Sacramento 2018 Speaker Biographies


Senator Toni Atkins

California State Senate – 39th District


Elected to the State Senate in 2016 after serving as Speaker of the California State Assembly, Senator Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th Senate District, which includes the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach.

Prior to state elective office, Senator Atkins worked as director of clinic services at Womancare Health Center and later as a member of the San Diego City Council.

Under her leadership, the Assembly Democrats championed the state’s first Earned Income Tax Credit, which benefits nearly 1.5 million Californians and lifts 50,000 people out of poverty and 50,000 others out of deep poverty. She also provided budget funding to help provide more affordable housing, one of the state’s biggest crises and the issue that is closest to her heart.

As Speaker, she helped stop the University of California from imposing a 27 percent tuition increase on students; was a leader in negotiating a $7.5-billion water bond that provides clean, safe drinking water and makes improvements to the state’s water system; has helped ensure California’s financial stability through a Rainy Day Fund; aided in finding a solution to the chronic underfunding of the State Teachers Retirement System; and has led the passage of two on-time, balanced budgets.

Toni Atkins is a coalition builder who believes that sound government policies can impact people’s lives in positive ways. During her tenure as Speaker, funding for higher education in California reached its highest-ever level. In addition to being a leading voice for affordable housing, she is a powerful advocate for women, the LGBT community and a champion for veterans, individuals, and families experiencing homelessness.

While Speaker, Toni Atkins passed legislation that helps small businesses, preserves dignity for transgender individuals, protects wildlife, assists victims of domestic violence, protects our environment, ensures coastal access, and strengthens family justice centers, among other accomplishments.

Senator Atkins was born in Virginia and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Emory & Henry College and completed the senior executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She lives in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego with her spouse Jennifer LeSar and their dogs, Haley and Joey.



Senator Pat Bates

California State Senate – 36th District


Pat Bates serves as senator for the 36th Senate District in the California State Legislature since December 1, 2014, representing nearly 1 million people from Encinitas in San Diego County to Rancho Santa Margarita in Orange County. On April 12, 2017, she became the Senate Republican Leader. She is the second woman to lead the party caucus in Senate’s history – Democrat or RepublicanShe previously served as a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors from 2007 to 2014, and the California State Assembly from 1996 to 2004. She also served as the first mayor of Laguna Niguel, California following its incorporation in 1989, and continued to serve on the city council until 1998. Before serving as mayor, she had been employed as a social worker in Los Angeles County.



Senator Jim Beall

California State Senate – 15th District


Jim Beall brings a lifetime of experience and understanding in transportation, housing, and government efficiency to the State Senate. In three decades of public service – first as a San Jose City Councilman, then as a Santa Clara County Supervisor, and legislator in the Assembly — Beall has left his mark across Silicon Valley and beyond.

In 2017, Beall, the chairman of the Transportation and Housing Committee, was a pivotal figure in unraveling two of California’s toughest problems — repairing a crumbling transportation infrastructure and building more affordable housing to enable more Californians to live in the communities where they work. His solutions will also create and sustain jobs to keep the state’s economy rolling.

Returning the streets to local control is but one example of Beall’s focus on issues that matter to Senate District 15 residents — justice, children, the environment, and public safety. Beall is known statewide for his legislation to help foster care children, low-income families, and people with disabilities.

He has made a lasting difference in the lives of over 100,000 local youngsters by leading the drive to create the Children’s Health Initiative to ensure that every child in Santa Clara County can be covered by health insurance.

Beall and his wife, Patricia, have been married for more than 34 years. He has two stepsons and a grandson. He is a graduate of San Jose State University where he studied urban planning and political science. Beall, who was born in San Jose, is a lifelong resident of the city.



