Venus Molina, Chief Policy Advisor, works for an elected City Councilman for a largely minority and economically disadvantaged community in Southeast San Diego.
Venus became involved in public service at a young age, starting with volunteering at her local neighborhood community center as a child.
After college, Venus worked for various non-profits, and, after starting to understand how politicians and elected officials could benefit the organizations and communities she was working with, began volunteering her time for both local and state-wide electoral campaigns.
Venus eventually took a job for a brand new City Councilperson who was just starting his term. At this time in the city’s history, the city government was also undergoing some significant changes (and several scandals). Venus was excited to be part of understanding what was going on from an insider’s perspective.
Her original title was Council Representative and Latino Liaison, but within less than two years, Venus was promoted to Policy Advisor, and then shortly thereafter Senior Policy Advisor. This was a good fit for her, since, while she enjoyed being out in the community a lot, she also found herself increasingly interested in policy, and reading more to prepare herself for her new roles.
After taking on several large challenges on the policy side, Venus was eventually promoted to Chief Policy Advisor for the councilmember. As a day to day matter, Venus is now responsible for the councilmember’s docket (a listing of upcoming issues and votes), and ensuring he is briefed on the different points of view. She holds meetings with interested parties on both sides, and makes recommendations on how to vote.
When asked the most important things she’s learned, Venus points to: 1) that there is ‘politics’ in everything we do, and 2) to always trust your instincts regarding people and decisions. When pressed on her definition of ‘politics’, Venus explains that in education, in religion, and in all aspects of life, there is an issue, those who lobby for one side or the other, and a pull between self-interest and doing what is for the greater good.
One of Venus’ most frightening moments was the first time she had to face a roomful of hundreds of angry people, and defend a decision made by her boss. She has since learned how to handle such situations with more ease and grace, but the first time was a bit unnerving.
A silly thing that comes out of her job is being reminded not to make ‘stupid faces’ on TV. Since the council meetings are shown on public television, she may receive texts or calls from friends or family members reminding her that others can see when she rolls her eyes, or yawns, or whatever.
What she wants others to know is that there is always an opportunity to get involved, especially in local politics. Venus says she always hears people complain about what politicians ‘should’ be doing. Instead, she encourages everyone to become involved, such as volunteering on local Boards or Commissions, or even simply attending and voicing your opinions at a city council meeting.
Says Venus, “No one’s going to hear you if you complain at home.”