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What Women in San Diego Earn

Seven San Diego women get transparent with us—about salary, how they got where they are, and what motivates them


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Erika Bohorquez

Age: 34

Title: San Diego Police Officer, Southeastern Division

Salary: $97,476

Background: Bohorquez served in the US Navy for four years before becoming a police officer (she’s currently a reservist).

Average day: “One minute I could be assisting on a major fire, the next minute on a traffic accident.”

Bohorquez has a number of certifications that take her job in many directions: She’s a certified Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) officer and could be called on to assist a mentally ill person in crisis. She’s also certified to assist Department of Homeland Security agents as a Spanish translator in cases involving narcotics trafficking.

 

Molly Chase

Age: 28

Title: Chief of Staff, Office of San Diego District 3 Councilmember Chris Ward

Salary: $108,000

Background: Chase graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in international relations. She was director of appointments for former Mayor Bob Filner and stayed on to work for Todd Gloria during his tenure as interim mayor and in his council office. She was Ward’s campaign manager in 2016 and has been his chief of staff since he took office.

Average day: Chase manages a staff of eight and helps Ward with policy priorities, like initiatives to address homelessness, District 3 infrastructure improvements, and a citywide ban on Styrofoam containers that Ward proposed in June.

Chase is the youngest chief of staff to serve in San Diego’s largest city council district.

 

Tiffany Fox

Age: 42

Title: Communications Manager, UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. Fox also teaches a course in science writing at UCSD Extension and does freelance book editing, blogging, and proofreading.

Salary: $92,000

Background: Fox was a reporter and columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune for nine years and a media specialist at UCSD’s Qualcomm Institute/Calit2 for 10.

Average day: Fox spreads the word to physicians and staff about what’s happening inside Moores Cancer Center and beyond. “Then I go home for a second shift as a mom,” she says.

Fox is also a Moores Cancer Center patient, having undergone treatment for breast cancer in 2013 and 2014.

 

Jamie Adams

Age: 36

Title: Head Certified Athletic Trainer, Cuyamaca College

Salary: $64,500

Background: Adams has a bachelor’s in sports sciences and a master’s in educational leadership. She’s also a certified athletic trainer and holds a National Academy of Sports Medicine Corrective Exercise Specialist certificate.

Average day: She oversees 11 different Cuyamaca College sports teams, handling injury evaluations and rehab programs.

Adams has been a vocal advocate in the push to require California athletic trainers to be licensed like any other medical professional. Right now, California is the only state in the US that doesn’t require such a license.

 

Cynthia Morgan-Reed

Age: 44

Title: Owner, Morgan Reed Law

Salary: $484,188

Background: Morgan-Reed, who’s been practicing law for 19 years, earned her JD from the University of Notre Dame and worked as a city attorney for Oceanside and San Diego before joining a large national firm and then starting her own practice.

Average day: She focuses on land use, real estate, and lobbying. “I work from home, so my commute is perfect,” she says. “I work till 5, when my husband brings the kids home. Then it’s playing, feeding, and helping my husband put kids to bed. Back at computer at 7:30 or 8 p.m., if necessary.”

She’s also co-launching Vanst Law, a virtual firm that “will cut out the traditional law firm overhead costs and be transparent with attorneys about their benefits and pay distributions,” she says.

 

Tessa Lee

Age: 32

Title: Medical Examiner Investigator

Salary: $68,000

Background: Lee, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice while driving transport for the Pima County Medical Examiner in Arizona, has been on the job for 10 years—four of them in San Diego.

Average day: Doesn’t exist. Lee could be opening a case on an elderly person with no obvious cause of death, working on a homicide, or tracking down the families of John and Jane Does.

If Lee looks familiar, it’s because she was in the 2014 documentary series Borderland, about the Pima County Medical Examiner’s grim task of identifying migrants who die crossing the border.

 

Nikki Helms

Age: 46

Title: Perinatal Educator, Scripps Health; Postpartum Doula; Licensed Phlebotomist, EMSI; Senior Student Midwife, Acorn Community Birth and Wellness Center

Salary: $25,000

Background: Helms started working as a doula in 2003 and decided to further her education and pursue a career in birth and postpartum care.

Average day: As a mobile phlebotomist, Helms makes house calls. While in the car, she’ll take phone calls from birth center clients. In the evening, she makes dinner for her family before heading out to teach birth-preparation classes.

Helms says her work as a birth doula made her aware of the knowledge gap between the childbirth-education world and the postpartum-care world—and the need for better postpartum care, especially for women of color.

 

Ready, Set, Negotiate!

The American Association of University Women is on a mission to train 10 million women in salary negotiation by 2022. They want to close the pay gap—as well as the leadership gap—by 2030.

“It’s about arming individuals,” says CEO Kim Churches. “Women are not taught the same level of skills in how to negotiate as their male counterparts.”

WorkSmart is AAUW’s salary negotiation program for people in the workforce. “We give you the soft and hard skills needed to make sure you can articulate your personal value and have an arsenal of persuasive responses in addition to market research,” says Churches. So far they have trained about 17,000 women around the country per year.

To see these workshops in San Diego, Churches recommends reaching out to your elected officials. In the meantime, check for a free course at salary.aauw.org.

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