Laura Bisesto

Lyft | California Policy Advisor

Laura Bisesto is the head of Lyft’s California Policy Team,
where she represents Lyft at the state legislature and with its
regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission. Laura has
navigated Lyft through a host of novel regulatory issues, and
most recently, Laura has led the development of Lyft’s
autonomous vehicle policy strategy in California with state
agencies and the legislature. Laura also oversees Lyft’s political
and policy efforts at the state and local levels in Washington
State, and previously in Oregon and Arizona.
Prior to joining Lyft in 2015, Laura was an Assistant District
Attorney in San Diego and San Francisco counties where she
prosecuted hundreds of felonies and tried over two dozen jury
trials. She advocated for victims of stalking and domestic
violence and other violent crimes, and spent time leading the
Hate Crimes and Auto Crimes Units.
Laura clerked at the California Supreme Court and received her
JD from UC Hastings. Laura is a proud Bruin and received her
undergraduate degree from UCLA.
Laura lives in Orinda with her husband, where she serves on the
City Council’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee. She
volunteers on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Court
Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization that
supports foster youth through advocacy and mentorship.



Liam Dillon

Journalist – Los Angeles Times


Liam Dillon covers California state politics and policy for the Los Angeles Times and is based in Sacramento. He specializes in writing about the state’s housing affordability crisis, and regularly appears on panels, radio and television across California to discuss the issue. He’s also the co-host of Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast, which publishes every other week. Prior to joining The Times in 2016, Dillon covered local politics in San Diego and Southwest Florida.



Assemblymember Todd Gloria

California State Assembly – 78th District


If you truly care about something, then you should leave it better than you found it. That lesson was instilled in Todd Gloria by his parents, and it motivates him to improve San Diego and the state of California every day.

As the California State Assemblymember for the 78th Assembly District, Todd proudly represents the central coast communities of the city of San Diego as well as the cities of Coronado, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, and Solana Beach – a combined population of more than 450,000 residents.

Previous to his election to the California State Assembly, Todd served as the San Diego City Councilmember for the Third Council District. He also served as the City of San Diego’s Interim Mayor and was appointed by his colleagues on the City Council to two consecutive terms as the City Council President.

As a city councilmember, Todd is credited with bringing thousands of affordable housing units to the city of San Diego and helping reallocate the city’s limited homelessness service funds toward results-oriented programs. Further, Todd also paved the way for San Diego’s first permanent homeless services center and housing facility.

Through his tenure as Interim Mayor, Todd is widely credited with restoring the public’s trust in city government. He was able to strengthen the City of San Diego’s organizational structure and developed a groundbreaking, legally enforceable Climate Action Plan, which calls for annual reductions in greenhouse gas emissions throughout San Diego by 2035.

For more than half of his tenure on the San Diego City Council, Todd led the development of the city’s budget as the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee Chair. His thoughtful, collaborative, and fair approach resulted in the stabilization of city finances after years of cuts and the restoration of critical services such as library hours. As the city rebounded from the global recession, Todd championed increased infrastructure investment resulting in hundreds of miles of smoother roads.

Known as one of the most accessible elected officials in San Diego, Todd remains in close contact with neighbors throughout his District. He credits San Diegans for keeping him focused on the issues that matter most in their communities.



Colin Grinnell

Staff Director – Senate Governance & Finance Committee

Colin Grinnell: Colin services as the Staff Director for the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. The Senate Committee on Governance and Finance is responsible for hearing legislation pertaining to state and local government revenue mechanisms, taxes, and land use and development.

Specifically, the Committee exercises oversight on bills relating to the Board of Equalization, enterprise zones, vehicle license fees and taxes (estate, income, sales, property, and insurance). The Committee also considers legislation on zoning law (except housing) and on California communities—cities, counties, special districts, redevelopment agencies. Additionally, the Governance and Finance Committee will hear proposals on budget reform, state and local bond indebtedness, and legislative reform.

In combining the Senate Local Government and Revenue and Taxation Committees, the Governance and Finance Committee works to restructure state and local government responsibility so that funding sources align with program authority and service delivery. In all, the Committee works to help guide the Senate’s reform effort to move government closer to the people and to improve government outcomes through accountable, transparent and efficient means.


