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Laguna Beach

 Volume 12, Issue 65  |  August 14, 2020

Leadership Laguna registration is open


Signups are being accepted now for the 2020 Leadership Laguna workshops, starting its fifth year of informing participants about who’s who in city government, what they do, and how to get involved.

The free workshops will begin March 12 and end April 16 at the Community and Susi Q Center. Seating is limited and early registration is advised. Seating is limited to 35. Certificates of Completion are awarded. 

“I don’t anticipate any major changes in the format,” said Councilwoman Sue Kempf, who will organize and host the five workshops, along with Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson.

Johnson founded the program with then-newly-elected Councilman Rob Zur Schmiede.

“We envisioned bringing together citizens who will unite to make a positive impact on the community,” said Johnson. 

Participants must be 18 or older and live in the city, according to Johnson. 

Graduates of Leadership Laguna include Cottie Petrie-Norris, elected to the State Assembly in November; Laguna Beach School Board member Dee Perry; Judie Mancuso, twice a candidate for City Council; and Anne McGraw, a member of the Audit Review and Measure LL Oversight Committee. 

“Everybody who has been through the program said it was beneficial and informative,” said Johnson.

Leadership Laguna group

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

Previous (2018) certificate recipients

Past speakers have included City Manager John Pietig and Finance Department Director Gavin Curran, who discussed the role and responsibilities of the City Council, intergovernmental relationship – how to get along with nearby cities and the state – not to mention the California Coastal Commission, with which the city is trying to find common ground. 

Public Safety has been explored by Police Chief Laura Farinella, Fire Chief Mike Garcia, and Marine Safety Chief Kevin Snow. 

City Attorney Philip Kohn has spoken about his role in the city, the California Coastal Commission’s review of city decisions, the Brown Act, which governs city officials – elected or appointed – and conflicts of interest.

Water Quality Director David Shissler has presented a PowerPoint program describing expenditures, projects, and property owners’ responsibilities related to the city’s sewer system – of which many residents are ignorant.

Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Shohreh Dupuis and former Assistant City Manager and now City Manager in Del Mar Christa Johnson got top marks from the participants for their presentations on their departments. 

Former Community Development Department Director Greg Pfost has explained city planning, building, and code enforcement.

Cultural Arts Manager Sian Poeschl informed the participants about the city’s Cultural Arts Plan and its implementation, her duties as staff for the Arts Commission, which provides expertise to the council on temporary and permanent art installations, and the Business Improvement District, which funds art programs and artists who draw tourists to Laguna – and presents free concerts, film, and art events. 

“We take the evaluations to heart and many of the suggestions find their way into the next year’s presentations,” said Johnson.

This year Johnson will have a new partner to organize and conduct the workshops. 

For more information or to register for the program, visit, or contact Jeremy Frimond at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (949) 464-6673.


Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, Stacia Stabler and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

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