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New Leaders Council

Our Board

2018-19 NLC Sacramento Board

Chapter Co-DirectorsJulissa Delgado '16 & Claire van Zuiden '16

Institute Co-Chairs: Gül (Rose) Berktas '18 & Anthony DiMartino '18

Finance ChairJennifer Lopez '15

Chapter Advancement ChairSarah Krasin '17

Curriculum Co-ChairsLazaro Cardenas '18 & Vanessa Hernandez '18

Recruitment & Selections Co-ChairsMatthew Hamlett '16 & Julianne McCall '18

Alumni Engagement ChairJoshua Pollack '18

Community Engagement Chair: Volma Volcy '18

Communications Co-ChairsKelly Reynolds '17 & Paco Torres '14 (Co-Director Emeritus)

Mentorship ChairLiza Chu '18

Vice Chairs & At-Large Board Members: Rodolfo Rivera Aquino '18, Tristan Brown '14 (Co-Director Emeritus), Jassy Grewal '18, Katie Hanzlik '17, Sadalia King '17, Kendra Marsh '15, Melissa McMurrey '18, Mariana Corona Sabeniano '17, Denise Tugade '16, Leslie Valdivia '18, Joshua White '18

Julissa Delgado - Research Analyst, Little Hoover Commission


Chapter Co-Director

Julissa Delgado '16 is currently a Research Analyst for the Little Hoover Commission. Previously, she served as a Legislative Aide for Senator Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and was responsible for energy, environmental quality, health and human services among other policy issues. A native of the San Fernando Valley, Julissa also served as a Field Representative for former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) and former Assemblymember Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento).

She previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Community Engagement Chair in 2016-17, and Institute Co-Chair in 2017-18.

As a first generation college student, Julissa graduated from the University of California, Davis in Political Science with minors in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies, and Chicana/o Studies. During her time at UC Davis, Julissa participated in the UC Washington Program as a Research Associate with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and studied abroad in Argentina, Chile and Cuba. Throughout her undergraduate career, she interned and volunteered to pursue her passion in public service including in the District Office of Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and the Youth Empowerment Program.

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Claire van Zuiden - Principal, California Strategies & Advocacy

Chapter Co-Director

Claire van Zuiden '16 is an Associate Principal at California Strategies & Advocacy, a state-wide governmental affairs consulting firm, where she is focused environment and energy policy. On behalf of clean technology clients, Claire develops strategies to facilitate progressive alternative transportation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency policies and programs to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.

Prior to joining California Strategies, Claire managed the CPV Consortium, a global, non-profit Concentrator Photovoltaic (CPV) industry organization. She continues to advise and support the solar association, including orchestrating full-day educational workshops and media events in conjunction with worldwide solar conferences and speaking on behalf of the CPV industry at many conferences around the world. Claire executes the CPV Consortium’s initiatives to ensure that there is a single industry voice in addressing energy issues and an accurate knowledge of the technology and deployment available to audiences worldwide.

Claire earned a Master of Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University where she was the President of her graduate program and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from UC Davis, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa. She lives in Sacramento with her Partner and has been a Community Tree Planting Leader for the Sacramento Tree Foundation. 

She has served as Chapter Co-Director since 2017. Claire previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Alumni Engagement Chair from 2016-17.

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Gül (Rose) Berktas - Program Officer, CaliforniaVolunteers

Institute Co-Chair

Rose Berktas '18 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.

As a Fellow in 2018, she was the inaugural winner of NLC Sacramento's Tyrone L. McGraw Memorial Award.

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.

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Anthony DiMartino - Legislative Director, California State Assembly

Institute Co-Chair

Anthony DiMartino '18 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 Shirley Weber (D-San Diego). 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.

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Jennifer Lopez - Legislative Aide, California State Assembly


Finance Chair

Jennifer Lopez '15 serves as a Legislative Aide for Assemblymember Todd Gloria (D-San Diego) where she is responsible for policy issues pertaining to education, banking and finance, and the Latino Community, among others. Prior to her current role, Jennifer was selected as an Assembly Fellow and placed in the office of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles).

Her passion for public service, education, and social justice led her to Sacramento. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Minor in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley, making her the first in her family to earn a post-secondary degree.