Secretary John Laird

California Secretary for Natural Resources


John Laird was appointed California Secretary for Natural Resources by Governor Jerry Brown on Jan. 5, 2011. He has spent nearly 40 years in public service, including 23 years as an elected official.

The son of teachers and raised in Vallejo, Laird graduated with honors in politics from the University of California Santa Cruz in 1972. He then served on the district staff of U.S. Representative Jerome Waldie, and as a budget analyst for the Santa Cruz County Administrator.

In 1981, Laird was elected to the Santa Cruz City Council and served nine years until term limits ended his council service in 1990. He was a two-term mayor from 1983 to 1984 and from 1987 to 1988. During his local government service, he served as a board member for local transit, transportation, water planning, and regional government agencies. Laird was the executive director of the Santa Cruz AIDS Project from 1991 to 1994 and an elected member of the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2002.

In 2002, Laird was elected to represent the 27th Assembly District in the California Assembly, which includes portions of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties. He was re-elected in 2004 and again in 2006 when he received more than 70 percent of the vote. At the beginning of his second term, Laird joined the Assembly leadership team when Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez named him chair of the Budget Committee, a position to which he was reappointed by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass in 2008.

While serving the maximum three terms in the Assembly, Laird authored 82 bills that were signed into law. These bills established the landmark Sierra Nevada Conservancy, restored community college health services, expanded and clarified state civil rights protections, reformed the state mandates system, and significantly expanded water conservation.

Laird was a member of the State Integrated Waste Management Board from 2008 to 2009 and taught state environmental policy at University of California Santa Cruz.

Continuing his public service as California’s Secretary of Natural Resources, Laird has made climate change adaptation, water conservation and supply reliability, enhanced relationships with tribal governments, State Parks access, farmland conservation, and oceans sustainability among other issues top priorities. As Secretary, he provides administrative oversight to thirty departments, commissions, councils, museum, boards and conservancies – and is a sitting member of sixteen conservancies, councils, boards and commissions within the purview of the Agency.

Laird has been a long-time resident of Santa Cruz with his spouse John Flores. He has traveled extensively, is fluent in Spanish, enjoys conducting family history research, and is a life-long Chicago Cubs fan.



Matt Levin



Matt Levin is the data dude for CALmatters. His work entails distilling complex policy topics into easily digestible charts and graphs, finding and writing original stories from data, running correlations for no reason, and yelling at his computer for something he did wrong in his code. Matt is a former research associate for the Public Policy Institute of California, where he specialized in poverty and social policy. He has reported for KQED’s The California Report, PBS Frontline, and Private Equity International Magazine. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from UCLA and an MS in Journalism from USC, but he’ll always consider himself a Cal bear. Although he hates the phrase “wonk out”, he will happily talk about your regression model with you.



Fiona Ma

Certified Public Tax Accountant – California State Board of Equalization


Fiona Ma is a Certified Public Tax Accountant and currently serves on the California State Board of Equalization, where she works to protect the rights for taxpayers while also ensuring that California collects its fair share of tax revenues.

As one of two Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to ever have served on the Board, Fiona understands the challenges that businesses and taxpayers face today. As Chair, she has worked tirelessly to uphold the highest level of integrity in government and fought to increase accessibility, accountability, and transparency at the Board of Equalization.

Prior to serving on the Board of Equalization, Fiona was elected to the California State Assembly from 2006-2012. She was the first Asian American woman to become Speaker Pro Tempore of the State Assembly. In the Assembly, Fiona authored a groundbreaking law to ban toxic chemicals, known as phthalates, in baby products statewide. Hers was the first law of its kind in the nation and became a model for the federal amendment on the same subject, authored by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2008.

As Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Domestic Violence, Fiona wrote legislation which successfully strengthened laws that protect victims of domestic violence. She also sponsored legislation to protect consumers, help California’s working families pay their bills, prevent the spread of Hepatitis B, increase access to quality healthcare, and provide equal rights for all Californians.

Fiona previously served as a San Francisco Supervisor. She authored the landmark Local Business Enterprise ordinance on behalf of women and minority business owners and passed legislation to tackle human trafficking.

