken advantaged of by unscrupulous notary republics and others. These seminars provided a safe haven where residents obtained trustworthy information. The board member agreed, even thought, her district did represent a significant conservative segment. Maria executed the first-ever board member led DACA trainings in the West San Fernando Valley which helped hundreds of families receive the right information and feel supported by their local schools.
Maria experience living in Washington State was a period of significant transformation—it helped her realize the Latino experience is very different depending where you live. This further encouraged her to serve as a mentor and support educational experiences for young people. She believes- our children must see their image in a successful light—and it is our responsibility as accomplished Latinos to help encourage them.
Most recently, the Oxnard Union School District and the City of Oxnard held a “Summer at City Hall” program where high school students received classroom instruction in the morning and interned in a city department in the afternoon. Maria learned the internships were unpaid and understood this put the students in a severe disadvantage as many would prefer a paying job versus the enrichment of the summer program. Maria secured a grant through her employer, SoCalGas to provide a stipend for the students. On top of that—she spoke to the students—all were Latinos and shared her story with them. After the session, several girls walked up to Maria and shared how important it was for them to see a successful Latina. She does this work—not with the motivation of receiving recognition but stems from her experience as a young woman not seeing successful Latinas in her circle.
Again, I wholeheartedly support Maria Ventura’s nomination for a 2017 Latina of Influence.