Todd Gloria - Four Principles and Pillars for Civic Leadership

By Hilary Morefield

At our recent Insti­tute ses­sion, Interim Mayor Todd Glo­ria dropped by to speak to our fel­lows and share his own per­sonal prin­ci­ples and advice on what it takes to be a suc­cess­ful civic leader. Here are four of the essen­tials (and their back­sto­ries) that he shared.


“Pas­sion breeds success.”

Glo­ria believes he is lucky in that he knew that he wanted to work in the area of pub­lic ser­vice at a young age. He pur­sued a num­ber of oppor­tu­ni­ties related to pub­lic ser­vice through­out his youth and his enthu­si­asm helped him gain bet­ter expe­ri­ence. He devel­oped his true per­sonal pas­sion for gen­er­at­ing afford­able hous­ing after his time liv­ing in Wash­ing­ton D.C. It’s still an issue he remains pas­sion­ate about and works toward today.


“Find folks who will be cham­pi­ons of yours.”

In his early work, Glo­ria found advice and encour­age­ment from U.S. Con­gress­woman Susan Davis, whom he first met through a high school lead­er­ship pro­gram. Glo­ria and Davis remained in close con­tact over the years and devel­oped a more per­sonal rela­tion­ship. When Glo­ria started nav­i­gat­ing his early career, he looked to Davis’ men­tor­ship to guide him and gain the foot­ing he needed. He encour­aged the fel­lows to seek lead­ers who shared sim­i­lar val­ues to their own.


“Remain open to new ideas and oppor­tu­ni­ties as they present themselves.”

After grad­u­at­ing from the Uni­ver­sity of San Diego with a degree in polit­i­cal sci­ence and his­tory, Glo­ria was unsure of what to pur­sue next. He was invited to move to Wash­ing­ton D.C. to work for a num­ber of months under a Tru­man Schol­ar­ship. He quickly decided to take the oppor­tu­nity. Glo­ria took a red eye flight after grad­u­a­tion and found him­self sit­ting across the desk from Hillary Clin­ton the next day. The tran­si­tion was a fast one, but he chose to delve into the new posi­tion head first and remains thank­ful for it.


“You are your own worst enemy. Don’t allow your­self to be.”

Glo­ria works at a fre­quently unfor­giv­ing rate. His posi­tion tends to lend itself to a con­stant high energy pace, count­less phone calls, and end­less days. He says his pas­sion for what he does and why he does it helps keep his per­sonal energy level up. It is ulti­mately his con­fi­dence in what he is doing that helps encour­age him­self to keep moving.

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Alex Southard
Small Business Engagement Specialist, City of San Diego Economic Development Department

Alex Southard serves as the Small Business Engagement Specialist in the Economic Development Department at the City of San Diego. Driven by...