2018 Conference Speakers
Master of Ceremonies
Catherine Hazelton, Voter’s Choice California Consultant
Hon. Alex Padilla, California Secretary of State
Opening Plenary: Opportunities and Challenges for Elections in 2018
Kim Alexander, President & Founder, California Voter Foundation
Gregory J. Diaz, Nevada County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters
Joe Holland, County Clerk, Recorder and Assessor, Santa Barbara County
Dean Logan, Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Los Angeles County
Lori Shellenberger, Voting Rights Strategist
Moderator: Gail Pellerin, County Clerk/Registrar of Voters, Santa Cruz County
Morning Session A: New Frontiers in Language Access: How California Law is Expanding our Democracy in 2018
Deanna Kitamura, Voting Rights Project Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA
Eren Mendez, Elections Outreach Coordinator
Steve Reyes, Chief Counsel, Secretary of State
Jonathan Stein, Staff Attorney and Voting Rights Program Manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Moderator: Astrid Ochoa, Executive Director, Future of California Elections
Morning Session B: Remote Accessible Vote-by-Mail: A New Way for California Voters to Vote Privately and Independently
Ardis Bazyn, CEO Bazyn Communications
Fred Nisen, Supervising Attorney for Voting Rights, Disability Rights California
Jennifer Tagg, Departmental Systems Analyst, San Mateo County Elections
Steve Trout, Director of Elections, Oregon Secretary of State
Moderator: Paul R. Spencer, Staff Attorney for Voting Rights, Disability Rights California
Morning Session C: Census 2020: What’s at Stake for California and its Democracy
Dr. John Dobard, Associate Director of Political Voice, Advancement Project California
Maria de la Luz Garcia, Director of Census, City of Los Angeles
Rosalind Gold, Senior Director, Policy, Research and Advocacy, NALEO Educational Fund
Daniel Kikuo Ichinose, M.A., Director, Demographic Research Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Moderator: Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, Chief Executive Officer, Latino Community Foundation
Morning Session D: Campaigns, Candidates & Voters: Navigating the California DISCLOSE Act
Sandra Fluke, California State Director, Voices for Progress
Stephen J. Kaufman, Principal Attorney, Kaufman Legal Group
Emily Rusch, Executive Director, CALPIRG and CALPIRG Education Fund
Phillip R. Ung, Director, Legislation and External Affairs, Fair Political Practices Commission
Moderator: Dora Rose, Deputy Director, League of Women Voters of California
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Ph.D., Director, The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)
Workshop: Democracy by Design: Ensuring Voter Intent in Our Communications
Dana Chisnell, Co-Director, Center for Civic Design
Afternoon Session E: Engaging the Public and Underrepresented Communities in District Transitions Under the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA)
Nicolas Heidorn, Director, California Local Redistricting Project
Tanya Pellegrini, Voting Rights Attorney, MALDEF
Jonathan Stein, Staff Attorney and Voting Rights Program Manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Jerome O. Torres, Past Chairperson, Chula Vista Districting Commission
Moderator: Kathay Feng, Executive Director at California Common Cause, National Redistricting Director at Common Cause
Afternoon Session F: Searching for Election Information: A Practical Overview of How Voters Acquire Election Information Online
Monica Crane Childers, Director of Government Services, Democracy Works
Aaron Nevarez, Governmental & Legislative Affairs Manager, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk
Kurt Sampsel, Government Services Project Manager, Center for Technology and Civic Life
Jen Tolentino, Director of Policy & Civic Technology
Moderator: Michelle Bishop, Voting Rights Specialist, National Disability Rights Network
Afternoon Session G: Successful Preregistration Strategies to Expand Youth Participation
Mynor Godoy, Senior Field Organizer, Yvote, Movement Strategy Center
Jesse Melgar, Deputy Secretary of State and Chief Communications Officer
Emily Rusch, Executive Director, CALPIRG and CALPIRG Education Fund
Moderator: Rosalind Gold, Senior Director, Policy, Research and Advocacy, NALEO Educational Fund
Afternoon Session H: Conditional Voter/Same Day Registration: Increasing Voter Opportunities to Register to Vote
Neil Albrecht, Executive Director, City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Neal Kelley, Registrar of Voters, Orange County
Jamie Kennerk, Chair, Board of Directors – CALPIRG Students
Pete White, Executive Director and Founder, Los Angeles Community Action Network
Raúl Macías, Manager & Attorney, ACLU of California Voting Rights Project
Closing Plenary: Implementing the Voter’s Choice Act in California’s Diverse Communities
Gregory J. Diaz, Nevada County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters
Jenny Ocon, Executive Director, UpValley Family Centers of Napa County
Dora Rose, Deputy Director, League of Women Voters of California
James Schwab, Deputy Secretary of State, Policy & Planning
Moderator: Astrid Ochoa, Executive Director, Future of California Elections
Executive Director, City of Milwaukee Election Commission
Neil Albrecht is the executive director of the City of Milwaukee Election Commission. In his 12 years as a Wisconsin election administrator (unlike most other states, Wisconsin administers elections on a municipal level), Mr. Albrecht has been responsible for retooling the city’s election systems, including incorporating significant and rapid changes to election law and phasing in new and emerging technologies. As a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, a city where nearly one-third of the population reside in poverty, Mr. Albrecht has been dedicated to expanding voter participation, particularly through the availability of same day voter registration and other strategies that support fair access to voting for all communities. His education and advocacy efforts have included addressing the U.S. Committee on House Administration, the Illinois House Committee on Election Administration, the Suffolk (MA) Superior Court, and the Wisconsin Legislature. Prior to joining the Election Commission, Mr. Albrecht was the founding executive director of the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center and has an extensive background in non-profit management.
