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New Leaders Council

Board Bios

Alessandra Brown - Budget Analyst, California Department of Finance

Alessandra is passionate about public service and developing sustainable communities. She currently serves as a budget analyst with the California Department of Finance, overseeing critical infrastructure projects related to public safety realignment. Before joining Finance, she was an Executive Fellow with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research where she was instrumental in developing the Environmental Goals and Progress Report and worked on a number of issues such as transportation planning and renewable energy.

Previously, she was a Senior Fellow with the non-profit Groundswell in Washington, D.C., organizing communities around energy issues, and interned with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and with Democracy for America in Burlington, Vermont.

Alessandra graduated in 2009 with a degree in Marketing and International Business from Georgetown University. As a student leader and President of the Georgetown NAACP chapter she fought for equality and justice for all. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, but now a proud Californian, she loves to cook and try all the sports she never played as a kid because she was too busy reading books.


Tristan Brown - Labor Lobbyist, California School Employees Association
Tristan is a full time labor lobbyist and active member of several political clubs in Sacramento. He has worked in the labor movement since 2006, starting as a representative for in-home healthcare providers. During this time he also began a part-time program at the McGeorge School of Law to obtain his law degree in 2013. After serving in-home care providers for over 5 years, including serving as the Political Director for a state-wide local, he attempted traditional legal work with the prestigious political law firm of Olson, Hagel & Fishburn, LLP. Finding that he couldn’t ignore his passion for working families, he sought out a legislative career in organized labor and landed with the 220,000 member CA School Employees Association, AFL-CIO. He spends much of his free time working with his local Freemason lodge and supporting the Shriner’s Hospital for Children and volunteers as a member of the McGeorge Capitol Center Advisory Board.


Paco Torres – Legislative Aide, Senator Loni Hancock
Institute Co-Chair
Paco Torres is a legislative aide for State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley). He first joined Senator Hancock’s staff in 2011 as a Senate Fellow. From 2011 through fall 2013, Paco advised Senator Hancock on environmental issues. He currently staffs the Senator on the Senate Public Safety Committee, which she chairs.
Paco was a 2014 NLC Fellow with the Sacramento Chapter. Paco graduated from Stanford University, earning a Bachelor of Arts with Honors and Distinction in Political Science. He was also awarded admission into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. While at college, Paco interned in the district office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove).
A member of the State Bar of California, Paco graduated from Stanford Law School earning a Doctorate of Jurisprudence. While in law school, he summered with the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball in New York, and Disability Rights Advocates in Berkeley. Paco also participated in both the Three Strikes Clinic and the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. He was a Co-President of the Stanford Latino Law Students Association.
A native Southern Californian, Paco is originally from Orange County. In his spare time, he is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Lakers, and Stanford football.


Kim Waterman, Human Services Specialist, Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance
Institute Co-Chair
Kim serves as a Human Services Specialist for the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance. She is responsible for coordinating the internship program for two of Sacramento's public assistance bureaus, liaising between local employers and CalWORKs recipients seeking community work experience. In addition to providing guidance to clients reentering the workforce, she maintains a working knowledge of eligibility regulations governing California's public assistance programs.

Prior to her work at Sacramento County, Kim served as assistant to Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal and press intern to Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez. She has also worked as a behavioral therapist to children with autism. Kim has a passion for advocacy. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), she volunteered as a voice for a foster youth before the family court system. She also participated in an immigration justice project in Tijuana, meeting with deportees and local activists at drop centers and community shelters.

Kim graduated with high honors from UC Davis, earning a BS in Psychobiology and a BA in Spanish. She spent a year studying at the University of Granada, Spain and participated in a student exchange project in Morocco. Kim's fluency in Spanish has enabled her to better serve her community as a translator and advocate. In her free time, Kim enjoys singing, dancing and playing her ukulele.


