This summer, the Board of Regents for The California Academy for Economic Development (The Academy) awarded Gurbax Sahota, President and CEO of the California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) an Honorary Accredited California Economic Developer (ACE) designation for her statewide leadership in economic development policy and programs. Past Academy Regents Chair Bruce Kern noted that this award acknowledges Ms. Sahota for her tireless efforts to support CALED members and ensure that they have the educational and training resources they need to be effective in their communities.

The ACE Certification, now in its second year, was created in partnership between CALED and The Academy to prepare the next generation of California’s economic development practitioners and leaders. The Certification also provides best of class subject training and refreshment for established economic developers in California. The advanced training along with the Certification option allows practitioners to demonstrate that they have the requisite skill set to successfully develop and implement economic development programs in California’s unique environment.

Ms. Sahota, who oversaw and championed the development of the ACE Certification, shared the following sentiments:

Thank you to The Academy Regents for the honorary ACE designation. I know firsthand how hard California’s local economic developers work to support their businesses and communities. COVID-19 has highlighted that in an even more salient way. I also understand the level of expertise, leadership, and experience needed to meet the ACE criteria and pass the exam. I am honored to be recognized and included alongside the elite professionals that have earned the ACE designation.

The Academy certified the inaugural class of ACEs in spring of 2020, including:

  • Chris Constantin, MPA, CIA, CFE, CLS, CECFE, Assistant City Manager, City of Chico
  • Dwayne Dalman, Economic Development Manager, City of Oakley
  • PJ Gagajena, Assistant City Manager, City of Moorpark
  • Kathy Gallino, Director, Calaveras County Economic & Community Development
  • Michelle Geller, Economic Development Manager, City of Oceanside
  • Kevin Ham, CEcD, HLM, Director of Economic Development, City of Vista
  • Wayne Olson, Senior Development Analyst, City of Palm Desert
  • Jason Ridenour, Economic Development & Housing Manager, City of Porterville
  • Tamra Spade, President/CEO, Tracy Chamber of Commerce
  • Michael Washam, Associate Director, Economic Development and Planning Resource Management Agency, County of Tulare
  • Curtis Williamson, Business Development Specialist, Fresno County Economic Development Corporation

To learn more about ACE eligibility and criteria visit