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Ana Maria Gaona

Brings over 26 years of public sector experience and knowledge of working with multiple disciplines and providing time-tested practical ways to address the inherent complexity of real-world problems and issues with sophisticated, multi-dimensional solutions. Gaona recently retired from her position as the Director of the Office of Government Relations & Policy for the Department of Health Services, second largest health system in the nation.

Through Gaona’s professional experience, combined with her academics, centers on public administration, organizational leadership, cross-cultural/cross-generational, interpersonal, and team communication with a focus on professional outcomes and student success.

Gaona is transitioning into her “third act” as a master connector, strategic coach, and educational/social advocate using her expertise of interdisciplinary leadership in high profile, fast-paced environments. Her career journey can be described as having taken a bit of a scenic route, blending careers, family, and lifestyle changes all at once.

Through personal development, Gaona has learned the importance of staying committed to one’s goals while remaining flexible in the approach. She is passionate about empowering the next generation and guiding to influence, impacting the inner self by developing a personal road map to encourage excitement about future adventures. She firmly believes everyone is uniquely designed to spark change and determined to show them how.

She has first-hand experience to the complexities and realities women leaders face in the workforce. Her strong interpersonal and communication skills and attention to details have afforded her a better understanding of the importance of building professional relationships.

She encourages to think across boundaries, crossing traditional boundaries, to create new opportunities and address a new way of business, both professionally and academically. As a Cal State-Northridge graduate, she holds an MPA, and most recently received the Dr. Davidds’ Leadership Institute Resilient Leadership Negotiation Certificate and is an honors recipient of the USC Multicultural Women Executive Leadership Program.

Born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, she is a proud first-generation, bilingual Latina. Gaona appreciates working with a variety of like-minded individuals and has connected with many women who have become a network of support and encouragement, but most importantly developed genuine friendships.

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