After living in South Natomas on and off a total of six years or so, my family moved from South Natomas to North Natomas in 2003, which was very exciting for lots of reasons. It was a time of beginnings, hope and genuine happiness for the culmination of many efforts in my life converging on one moment in time.
Let me back up a little bit… I was born in Ashland, Oregon, in 1975. My family moved to Salem for my Dad’s work, and later to Roseville, California, when I was 10 years old and my big brother was 14. He went to Oakmont High School and I went to Eich Jr. High.
I got involved in dance and theater and eventually found myself enrolled at far away Sacramento High School because of their Visual and Performing Arts Program (VAPAC). This marked my introduction to life in the City of Sacramento, via the communities of Oak Park and East Sacramento and a lot of great friends at Sac High.
During those 4 years of my life, my brother moved out, started a family, and started pursuing what has become a remarkably successful career. My parents moved from Roseville to Greenhaven and eventually got divorced. They each remarried, which was a lot to process as a teenager – luckily I was a typical teen focused on my own world, so all the movement in their lives seemed like an issue outside of me.
Surviving and Thriving as a Single Mom
What could have been (and, in truth, sometimes was) overwhelming turned out to be more inspiring than anything else. I set out to create a life for us. I worked full time. We lived on our own. I stayed in college and eventually transferred to University of California at Davis. In 1999, I proudly graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Law & Society.
After graduation, I decided to continue pursuing my education, so I enrolled in University of Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law. In these years I became an expert at balancing priorities, making difficult decisions, and finding success in hard work. As a working single parent going to law school, I often had to choose between impossibly important priorities – no babysitter, a contracts exam, a 5 year old’s championship basketball game, and a pile of clothing and linens that won’t launder itself. I tested my own limits, pushed myself harder, and found my strength.
In my first year of law school, my four-year-old son and I lived in a low income apartment complex in South Natomas. I worked in Davis and Nate went to school downtown. Because he begged me, I signed Nate up for his first organized sports team: Natomas Youth Soccer. He was so excited! I was trying to figure out how I would get him to practice and still manage to make it to class. Then, in his first week, the coach quit and the league apologetically informed us that unless a parent was willing to coach the team, it would be eliminated. Nate was heartbroken!
I wasn’t about to let Nate’s team get eliminated, so I agreed to coach. Thankfully, I wasn’t alone – two other moms stepped up for coaching responsibilities as well. We supported the team and each other, and somehow, I made it through a year of work, raising a preschooler, coaching a soccer
In 2002, I married Zac. We chose to buy a home in the Creekside community of Natomas and watched “Lot 60” grow – from field – to wood – to stucco – to a home.
In 2003, I graduated from McGeorge. My husband and I decided to add to our family – in 2004 we were blessed with a sweet baby boy, Tyus.
During those first two years in Creekside, we anxiously waited to see who would move into our neighborhood. Each time a moving truck pulled up, we watched to see: do they have animals? …friends for our kids? Who will be our new neighbors?
This was the beginning of our disappointment because we rarely had a family move in and become an integral part of our community. Often investors purchased the homes and rented rooms to an unending and ever-changing inventory of temporary residents. We simply did not have families moving in that we could get to know and befriend. In fact, even now in 2009, of the 5 homes immediately adjacent to ours, all but one are rentals with perpetually changing occupants.
Often, as quick as a young family would arrive, they would soon leave – moving to places like Roseville, Rocklin, Elk Grove, Davis, Lincoln – anywhere they perceived to be more “family friendly” and less ambiguous than Natomas.
We watched our little neighborhood struggle to find a pace.
team, passing Torts, Contracts, Legal Writing, and Criminal Law classes. Experiences like these helped me to build my character and taught me a lot about myself.
While in school, I had some great jobs that shaped my opinions about life and people. I worked with foster youth, worked at a labor law firm, and I worked in the office of the public defender. I even found time to volunteer on and off campus for many worthwhile programs.
In 2000, I met a wonderful man named Zac. He impressed me with his quiet confidence and quickly won my heart with his soft spoken determination to be a part of my life. Then, in 2002, we set our sights for a life together in the growing area in the north end of Natomas, with more exciting changes ahead…
I soon found out about a neighborhood association beginning to form, so I attended a meeting. The initial group was formed around two key issues: the need for a stop sign at Ottumwa & East Commerce, and an interest in having a voice in the development of KB Home’s condominium units being built in our neighborhood. Creekside Neighborhood Association became very important to me – it represented an opportunity for me and others to get involved and make a difference in our community.
Almost immediately, Creekside Neighborhood Association became a force to be reckoned with on many levels. We were realizing tremendous results from our efforts – partnering with Safeway to get locking mechanisms installed on shopping carts, an annual Creek Week clean up, Neighborhood Watch, traffic safety measures, park regulation enforcement, play groups, large scale e-mail networks for efficient mass communications, partnerships with neighboring associations, leadership on the key issue of public safety – the list goes on.
At the same time that Creekside Neighborhood Association was taking flight, I was about to make a huge decision in my professional life…
Answering the Call
My Dad was retiring out of a distinguished career working in child welfare, foster care and adoptions, so I had an amazing opportunity to work with my Dad on meaningful programs that would improve the lives of families. He and I decided to open a consulting firm, The Ashby Consulting Group, llc. Together we build best practice model programs that serve populations with barriers to success. I love the work we do – I get to use my skills as an organizer as well as my legal training and educational foundation rooted in law and society to create opportunities for people who need a chance to succeed.
The work I do – as a consultant and as a leader – is about standing up for what is right. I have gotten involved because I was not satisfied with the things that were happening as well as the things that were not happening. I set out to make a difference, serve my community, inspire my neighbors and colleagues, and improve the quality of life for my family.
I use skills that I learned through education, career, volunteerism, and life experiences to serve my community. It is a formula that works to bring people, families, neighborhoods, and communities together for the single purpose of improving the quality of life for all who chose to live here. My belief is that a leader is a person who listens to the people they represent and meets their needs through hard work, collaboration,
This region deserves true leadership – energetic, effective, honest, fair leadership. I believe that we can right this ship, but we must be willing to open the door to usher in a new day. I hope you will join me in the effort to improve our community, find our pace, and meet our potential.
consensus building, positive partnerships, and an understanding that compromise is inevitable.
After months of requests from fellow community leaders, and after much deep consideration, I decided in 2009 to run for City Council in Sacramento’s District 1. In June 2014, I ran unopposed for my second term in office. For an unprecedented four years straight, I have been selected by my peers to serve as either Vice Mayor or Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Sacramento. I am also the only Councilmember in Sacramento history to give birth while in office. I am both honored and excited to continue to serve as the District One Councilwoman after re-election in 2018.