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New Leaders Council

2018 Fellows

2018 NLC Sacramento Fellows

Gül (Rose) Berktas - Program Officer, CaliforniaVolunteers

Berktas__Gül_(Rose).pngRose currently serves as a Program Officer with CaliforniaVolunteers in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. There, she is responsible for ensuring grant monitoring and compliance for a portfolio of twelve AmeriCorps programs and assisting with the implementation, coaching, and training of these programs throughout the state. Rose specializes in supporting local, city, and county governments when they utilize volunteers and donations during times of disaster.

Prior to CaliforniaVolunteers, Rose was a Team Leader for two years with AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, where she promoted professional and leadership development. She directly supervised, motivated, and coordinated a diverse team of young adults. During her two years of service, she worked as a wildland firefighter in Arizona, built educational trails in Washington, supported ten members in attaining their high school diplomas while constructing homes in California, and maintained a local community garden in Oregon.

At SUNY Stony Brook University, Rose earned her Bachelors of Arts and Sciences degree in both Psychology and Women and Gender Studies. During her time in New York, she volunteered as an EMT-B, served as a board member for Long Island Jobs with Justice, organized community events, and enjoyed the beach with her beloved dog.

Rose is passionate about community involvement, human rights, immigration policy, and tea to honor her Turkish roots (her family owns a tea farm in Rize, Turkey). In her spare time, you can find her boxing, riding her bicycle around town, volunteering with local nonprofits, hosting Nasty Women Wine Nights, exploring local coffee shops/breweries and encouraging her friends to go on spontaneous adventures with her.

Lazaro Cardenas - Environmental Justice & Tribal Affairs Specialist, California Department of Toxic Substances Control

Cardenas__Lazaro.pngLazaro serves as an Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs Specialist for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). He has been a project coordinator for a community and environmental justice engagement project focusing on contaminated soil and the remediation of contaminated sites. Lazaro has worked on issues such as hazardous waste, pollution prevention, and environmental justice. He most recently served on the Department’s Diversity and Inclusion Work Group, promoting equitable internal business practices and cultural sensitivity. Prior to joining the DTSC, Lazaro served as a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow and Legislative Aide for a member of the California State Assembly, where he staffed diverse policy issues including labor, education, health care, economic development, and public safety.

Lazaro was born and raised in Riverside, California. He attended and graduated from the University of California, Riverside with degrees in Psychology and Ethnic Studies. There, he worked as a student advocate with the University of California Student Association and the United Students Against Sweatshops. Lazaro has also served as an organizing intern for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 770 in Los Angeles in the fight for a fair contract for grocery store workers.

Currently, Lazaro is a member of the Sacramento Tenants Union and the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment where he actively advocates for tenant and renter’s rights, affordable housing, and other economic and social justice issues.

In his spare time, Lazaro enjoys watching independent and foreign films, hiking and camping, and attending live punk rock concerts.

Gabriela Chavez - Legislative and Policy Coordinator, California Department of Business Oversight

Chavez__Gabriela.pngGabriela Chavez is the Legislative and Policy Coordinator for the Department of Business Oversight where she provides recommendations on legislation impacting consumers and the financial industry. She works in multiple areas of financing law including banking, finance lenders, payday lenders, and mortgage lending. She has also worked on several financial reports including a demographic analysis of California payday loans’ industry, which illustrated payday lender storefronts are concentrated in predominant Black and Latino communities.

Gabriela currently serves as the Board Secretary for the Midtown Neighborhood Association which represents the Midtown community and advocates for policies that promote a healthy, inclusive, and sustainable mixed-use community. She is also an executive board member of House Sacramento, an association which promotes an inclusive, affordable community and advocates for the construction of more housing units in Sacramento.

Gabriela graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Economy and a minor in Public Policy. During her time at Berkeley, she volunteered at the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant assisting asylum refugee applicants and at College Track tutoring and empowering students from underserved communities to attend college. She was born in Mexico and immigrated to Salinas, California at the age of 16. She enjoys visiting local coffee shops and restaurants.

Liza Chu - Legislative Aide, California State Assembly

Chu__Lisa.pngLiza Chu is a political junkie, global citizen, and daughter. Born and raised in Stockton, the migratory hub of many Southeast Asian refugee families, she has developed a passion for addressing the major social justice issues of our time: income inequality and building healthy pipelines for underserved communities, all while preserving the beautiful earth that we have inherited.