Prior to her career in public service, Fiona worked as an accountant for Ernst & Young, before leaving to start her own accounting practice.  Fiona has been licensed in California as a Certified Public Account (CPA) since 1992.

She is a Member of the California Society of Certified Public Accountants, serves on the Board of CA Women Lead, is an Honorary Chair and Spokesperson for the San Francisco Hep B Free Campaign, is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and a California Film Commissioner. She is married to Jason Hodge, a full-time firefighter, and an Oxnard Harbor Commissioner.



Jim Madaffer

President – Madaffer Enterprises


A native San Diegan, Jim’s civic service spans over three decades. He served two terms as Chief of Staff to a City Councilmember and was elected to the San Diego City Council in 2000 and reelected in 2004.

Jim’s accomplishments as an elected official are numerous: building libraries, fostering economic development, water and waste water policy and specializing in regional transportation and planning issues. Jim is also Past President of the League of California Cities.

In 2014, Jim was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the California Transportation Commission and he chairs CTC’s Road Charge Task Force which is tasked to create a program that might eventually replace the gasoline tax. Jim is also a Director on the San Diego County Water Authority.

The recipient of numerous awards and honors over his career, Jim is a member of San Diego Rotary Club 33, and Lambda Alpha International.

A published author, self-described futurist and serial entrepreneur, Jim speaks frequently to groups, conferences and organizations around the world about the future of transportation, technology innovation and numerous leading edge technologies.

Jim has two sons in college. He and his wife Robin live in the San Diego with their three English Bulldogs, Boone, Ruby and Red.



Juanita Martinez

General Motors | Regional Manager of Government Affairs – Western Region

Juanita M. Martinez, the Regional Manager of Government Affairs – Western Region, joined General Motors in 2015. She is responsible for legislative and regulatory affairs activities in California, Washington and Oregon. Formerly, she was the Senior Public Policy Counsel for eBay where she managed the central states and worked closely with the legal team on eventb ticketing issues. Prior to joining eBay, Ms. Martinez was a partner at Smith, Watts & Martinez, LLC where she was a registered lobbyist, and represented clients’ interests principally in the areas of electricity, natural resources, energy and transportation.

Prior to joining Smith, Watts & Martinez, Ms. Martinez worked for KP Public Affairs.  Ms. Martinez joined the firm in 2006 following completion of her law degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law. Ms. Martinez was closely involved in the State of California’s ongoing legislative and regulatory processes to implement AB 32 (the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006), which established mandatory carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas reductions for industries doing business in California. While at KP, Ms. Martinez worked on climate change for the Western States Petroleum Association, and also worked on electricity issues for the Association.

Selected under the Jesse Unruh Fellowship Program, Ms. Martinez worked for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, handling issues involving housing, environmental and election legislation. She also interned with the Senate Judiciary Committee where she focused on child relocation legislation. During law school, Ms. Martinez externed with the Senate Housing Committee where she reported on and monitored all of the bills that went through the committee. Ms. Martinez also externed with the Senate Judiciary Committee where she conducted research, for the Pro Tem of the Senate, on child relocation and father’s rights.

As a law student active in the La Raza Student Association, Ms. Martinez clerked for the UC Davis Immigration Clinic. She also clerked with the law firm of Neil, Dymott, Frank, McFall & Trexler in San Diego where she researched medical malpractice and business related issues. Ms. Martinez clerked for the San Diego Federal Defenders where she conducted voir dire, organized discovery and conducted intake interviews in preparation for client’s arraignment.

Ms. Martinez worked for Ogilvy, which is a national public relations firm, where she researched policy proposals for registered nursing programs and managed outreach and scholarships for minority students as well as disbursements for programs targeting the Latino community.




Assemblymember Chad Mayes

California State Assembly – 42nd District


Chad Mayes was first elected to the Assembly in November 2014 to represent the 42nd District in the California State Assembly. This Inland Empire district encompasses parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

In the Assembly, Mayes quickly developed a solid reputation as a dynamic, hard-working and effective leader and was elected Republican Leader by his peers after only 10 months in office. As a self-described “governing conservative,” he seeks to identify pragmatic policy solutions that will better the lives of Californians and ensure that the state remains a global leader in the 21st Century.

