Women in Government

Jennifer Montgomery 2015 HONOREE

Supervisor, Placer County, California

Jennifer Montgomery was always interested in politics, knocking on doors for a congressional candidate as early as age 7. But she never expected to enter government herself. That changed a few years ago when she grew alarmed at the prospect of a large development near her home in the Lake Tahoe area. She went looking for strategic and legal advice from sitting officials on how to block it and, dissatisfied with their response, decided to make a run for Placer County supervisor. She won, but the job hasn’t been a picnic. Taking office at the peak of the recession in 2009, Montgomery watched as the county’s budget and personnel numbers shrunk by about 15 percent each. Keeping basic services up and running -- things like public safety and snowplowing -- became her central concern. The area’s economy has since recovered. One positive outcome from the whole experience has been that the plunge in real estate values meant that the commercial development that had initially compelled her to enter public office never got built. Instead, the land was purchased by a trust and is now open to the public for cross-country skiing in winter and hiking and biking in the warmer months. “It was never developed,” Montgomery says. “It was a wonderful opportunity caused by the recession.”

MORE: Read about the Women in Government Leadership Program and the rest of the 2015 honorees.