Patrick McGarrity - Campaign Strategist, Josh Pulliam Management & Mail (JPM&M)
Curriculum Chair
Patrick currently serves as a Campaign Strategist in the Sacramento office of Josh Pulliam Management & Mail (JPM&M). Patrick specializes in providing overall strategy, message development, campaign management, paid media development, and communications services to candidates, issue campaigns, and propositions. PatrickÍs work prior to joining JPM&M included work as a campaign manager, field director, and senior strategist on nationally targeted Congressional campaigns across the country. In 2012, McGarrity successfully navigated Texas Congressman Lloyd Doggett through a bruising redistricting induced three-way primary election.

Campaigning in a deeply divided district, Patrick helped overcome a double-digit deficit and led Doggett to a commanding win on Election Day. Previously, Patrick served as Field Director and Senior Strategist during freshman New York Congressman John HallÍs 2008 re-election campaign. Hall was the first Democrat elected to Congress in the district for over 40 years. Prior to managing political campaigns, Patrick McGarrity served as a Deputy Press Secretary and Communications Director in the U.S. House of Representatives. Patrick graduated from St. Paul, Minnesota’s Macalester College with a degree in Geography.

He grew up in Bellingham, WA, where he first got involved in the political process working on his father’s campaign for city office. When he’s not on deadline, he enjoys camping, cooking and catching a show at Harlow’s. He is closing in on his goal of visiting every state in the country -- only 6 more to go!


Elizabeth Stitt - Communications Director, Senator Bill Monning
Communications Chair
Elizabeth currently serves as the Communications Director for California Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning.
She was previously the senior consultant for Swanson Communications, where she specialized in press, media relations, public affairs and social media.
Elizabeth also served as the senior press aide for the California Assembly Speaker.
As a member of Sacramento County Young Democrats, she was recently elected North State Regional Director for the California Young Democrats.
Prior to politics, Elizabeth was heavily involved in journalism. She was the editorial assistant for the UC Davis Magazine for three years before graduating with bachelor’s degrees in international relations and political science from UC Davis. She also served as the news director for two years for KDVS 90.3 fm, the university’s radio station, and interned for the anti-censorship magazine Index on Censorship in London, England.
Her interests include American history, women’s issues, documentaries, yoga and traveling.


Vignesh Ganapathy - Government Relations
Recruitment and Selections Co-Chair
Vignesh is a lawyer and government relations professional. Most recently, he served as Legislative Consultant for the Civil Justice of California (CJAC), an organization that advocates for a fair and balanced civil justice system. At CJAC, he assisted in representing the organization's members on litigation issues in the State Legislature by developing policy positions, interacting with government officials and organizing events. Prior to joining CJAC, Vignesh had worked in and around California politics. He began his career on the finance team of Attorney General Kamala Harris's 2010 campaign in Los Angeles, and worked for the state legislature and various executive agencies.

In addition to his work at CJAC, Vignesh serves as a mentor with the C.K. McClatchy High School's Law and Public Policy Academy and co-manages Rue 27, an arts development organization. With Rue 27, he interfaces with local Sacramento artists and businesses to foster a climate in which both can grow and develop. Their monthly pop-up events have created a pipeline for new and upcoming young talents to develop mentorships and greater exposure. He is a graduate of the University of California Santa Cruz, and the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law, where he studied in a program under Associate Justices Anthony Kennedy and Elena Kagan of the United States Supreme Court. While in law school, Vignesh served as student liaison to the South Asian Bar Association of Sacramento and Co-President of the Middle Eastern and South Asian Association. His deep commitment to cultural outreach and development has also led to an appointment to the 2015 Tamil Pioneers Award Committee with the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America (FeTNA) during their annual convention.

Vignesh grew up in Toronto, Ontario and the San Francisco Bay Area. When he is not working on progressive causes, he enjoys motorcycles, rock climbing, playing music, and baseball.