As Republican Leader, Mayes negotiated for his caucus with the Governor and legislative Democrats on major policy and fiscal issues, leads its political and campaign efforts, and is its principal spokesperson. While no longer leader, he regularly travels up and down the state meeting with a wide variety of stakeholders, groups and businesses to better understand issues and build consensus for key policies. In his district, Mayes has earned high marks as a consensus builder on issues of regional concern.

While he is involved in a myriad of policy issues, Mayes is most passionate about housing, transportation and reducing poverty through education, job creation, and economic expansion. Recognizing that civic engagement cannot begin until the public understands what its government is doing, he advocates for more open government at all levels.

Prior to being elected to the Assembly, Mayes was active in local government, serving three terms on the Yucca Valley Town Council and as a board member of both the San Bernardino Associated Governments and the League of California Cities. Professionally, Mayes was a financial planner, small business owner and Chief of Staff to the Chair of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors. This combination of experience has made him a strong advocate for local control and fiscal responsibility.

Mayes is a graduate of Liberty University and is a lifelong resident of Yucca Valley.



Assemblymember Brian Maienschein

California State Assembly – 77th District


Brian Maienschein has represented California’s 77th Assembly District since 2012. Before joining the Assembly, Brian served eight years on the San Diego City Council, and as the city’s first Commissioner on Homelessness. He is most known for his outstanding response to two wildfires in his district, the 2003 Cedar Fire, and the 2007 Witch Creek Fire, as well as for the completion of State Route 56 and the preservation from the development of 10,000 acres in the San Pasqual Valley. Brian was named the Legislator of the Year by the California Small Business Association for his support of small businesses. He also received the Easter Seals California Assembly Champion Award for his work with the developmentally disabled community and the San Diego Humane Society’s Humane Hero Compassion Award for championing animal rights. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara and California Western School of Law, Brian also teaches a course on Election Law at USD School of Law. Brian’s proudest accomplishments are his two daughters, Taylin and Brenna.



Zack Olmstead

Deputy Director of Housing Policy Development 


Zack Olmstead was appointed Deputy Director of Housing Policy Development at the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on September 1, 2017, where he served as Assistant Deputy Director of Homeless and Housing Policy snice 2016. Prior to joining HCD, Olmstead was the lead advisor on housing, homelessness, and land use policy to Speaker Emeritus of the California State Assembly Toni G. Atkins, also fulfilling that role during her tenure as Speaker of the Assembly from May 2014 through March 2016. He was the director for homeless policy at Housing California from 2006 to 2013. Olmstead completed his undergraduate studies at the University of San Diego and holds a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from California State University, Sacramento.



Jean Shiomoto

Director of California Department of Motor Vehicles


Jean Shiomoto was appointed the Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles by Governor Brown on November 5, 2013. Prior to that Jean was the Chief Deputy Director since April 1, 2012, and the Acting Director since January 2013. Jean directs the statewide operations of the department that include driver licensing, vehicle and boat registration, motor carrier licensing, driver safety, occupational licensing and regulation of those programs. Jean serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Jean has been with the Department of Motor Vehicles for over 27 years and has over 35 years of experience in administrative and fiscal management in State Government. Prior to her appointment as Chief Deputy Director, Jean served as the Department of Motor Vehicle’s Deputy Director of the Communication Programs Division from 2008 to 2012 and prior to that as the Chief Financial Officer from 2004 to 2008. Jean was responsible for the financial operations of the department that included budget development, revenue and expenditure tracking, workload forecasts, and activity-based costing.

Jean earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the California State University, Sacramento in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. In addition, Jean is active with ACC Senior Services in Sacramento and served on the Board of Directors from 2007 to 2014 and the last two years as President. ACC is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization open to people of all ages that can benefit from the programs, and services that help older residents. ACC’s core programs are the ACC Care Center, ACC Senior Services, ACC Greenhaven Terrence Independent Living, ACC Assisted Living, and Meals on Wheels by ACC.


