City Holds First Bilingual LEAD Goleta Academy

Watch the Video Recap

The City of Goleta is proud to announce the completion of its first bilingual LEAD Goleta Academy. LEAD stands for Learn, Empower, Advocate, and Discuss. For six weeks, 29 participants, including seven Spanish speakers, learned about how the City of Goleta is run. This is the 3rd LEAD Goleta Academy the City has held, but the first time the program included Spanish interpretation and translated materials. On Wednesday evening, May 24, 2023, the group completed its final class which included participants receiving a graduation certificate and a City of Goleta pin from the Mayor and City Council. The graduation ceremony ended with celebratory LEAD cupcakes and sparkling apple cider. Watch a video recap here:, and to see photos go to

Mayor Paula Perotte applauded the group for their participation and said, “We appreciate you taking time out of your busy lives to come learn about our local government. I hope you will take what you learned and share it with your neighbors, friends, and loved ones, and consider being on a Board or Commission, running for City Council, and staying engaged.”

The class learned a lot, including the story of how the City came to be and all the facets that make up a City. There were presentations from Finance, Public Works, Sustainability, Environmental Services, Planning, Neighborhood Services, the City Clerk’s Office, Goleta Valley Library, City Attorney’s Office, Emergency Services, Goleta Police, Community Outreach, and more.  Besides getting a behind the scenes look at each of these departments, the participants also participated in a Mock City Council meeting and took tours of City Hall and the Goleta Valley Library.

The diverse group of LEAD Goleta participants came from all different backgrounds and walks of life but had one thing in common, a love for Goleta and wanting to learn about how they can make their community a better place. The group included high school and college students, retirees, business professionals, a sorority house mother, an author, community partners and overall Goleta enthusiasts. All were drawn to participate for different reasons.

Before receiving their certificates, the graduates went around the room and expressed what they enjoyed most about the Academy. Here are just some of the comments:

Melissa Villa who played the role of Mayor in our Mock Council and is a mother of three said, “The experience has been so informative, engaging, and wonderful. It really has opened doors for me in ways in which I can be involved and show up as an advocate for the community.”

Lynn Darnton who played the role of City Manager in the Mock Council meeting and is President of her Homeowners Association, said, “This was an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the City and all of the ins and outs. It was great to meet so many people who work at the City, learn about the what they do and how to contact them. By the end of the course, you really understand the City.”

A huge thank you to our Spanish Engagement Specialist Marcos Martinez and to our Spanish interpreters Viviana Marsano and Hugo Santos for making this first bilingual LEAD Goleta Community Academy possible. We are looking forward to the next class. A date has not yet been determined. If you are interested in signing up, please email to be notified when applications are available.

Pictured at top: Kelly Hoover, Community Relations Manager, and Marcos Martinez, Spanish Engagement Specialist, holding celebratory cupcakes spelling out LEAD

LEAD Goleta 2023 graduating class with Councilmembers and City staff

Bilingual participants with District 1 Councilmember Luz Reyes-Martín and Spanish Engagement Specialist Marcos Martinez

Mock City Council meeting participants

Participants outside Council Chambers after a tour of City Hall