Jane Ama Mantey, Ph.D. - Legislative Aide, Office of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer
Recruitment and Selections Co-Chair
Dr. Jane Ama Mantey is currently a Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Office of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-South Los Angeles), where she focuses on environmental and food policy. Originally raised in Brooklyn, NY and Bayonne, NJ, Dr. Mantey received her BS in Biology from the University of Maryland Eastern in Princess Anne, MD where she was a student researcher and president of the nascent LGBTQ student organization on campus. She went on to receive her PhD in Biomedical Sciences with a concentration in Pharmacology/Toxicology from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, where she studied the link between smoke-based chemicals in foods and colorectal cancer.

Dr. Mantey devoted her spare time to organizational leadership, volunteering with community-based organizations, registering and mobilizing voters, and partaking in local advocacy. She also taught 3rd, 4th, and 8th grade science to at-risk public school students as a Vanderbilt University Scientist-In-The-Classroom teaching fellow. Before leaving Nashville, Dr. Mantey was a 2013 Fellow in the inaugural class of NLC Nashville's Institute. In addition to being on the NLC Sacramento board, Dr. Mantey is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, and she has a strong passion for community organizing, social justice and equity.


Alma Elizabeth Lopez Flores - Policy Analyst, Council of State Governments West
Community Engagement Co-Chair
Alma was born and raised in Zamora, Michoacan, Mexico. She and her family immigrated to California when she was nine-years-old. Alma has three brothers and is the first one in her family to go to college. Alma received her B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chicano Studies from CSU Sacramento, in spring of 2011. While at Sacramento State, she organized around issues in higher education.

Alma has continued her advocacy efforts, post-graduation, with community organizations such as Union C’vica Primero de Mayo and Sacramento Immigration Alliance, focusing on immigration issues. Alma plans on advancing her education and attain a Ph.D. to be able to further contribute back to her community.


Tera Flores Hannah - Programs Assistant, Northern California World Trade Center
Community Engagement Co-Chair
As Programs Assistant at the Northern California World Trade Center (NorCalWTC), Tera supports the CEO and staff with membership, sponsorship, events, and programming for the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

Prior to the NorCalWTC, Tera worked for the Sacramento Metro Chamber on Cap-to-Cap, the largest federal lobby effort in the country. Last December, she graduated from the University of Southern California (USC) Master of Public Administration program at the USC State Capital Center in Sacramento. During her master’s program, she interned in the Office of Sacramento City Manager John Shirey and the district office of Congresswoman Doris Matsui. She also worked as a Graduate Assistant coordinating executive leadership training programs for the California Institute for Mental Health and the National Conference of State Legislatures. As part of her studies, she conducted research and outreach for the California Senate Advisory Commission on Cost Control in State Government, the Loaves and Fishes Mustard Seed School, and the Better Hong Kong Foundation. Tera graduated in 2009 from the University of California-Davis with a B.A. in International Relations and a minor in Managerial Economics.

In her spare time, Tera loves to read, cook, and travel, and is an avid sports fanatic. Tera is very active in the community through Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, Habitat Young Professionals, Global Shapers, the American Society for Public Administration Sacramento Chapter, MetroEDGE, SacCounty Young Dems, and the USC Alumni Club of Sacramento. She is passionate about working with low-income families and underserved communities, particularly the Asian Pacific Islander community. Tera humbly follows five generations of public servants on Guam. She aspires to work for the Government of Guam and run for office one day.


Deanna Ping - Committee Consultant, California Senate Committee on Labor
Board Member-At-Large
Deanna Ping is currently working as a committee consultant for the California Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations. In her three years with the Senate Labor Committee Deanna has analyzed a variety of labor bills and works on issue areas such as occupational safety and health, workplace discrimination, worker's compensation, as well as family and medical leave.

Deanna grew up in Fairfield, CA and received her Bachelor of Science from Cornell University in Industrial and Labor Relations. While completing her degree Deanna was also an active member of the women's issues community on campus, working to bring attention to issues such as gender discrimination, pay inequity, and sexual assault on college campuses. Following her graduation Deanna moved back to California to join the 2012-2013 Senate Fellows. There she received an introduction to the California legislative process and was placed with the Senate Labor Committee.

