Lidia S. Martinez Manager, Community Affairs & Grassroots Southwest Airlines
It really is amazing how a small act of kindness can make a profound difference in someone’s life. Roxana Kennedy is the 24th Police Chief for Chula Vista and the city’s first female to take the helm. She believes we share the responsibility to help those who cannot help themselves. She makes her home here, but her partnership with Project Compassion took her to third world countries to help make a difference. Roxana’s passion for helping others is evident in her profession. She embodies the same values Southwest Airlines encourages and is committed to making the community a better place.
Chief Roxana Kennedy is the innovative leader behind the Chula Vista Police Department, the second largest Police Department in San Diego County. Under her leadership, the department has maintained Chula Vista as one of the ten safest cities its size; won a prestigious international award for its domestic violence program and garnered national recognition for its ground-breaking drone program. She accomplished all this while volunteering to lead numerous international medical mission trips as far away as Africa in her spare time.
Chief Kennedy began her career with CVPD as a police officer in 1992. Early on, she recognized that community policing would be the cornerstone of how she approached her career. As she rose through the ranks; she focused on building relationships with the community and with key stake holders to better connect the department with the community’s needs.
As she was promoted, she broke new ground as the department’s first female Lieutenant; Captain and Police Chief. It is estimated that less than 15% of American police officers are women, which makes her accomplishments even more noteworthy.
While Chief Kennedy recognized her unique status as a woman leader in the agency, she never let that define the way she approached her job. “Being a woman in police work has not always been easy, but I love this profession and believe in our mission wholeheartedly,” Kennedy said. At each step of her career, she worked hard to fight for strategies and policies that she believed in, slowly bending the trajectory and culture of the department toward her vision. This was not always easy, given that policing is not known as a culture that is quick to change. Today, CVPD is regarded as a model agency for community outreach, transparency and trust and its relationship with the community is envied by many police departments.
Chief Kennedy will be the first to point out that no leader stands alone, and the successes she has enjoyed are attributable to her outstanding staff and the partnerships they sustain with the community. Chief Kennedy and her staff work closely with community leaders and stakeholders on the Chief’s Community Advisory Committee and the Chula Vista Police Foundation to build and maintain strong community relations. The Advisory Committee keeps her grounded with the community’s needs while the Police Foundation helps fund outreach efforts to address community needs. Both boards keep her connected with the pulse of Chula Vista and give her the tools needed to identify and accomplish strategic goals.The department hosts regular Coffee with a Copand Chat with the Chiefevents and holds regular community forums to hear what the public thinks. “What is most gratifying to me at these events is not being there as the Chief, but to see my officers and professional staff taking an interest and leadership roles in our community,” she noted, “I will be the first to say that I work with amazing people at work and in the community.” Among the outreach events she is most proud of are the annual Holiday Meal Giveaway, where the department feeds over 500 families and the annual Shoe and Sock Drivefor over 250 children in need.
“These important events would not be possible without the support of our police foundation and partners like Southwest Airlines,” Kennedy shared, “giving back and engaging with our community has been key to our success as an organization.” Connecting with people, providing outstanding customer service and building partnerships drives CVPD’s success as an organization. These are lessons Kennedy hopes to pass along as her legacy to the next generation of police leaders.