A University of California, Davis graduate, Liza has a diverse background in managing a small manufacturing firm, running a bartending start-up company, organizing pageant and nonprofit initiatives, and leading part of a political campaign for state office. Liza loves quality time, quality books, and managing her quirky blog; there, she documents her goals and adventures in volunteerism, activism, and start-up businesses.

Today, Liza crafts and analyzes legislation for the California State Assembly, specializing in issues of labor, employment, accountability, elections, and economy, among others. She is also the Politics Editor for Chopsticks Alley, a Vietnamese-American culture and news publication; Director of Government Relations for Empowering Marginalized Asian Communities, a budding non-profit to serve California’s Central Valley; and founder of Stem&Co, a craft-design company. Liza thrives on creativity, organization, collaboration, and—clearly—multi-tasking. She dreams of leaving the world a bit better, as her 11-year-old self dreamed of wearing high heels to work. Achieving that adult-child double-win, she believes, is what life is all about.

Anthony DiMartino - Legislative Director, California State Assembly

DiMartino__Anthony.pngAnthony DiMartino was born to a Mexican mother and Italian father in Escondido, California. The values of hard work, community service, and the importance of education was instilled in him from his large family. For his undergraduate degree, Anthony attended the University of Redlands where he studied psychology and race and ethnic studies. At the U of R, he discovered his passion for mentoring and working with at-risk youth and youth who were incarcerated. Anthony was heavily involved in various social justice programs and was the Peer Wellness Co-Director. Through his service as a mentor, Anthony decided he would pursue a Master’s in Social Work at UCLA. At UCLA, Anthony gained valuable internship experience as a therapist and a program analyst/grant writer.

After graduating from UCLA with his MSW, Anthony worked as an administrative analyst for the City of Long Beach and a grant writer for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development. After working in local government for several years, he was selected to be a California State Assembly Fellow and placed in the office of Assemblywoman Shirley Weber.

After completing his Fellowship, Anthony transitioned into the role of Legislative Assistant for Assemblywoman Weber. In his role as Legislative Assistant for Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, he worked on criminal justice, education, and human services policy. In addition, he staffs Dr. Weber on the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, as well as the Assembly Committee on Education.

Anthony has three years of experience managing a mentoring program for high school youth and has volunteered with the juvenile justice system for several years. He is also an alum of the National Juvenile Justice Network’s Youth Justice Leadership Institute. In his free time, Anthony enjoys reading social justice, sci-fi, and fantasy books, exercising, volunteering, dancing and spending time with family and friends.

David Dover - Signals Intelligence Analyst, Booz Allen Hamilton

Dover__David.pngDavid Dover is a military Intelligence Analyst for Booz Allen Hamilton where he currently supports Air Force overseas operations from Beale Air Force Base. He also serves as a Signals Intelligence Analyst in the US Navy Reserve in Dublin, California.

Originally from Omaha, David grew up in Germany before returning to Nebraska, finishing high school, and graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a B.S. in Political Science. He has been active in progressive politics and issue advocacy since high school and has worked in several capacities at the local and federal level including communications, fundraising, and campaign management. He is passionate about community development, foreign policy and national security issues, healthcare policy, voting rights, and open government.

Before moving to California, David was on active duty for the US Navy and was assigned to duty stations in Nebraska, Texas, Georgia, Kuwait, and most recently Iraq. Upon leaving active duty, he went to work for Booz Allen supporting the National Security Agency at Ft. Gordon, Georgia. Prior to the Navy, David served as the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Omaha Mayor's Office where his responsibilities included political and intergovernmental affairs, internal staff management, and community outreach. David was also a founding member of the Omaha chapter of New Leaders Council. Outside of work, David enjoys reading, hiking, wine & cocktails with friends, cooking, and traveling.

Jaskiran Grewal - Legislative Assistant, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) States Council

Grewal__Jaskiran.pngJaskiran Grewal was born and raised in Temecula, California where her parents immigrated to in the late 1980’s from Punjab, India. In high school, she started her political advocacy career through serving as the student representative for the Temecula Valley Unified School District, representing over 30,000 students, in Temecula’s 2020 City Plan.

