Raissa De La Rosa finds that her job title with the City of Santa Rosa isn't as readily understood as some, like "Mayor" or "Police Chief." Those are ones we all know.
But what, exactly, does the "Economic Development Specialist" do?
In an economy that has cities cutting costs, she doesn't have financial aid to offer so much as advice, encouragement and ideas.
"It's creating links and connecting dots where people don't normally see them," De La Rosa said. "It takes strategy and vision, which I think this city has."
The most visible idea that De La Rosa has helped bring to life, since she came to work for the City of Santa Rosa in 2005, is the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race, now a world-class event.
"The very second day that I started here, somebody handed me a piece of paper and said, &‘There's this meeting tomorrow which, by the way, you will be running. It's for this Tour of California. We need you to find out what it is, hear the pitch and decide if it's worth doing,'" she recalled.
"So my third day, I was introduced to the Tour of California. It was just a concept that they had," De La Rosa said. "AEG, which is the company that owns the tour, was looking to get host cities. And it looked like a worthwhile project."
The Los Angeles-based entertainment and sports company, which simply goes by the initials AEG, did decide to bring the race to Santa Rosa. And Sonoma County has grown in reputation since then as a destination for cyclists around the world.
The seventh annual Tour of California race last month came with a celebration that spread over much of downtown Santa Rosa and spread to nearby wineries, spawning related rides and runs for ordinary folks not necessarily in the same class as the tour pros.
"There's been a change. Downtown is busier. Cycling as a way of life dawned on the average person slowly here, but I believe it certainly changed our culture. It's been very good to us, in terms of our economy, and our brand as a destination," De La Rosa said.
Working with the Tour of California has been the "best introduction to this community I could have had," she says now. "I don't believe the city had ever done anything quite so large. We didn't have the model we needed for having all these departments working together, outside their traditional scope."
De La Rosa soon found allies all over the city, starting with the cycling community.
"Raissa understands that cycling provides a direct improvement of the quality of life in the city. She sees the social, cultural and economic value. She gets it," said Greg Fisher, marketing director of Bike Monkey Events, which produces the annual GranFondo ride with Santa Rosa's star cyclist, Levi Leipheimer.
Before long, De La Rosa connected with arts leaders and events organizers impressed by the success of the Tour of California.
"Before the Tour of California, there were no big bike events downtown," said Ty Jones, independent producer of some of the city's major events, including the Handcar Regatta, which ran for four years in nearby Railroad Square.
"I love Raissa," he added. "She knows what her goals are. She's trying to get more people to come into the city. She's very direct. She doesn't micro-manage, but you're not going to run over her, either."