Deanna remains involved in the women’s community in Sacramento as Co-coordinator of the Mentoring Advisory Committee for Pathways to Policy, a training program held in conjunction with the Women’s Policy Summit to bring young women from around the state to Sacramento to learn about and explore career opportunities in public policy.

Deanna also volunteers as a “Big” for Big Brothers Big Sisters and is a mentor for Girls on the Rise, a leadership, advocacy, and service program for high school-aged young women of color from South Sacramento.


Carrie Martin - Legislative Assistant, California State Senate
Board Member-At-Large
Carrie Martin recently began working in the office of California State Senator Mark Leno as a Legislative Assistant in the policy areas of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Elections, and Veterans Affairs. Previously she served as Assistant Deputy for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, working to increase civic engagement through both outreach programs and policy changes.

Ms. Martin also volunteers in a leadership role with the California Center for Research on Women and Families coordinating the Pathways to Policy Mentoring Initiative. She came to Sacramento in 2010 to participate in the Executive Fellowship, during which she served in the communications office of the California High Speed Rail Authority. Prior to joining the Sacramento community, Carrie worked in nonprofit settings in Santa Cruz, training students in conflict resolution and developing a bicycle education program for high school students from the ground up.

Carrie is a passionate advocate for women, girls, and the LGBT community. She has volunteered with Sacramento Women Take Back the Night, V-Day, and The Gender Health Center. Originally from New Hampshire, Carrie is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, where she earned a degree in Theater Education.


Elena Ruiz - Finance and Political Director, Bera for Congress
Board Member-At-Large
Elena Ruiz is a results driven professional with expertise in outreach, management, and fundraising. She currently serves as Finance Director for Bera for Congress in California's 7th District. In this position, Elena manages a multi-million dollar fundraising operation in one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country. In 2014, she helped lead the successful Bera for Congress campaign in the most expensive House race nationwide ($23+ million spent).

Prior to working for Congressman Bera, Elena served in similar positions with Pace for Colorado and Giffords for Congress. In addition to her political experience, Elena has worked in fundraising and communications roles for a number of non-profits including San Miguel High School, La Pilita Museum, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tucson. Elena also co-founded a start-up leadership program in Tucson, Arizona to increase community investment and create shared goals between non-profit organizations, undergraduates, and young professionals.

Elena earned her Bachelors degree in Public Administration (Public Policy, Health Administration, and Philosophy) from the University of Arizona. An Arizona native, Elena wrote her thesis on the impact of undocumented immigration on the Arizona healthcare system, an experience which encouraged her to pursue a career in politics and social entrepreneurship.


Erandi Zamora - Staff Attorney, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Board Member-At-Large
Erandi Zamora is a staff attorney in the Litigation Unit of the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CRLAF). At CRLAF, Erandi has the privilege of working with rural and low-wage workers throughout California on issues related to wage theft, violation of workplace standards, discrimination, and pesticide exposure. Prior to joining CRLAF, Erandi was Associate Counsel for Legal Mobilization with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington, D.C. In this role, Erandi led the Lawyers' Committee's voter protection efforts in California and Arizona.

Erandi also worked on issues relating to access for limited English proficiency voters and she engaged in worker’s rights advocacy. As a student activist, Ms. Zamora worked on issues related to workers’ rights and educational outreach programs to increase minority students' access to higher education. Ms. Zamora graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California at Irvine with a B.A. in Political Science and Chicano/Latino Studies. She received her law degree from Columbia University School of Law in 2011. At Columbia Law, Zamora served as the Executive Co-editor of the Human Right Law Review's Spanish Jailhouse Lawyer's Manual.
Erandi is the proud daughter of farmworkers and was raised in California's Central Valley.

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