Jaskiran went on to receive her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Davis. There, she completed her Sociology Honors Thesis analyzing the root causes and factors of the mass migration of unaccompanied minors from Central America. During her time at UC Davis, Jaskiran studied criminal justice in Barcelona, Spain; completed a fellowship with the Office of Governor Jerry Brown’s Constituent Affairs Department; and participated in the UC Washington DC program interning for an immigration non-governmental organization.

After graduating from UC Davis, Jaskiran joined Teach For America where she served as a 5th and 7th grade mathematics teacher at KIPP Charter Schools in San Francisco. She completed a Policy and Advocacy fellowship with Leadership for Educational Equity at Mission Promise Neighborhood working on early learning and development policy issues affecting the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. She stayed on with partner organization Mission Economic Development Agency to develop and complete an Excelsior Promise Neighborhood Proposal.

Upon the completion of the Excelsior Promise Neighborhood Proposal, Jaskiran moved to Sacramento to pursue a legislative career with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) States Council, representing over 200,000 workers in the retail grocery, pharmaceutical, cannabis, and other industries. Since 2016, she has been on the forefront of political and legislative issues at the state level advocating for labor rights and workplace safety in the burgeoning cannabis industry, continuing to ensure consumer protection for the pharmaceutical industry, preserving the grocery industry, and bolstering the UFCW members interests.

Jaskiran is passionate about issues affecting working families, criminal justice reform, the cannabis industry, and education. Outside of work, you can find her practicing yoga, hiking trails around the Northern California area, camping across the west coast, and traveling to different countries.

Vanessa Hernandez - Statewide Policy Director, California Youth Connection

Hernandez__Vanessa.pngAs a child welfare advocate, Vanessa is most passionate about honoring the commitments made to underserved populations through practice, policy, and legislative change.

Vanessa currently serves as California Youth Connection’s Director of Statewide Policy. Vanessa is responsible for shepherding the organization’s legislative and policy package to actualization while developing youth into leaders who harness the power of their voices and experiences.

Before working for CYC, Vanessa worked for Riverside Department of Social Services where she worked alongside extended foster care youth, social workers, and local policy makers. In that role, she helped implement extended foster care, supported transition age youth, developed trainings for child welfare professionals, mentored youth and collaborated on designing county-wide system improvement plans.

Sana Khan - Clinic Manager, Sacramento Heart & Vascular Medical Associates

Khan__Sana.pngSana Khan is a first generation Pakistani-American, born in New York City and raised in Sacramento. She attended California State University, Sacramento and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Biology.

Her ambition to effect change in healthcare led her across the country to the University of Scranton where she received her Master of Health Administration. There, Sana held leadership positions in the student chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Graduate and Continuing Education Student Organization.

Sana completed her Administrative Residency at Georgetown University Hospital’s Department of Pediatrics in Washington, D.C. She subsequently worked in numerous capacities in Hematology/Oncology at the MedStar Georgetown health system, encompassing healthcare operations, finance, and process improvement.

Sana is a founding member and Director of Operations of the American Muslim Women Political Action Committee, a progressive organization that brings awareness to issues important to American Muslim women. She is currently Clinic Manager at Sacramento Heart & Vascular Medical Associates, where she oversees clinic operations at all six offices.

In her free time, Sana enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling and practicing yoga.

Julianne McCall - Consultant, California Senate Office of Research

McCall__Julianne.pngFollowing sixteen years of conducting research in 12 neuroscience laboratories across three nations, Julianne received a PhD in gene therapy for neural regeneration. A career pivot toward science policy led her to complete a one-year fellowship with the California Council on Science and Technology, and Julianne currently serves the California State Legislature as a member of the Senate Office of Research covering public health, human services, and science administration policy.

Throughout her academic career, Julianne witnessed the widening gap between scientific advancement and society’s use of the information and understanding of the process. Seeking to bridge that disconnect, she established four science education programs and rose to the position of Director of the International Neuroscience Olympiad for two years, a platform that engages 53 countries. She also publishes original articles to expand neuroscience curricula. In addition to science education, she served as the Director of Education for a Europe-wide youth ethics program, promoting critical thinking skills and cross-cultural respect.

As a Fulbright alumnus to Sweden, Julianne is heavily involved in activating the global alumni network through TEDxFulbright conferences, a program that seeks to better organize communities around concepts of progress for the public good. After co-founding the program in 2012, it is presently hosted across five continents and continues to grow, with viewership over ten million.

