Assemblymember Monique Limón, left, Carrie Randolph, Saul Serrano, Ken Saxon, Stephanie Ramirez Zarate. (Courtesy photo)

California Assemblymember Monique Limón addressed members of Leading From Within’s Emerging Leaders program recently, sharing her experiences as an assemblymember and her trajectory in her personal life.

Leading From Within hosts its 10-month Emerging Leaders program the first Friday of the month with selected participants. The Emerging Leaders program focuses on building social-sector leaders from Santa Barbara County, guiding them through a rigorous, relevant and applied curriculum to expand their impact within their organization and beyond.

“I, myself, am a Katherine Harvey Fellows alumni, I use to serve on the board of Leading From Within, and I really value the space for reflecting and vulnerability Leading From Within provides,” Limón said. “When I think about leadership, our role in community, our busy lives, these spaces are hard to come by and they are even harder to create.”

Katherine Harvey Fellows, an 18-month program Leading From Within offers, is an experiential education program that allows individuals to extend their existing leadership skills to benefit society.

Born and raised in Santa Barbara, a daughter of immigrant parents, Limón rcalls connecting with different nonprofits at a very young age. Often the recipient of programs provided by the social sector, she participated in after-school programs, art classes, and dance classes.

She cultivated a love for nonprofits and began to ask herself how she could better serve her community.

“Education was a game changer for my family,” Limón said.

She described her path of leadership to the Emerging Leaders, having been through higher education and different leadership roles. She worked 11 years for UCSB, and served on the Santa Barbara School Board and several nonprofit boards before taking office in Sacramento.

After being elected to serve on the Santa Barbara School Board in 2010, Limón was able to take action on issues that mattered both inside and outside the classroom to help students. “I realized these issues went beyond the classroom experience, and I could make a difference,” she said.

Unsure of the challenges ahead, Limón turned to family and friends for their input on running for atate assembly.

“Ken Saxon (board chair of Leading From Within) was actually one of the first individuals I turned to, to consult on whether or not a state assemblymember was a role I wanted to take on,” she said.

Limón said her experiences and insights with different nonprofits influenced her role as an assemblymember.

“Nonprofits forced me to make political decisions; they taught me how politics stems from individuals who are trying to do the right thing and are serving our community for the better,” she said. “I found serving nonprofits forced me to make political decisions.”

She described key aspects of being a leader and the importance of communication in her role. As times have evolved, technology plays an important role in how Limón communicates with the public sphere.

“As a leader, I have learned to do a lot of self reflection, the work I do makes my life very public,” she said. “I represent a half-million people, I have to remember they are not going to agree with me or like me all the time, and that’s okay, that’s part of the territory.

“I hope other leaders who share their stories with you are not examples of perfect leaders, but more significantly you can take something away from their story and learn from it,” she said.

Leading From Within serves some 400 local social sector leaders. For more, visit

— Jocelyn Piazza for Leading From Within.