Katherine Aguilar Perez-Estolano is an expert in urban planning, transportation, and stakeholder engagement. In the planning and land use field, she is highly regarded for developing complex public participation strategies that require collaboration among multi-cultural communities. With her background in community development, private real estate development, transportation policy and urban planning, she is recognized as a leader in the planning field and speaks at conferences throughout the country.
In 2016, Katherine ran for California State Senate, District 25 in an open seat which covers 22 cities including Pasadena, Burbank and Glendale. Her campaign platform focused on creating living wage jobs, building out the California transportation network, providing adequate housing, and protecting the state’s parks and forests. Katherine received over 31,000 votes and nearly 15% of the overall vote in a crowded field of six candidates. She gained endorsements from key statewide organizations such as California Latino Caucus, California LGBT Caucus, the California League of Conservation Voters and Equality California. She raised nearly $250,000 for the campaign, engaged hundreds of volunteers, and implemented a robust social media program.
Before running for State office, she co-founded Estolano LeSar Perez (ELP) Advisors. ELP Advisors provides integrated solutions to public agencies, foundations, business associations and other stakeholders seeking to grow thriving, healthy and vibrant communities. ELP Advisors offers a range of services, including strategic planning; design and implementation of stakeholder engagement processes; sustainable economic development; community planning; business cluster and sector strategies; business development and retention strategies; transit-oriented development planning, real estate development; green workforce development strategies and project management. At ELP Advisors, she served as the lead and project manager on numerous transportation planning, development and community engagement projects.
Prior to that, Katherine was the Executive Director of the Urban Land Institute, Los Angeles District Council (ULI LA), and was formerly the Vice President of Development for Forest City Development where she focused on transit-oriented development and mixed-use, mixed-income projects in emerging markets. Before joining Forest City, Katherine was the co-founder and Executive Director of the Transportation and Land Use Collaborative (TLUC) of Southern California, a nationally recognized non-profit that promoted greater civic involvement in planning and development. Previously, she worked as Deputy to Pasadena Mayor William Bogaard on transportation, planning and Latino constituent issues.
Before working with the Mayor, Katherine served as the first Transportation Manager for South Pasadena. In that position, she was responsible for planning and development of the Gold Line rail project and updating the local mobility element. During this time, the primary focus was to identify alternatives to the construction of the 710 Freeway. She spearheaded community workshops in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles with thousands of participants, developed environmental and community position papers, and created alliances among community groups that mobilized residents along the proposed freeway corridor.
In 2013, she was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the Board of Directors of the California High Speed Rail Authority. Katherine previously served on the California Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission, which assisted the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and regional transportation agencies in developing public-private financing agreements for high-priority infrastructure projects throughout the state.
Throughout her life, she has served on numerous boards and commissions which demonstrates her commitment to public service. Katherine has served on many Pasadena based organizations such as Latinos for Economic Advancement and Development (LEAD), Pasadena Heritage, Pasadena City College Latino Advisory Committee at the request of PCC President Jack Scott. She served on the Transportation Commission and the Commission for the Status of Women both in the City of Pasadena. She has also been actively involved with leadership groups such as HOPE (Hispanas Organized for Political Equality), National Latina Alliance, NOW (National Organization for Women), New Economics for Women, and Adelante Mujer. She was a member of the Advisory Board of the USC Ross Minority Program in Real Estate and continues to be actively involved with the UCLA Alumni Council. She has served on national boards including the Alliance for Regional Stewardship and the US High Speed Rail Association. In 1999, Katherine graduated from the HOPE Leadership Institute, a program created to train Latinas to run for public office.
Katherine was interviewed for the CNN Future of Cities program, “How Los Angeles May Look in The Future.” She was prominently featured in the 2-part documentary series “Sprawling From Grace” and “Transit-Oriented Development: Reshaping the Great American City” which examined the cost of suburban development practices. In 2009, she was listed in the “Top 100 Influential Hispanics” by Hispanic Business Magazine. In 2007, she was recognized by Housing News Magazine in the “People to Watch in Multi-Housing.” She has been interviewed by National Public Radio, PBS, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Weekly, Wall Street Journal, Urban Land Magazine, The Daily Commerce, Swiss TV and KPCC Radio.
Katherine is an Adjunct Professor at the USC School of Planning and Development. She co-designed and teaches public participation in planning and land use decision making. She has also served as an Adjunct Professor at the UCLA School of Policy and was honored to be recognized as a Senior Fellow of the UCLA School of Public Affairs. In addition, she has served as an instructor for the National League of Cities, Leadership Training for Local Officials program as well as a Lecturer for the Ford Fellowship, Regional Sustainable Development series. Katherine received her Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Transportation from UCLA and her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from California State University Northridge.
Katherine is married to Cecilia V. Estolano. They married in 2013 at All Saints Church in Pasadena. Together, they share six children and live in Pasadena in Bungalow Heaven in a 1911 Craftsman home.