By Robin Pierson, Special to the Independent
Nine outstanding women were nominated to be the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club 2014 “Woman of the Year,” and when the members’ votes were tallied, the woman selected was long-time resident and community champion, Cheryl Kinsman.
Despite her slew of past and present civic accomplishments, Kinsman was initially a reluctant public servant. “My father was the mayor of Riverside for 12 years,” Kinsman explained. “I told him, ‘I will never, ever go into politics. No one ever calls you to say you’re doing a good job.’ I changed my mind when I just couldn’t stand what was going on money-wise in Laguna Beach.”
Kinsman, an MBA and CPA, was on the Planning Commission discussing the financing of the public park that was part of the project with the developer of the Montage. “The developer said to me, ‘It doesn’t matter what the Planning Commission does, our deal will be made with the Council.’ That didn’t sit well with me, so I thought, ‘I will just run for Council.’”
Describing herself as a “fiscal conservative,” Kinsman served on the City Council for eight years, including one year as mayor and four years as mayor pro tem. Along with councilwoman Jane Egly, Kinsman was largely responsible for keeping South Coast Hospital in Laguna Beach. She regards this as the most important civic accomplishment in which she was involved.
In addition to her stints on the City Council and Planning Commission, Kinsman served on Laguna’s Parking, Traffic and Circulation committee for two years, was president and board member of the North Laguna Community Association for four years, a member of the El Toro Reuse Planning Authority for six years and treasurer of the Laguna Beach Neighborhood Watch committee for eight years. For three years she was a volunteer auditor for the Laguna Beach High School PTA and served as vice president of the Woman’s Club
Kinsman currently serves as a commissioner for the Laguna Beach County Water District, treasurer of the Woman’s Club, is on Mission Hospital Laguna Beach advisory committee and serves as treasurer of the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association.
The project that currently has Kinsman’s full attention is getting the city a police dog. “We haven’t had one for eight years,” Kinsman said. “If Laguna Beach officers need a dog, they have to call for one from another city.” The dog, she said, could be used to aid officers in many situations including sniffing out drugs and entering a building after a burglar alarm has sounded. Kinsman is heading a Woman’s Club committee that will solicit the $20,000 in donations needed for the dog. The City Council has already approved a special vehicle needed to transport the canine. “I think the people of Laguna Beach will be generous and I don’t think it will be difficult to raise the necessary funds,” she said.
Kinsman married her husband, Michael, 44 years ago. They met in Claremont, where they were attending college, she at Scripps, Michael across the street at Claremont Men’s College. After graduation, Michael attended the Business School at Stanford University, receiving a PhD and MBA while Kinsman worked for a large accounting firm in San Francisco. After Michael graduated, the couple moved to Laguna, opening Kinsman & Kinsman, CPAs. In addition, Michael is a Professor of Finance and Accounting at Pepperdine University.
The couple’s two sons, Joshua, 26, and Nicholas, 20, work at the accounting firm when they are not at the beach.
Until recently, the Kinsmans hosted a monthly “Soup” potluck at their home for friendly people willing to talk to someone new. To honor Kinsman being named “Woman of the Year,” the Woman’s Club will host a “Soup” sometime in September.