Editor's Note: Who are the movers and shakers in Los Gatos? Those who lead by example, change things around and make us better by challenging the status quo and having integrity? This is the seventh installment in our Names in the News Q&A feature.
Los Gatos Planning Commission member Joanne Talesfore is more than just a planner with nearly 12 years of experience on that civic body.
This longtime Los Gatos resident was born in Pittsburgh, PA. She said she chose the town as her place of residence because it reminded her of the small community she had grown up in back East.
Her passion for the arts and the community has been interconnected in her role as a planner and as the former arts coordinator for the .
Talesfore's husband, Nick, is an industrial designer. The couple has three children: Matthew, who lives in Los Angeles; Nicole who lives in San Francisco and Jennifer who lives in New York City. Talesfore says they all make their living in the arts.
"I see both roles tied to planning to maintain the special qualities of life in Los Gatos. For those who bring their proposals to the planning commission, I am a staunch voice that aesthetics are as important to building design as to adhering to codes and ordinances. Both maintain and evolve the character and ambience of the of the Los Gatos we love," she said.
Knowing the joy arts bring to learning for students, Talesfore championed a LGUSD arts policy, developed key arts standards, the Artist in the Classroom program, and published The Arts Notebook: Teaching Arts to Kids K-5.
Talesfore serves on numerous boards and commissions including the board of directors and has served as film festival chairwoman for the She also serves on the advisory board to the nonprofit Los Gatos Music & Arts and is a former member of the board of directors for the Arts Council of Silicon Valley.
She has also worked as a teacher for the San Jose Unified School District and the Campbell Union Elementary School District.
Los Gatos Patch: What is the area of most influence in your profession?
Talesfore: Teachers, instructing children in a new task, know dividing their time between teaching the student how to do it and convincing them they can do it is important. For me it’s the same in any role I take on, knowing that the best decisions are arrived at using the balance of diverse information and opinion.
Patch: How do you challenge those who work with you to become better?
Talesfore: I have great respect for the knowledge, skills and particular talents of those with whom I work. I wouldn’t challenge anyone without first including myself in that challenge, recognizing unique qualities each person has to contribute to the whole. I also encourage them to build on that quality and together make the work better. "We” is a powerful word.
Patch: How do you inspire those around you?
Talesfore: More than 30 years ago, my husband and I, with two children drove into Los Gatos to renovate a very old home, and while we did that, we built a life in Los Gatos, a wonderful life. When I share that story I hope to inspire others to take a close look at the truly special place this is, step forward, step up, get involved to make Los Gatos their own wonderful life, and keep the legacy of this beautiful town vital and vibrant for the generations to come.
Patch: How are you a "transformative leader"?
Talesfore: I have always been fascinated by the divergence among people's values and ideas that support those ideas. As a "transformative leader" I acknowledge divergent thinking and seek the "common ground" among individuals I serve with in various organizations and in committees. I have learned that when the divergent thinking and needs of the those involved are recognized, and you help them see how those needs can be met, and give them the confidence, they can accomplish the result through their own efforts.