Betty Yee grew up keeping track of the finances of her family’s laundry and dry-cleaning business and now she keeps track of the finances for the fifth largest economy in the world. As California state controller, she sits on 70 different boards and commissions and is now helping to maneuver the devastating financial impacts that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the state’s budget. Her scope of duties as state controller is immense, working on everything from taxes and retirement funds to pollution control and wildlife financing. But she does not just use her financial expertise to make her impact.
Betty Yee grew up in a San Francisco, Calif., household that did not speak English, and yet she received a sociology degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She arrived in Sacramento to work in the state Senate and noticed a gender disparity in the financial arena, and yet she now holds one of the top financial positions in the state.
Throughout her life, she has been overcoming obstacles and continually redefining what is and is not possible for Californians. “When I look at particularly California, and my own personal journey, about how I had the opportunity to go to a first class university, Cal Berkeley, and public institution, to be able to have a career in public service and, now, being able to give back in my service, that’s something that every Californian should be able to aspire to.”
Even in the face of an unprecedented financial crisis, Betty Yee finds opportunities for growth and betterment. She hopes that as California rebuilds its economy, it uses this opportunity to attend to communities that have been ignored in the past. “Our economy is only as strong as the financial health of each and every Californian.”
Listen to her episode to hear more about her journey to becoming state controller, the coronavirus’ impact on California’s economy and, despite it all, serving with compassion.
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