Lela has 2020 Vision for Carlsbad's Future.

Businesswoman. Difference Maker. Working Mom. Leader.


Hi, I’m Lela Panagides and I am a businesswoman, a wife and a mother of a 13-year-old son who attends Calavera Hills Middle School. I have held senior leadership positions in some of the world’s most admired global companies and in non-profit and community organizations. I was raised by a proud Greek-Cypriot father who came to the U.S. in 1956 as a college student. My dad worked to put himself through school, eventually earned a PhD in Economics and became a U.S. diplomat late in life. While in graduate school, he met my mother, a 6th-generation Scots-Irish-American whose ancestor, Alexander Caldwell, arrived in America in 1745. In the early 1980s, with three young school children, my mother went back to school to become a Physician Assistant focusing on primary care and later completing a master’s degree in epidemiology and international health.

In 1996, I started my career as a consultant with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers), a global firm delivering assurance, tax and consulting services. Throughout my twenty-three year business career in several global companies including EY (Ernst & Young), Johnson Controls and Microsoft, I was promoted to increased levels of responsibility and leadership, often working with multi-disciplinary and diverse functional teams on large-scale, organizational change initiatives. In 2010, I started my own business while setting aside twenty percent of my revenue and time to do pro-bono work with non-profit and community organizations such as the NAACP, the Humane Society and Ten Thousand Villages.


Four years ago, after a family crisis, we were looking for a new start and decided to dream big. Attracted by a high quality of living, great schools, a natural environment and good surf, my family and I made the decision to move to Carlsbad. Carlsbad’s charm is fueled by a number of qualities such as excellent public schools, accessible and clean beaches, numerous arts, music and cultural events, open spaces, natural beauty and an engaged community who cares deeply about its city.

I am a graduate of the Carlsbad Citizen’s Academy, a member of the Tri-City Wellness Center, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and a frequent visitor and big fan of our marvelous city libraries. My family enjoys our local farmer’s market, our community centers, our arts and music scene and the diversity of our restaurants, cafes and retail shops. However, the beach is where my family and I are most happy. I guess you could say I’m a thalassophile (a good Greek word!).

My focus on service and hard work was strongly influenced by my parents who taught me that the greatest source of energy is leadership done in the spirit of service. When I was 15 years-old, I started working in retail during the summer where I received my first paycheck and volunteered teaching English as a second language. Since then, I’ve continued to give back to community organizations and non-profit groups that focus on under-served populations, animal welfare and environmental protection. I have a passion for empowering young people and volunteered my time in the juvenile system for teenage girls and created a mentoring program for young, minority professionals.

I earned my undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia (Phi Beta Kappa) and completed my MBA from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. As a first year MBA student, I was elected as the president of Women in Business and started a mentoring program for at-risk high school girls. Also, while in graduate school, I was selected as a William Davidson Institute Fellow at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and was assigned to work with the first cellular phone company in Warsaw, Poland. In my professional life, I am a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). I have had the privilege of living in six countries and speak several languages, so if you see me around town, on a hike or at the beach, make sure to say, “Hi.” “Hola.” “Yasou.” “Oi” or “Cześć.”

My family loves living in Carlsbad and I’m excited to get to know you and earn your vote on November 3, 2020 to represent you on City Council for District 2!