Rest for Mayor of Colma
a day's work at PG&E, where she heads an energy efficiency rebate
program, Helen Fisicaro (B.S., '94) has saved
some energy of her own. She needs it to fulfill the duties of a second
job: mayor of Colma, a two square-mile town between Daly City and South
"Colma is nice and small," Fisicaro says. "You get to
know everyone." In the evenings, she returns calls and e-mails
from her constituents and meets with staff. Honoring local children
for making good grades or octogenarians on their birthdays are some
of the highlights of City Council meetings. The challenges? "You
get yelled at and can't make everyone happy."
Colma is best known as "the city of souls," souls including
those of Joe DiMaggio and Wyatt Earp. In 1912, a San Francisco ordinance
moved all existing cemeteries from city limits -- largely to protect
prime real estate -- to neighboring Colma. Today, minus occasional traffic
issues related to funerals, Colma's 17 cemeteries rarely figure into
Fisicaro's job. She's focused on the town's 1,575 living residents.
Fisicaro, who just entered her fourth term as mayor, has helped bring
residents a historical museum, a new police station and refurbished
Reno Taini (M.A., '78), a member of Colma's
volunteer fire department, says the mayor's accessibility and ability
to listen have earned her the respect of the community. "In Colma,
a lot of people come and go [laughs], but Helen has stuck around. She
has tremendous empathy."
Fisicaro is well-known for her volunteer work at a number of nonprofits.
"I couldn't begin to tell you how many there are -- it gets a little
ridiculous," says Fro Vallerga, Colma's vice mayor. "Helen
is very involved." Her contributions have earned her a spot in
the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame and awards from PG&E and
the Colma/Daly City Chamber.
The mayor's schedule is not unlike the one she kept while she pursued
a double degree in business administration and human resource management.
"My teachers were wonderful, very supportive of those who worked
full-time," Fisicaro says. She took classes for seven-and-a-half
years while she worked at PG&E and raised two children with husband
Dennis, a Colma native who prompted Fisicaro's move from her native
San Francisco 30 years ago. Their daughter Regina is a student at SF
Management Professor John Sullivan says, "Helen was one of my star
students who always spoke her mind. An obvious leader." He cites
as examples politicians Willie Brown (B.A., '55)
and John Burton (B.A., '54) and adds, "Helen
is further proof that San Francisco State is a great training ground.
With talent and ambition, our graduates can do anything."