LAAPOA 2022 Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Conference Preview

On Thursday, October 20, public safety professionals from around the state will gather for a day full of networking, education and inspiration at the LAAPOA 2022 Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Conference. With the theme of “Beyond the Badge,” this year’s event is designed to help attendees achieve balance between their career, physical fitness, personal finance and mental well-being.

“This type of conference is so important because it creates a safe and comfortable environment where law enforcement personnel can network, share experiences and learn from one another,” LAAPOA Board member Ruth Delgado says. That’s particularly important these days, as officers need more support than ever to counteract all of the politically driven negative attention being directed at law enforcement. “With morale being low and hiring of new officers at an all-time low, LAAPOA felt the need to provide this event to reignite the motivation that we all share being in the law enforcement family,” Delgado explains. The Women’s Conference aims to create positive change by uniting fellow professionals across multiple agencies for a common cause.  

In addition to networking with colleagues from all over California, attendees will have the opportunity to purchase law-enforcement-related items from small-business owners — many of them peace officers themselves — as well as having the chance to meet with the event’s sponsors to learn about their products and services and take advantage of special offers available at the conference. And throughout the course of the day, Delgado says, “they can expect to learn from outstanding speakers who will share their stories of perseverance, struggles, challenges and life-altering events that have helped shape today’s law enforcement.”

To further expand the support offered to participants, the 2022 conference is taking a holistic approach. “We decided on this year’s theme of ‘Beyond the Badge’ because we wanted to emphasize the importance of being able to take care of ourselves, not only at work but also at home,” Delgado says. “We are more than just a person with a badge; it is vital to be able to apply all of the qualities we strive for at work in our daily lives as well.” That means the event will also include subject-matter experts on a variety of topics outside the traditional scope of law enforcement, such as money management, mental health, physical fitness and wellness.

With news anchor/reporter Viviana Sarrade serving as master of ceremonies, this year’s lineup of speakers features:

  • County Sheriff’s Deputy Claudia Apolinar, who survived being shot in the face when she and her partner were attacked in their patrol vehicle in September 2020
  • Lieutenant Susanne Burakowski, a 33-year law enforcement veteran who made L.A. County Sheriff’s Department history when she became the first female deputy to work as an operator for the Special Enforcement Bureau and the first female deputy to work the Emergency Services Detail
  • Chief Roxana Kennedy, who rose through the ranks to become the first female chief of police for the city of Chula Vista in 2016
  • Detective Christopher Lawrence, a Marine Corps veteran and detective with the Chula Vista Police Department’s Special Investigations Unit
  • Ellie Perico, who served with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department for seven years as full-time deputy before dropping down to reserve deputy status after becoming a mother, and is also a social media marketing manager, a fitness and wellness coach, and the author of two books on nutrition
  • Marissa Soria, MSW, LCSW, who has over 20 years of experience in mental health, including working with teens, young adults, adults and families
  • Natalie Spiwak, founder and president of Affinity Trusts, who has been educating the community about the importance of protecting and transferring their wealth quickly, privately and cost-effectively for almost 17 years

With such a range of expert advice on tap, the goal is for every attendee to leave the conference with new ideas and information. “They will be motivated and inspired by the speakers, make positive life changes with the sponsors, buy unique gear from the vendors and have the opportunity to win lots of prizes, including work gear, clothes, sports memorabilia, spa packages, books and even a Beretta handgun!” Delgado says. Above all, they’ll come away with useful resources to help them take on the challenges of their careers and lives. “Some of the key takeaways will be the motivation to keep working hard and setting high standards for ourselves and the newer generations of officers,” she notes. “Attendees will be inspired, they may become emotional, they will take away new ideas for work–life balance, but most of all they will leave feeling motivated to make positive changes in their life and career. We hope that attendees will be returning to work with a renewed sense of empowerment and pride in the job that we do.”

For more details about the 2022 Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Conference and to register, visit