More locally, Julianne established a website to better coordinate progressive community efforts in the region, entitled Be The Change - Sacramento. She also co-founded TEDxCaliforniaCapitol and sits on the Sacramento March for Science Community Grant Committee.

Melissa McMurrey - Analyst, California Department of Social Services

McMurrey__Melissa.pngMelissa McMurrey currently serves the State of California as an Analyst for the California Department of Social Services’ Workforce Development Bureau. She assists state employees by providing resources for upward mobility and career development. In that role, Melissa also functions as an agency recruiter and promotes employee engagement, specializing in project and program management, strategy, and policy development.

Melissa previously served the California Prison Industries Authority as a policy and program analyst, helping rehabilitating offenders to develop marketable job skills, and to ultimately obtain nationally recognized certifications.

Born in North Carolina to parents serving in the Armed Forces, Melissa has lived in many different communities within the U.S. and the world. During the latter part of high school, her family relocated to Porterville, California, a small town between Fresno and Bakersfield. Because of her experience living in a rural community, Melissa brings a unique grassroots perspective to her activism. 

Over the past several years, Melissa has served in multiple leadership roles within the LGBTQ community, including being the first Division leader of Gay Porterville; Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Lifeguard Facilitator for the Trevor Project; 2nd Vice president and General Member of Lions International, Visalia Pride Lions Chapter; and Chapter Leader for Marriage Equality USA Tulare-Kings County. She has responded to overt homophobia displayed by local elected officials by organizing rallies, marches, and acts of peaceful civil disobedience, including protests that have been covered by national media outlets.

In addition to these accomplishments, Melissa has conducted multiple suicide prevention and crisis intervention workshops with an emphasis on LGBTQI community. She has been an advisor for various planning and organizing committees, has been a participant in national calls to action with the LGBTQI movement, and has been a voice for the LGBTQI community by taking part in multiple speaking panels.

These experiences have fueled Melissa’s passion for social and political activism, and have driven her to insist on inclusion and justice. Serving as the cornerstone of her participation in social activism is Melissa’s belief that genuine equality must include all members of the community, especially the most marginalized.

Brittani Orona - Environmental Justice & Tribal Affairs Specialist, California Department of Toxic Substances Control

Orona__Brittani.pngBrittani Orona is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and completed her Master of Arts in Public History at California State University, Sacramento in Fall 2014. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Humboldt State University in 2010.

Brittani is currently a Doctoral Student at UC Davis in Native American Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Human Rights. She has worked at the California State Indian Museum, the California State Office of Historic Preservation, National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, California State Archives, and the Maidu Museum and Historic Site.

Brittani currently serves on the Board of Directors for Preservation Sacramento, and is currently working with the Oak Park Neighborhood Association to develop a digital oral history project to highlight community stories of justice, equity, and development impacts.

She was an Executive Fellow in '14-'15 at the California Government Operations Agency, where she focused on Governor Jerry Brown’s sustainability goals for state operations. Brittani currently works for the Department of Toxic Substances Control in the Office of Environmental Justice & Tribal Affairs, where she coordinates on community based projects with the Hazardous Waste Management Program. She is interested in repatriation, federal Indian law, cultural resources management, environmental justice, and environmental history as they relate to California Indian tribes.

Josh Pollack - Lead Math Teacher, 7th Grade, Oak Park Preparatory Academy

Pollack__Josh.pngJosh Pollack is currently the lead 7th grade math teacher at Oak Park Preparatory Academy (OPPA). At OPPA, Josh is in charge of developing and implementing a Common Core aligned curriculum and is responsible for coordinating the 7th grade math intervention program - a blended-learning approach to put students on a path to being at or above grade level. Josh also serves as the head coach for the school’s girls’ basketball team.

Josh previously served as a high school math teacher in New Orleans at Joseph S. Clark Preparatory Academy as a member of Teach for America. As a FirstLine Schools Innovation Fellow, Josh taught 11th- and 12th-graders, and implemented a personalized ACT curriculum that allowed students to boost scores by over 15 percent. He also facilitated an over 80 percent passage rate for juniors taking Algebra I who had started the year with an average proficiency between a 3rd- and 4th-grade level.

