Two City Leaders Find Out What It Means to be First


Craig Koscho

Two Sac State alumnae, Preet Didbal and Amanda Folendorf, recently became significant firsts in the world of local politics, moving into key roles at the heads of their respective communities.

Preet Didbal and Amanda Folendorf

Preet Didbal ’98 (left) and Amanda Folendorf ’09 blazed new political trails upon ascending to top leadership positions in two California towns.

Didbal ’98 (Physical Education) became the first Sikh woman to become mayor of a city in the United States when in late 2017 she took the reins of leadership in Yuba City, a town of about 65,000 residents 43 miles north of Sacramento. 

The mayor’s post is rotated among City Council members each year. Didbal’s ascension follows the 2014 milepost when she became the first Sikh woman elected to a U.S. city council. That successful run came after Didbal served for eight years on the Yuba City Planning Commission.

In addition to her political responsibilities, Didbal works as a process improvement advisor at State Compensation Insurance Fund in the Enterprise Project Management Office. Before that she worked 16 years in the California Department of Corrections.

She says Sacramento State is where her interest in this field was sparked.

“Although my studies were physical therapy, it was Sac State which introduced me to public service,” Didbal says. “I had a wonderful opportunity to work as a permanent intermittent employee at Corrections in 1998, which opened my eyes to a whole new world out there in public service.”

Her impact on the community was recognized in 2015 when Congressman John Garamendi named Didbal one of the Women of the Year in the Third Congressional District, a swath of the Central Valley that includes Yuba City.

In January, Folendorf ’09 (Government), who already was the youngest person to serve on the City Council of Angels Camp, became the first deaf female mayor in the nation when fellow council members appointed her to the city’s top post.

Born and raised in Angels Camp, Folendorf was elected to the City Council at the age of 27. She credits Sacramento State for preparing her for leadership and becoming active in her community.

“Sacramento State provided a platform outside of the classroom to learn firsthand the ins and outs of public service,” she says. “Those opportunities outside the classroom, through various programs, were pivotal in paving the way to where I am now.”

Folendorf, whose father, Tad Folendorf, was an Angels Camp councilman and mayor, is focused on key issues to bolster the town of about 4,000 residents.

She wants to strengthen the city’s economic environment to provide better opportunities for the area’s young people, work with Calaveras County to improve public transit, and create a trail to connect Angels Camp with nearby New Melones Reservoir.


Craig Koscho

Craig Koscho has served as a Sac State writer and public information officer for 11 years. Before that, he worked in television production and newspaper reporting and editing. Craig says, “I have the best job on campus: promoting the University’s arts programs.”