Alumni Spotlight: Margie Wheeler

Executive Strategist

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

(LSC ’07, LLA ’08, Cal Conn ’12, SCLN Board)

Three-time SCLN graduate Margie Wheeler, executive strategist at Metropolitan Water District, sheds light on what she’s learned.

SCLN provided me with countless opportunities to learn from diverse leaders and access to places I would have otherwise not have had the chance to experience. Each [fellowship] was unique and led to long-lasting friendships and a diverse network of experts that I continue to draw on for information and perspectives on a large range of issues facing local, regional and state communities.

During California Connections, we met with the Mayor of Oakland and learned first-hand how she was leading the city as it became the epicenter for the Occupy movement. Later on, we visited farms in the Central Valley and learned about water, immigration, human trafficking, education and health care issues. It became very clear that farming was much more complex than planting crops and running a business. We also learned the critical role agriculture plays in the California economy.

Leadership Southern California taught me the importance of developing connections and networks throughout the region. Visiting each county and learning about strategies leaders were using to build their part of the region provided a much better understanding of Southern California and how leaders can collaborate more in the future.

Leadership L.A. provided insight into what it takes to lead in one of the world’s largest cities. We spent time learning about what makes Los Angeles work, including city hall, the ports, jails, diverse economy, fashion industry, arts/entertainment and emergency services. I learned how much I don’t know, but who I can go to when I need information.

My experience with SCLN taught me that effective leaders must be able to seek out diverse perspectives. Issues evolve and while we can’t be experts in all issues, we can develop a network of experts that we can rely on to help us make informed decisions. SCLN is a great resource for leaders to build their networks.