Josh began his career outside of the classroom. After working on the 2008 Obama campaign in the Pennsylvania scheduling office, Josh served as a White House Intern in the Office of Presidential Personnel. He then moved to the U.S. Department of Education, first serving in the Office of the Deputy Secretary working on special projects ranging from Race to the Top implementation to strategic communications with the business community. From 2013-2015, Josh served as Special Assistant to Secretary Arne Duncan. In his role, Josh worked directly with Secretary Duncan to facilitate day to day management and operations of the agency, prepared briefing materials for all Secretary events and travel, and edited all quotes, talking points, speeches, and messaging to reflect Secretary’s priorities.

Josh graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science. There he served as president of One in Four, an all-male organization dedicated to ending sexual assault on college campuses. Josh grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and recently moved to Sacramento with his fiancé. Go Celtics!

Chinua Rhodes - Organizer, Mutual Housing

Rhodes__Chinua.pngA California native born at Stanford Hospital and raised on the south side of Sacramento, Chinua comes from a family of service. His Grandfather served as Director of Parks and Recreation for the state of California from 1975-1977, and his father was an organizer who helped incorporate the City of East Palo Alto.

Chinua was raised with a strong set of pillars that guide his actions. He believes in Community, Character, Consistency and Culture. He has a strong background in community and youth advocacy. He has coordinated A.S.E.S and 21st Century grants supporting over 1000 youth and families in the City and County of Sacramento. Chinua worked with the City’s gang task force on prevention efforts through GPTTO (Gang Prevention Through Targeted Outreach) which focused on school aged youth whose families have been impacted by gang activity.

Chinua is a graduate of the City Planning and Management Academy. After Completion of these programs he realized the importance of housing as a grassroots effort for change. In 2015, Chinua established Creating Rhodes a California-based real estate investment company targeting value-added properties in northern California and its surrounding areas, with the intent of providing opportunities for his community to gain wealth and wellbeing through home ownership.

He was later appointed by the Sacramento City Council under the recommendation of Mayor Pro Tem Larry Carr as Parks and Recreations Commissioner of District 8. As Parks and Recreation Commissioner for District 8 Chinua provides policy, project recommendations and advice to the City Council, the Parks and Recreation Department, community members, and other members of the commission.

His passion for community is equally linked with his passion for art and culture. He saw the need for activation of art and culture in the areas he was raised. Chinua found that activation through Sofar Sounds, a global, grassroots network of artists, hosts, and guests, all with the goal of helping to bring the magic back to live music. Chinua brought this platform to the City of Sacramento and aims to create performance spaces that are respectful to artists, where the audience lives in the moment and listens closely to the music. Chinua is an active member and leader of his community, also organizing for California Mutual Housing, and working on the Positive Youth Justice Initiative.

Rodolfo Rivera Aquino - Legislative Aide, California State Assembly

Rivera_Aquino__Rodolfo.pngRodolfo Ernesto Rivera Aquino was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador until he and his family crossed over to the United States when he was 10 years old. After growing up in Los Angeles, he attended various community colleges and ran cross-country, as well as track and field, for the Los Angeles Valley College. He transferred to UC Berkeley where he majored in Political Science with a minor in Ethnic Studies.

At UC Berkeley, he was elected as Director of the ASUC Student Legal Clinic, which provided the Bay Area community with free legal research and tax-filing assistance. He became a Teaching Assistant for two undergraduate Ethnic Studies courses, including “Race and Law” (ES144AC) as well as “Asian American Community and the Law” (ASAMST141). He became a Student Director for the Cal-in-Sacramento, a program that allows selected students at Berkeley access to free housing and internships in Sacramento, CA.

After taking courses in urban politics and interning at the California State Senate for two summers straight, he became interested in understanding the impact of local and state governance on life outcomes. In that pursuit, Rodolfo completed an honors thesis which explored the relationship between minority councilmembers of California cities and their voting patterns to reveal how the structures of local government constrain their voting choice. He received the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Percy Grant for his research.

Upon graduation, he was hired as a Legislative Assistant for Assemblymember Tony Thurmond, where he has worked as a policy and budget advisor on a variety of issues, including housing, local government, human services, and health.

Erin Rodriguez - Legislative Analyst, CalRecycle

Erin serves as Legislative Analyst for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). Prior to that role, she served as a Legislative Aide to Assemblymember Susan Eggman. Erin received her bachelor’s degree in Government from Sacramento State.