Assemblymember Phil Ting

California State Assembly – 19th District


Phil Ting was elected to the State Assembly in 2012, representing the 19th Assembly District, which spans the Westside of San Francisco as well as the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City, and South San Francisco.

As California navigates new challenges from the federal government, Ting is focused on protecting and persisting onward with progressive policies that expand opportunity for all, equal rights, and protections for our environment. Informed by past roles in the financial sector and as the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder, Ting has become a leading voice on California’s finances. He now serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee after having served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation.

Ting has authored legislation that:
-helps more students obtain Cal Grants to attend college;
-increases assistance provided to pregnant and parenting foster youth;
-increases healthy food access through expanding urban agriculture and food stamp use at farmers’ markets;
-assists English-language learners to understand prescription medications and engage state government;
-ensures safe and equal restroom access and tax fairness for the LGBT community;
-protects the voting rights of people living with disabilities;
-helps homeowners invest in water and energy efficient technologies.

Ting is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He began his career in public service as the Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus, an organization founded in 1972 to advance and promote the legal and civil rights of the Asian Pacific Islander community, and once served as Community Relations Director at San Francisco State University. In 2005, Ting was appointed Assessor-Recorder of San Francisco by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom, where he closed a five-year assessment backlog and brought in $290 million in unpaid property taxes to the city, created a program to increase rooftop solar installations, and spearheaded efforts to assist homeowners and tenants facing foreclosure.

Ting lives in San Francisco’s Sunset District with his wife, Susan, and their two children.


Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

City of Los Angeles


Antonio Villaraigosa was born in East Los Angeles on January 23, 1953, to a Mexican immigrant father and a California-born mother of Mexican descent. In 1990, Villaraigosa was appointed to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Board and served there until 1994. In 1994, Villaraigosa was elected to the California State Assembly and, within his first term, was selected to serve as Democratic Assembly Whip and Assembly Majority Leader. In 1998, just four years after entering the Assembly, Villaraigosa was chosen by his colleagues to be the first Speaker of the Assembly from Los Angeles in 25 years. In 2003, Villaraigosa again was elected to public office to represent the 14th District seat on the Los Angeles City Council. He also served as national co-chairman of Democrat John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. In 2005, Villaraigosa again returned to campaign for mayor against Hahn and this time defeated the struggling incumbent. Villaraigosa assumed office on July 1, 2005, as 41st Mayor of the City of Los Angeles and the city’s first Latino mayor since 1872.


Lynn von Koch-Liebert

Deputy Secretary of Housing & Consumer Services


Lynn von Koch-Liebert is the Deputy Secretary for Housing and Consumer Services at the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency (BCSH). In this role, she is responsible for general activity between the Agency and its Departments.

Prior to this role, she was the Vice President (VP) of Business Development (BD) Operations for DynCorp International (DI) a service company supporting predominantly the US Departments of Defense and State. In this role, she was responsible for BD process, reforms, strategy and oversight over the companies’ priority pursuits. Prior to this role, she was VP BD for DynLogistics, a $1 billion business area within DI. Prior to this role, she served as the DynLogistics Staff Director, Director of Business and Operations for a State Department contract, and as a Capture Manager and Market Intelligence Manager within the BD division.

Prior to joining DI, Lynn worked for the United Nations Office of Project Service (UNOPS). In Jerusalem, she worked in project management, business development, and communications. In Southern Sudan, she led the inter-agency planning efforts for Sudanese national infrastructure development on behalf of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. In Afghanistan, she co-coordinated an office-wide review of internal UNOPS systems and processes.

Lynn holds a Masters of Public Affairs from Princeton University, a Masters of International Security from Cranfield Defense Academy and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of South Dakota. Her graduate fellowship was conducted at the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell. She is a 2014 – 2017 member of the Truman Security Project Defense Council, a 2016 German Marshall Memorial Fellow and a Co-Director and Founder of No Exceptions. She was selected into the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) inaugural Smart Women, Smart Power 2016 Executive Fellows Program.





