SACOG’s Director of Innovation & Partnerships Appointed as Deputy Director of Communications for the California Department of Housing and Community Development
Monica Hernández will bring regional land use and transportation experience to state scale in new role
September 13, 2021: California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Monica Hernández as the Deputy Director of Communications at the California Department of Housing and Community Development.
Hernández began at SACOG in 2007 and was promptly ingrained into various projects across the agency. Hernández developed multiple series of tours for elected officials to expand their firsthand knowledge of our region’s rural communities and to experience land use and transportation projects happening in peer regions across the country. As project coordinator for the Metropolitan Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy and communications manager, she transformed the agency’s outreach strategy to meet residents where they already were, such as farmers markets and street fairs. The move from traditional workshop-style engagement allowed SACOG to develop human-centered solutions based on the collective experience of diverse community members. The direction was industry leading in how government talks to its constituents.
Since 2018 she has served as the Director of Innovation & Partnerships and played an influential role in leading strategic initiatives for the agency. Monica spearheaded SACOG’s Commercial Corridors Task Force, which examined how developers, financers, public leaders, and other partners could come together to revitalize aging commercial strips in the region. Her leadership has been crucial to the advancement of the Race, Equity, and Inclusion working group, which explores how board members and SACOG staff can develop plans and policies that ensure equitable outcomes for historically underrepresented community members.
Over the last three years, Hernández has been building the Innovative Mobility Program, which executes cutting-edge projects to reimagine how cities can utilize existing infrastructure and leverage new technology. The program is nationally known for its creative programming. She also led the development of SACOG’s innovation accelerator, Civic Lab, a start-up accelerator for governments that challenged regional leaders to develop out-of-the-box ideas and utilized dollars from private and public entities. Under her direction, the Civic Lab program has resulted in 20+ pilot projects with more than 75 partners and $3.5 million in invested dollars and resources. New ventures have helped propel cities into the next generation of mobility and land use. The Civic Lab program won an Outstanding Achievement in Innovation award from the Alliance for Innovation in 2019.
When asked how her experience at SACOG has influenced her and prepared her for the Deputy Director role, Hernández said, “I’ve been able to sharpen my capacity to take planning and policy concepts, and analyze the different ways they would play out for various segments of society and the public sector. SACOG has prepared me to see and empathize with the spectrum of political opinions and views. It’s important to understand and identify with people who might disagree and bring those perspectives together to serve outcomes.”
SACOG wishes Hernández success in her new role promoting housing and building vibrant communities for all Californians.