Erin started her career in government as an Assembly district office intern in her hometown of Fresno while attending Fresno Community College. She is a proud Sacramento Semester intern alumni, and  interned for current Congressmember Jimmy Gomez when he was a member of the California State Assembly. During her last semester of college, she was chosen to represent Sacramento State in the Panetta Institute Congressional Internship. The Panetta Internship is run by Secretary Leon E. Panetta and involves a two-week intensive course at the Institute in Monterey and continues in Washington D.C. for the remainder of the semester. Erin then had the pleasure of interning for former Congressmember Lois Capps.

Erin is very committed to advocate to civic engagement and enjoys her role as advisor, legislative houses for CalYMCA Youth and Government Program. She spends her free time practicing classical pilates, dog sitting, and going to concerts.

Angélica Ruiz - Research Scientist, California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment 


As first generation Xicana, Angélica grew up understanding and navigating the world differently than others. Her progressive values and foundation were established through her life experiences that reflect being raised by undocumented parents in a low-income community. She is the first in her family to graduate from high school and college.

Currently, Angélica is a Research Scientist at the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). At OEHHA, Angélica strategizes and coordinates the next steps to improve public health in environmental justice communities using research to action initiatives, such as community-based participatory research.

Previously, Angélica was the Sacramento Area Program Coordinator for the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water. She provided strategic direction to various stakeholders on water and health justice issues impacting environmental justice communities throughout Sacramento.

Angélica was an Executive Fellow in 2015-2016 at the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), under the guidance of the Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs. She served as a liaison between environmental justice organizations and CalEPA, in addition to working on the San Ysidro Community Air Study.

Prior to moving to Sacramento, Angélica graduated magna cum laude from California State University Fullerton with a B.S. in Health Science and B.A. in Women and Gender Studies. Angélica was the commencement speaker for both the Health Science and Women and Gender Studies Department graduations. During her time at Cal State Fullerton, she was involved in undergraduate research through the McNair Scholars Program, where she focused on food access and health disparities in the Latinx community. Additionally, she was elected as the External Chair and Administrative Director of M.E.Ch.A., was an active member of the Women and Gender Studies Student Association, and was a Coordinator for the Queer People of Color Conference 2013. 

In her free time, Angélica loves to crochet, read, and listen to music. Some of her favorite writers include Octavia Butler and Gloria Anzaldúa. A few of Angélica's favorite bands/artists include Café Tacuba, Bomba Estéreo, Princess Nokia, Queen, and Billie Holiday.

Leslie Valdivia - Account Assistant, Runyon Saltzman, Inc.

Valdivia__Leslie.pngLeslie Valdivia is a communications and marketing professional. She currently works at Runyon Saltzman, one of Sacramento-grown biggest marketing and public relations firms. She works on various social marketing campaigns that impact community and social behavior changes for clients across California. Some of the issues she focuses on are early childhood education and development, mental health, and Medi-Cal program usage. Her primary focus is on using marketing and communications strategies to reach low-income communities and communities of color.

Leslie is also the co-founder of Vive Cosmetics, a beauty brand for the Latinx community that celebrates all things beauty and culture. This company was created from a deep love for her Latinx community, women empowerment, and cultural and identity pride. Her company has been recognized by various Latinx-focused media outlets, including Latina Magazine, where the brand was award a 2017 Latina Beauty Award.

During her time away from her day job and her growing business, Leslie spends time focusing on Young Latinas Aspire, a nonprofit organization she cofounded in July 2016. The mission of Young Latinas Aspire is to provide a sisterhood dedicated to promoting respect, kindness, higher education, and professional growth among Latinas in the Sacramento region. The organization provides resources, guidance, and support to the ever-expanding community of career-minded women as they discover their passions and strive to reach their full potential. This year, Leslie helped plan and implement the inaugural Young Latinas Rising Conference, which had close to 100 people in attendance and brought Dolores Huerta as the keynote speaker. Leslie was recently awarded the 2017 Rising Star Award from the Sacramento State Latino Alumni Chapter.

Leslie was born in San Diego, California and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. She is the daughter of immigrants from Mexico, and the oldest of three girls. Leslie is the first one in her family to graduate from college. She received a bachelor’s degree in communications studies with double minors in Spanish and journalism from Sacramento State.

