As the Public Affairs Manager for SoCalGas in Ventura County; Maria Ventura uses her influential network and extensive experience working in the private and public sectors, philanthropy, media relations (English and Spanish) and government affairs to get people to work together on complex issues that are important to the well-being of the community. “One of the things I personally enjoy doing is bringing different people to the table, people who haven’t necessarily sat down before,” said Maria. “I believe that when we bring together people with distinct points of view and backgrounds we can problem solve and get things done. Diversity is something I personally care about, and a major commitment for my company too.”
Currently Maria is on 5 boards including the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Ventura, El Concilio, Ventura County Development Association (VCEDA), Red Cross and the United Way of Ventura County.
She got involved with WEV after hearing it mentioned by several dynamic women leaders who had a passion for the organization and encouraged her to get involved. “I was very impressed when I learned about WEV’s mission; specifically, providing guidance so women can start their own business thus leading them to financial independence. On top of that, WEV offers business development classes in English and Spanish. It is evident, the organization is fulfilling its mission by reaching all community members equitably. Kudos to WEV for that.”
A native Californian, with experience staffing elected officials in the City of Los Angeles. Maria also lived in the Pacific Northwest which included managing philanthropic giving, media relations and community affairs for a Fortune 50 company in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. “I know what it’s like to work in small town USA as well as a really big metropolis,” she said. This exposure has helped her to thrive in Ventura County.
In 2017, Maria received the Pacific Coast Business Times “Top 50 Women in Business” and the PBS show Latino Lifestyle’s “Latina of Influence” award for her commitment to enhancing the image of Latinas through her professional and philanthropic achievements. in 2018, the Pacific Coast Business Times’ awarded her the “Latino Business Awards” in Community Services for leading SoCalGas response efforts during the Thomas Fires and Montecito Mudslides that involved managing partnerships with first responders, local cities and community organizations.
“I’m inspired every day by people who are mission driven. Whether they are working at a nonprofit, public servant or local business — whatever their passion is be it working with seniors or children, or the environment, they want to do make a difference. I am fortunate through my position with SoCalGas; to be able to support their efforts via employee volunteerism or with a financial donation.
However, community involvement and serving others is not just part of her job, it is how she lives her life. “I am a proud foster mother. My husband and I have a three-year-old foster child as well as our biological son who is seven,” Maria shared. “Often when people hear I have a foster child they ask how I can manage it when I’m so busy. My response- how can I not help a child in need of a loving home? All children deserve a family. Whatever you deeply care about, and I care deeply about children, you will make time for it. The reason I am sharing this is because I profoundly believe that in whatever capacity you can serve others, regardless of your personal circumstance- it is well worth the effort. Shaping the lives of children, whether by serving on the Boy & Girls Club board of Greater Ventura or by being a foster mother is something that is very important to me because I know it truly matters. Yes, being a foster mother is challenging, I’m not going to try to pretend it’s not. But it gives me so much joy knowing the young foster child in my home is safe and loved. That makes it all worth it.”