President & Founder, California Voter Foundation
Kim Alexander is president and founder of the California Voter Foundation (CVF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization established in 1994 and dedicated to improving the voting process to better serve voters (online at www.calvoter.org). CVF is a longtime leader in advancing the responsible use of technology in the democratic process by pioneering online voter education, online campaign finance disclosure, and voter-verified paper ballot records and auditing requirements for computerized voting systems. Current priorities include: supporting Californians’ right to equal treatment and protection in the voting process; reducing the vote-by-mail ballot rejection rate; increasing funding for election administration; and advancing voting system security and meaningful auditing of ballots in California and nationwide.
Director, Voting Information Project, Democracy Works
Maria Bianchi joined Democracy Works, a team of software developers, public policy wonks, and civic organizers improving the voting experience for voters and election officials alike, in 2014. As Director of the Voting Information Project (VIP) team, she leads the technologists working with state and local election officials to make official election data available to voters everywhere.
CEO Bazyn Communications
Ardis Bazyn is a speaker, business coach and writer with Bazyn Communications. She has worked with Democracy Live on accessible voting technology and participates on the Los Angeles County Voters with Specific Needs committee.
Voting Rights Specialist, National Disability Rights Network
Michelle Bishop is National Disability Rights Network’s voting rights specialist, where she coordinates voter access initiatives nationwide and works on federal voting rights policy. She is a member of Election Verification Network, NonProfit Vote’s board, National Council on Independent Living’s board subcommittee on voting rights, and steering committees for National Voter Registration Day, National Disability Voter Registration Week, and REV UP campaign, as well as guest lecturer for Columbia University and Washington University in St. Louis. Prior, Michelle led a disability-focused get out the vote coalition in Missouri and was the Assistant Director of Public Policy at Paraquad in St. Louis. She received a Master of Social Work in Social and Economic Development from The Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
Co-Director, Center for Civic Design
Dana Chisnell is a pioneer in civic design. Her applied research informs the design of experiences that voters, poll workers, and election administrators have in elections across the U.S. As co-director of the Center for Civic Design, she and her team there have mapped the voter journey with the goal of ensuring voter intent by design. Ms. Chisnell is the managing editor of the Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent. She teaches a course on design in government at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and one on design in elections at the Election Academy at the University of Minnesota. She was a generalist problem solver in the United States Digital Service in the White House 2014-2016.
Gregory J. Diaz
Nevada County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters
Gregory J. Diaz is the clerk-recorder/registrar of voters for Nevada County. For eight years, Mr. Diaz served as the county clerk-recorder for the City and County of San Francisco managing the office and defining departmental policies, procedures, budget, operations and legislation on both the local and state level. Mr. Diaz also served as the assistant county clerk-recorder in San Francisco for four years and worked in the City Attorney’s office for six years drafting legislation and litigation documents. Mr. Diaz was appointed Nevada County clerk-recorder in June, 2007 and re-elected twice in 2010 and 2014. Subsequently, Mr. Diaz has earned the California Professional Election Administrator Credential, obtained CERA (Certified Elections/Registration Administrator) status nationally through the Election Center, and was elected president of the County Recorders’ Association of California in December 2015 to a two year term. In June 2018, Mr. Diaz will lead Nevada County Elections in implementing the California Voters’ Choice Act along with four other California Counties. He holds a Bachelors’ Degree in History with a Minor in Education from Swarthmore College and attended Rutgers University School of Law.
Dr. John Dobard
Associate Director of Political Voice, Advancement Project California
Dr. John Dobard is associate director of political voice at Advancement Project California, where he leads efforts to eliminate racial and economic disparities in political participation and government responsiveness through policy advocacy, coalition-building, and actionable research. Previously, Dr. Dobard served as Advancement Project California’s manager of strategic initiatives. In that capacity, he co-created the Political Voice program and worked with coalitions across the state to use the California Voting Rights Act to secure equitable electoral systems. He also oversaw several key organization-wide initiatives, including an initiative to urge the Los Angeles Unified School District to adopt a student need index to guide allocation of Local Control Funding Formula dollars. Dr. Dobard holds a master’s degree and doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago.