After her undergraduate career, Jennifer worked as an Academic Intake Advisor for the College of Letters & Science on campus, while working on an Oakland City Council Campaign. She previously served as the Outreach Coordinator for the California Latino Capitol Association Foundation and is a participant in the SheShares mentorship program. Jennifer is a Los Angeles native. In her free time, she enjoys kickboxing, exploring coffee shops with friends, and listening to podcasts.

An alumna of the New Leaders Council Oakland Chapter, she previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Communications Co-Chair from 2017-18.

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Sarah Krasin - Vice President, CCS

Chapter Advancement Chair

Sarah Krasin '17 is driven by the belief that effective philanthropy can transform our communities. As a Vice President with CCS, one of the largest and most comprehensive strategic fundraising firms in the world, Sarah is honored to partner with diverse non-profits as they make big plans to increase their impact. Sarah is currently embedded as on-site campaign counsel for the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento. Prior to the Crocker, Sarah advised Notre Dame High School San Jose, the oldest all-girls high school in California as they embarked on a new campus Master Plan. After conducting a feasibility study for a $20 million campaign, Sarah directed their planning and leadership gifts phases.

In 2014, Sarah worked with Antioch University, a private university with five campuses in four states, on developing and implementing a comprehensive major gifts program. Sarah was also part of the leadership team that hired and transitioned new staff for Antioch's expanded University Advancement office. Sarah also has extensive experience in the religious sector. In 2012, Sarah served as on-site campaign counsel for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, an institute of higher education and formation for men entering the Catholic priesthood. Sarah managed more than 30 volunteer committees and her leadership of campaign activity directly resulted in more than $10.5 million raised. Sarah then led campaigns in Illinois and Texas, where she guided parish leadership in securing their first-ever six-figure gifts and achieved goals totaling more than $9 million.

Prior to joining CCS, Sarah managed and consulted for more than 20 political fundraising programs in Milwaukee, Madison and Los Angeles. During her time in politics, Sarah coached candidates for local, state and federal offices on effective fundraising strategies that allowed them to out-raise incumbents and win highly contested seats. Sarah also partnered with several Milwaukee-based organizations to lead fundraising trainings for first-time local candidates. Sarah is originally from Wisconsin and graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee. She and her fiancé, also a Wisconsinite, continue to be devoted Green Bay Packers fans.

She previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Curriculum Co-Chair from 2017-18.

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

Curriculum Co-Chair

Lazaro Cardenas '18 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.

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Vanessa Hernandez - Statewide Policy Director, California Youth Connection

Hernandez__Vanessa.pngCurriculum Co-Chair

As a child welfare advocate, Vanessa Hernandez '18 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.

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Matthew Hamlett - Legislative Director, California State Assembly

Recruitment & Selections Co-Chair

Matthew Hamlett '16 is the Legislative Director for Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) who serves communities located in San Bernardino County. In his capacity, Matthew manages the Assemblymember’s legislative package and advises her on multiple issue areas including natural resources, economic development, and utilities and energy.

He previously worked for Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) and Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) as a legislative aide. Through his more than 4 years of work in the California State Assembly, Matthew has been able to pursue his passion for empowering communities of color, especially youth, with the resources necessary to succeed and build a sustainable future. This includes ensuring there is equity in the distribution of resources for communities who through historical barriers, have been left behind.

Matthew previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Institute Co-Chair from 2016-17, and as Mentorship Chair from 2017-18.

Although proud of his Long Beach/Southern California roots, he considers Sacramento a second home and has participated in a diverse array of volunteer opportunities in the region as well as spent time as a mentor/tutor through Improve Your Tomorrow, a nonprofit which serves young men of color in Sacramento County.

Matthew received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, minoring in Economics with an emphasis in law and public policy.

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Julianne McCall - Consultant, California Senate Office of Research

Recruitment & Selections Co-Chair

Following sixteen years of conducting research in 12 neuroscience laboratories across three nations, Julianne McCall '18 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.

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

Alumni Engagement Chair

Josh Pollack '18 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!

