I am sure you have all heard of the six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon. This, of course, can apply to anyone…and does to Dawn Ortiz-Legg and me. I was surprised to learn that Dawn’s parents lived in the house directly behind mine here in Avila Beach. Even though they lived here years before I moved in, it still is neat to know who my neighbors would have been.

Dawn’s parents met at a game when her dad was a basketball player and her mom a cheerleader. Her dad was awarded a scholarship to the Catholic high school and went on to become an optometrist, as was one of his brothers and her mom’s father. Her dad ran his eye care clinic for 30 years and was a co-founder of the non-profit I CARE International.

Dawn grew up in the small agricultural Midwest community of Morris, IL. That is where she began her love of the small community feeling. She graduated from Pepperdine University, where she studied organizational communication and nutrition. She went to DC and lobbied on hunger issues, both domestic and international. 

After working for 15 years in the export tech industry, she examined her life and what she wanted to do next. As a young girl, she was always interested in politics and history. Seeing the peace activists during the War in Iraq reminded her of the Vietnam War and other world events. She even said that she watched all Watergate hearings and every convention since she was in the fourth grade. 

In 2007, Dawn decided to get a master’s degree in international public policy and studied in Bologna, Italy, through Johns Hopkins School. There she studied with 220 students from 21 different countries. In Belfast, Ireland, from 2007-2008, Dawn studied conflict resolution, where it was the IRA vs. the Loyalists. She listened to all sides and quoted Sen. Howard Baker, “You might want to listen to the other guy because he might be right”. 

During the Great Recession of 2008/2009, Dawn worked two jobs. After that time, she ended up working for six different solar farm companies to create enough energy to offset the energy needs of 500,000 average homes in Monterey, Kerns, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara counties. She believed in and was engaged in working for clean energy to build for a better future. 

In 2018, Supervisor Adam Hill appointed Dawn to the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission. Adam was very supportive of her. They shared many beliefs and values even though their styles were different. They both always cared very much about our community and the environment.

I asked Dawn what her goals are for Avila Beach. She said her first goal is to help our community move through the decommissioning of the Diablo plant, especially for the safety of the community and its economic viability. Her second goal is to handle the Front/First Streets flood area with a five-year plan.

Dawn wants to collaborate with area agencies and provide our community with grants. Since she enjoyed growing up in a small community, she wants to see Avila Beach keep its charm and small-town flavor. I look forward to working with her in the future…and it isn’t just because she has attended our Spaghetti Dinner/Bingo Night event and liked my spaghetti sauce!