woman in business attire speaking in front of a classroom
California State Controller Malia Cohen gave the Leadership Academy keynote.

The Critical Need for a Future-Forward Mindset

Insights on innovation and leadership in public service

California State Controller Malia Cohen gave the keynote address at the inaugural UC Entrepreneurship Academy at UC Davis on July 24, 2023—responding to a thoughtful and wide-ranging interview with San Francisco Recorder-Assessor Joaquín Torres

The value of the network was a recurring theme.

There is nothing more important than meaningful relationships. In a fast-paced society where interaction is dominated by electronic communication, having a core network—which takes decades to build—is vital for success. It certainly takes commitment and time needs to be invested to garner such relationships and trust.  One's network will only be as strong as the time and energy you invest in it."

Cohen urged public service professionals to innovate and draw on their networks to meet our society's challenges, today and in the future.

Our society is changing at such a fast clip that innovation must be at the top of minds of every public service agency. Accordingly, the mindset can’t just be what problems are we solving today, but what are the challenges we can foresee on the horizon and how can we take steps now to solve those issues. This is where your network can become immensely helpful. Lean into your network to come up with innovative solutions that can solve not only today’s problems, but tomorrow’s challenges as well.

State Controller Malia M. Cohen was elected in November 2022, following her service on the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), the nation’s only elected tax commission, responsible for administering California’s $100 billion property tax system. She was elected to the BOE in November 2018 and was chair in 2019 and 2022. As controller, she continues to serve the board as its fifth voting member.

As chief fiscal officer of the world’s fifth-largest economy, Cohen’s primary responsibility is to account for and protect the state‘s financial resources. She also independently audits government agencies that spend state funds, safeguards many types of property until claimed by the rightful owners, and administers the payroll system for state government employees and California State University employees. 

Prior to being elected to the BOE, she served as president of the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco. She has dedicated her career to public service, focusing on making public dollars work for all Californians.