Alumni Spotlight: Brissa Sotelo
from SPPD Staff Reports
Brissa Sotelo (MPP ’06) believes in the power of community policy — where and how communities can help shape policy as stakeholders. She is especially interested in the ways in which communities influence the operations of private industry — an interest that plays a large role in her job at Tesoro Corporation Los Angeles Refinery.
As manager of external affairs for Tesoro, Sotelo is concerned with managing and coordinating the full range of communication and stakeholder management activities for the company’s Los Angeles Refinery. She handles everything from community relations to media relations to crisis communications.
A part of these duties involves remaining current on all salient industry-related issues occurring in the local area and on a global level.
“I monitor and analyze the business, political, and regulatory environment to assess current or potential issues that could affect the company’s reputation and license to operate,” she says. Sotelo then develops strategies and implements tactics in response to these factors.
According to Sotelo – who also manages the refinery’s social investment activities – empowering the community to work with private industry to achieve mutually beneficial results is not easy.
“Finding common ground where the community does not have to compromise their needs – and the company does not have to violate their value system – is something that requires a lot of time and strategizing to reach agreements,” she says.
“I joined Tesoro (formerly, Shell Oil) because I want to make sure that the surrounding communities can work strategically to implement company programs that will benefit not only the company, but its external stakeholders as well.”
This work has been informed in part by Sotelo’s education in the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree program at SPPD, where she gained several insights to effective and efficient policymaking.
“The program was an eye opener. Shared thoughts and discussions provided alternatives to policies being considered,” she says. “USC has professors and students with a variety of backgrounds and knowledge, which makes the MPP program attractive to those of us seeking to assist in writing better alternatives to our current public policies.”
Prior to her work at Tesoro, Sotelo worked for Los Angeles Community Development, where she prepared reports to the mayor, city council, and the Workforce Investment Board. She has also worked for City of Los Angeles Councilmember Nick Pacheco and Congressman Xavier Becerra.
“SPPD offers a very attractive program,” says Sotelo. “It allows those with full-time jobs to attain an advanced degree without compromising one’s current work status.”