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Volma Volcy - Field Mobilization Director, Sacramento Central Labor Council

Volcy__Volma.pngCommunity Engagement Chair

Volma Volcy '18 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.

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Kelly Reynolds - Communications Director, California State Assembly


Communications Co-Chair

Kelly Reynolds '17 is currently Communications Director for Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside). Previously, she was a program associate for Capitol Impact, a Sacramento-based consulting firm dedicated to improving policy and practice in California, with a particular emphasis on public education. At Capitol Impact, Kelly led coalition building and served as a key resource connector between education, community-based organizations, and business to drive key policy and strategic priorities to improve California's public education.

Prior to Capitol Impact, she worked at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce expanding college access and success through management of the L.A. Cash for College program, one of the largest financial aid education efforts in the region. In this capacity, Kelly led major programmatic events and workshops that assisted local students with college-going and financial aid processes, serving 20,000 students and families each year. In 2015, L.A. Cash for College received recognition from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

While in college, Kelly participated in the UCDC program and interned at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., where she supported communication efforts and researched national education issues. She attended the University of California, San Diego and earned her bachelor's degree in political science and history. Kelly has lived in two countries and three states. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading a good book, and daydreaming of the next trip she is planning.

She previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Institute Co-Chair from 2017-18.

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Paco Torres - Legislative Director, California State Assembly


Communications Co-Chair (Co-Director Emeritus)

Paco Torres '14 currently serves as Legislative Director for Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona). In that capacity, he manages the Assemblymember's legislative package, directs preparation for Assembly Floor session (including providing vote recommendations), and supervises legislative staff.

He previously served as Legislative Director for former Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), and as a Legislative Aide for former State Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley). He began a career in public service as a Senate Fellow for Senator Hancock in 2011.

He served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Curriculum Chair in 2014-15, Institute Co-Chair in 2015-16, and Chapter Co-Director in 2017-18. Paco is also a past president of the Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Association (APICA), which represents API members of the Capitol Community. He also worked on the Sabrina Cervantes for Assembly and Jose Solorio for State Senate campaigns. 

Paco graduated from Stanford University, earning a Bachelor of Arts with Honors and Distinction in Political Science, and admission into the Phi Beta Kappa Society. A member of the State Bar of California, he graduated from Stanford Law School in 2011. While in law school, he was a Co-President of the Stanford Latino Law Students Association (SLLSA). Paco is originally from Orange County, and is an avid fan of the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Rams, and Stanford football.

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Liza Chu - Legislative Aide, California State Assembly

Mentorship Chair

Liza Chu '18 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.

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Rodolfo Rivera Aquino - Finance Budget Analyst, California Department of Finance


Rodolfo Ernesto Rivera Aquino '18 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, Rodolfo 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.

Before serving in the California Department of Finance, he was hired as a Legislative Assistant for Assemblymember Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond), where he worked as a policy and budget advisor on a variety of issues, including housing, local government, human services, and health.

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Tristan Brown - Lobbyist, California Federation of Teachers


(Co-Director Emeritus)

Tristan Brown '14 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 now works for the California Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL-CIO as a legislative advocate. 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, and sits on the board of the Sacramento Center for Workers Rights.

Tristan previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Mentorship Chair in 2014-15, and as Chapter Co-Director from 2015-17.

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

Grewal__Jaskiran.pngJassy Grewal '18 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.

She 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, Jassy 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, Jassy 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, she 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.

Jassy 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.

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Katie Hanzlik - Press Secretary, California State Senate

Katie Hanzlik '17 currently serves as Press Secretary for Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys). In that role, she manages all media requests and communications for the Senator. Previously, she was a Senior Account Executive for Lucas Public Affairs, where she developed and implemented strategic communications plans that helped shape important public policy. Katie's strong writing and social media skills also helped reach key audiences on important policy issues, particularly in the fields of health care, biotechnology, and social justice.

Prior to joining Lucas Public Affairs, she spent several years providing legislative support at a leading lobbying firm where she tracked bills, conducted research and coordinated lobby days for a variety of the firm's clients.