Assemblymember Jim Wood

California State Assembly – 2nd District


Assemblyman Jim Wood was elected to represent the 2nd Assembly District in November 2014—a district that includes all of Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties, as well as northern and coastal Sonoma County. In his first year in the Assembly, Jim passed nine bills into law—all focused on issues of importance to the people of the 2nd Assembly District. In 2015, Jim was appointed Chair of the Select Committee on the Digital Divide in Rural California, Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the Assembly Committees on Natural Resources, Business, and Professions, Health, Rules, and Appropriations. Prior to the Assembly, Jim served on the Healdsburg Planning Commission for four years before winning a seat on Healdsburg’s City Council where he served for eight years, two terms as Mayor. Jim is a native Californian and has lived in Sonoma County since 1987. A dentist by training, Jim opened and operated a successful family dental practice in Cloverdale for over 25 years. He is a nationally recognized expert in forensic dentistry and is the designated forensic dentist for Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin Counties. A member of a national emergency response team, he was called to the World Trade Center after 9/11, to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and recently served as part of the emergency response team helping to identify victims of the fires in Lake County. Jim’s experience with state and local government and passion for making positive change for the people he serves, make him a dedicated and knowledgeable advocate for residents of the 2nd Assembly District.




Senator Scott Weiner

California State Senate – District 11


Elected in November 2016, Senator Scott Wiener represents District 11 in the California State Senate. District 11 includes all of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City, as well as portions of South San Francisco.

In the Senate, Senator Wiener works hard to make housing more affordable by confronting California’s severe housing shortage; to invest in our transportation systems, including improving and expanding our public transportation systems; to increase access to healthcare, including reproductive healthcare; to support working families, including expanding paid family leave, childcare, and quality public education; to support California’s nightlife culture and economy; to meaningfully address climate change and the impacts of drought by expanding clean energy and modernizing our water system; to reform the criminal justice system and reduce gun violence; to reduce California’s alarmingly high poverty rate; and to safeguard and expand the rights of all communities, including immigrants and the LGBT community.

During his first year in the Senate, Senator Wiener passed 11 bills that were signed into law, including a landmark bill to streamline housing approvals in cities not meeting their housing goals. The bill, Senate Bill 35, was central to a broad housing package that will make it easier to build housing and generate billions in new funding for affordable housing.

Senator Wiener serves as Chair of the Senate Human Services Committee, where he is working to expand California’s social safety net, including leading an effort to stem California’s high rates of food insecurity and youth homelessness. He also serves on the Transportation and Housing Committee, the Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee, the Appropriations Committee, and the Public Safety Committee.

Before his election to the Senate, Senator Wiener served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, where he authored a number of first-in-the-nation laws, including mandating fully paid parental leave for working parents, requiring water recycling and solar power in new developments, and banning public spending in states with anti-LGBT hate laws.

Before being elected to the Board of Supervisors, Senator Wiener served as a Deputy City Attorney in the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, where he represented San Francisco in court (ranging from trial courts to the United States Supreme Court) and supervised a team of trial attorneys. He served as Chairman of the San Francisco Democratic Party. A leader in San Francisco’s LGBT community, Senator Wiener co-chaired the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, BALIF (the Bay Area’s LGBT bar association), and the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, as well as serving on the national board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign.

Wiener received a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.  He spent a year in Chile on a Fulbright Scholarship doing historical research.  Wiener has lived in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood for over 20 years.


Vinn White

Deloitte Consulting LLP


Vinn is a specialist leader at Deloitte Consulting LLP and a former deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Transportation. He delivers holistic and innovative solutions to states and cities working to meet their most pressing transportation technology challenges. White has been recognized for his Hurricane Sandy rebuilding efforts and for producing the Department of Transportation report Beyond Traffic, a 30-year planning approach to the long-term and emerging trends shaping the transportation system.