California Women Lead Scholarship

This scholarship provides up to $2,500, along with training, coaching, and networking opportunities to support the professional growth and goals of women and gender-expansive participants in the Capitol Fellows program.

The California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls are honored to once again provide grant funding to support this critical effort to increase support for diverse women and gender expansive people working in state government. If we are going to change the systems that were not originally built with women in mind, it is imperative that we support the active participation of those who have been historically excluded. Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients – we can’t wait to see what you do as you lead California into the future!

Holly Martinez

Executive Director, California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls

Press Release

The CA Women Lead Scholarship Breakfast celebrated the achievements and ambitions of all forty scholarship recipients who were awarded with a $2,500 scholarship each. These scholarships will  support the participation of diverse women and gender expansive students participating in the Capitol Fellows Programs, by helping to offset the cost of living as they launch their careers through this valuable program. Click the button below to learn more.

Meet the 2023 California Women Lead Scholarship Recipients!

California Women Lead, in partnership with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, today announced the recipients of the California Women Lead Scholarship Program for women enrolled in the 2023 Capitol Fellows program. Recipients will receive up to $2,500, along with training, coaching, and networking opportunities to support their professional growth and goals.

Recipients of the 2023 California Women Lead Scholarship

Alejandra Zamora

Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)

Alisha Singh

San Bernardino County Superior Court

Amaya Childes

Office of Senator Becker

Angelene Villanueva Obedoza

San Mateo County Superior Court

Athena Sanchez

The Maddy Institute/ Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, Communications Department

Aurora Schunemann

Office of Senator Lena Gonzalez

Blair Elizabeth Huxman

Assembly Republican Caucus of Policy and Budget

Britney Ortiz

CA High-Speed Rail Authority

Cayley Chan

Office of Senator Mike McGuire

Chelsy Alfaro

Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency

Chloe Alexandria Shin

Office of Senator Tom Umberg

Clarissa Dominguez

Office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago

Clarissa Erin Maloney

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

Crystal Horn

Office of Senator Kelly Seyarto

Daniela Garcia-Hernandez

Office of Senator Susan Rubio

Fabiola Moreno Ruelas

Office of Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia

Grace Curtis

Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz)

Hayley Fernandes

Office of Senator Roger Niello

Isabella Valdez Martinez

Office of Senator Monique Limón

Jocelyn Tapia

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

Katherine Squire

Office of Senator Anthony Portantino

Kehinde Ojeikere

Office of Assemblymember Tina McKinnor

Kristal Hilda Padilla

Office of Senator Josh Newman

Krystal Raynes

Office of Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin

Laura Pelaez

California Department of Health Care Services

Margaret (Mo) Roeckl-Navazio

California Department of Public Health

Maria Martinez

Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

Mariah Bickham

California Governor’s Office Of Emergency Services

Mariela Frias

Office of Assemblymember Mia Bonta

Maryana Khames

Office of Assemblymember Lisa Calderon

Naslie Rezaei

Sacramento Superior Court

Nicole Figueroa

Judicial Council of California Office of Governmental Affairs

Nina Le Nguyen

Office of Senator Bill Dodd

Samantha Araceli Elizalde

Office of Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes

Sana Jaffery

Office of Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula

Sauntharya Manikandan

Strategic Growth Council 

Sierra Maciorowski

California Air Resources Board

Teagan Felknor-Edwards

California Conservation Corps

Yannet Leticia Martinez

Superior Court of California, County of Orange

Yessica Mox

California Student Aid Commission


History of the Scholarship Program

In 2022, California Women Lead (CaWL), in partnership with the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls (CCSWG), announced the first round of California Women Lead Scholarships designed to support the leadership journey and professional growth of women in the Capitol Fellows program in Sacramento. Commissioner Lisa Greer joined CaWL’s scholars committee in year one to review applicants and provide guidance to selected recipients.

“Securing a fellowship in the State Capitol is highly competitive,” said then CaWL Board President Mona Pasquil Rogers. “However, the largest obstacle for many fellows is not the application process—it’s the related costs, such as housing and living expenses. The California Women Lead Scholarship will help support capable and talented young women as they pursue careers in policy and government.”

To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants were required to identify as a woman and be an active participant in a Capitol fellowship program. Scholarship recipients reflected the diverse identities and life experiences of all women who live and work in California. Scholarship recipients were also invited to a summit which took place at the Citizen Hotel in Sacramento on September 23, 2022. The original twenty-nine awardees were honored and awardees received over $70,000 in scholarships.

In the second year of the program, 40 scholarship recipients received $100,000 at the Scholars Breakfast held on June 20, 2023!

Building the Next Generation of Women Leaders

Former CCSWG Commissioner Hannah-Beth Jackson famously once said said that “Women’s paychecks should reflect their true value and contributions…” While this is true, it is also just the starting place. Women’s positions and access to political power and influence must also reflect our capability and contributions.

The very concept of building a pipeline into public service is one that is designed to constrain and narrow our collective vision of how many women can and should, be in leadership roles at any one time. There is currently no shortage of young women who are qualified for public service roles. There are, however, plenty of barriers to their entry into the pool from which those who get to serve are chosen.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg famously said in answer to the question “When will there be enough women on the Supreme Court? – When there are 9” The same can be said for women working in state government, as staffers, legislators, and experts across the spectrum of service. 

We must stop looking at women’s participation as a thing that happens one at a time.

We must stop asking women to wait their turn and wait in line.

We don’t need a pipeline of women to fish them out of the applicant pool one at a time…we need a net to bring them up by the hundreds.

This scholarship is but one tiny step of many that are needed, but the more we can collaborate to remove barriers to entry for young women seeking to enter the field, the better. We can’t expect that generations of keeping women out will end by scouring existing networks for one or two women at a time to let in the door. We need to change the structure of public service to become wholly equitable. Together with California Women Lead, the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls seeks to create pathways, not pipelines, that are wide enough for many diverse women to travel at the same time, and to build open access to competitive processes that will allow women who are qualified but maybe not socially connected, a way in, a path forward, and a network of committed mentors invested in their success as the future leaders of our state.