Katie began her career as an intern in the district office of then-Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), where she utilized legislative resources to provide constituents and the public with accurate and up-to-date information about the Senator's policies and priorities. Katie is actively involved in the Democratic Party of Sacramento County, currently serving as its Communications Chair as well as Vice President of Membership for the Sacramento County Young Democrats. Katie graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara with BAs in Global Studies and French. While earning her degree, she spent a year studying Political Science in Lyon, France. Katie lives in Midtown Sacramento, where she is an avid runner and foodie.

She previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Communications Co-Chair from 2017-18.

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Sadalia King - Communications & Legislative Aide, California State Senate

Sadalia King '17 was born and raised in Sacramento, California. She received her B.A. in Sociology, Law and Society Emphasis and a minor in African American and African Studies from the University of California, Davis. After witnessing the infamous pepper spray incident during her first quarter attending the university, she soon after became heavily involved in the campus community as the Vice President of the Black Student Union, Publicity Chair of the UC Davis Chapter of the Afrikan Black Coalition Conference, and the Co-Chair of the Black Graduation Celebration, among other positions. From these experiences she developed a passion to work and empower underserved communities.

Sadalia currently serves as a Communications and Legislative Aide for State Senate President Pro Tem Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego).

She is an active member in several political clubs including the Sacramento County Young Democrats and the Feminist Democrats of Sacramento. She is also a founding board member and currently serving as the President for Black Young Democrats of Sacramento. Sadalia volunteers her spare time with the Sacramento Hub of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community, as a board member for the Black Youth Leadership Project, and the California Capitol Black Staff Association. She is also a proud, finer women of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

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Melissa McMurrey - Analyst, California Department of Social Services


Melissa McMurrey '18 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.

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Mariana Corona Sabeniano - Chief of Staff, California State Assembly 

For the last ten years, Mariana Corona Sabeniano '17 has served as staff in the California State Assembly. She currently serves as the Chief of Staff for Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), for whom she was previously Legislative Director.

Mariana's public service career began when she participated in the Sacramento Semester Program in 2005. Mariana is dedicated to serving her community through her involvement in various organizations. Mariana currently serves as an appointee on two local commissions: Sacramento Community Police Review Commission and the Natomas Community Planning Advisory Council.

She previously served on the NLC Sacramento Board as Curriculum Co-Chair from 2017-18.

Mariana's other community involvement includes the steering committee for the Sacramento Latina Leaders Network; Co-Founder/VP of External Affairs of the Latinx Young Democrats of Sacramento County; and Treasurer of the Latino Democratic Club of Sacramento County. She also enjoys giving back to her alma mater through her involvement as President of the Sacramento State Alumni Association's Hornets Policy & Politics Alumni Chapter (HPPA). HPPA's mission is to support the professional development of alumni, create career opportunities for students, and support undergraduate/graduate students with scholarships.

She grew up in Arbuckle, California. She and her four brothers and sister are first-generation, with immigrant parents from Mexico. Mariana is the first one in her family to attend and graduate from college. She earned her bachelor's degree from Sacramento State University and a Master's of Science in Law from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She is an alumnus of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equity (HOPE) Leadership Institute, Class of 2015; Emerge California, Class of 2017; and New Leaders Council, 2017 Fellow. In her free time, Mariana enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and dogs.

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Denise Tugade - Legislative Aide, California State Assembly

Denise Tugade '16 is currently a Legislative Aide for Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego), staffing Labor, Health, and the Select Committee on Women in the Workplace. Previously, she served as Communications Director for Assemblymember Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara).

Before working in the Legislature, Denise was an analyst for Cambria Solutions, Inc., an information technology and management consulting firm focusing on health and human services and agile human centered design.

She currently serves as the President of the Feminist Democrats of Sacramento, one of Sacramento County's largest Democratic clubs. Denise is also a co-founder of Barkada Sacramento, a community group for Filipino Americans to explore ideas around their common history, culture, and identity.

Denise received a bachelors degree in International Affairs: Conflict and Security and European and Eurasian studies with a minor in Russian Language and Culture from The George Washington University. She has also lived in Rwanda, where she worked in public health and international development.

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Leslie Valdivia - Account Assistant, Runyon Saltzman, Inc.


Leslie Valdivia '18 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.

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Joshua White - Student, McGeorge School of Law


Josh White '18 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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