Saturday, October 17, 2015

Local congressman, CEO share insight into success

The Reporter

By Kimberly K. Fu,, @ReporterKimFu on Twitter
Posted: |

Congressman Mike Thompson, D-Solano, was keynote speaker at Friday’s breakfast of Solano Economic Development Corporation members. Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter

Shelley Berkley, CEO and senior provost of Touro University Western Division, was a guest speaker on Friday at the Solano EDC breakfast at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield. Kimberly K. Fu — The Reporter

Powerhouse leaders Congressman Mike Thompson, D-Solano, and Shelley Berkley, CEO and senior provost of Touro University Western Division, shared insight on success at Friday’s Solano Economic Development Corporation breakfast gathering.

With humor and heart, the pair — once coworkers in Washington, D.C. when Berkley served Nevada’s 1st congressional district — detailed their pathways to high-powered positions.

Thompson, a Vietnam veteran, talked about growing up in a middle class St. Helena neighborhood and being a high school dropout who thought he was too cool for school.

The real world taught his younger self otherwise, he said, especially when he joined the Army. So when he got out, he obtained his GED, got his bachelor’s, then his high school diploma, and, finally, his masters. It was a backwards way of getting his education, he said, but it worked for him.

He entered politics to make a difference and focused on creating and growing jobs.

“I feel very privileged and highly honored to go to Washington and represent the people of my district,” Thompson said.

When at his office in Solano County, Thompson enjoys visiting local businesses, learning more about them and lending a hand when he can.

“I think we can do more,” he pledged.

Berkley, meanwhile, spoke of being the granddaughter of Jewish immigrants.

Her family — which included a waiter dad and homemaker mom — moved from New York to Las Vegas when she was a child.

“They spoke no English, had no skills, no money. The only thing they had when they came to these shores was a dream,” she said. “Their dream was that their children and their children’s children would have a better life.”

Berkley said she always wanted to be in public service, so that’s what she pursued. She entered politics and served in the Nevada State Legislature beginning in 1983. Decades later, she retired. And was called out of retirement to serve at Touro.

“What I’m doing now is the thrill of a lifetime,” she said. “Touro University is nothing short of amazing.”

Next to the University of California system, Touro graduates the most doctors in the U.S., she pointed out.

For more information on the Solano EDC, visit