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“I am committed to empowering women to achieve success in their careers. As a first-generation college graduate in my family, I learned to overcome traditional attitudes that limited women’s career ambitions, find scholarships and loans, and navigate the waters of student debt. Students need mentors to help them chart a path to promising careers.”       A s a young woman, Marie was drawn to conversations her father, other growers, and community leaders shared about local issues of the day. She saw firsthand how awareness about the economy, land use, public safety, housing and other issues led to informed decision-making by policymakers and voters. It was a lesson that stayed with her over the years. After college she worked at “Big 8” accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, from 1985-1990. From there, she joined a smaller CPA firm. In 1996 she launched her own practice, Marie P. Blankley, CPA, to provide services to small businesses and individuals. Marie juggled career and family life with community work. She was a Gilroy Planning Commissioner from 1992- 1999—a busy time for land-use decisions that ushered in GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN the Gilroy Outlets and Eagle Ridge. Marie has also been a member of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and the Gilroy Rotary Club since the mid-1990s, a past board member for both organizations, and a committee chair for various Rotary committees. She is a current member and former President of the Gilroy Assistance League, and a board member of the Gilroy Foundation. Today, with her kids in college and a well-established business, Marie is eager to make a difference on local issues and has set her sights on public service. She plans to campaign for a seat on the Gilroy City Council in 2018. Marie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Santa Clara University and a Master of Science degree in Taxation from Golden Gate University. She is a licensed Certified Public Accountant. FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 35