Volma Volcy - Field Mobilization Director, Sacramento Central Labor Council

Volcy__Volma.pngVolma Volcy is a father, brother, husband, and community organizer. He was born and raised in Haiti and migrated to Miami Gardens, Florida at the tender age of twelve. He has dedicated the past decade of his life serving, educating, and mobilizing his community. He attended Miami Gardens Middle School and graduated from Miami Gardens Sr. High, the home of the Vikings. In 2008, he graduated from the University of Central Florida (UCF) with a dual degree in International Relations and Political Science.

Volma started organizing when he developed a passion to feed the hungry and the homeless in the Downtown Miami area. He founded Haitian Generation 2.0 (HG20) in 2008 with the mission to engage and mobilize young Haitian Americans to take an active role in community service. At the helm of HG20, Volma partnered with Miami Dade College, United Way of Miami Dade, and other community based organizations to feed thousands of homeless people, and engaged hundreds of young people to participate in the feeding and helping people who were less fortunate.

He is now the Founder and Executive Director of The Ring of Democracy, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting civic engagement while raising awareness around the issues of social justice, economic justice, immigration reform and climate change. Volma was named Legacy Magazines Miami’s 40 under 40 Leaders of Today and Tomorrow (2017), and Haitian American Chambers of Commerce of Florida Top 20 Under 40 Young Professionals.

He has spent the better part of the last decade working with nonprofit organizations such as Enroll America, promoting the Affordable Care Act in various position both in Florida and Alabama. He worked as the Youth and Hispanic Regional Director for NextGen Climate promoting climate change awareness. He also served as the State Field Director for New Florida Majority (NewFM). With NewFM, he managed a team of canvassers and organizers to register over 30,000 voters and knock on more than 100,000 doors during the 2016 election.

Volma developed and implemented electoral campaign strategies, combining independent leadership and collaboration with key stakeholders. He planned and oversaw electoral activities, such as candidate vetting and candidate interviews prior to endorsing. He also oversaw field and communications programs while building durable relationships with elected officials, potential candidates, and key community leaders to strengthen and maintain NewFM presence as a political force. He is passionate and excited about the work we can do as a community and is dedicated to community engagement, community organizing and coalition building, to expand, strengthen and empower our communities.

In the summer of 2017, Volma and his family moved to the greater Sacramento area. He’s currently serving as the Field Mobilization Director for the Sacramento Central Labor Council, as well as continuing his work as the Founder and Executive Director for the Ring of Democracy.

Steven Vong - Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary, Office of Governor Jerry Brown

Vong__Steven.pngSteven Vong currently serves as a Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary with the Office of Governor Jerry Brown, where he advises the Governor on criminal justice issues and occasionally plays with the Governor’s dog Colusa. Steven was born and raised in California, earning his BA in Political Science and Economics at UCLA and his JD at UC Davis School of Law.

In law school, Steven was a member of the Order of the Barristers, Co-President of UC Davis APALSA, President of the Trial Practice Honors Board, Asylum Chair of the Moot Court Board, and a research assistant. In college, Steven was a member of UCLA’s mock trial team, participated in the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at UCDC, studied abroad in Shanghai, and volunteered with Global Business Brigades in Panama. Steven spends way too much time watching fooding and cooking shows and failing in his sad attempts to cook or bake.

Joshua White - Product Manager, Lulus

White__Josh.pngJosh White completed his undergraduate and graduate studies, with specializations in International Business and Economics. His primary employment is in data engineering, but his passion for community include commitments to various organizations.

Josh is member of Sacramento’s Black Young Democrats chapter where he supports local initiatives to encourage and support policy and leadership that in turn supports the black community. He also serves on the board of Artists of Sacramento as Advocacy Director, where his primary responsibility consists of promoting the needs of local artists and leveraging the political system to help make art more viable for everyone.

Josh also manages, a website geared toward non-progressives. The website hosts persuasive content that argues the case for progressive ideals to those open to an exchange of ideas. He believes that progressive ideologies can pervade conservative culture incrementally, through conversations that appeal to the common humanity that bind all people together, regardless of their diverse ethical positions. He feels that perception is developed through the lens of distinct experience which separates and segments society. He also believes that progressivism, when communicated strategically, can become palatable to everyone regardless of their backgrounds. Josh would like to develop ProgressiveEthics into a platform devoted to broadening the reach of progressive ideals, by making the case for inclusivity to those who share similar core values of compassion and respect, through sound and reason-based appeals.

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