Yolanda Benson

yolanda benson headshot
Government Strategies, Inc.

Yolanda Bazan Benson is the Director of Government Strategies, Inc., a lobbying, public relations and consulting firm in Sacramento.  Prior to joining the firm in 2008, Yolanda served as Deputy Secretary for Jobs, Economic Development and International Trade at the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BTH), appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, responsible for the following policy issues: jobs, building standards, labor, transportation, healthcare, economic growth and international trade.  As the largest Agency in state government, BTH Agency oversees 13 departments and 48,000 employees, including Caltrans, DMV, California Highway Patrol, Department of Managed Health Care, Department of Real Estate, Department of Managed Healthcare, among others. Her responsibilities included overseeing the California Small Business Board, the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, helped to develop the California Economic Development Partnership (CEDP) and other outreach to other state agencies, communities, local, regional and statewide organizations and entities working to promote job growth and retention throughout California. Ms. Benson also wrote the California International Trade Partnership (CITP) for the State. Ms. Benson served as the principal lead regarding border issues and developed strategic partnerships with Baja California and British Columbia. She continues to serve on the Steering Committee of the Canada-California Strategic Innovation Partnership.  Top priorities included biotechnology, high-tech, life sciences, goods movement and renewable energy technologies.

Prior to moving to the Agency, Ms. Benson served as a Deputy Legislative Secretary in the Office of Governor Schwarzenegger working directly with the Governor on legislative priorities regarding issues such as base realignment and closure, building standards, consumer affairs, corporate governance, economic development, energy, housing, international trade, transportation, outsourcing, public sector labor and retirement issues, as well as international trade.

Ms. Benson’s diverse background and experience includes the legislative arena, public relations, governmental policy, ethnic, coalition development and grassroots advocacy. Her communications skills include working with Spanish media.   Prior to working in the Schwarzenegger Administration, Ms. Benson was a legislative advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce representing more than 16,000 businesses in California.  She was responsible for various policy issues regarding the protection of jobs, and the creation and retention of jobs in California, including Proposition 65 and other civil litigation issues.  Ms. Benson’s experience also includes a variety of positions in state government, including working for several members of the California State Legislature and as a legislative director for the Department of Toxic Substances Control in the California Environmental Protection Agency serving under Governor Pete Wilson.

As a legislative advocate for numerous diverse organizations and companies, she was responsible for effective communication and implementation of successful strategies for numerous clients. Her understanding of both the public and private sector brings a unique perspective and understanding on how to approach issues and for “getting the job done.”  She has represented numerous clients in the energy, freight and goods movement, financial services, small business, healthcare, non-profits and telecommunications.

Having worked for three Governors her experience and knowledge are unsurpassed.  Ms. Benson serves as a board member of the several entities, including, but not limited to, the California Community Colleges-Economic and Workforce Development Program Advisory Council, Latino Journal, Community Resource Project, CORO, and the California Utility Diversity Council at the California Public Utilities Commission. She is considered a statewide leader on various policy priorities including economic development, goods movement and other strategic initiatives in knowledge based industries for jobs and community development. Yolanda holds a Bachelors Degree in Human Resources from Golden Gate University.