Vice President of Communications, California Manufacturers & Technology Association
Ananda Rochita’s first language was Indonesian; by the time she started kindergarten, however, she also spoke English — thanks to time spent in front of the television watching the news.
Years later when it came time to decide on an area of study, perhaps unsurprisingly, she chose journalism.
“It looked like a cool job, and I knew I couldn’t work behind a desk,” she says. “I wanted to be out there talking to people from different backgrounds.”
Although the 34-year-old Rochita, a former Emmy award-winning reporter for ABC10, is no longer in journalism, she still puts her curiosity to work every day as the vice president of communications for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.
Raised in San Francisco, Rochita moved to Maryland to study at Mount St. Mary’s University, where she played on the golf team and studied communications and journalism. (She still plays golf and competes in tournaments.) Afterward, she received a master’s degree in journalism from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Her first job was at a tiny TV market in Maryland where she “literally did everything” as a young journalist. In time, Rochita moved to Roanoke, Virginia, where she worked as an investigative reporter and anchor. In 2015 she received the prestigious national Edward R. Murrow award in hard news reporting for a story she produced on the state’s race-based sterilization history.
She also met her husband, Grant Hansen, a photographer, at the station, and in 2016 the couple relocated to Sacramento, where Rochita took a job at ABC10 as a weekend anchor and investigative reporter. In March 2020, Rochita lost her grandmother to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her death, she says, pushed her to rethink her contributions as a journalist.
“There were a lot of things happening at that time involving Asian hate,” she says, “so I wanted to put my face out there to be a voice for people who look just like me.”
When Rochita became pregnant in the fall of 2020, however, her perspective and priorities shifted. As a new mother, she says, she knew she needed a different work-life balance.
“I’d spent most of my life dreaming about this career and I had the realization that I’d made the most impact I could,” she says, adding that she had to “put that aside and ask, how can I make a difference in my community in a completely different way?”
Rochita found the answer in CMTA after a friend connected her with the organization.
In many ways, the change was huge. CMTA’s mission is to advocate and improve the business climate for California’s 30,000 manufacturing, processing and technology-based companies. “They are helping people, and realized this is what I want to do,” she says now.
In other ways, however, the shift wasn’t extreme. It was a different industry, but the new role still required her to approach her work through the lens of communication and critical thinking.
“One of the first things my boss told me was that he wanted me to change the narrative of manufacturing,” she says.
Rochita tackled the assignment by thinking of what that meant for her daughter, Mila, who is now 2. “I thought, as a mom, what kind of future can I equate for my daughter? What kind of job opportunities will there be for her generation?” she says.
One of the ways that Rochita addressed that question was to focus on enhancing CMTA’s marketing and social media presence by drawing on her strengths. “I am still a storyteller. It was exciting for me just to see that all come together when it comes to social media,” she says.
A year into the job, Rochita admits it hasn’t always been easy.
“I’m learning to be a better leader, but I still sometimes feel out of place in the boardroom,” says Rochita, who is part of the Sacramento Metro Chamber Foundation’s Leadership Sacramento program. “I still get nervous about that, but it’s an opportunity for people to realize that I belong and there are other people that may look like me who may be interested in these jobs in the future.”
Get all the profiles in our Young Professionals issue delivered to your inbox: Subscribe to the Comstock’s newsletter today!
Julie Phillips had a good idea early on where her interests lie. After growing up in Roseville, she attended UC Davis as a political science major and got strongly involved with the Greek community there. She wasn’t interested in pursuing politics; public policy fascinated her instead.
Oto oversees marketing and communications for both the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, an organization representing Asian American and Pacific Islander-owned businesses around the state, and the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce, which centers its efforts on the Capital Region.
For Nathan Langley, entrepreneurship has meant integrating his drive to save lives with his passion for innovation and sales, and the synthesis has helped him succeed. “Everybody is different, and their experiences are different, but I would find it much more difficult to have overcome some of the challenges that we’ve faced over the years if it wasn’t something I believed in,” he says.
A cohort of leaders under the age of 40 making a difference in the Capital Region. What people like Rhodes lack in age and decades of professional accomplishments, they make up for with lessons learned through family and experiences.