Executive Director at California Common Cause, National Redistricting Director at Common Cause
Kathay Feng is Common Cause’s national redistricting director and California Common Cause’s executive director. Ms. Feng spearheaded successful initiative campaigns to create an independent citizens commission to redistrict state and congressional districts in California. She also led efforts to successfully pass Online Voter Registration and Same Day Registration, and helps anchor California’s Election Protection efforts. In Los Angeles, Ms. Feng helped win improvements to the Matching Funds system of public financing for candidates.
California State Director, Voices for Progress
For over a decade, Sandra Fluke has devoted her career to legislative and legal advocacy for the public interest. Ms. Fluke is the California state director of Voices for Progress where she advocates for policies related to climate change, economic inequality, campaign finance reform, and other policy concerns. Prior to running for State Senate in 2014, she garnered national attention by testifying before members of Congress regarding insurance coverage for birth control, and took on Rush Limbaugh. She is a political partner with the Truman National Security Project, serves on the Boards of the National Council of Jewish Women-Los Angeles and Emerge California, and on the advisory boards of Equality California, West Hollywood Beverly Hills Democrats, LA Forward, Westside Family Health Center, and Hollaback, and is a DPSFV AD 50 Representative in addition to volunteering as a pro bono attorney. Ms. Fluke graduated cum laude from Georgetown Law as a public interest law scholar with a Certificate in Refugee and Humanitarian Emergencies, and from Cornell with a degree in Policy Analysis and Management.
Jacqueline Martinez Garcel
Chief Executive Officer, Latino Community Foundation
Jacqueline Martinez Garcel is the CEO of the Latino Community Foundation (LCF). The mission of LCF is to unleash the power of Latinos in California. Ms. Martinez Garcel has led LCF through a critical stage of growth and expansion. Today, LCF leads one of the largest networks of Latino philanthropists in the country and it is the only statewide foundation solely focused on investing in Latino leaders. Previously, Ms. Martinez Garcel served as vice president of the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth), executive director of Community Voices in New York City, NIH fellow for the Merida Department of Public Health in Yucatan, Mexico, a faculty member for the Social Science Department of the Borough of Manhattan Community College, and as an adjunct professor at the New York University Global Institute of Public Health. She has been appointed to several Boards, including the Institute for Civic Leadership, NAMI-NYC Metro, and Grantmakers in Health, and currently serves on the KQED Community Advisory Panel and cochairs the National Latino Funds Alliance (NLFA). She has published extensively on issues related to health equity, vulnerable populations, and community health workers, and holds a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.
Maria de la Luz Garcia
Director of Census, City of Los Angeles
Maria de la Luz Garcia serves as the director of census for the City of Los Angeles where she is responsible for ensuring that all Angelenos get counted in 2020. Working collaboratively with LA County and a diverse coalition of external stakeholders, she and her team are helping to build a countywide Census 2020 outreach and education effort. Prior to this position, Maria served as the city clerk for the City of Long Beach. She has a passion for and experience in civic engagement, launching several civic engagement initiatives for the cities of Long Beach and Los Angeles. She holds an M.P.A. and a Certificate in Public Policy from USC Price School of Public Policy and a B.A. from Vassar College.
Senior Field Organizer, Yvote, Movement Strategy Center
Mynor Godoy is a senior field organizer with Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV), working to build an intergenerational movement of young people and families of color. In his role, Mr. Godoy coordinates and supports voter registration and contact campaigns across the state of California in collaboration with twenty-nine network partners. Over the past three years, Mr. Godoy has implemented a school-based voter registration model to pre-register and register eligible voters in high schools. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and International Studies from University of California, Irvine and a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
Senior Director, Policy, Research, and Advocacy, NALEO Educational Fund
Rosalind Gold is Senior Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, where she has worked for more than two decades on policy analysis and research for the organization’s naturalization and Latino civic engagement efforts. Ms. Gold coordinates the research for several of the Fund’s publications, including its Directory of Latino Elected Officials, the biennial Latino Election Handbook, and the Latino Election Profiles. She currently serves on the Board of the Directors of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, and as Chair of the Future of California Elections Board of Advisors. Ms. Gold received her law degree from Harvard Law School and Bachelor’s Degree from Pomona College.
Voter’s Choice California Consultant
Catherine Hazelton is Principal Consultant at Hazelton Strategies, where she works with foundations, non-profits, and public sector organizations to design programs and implement strategies. From 2009-2016, Ms. Hazelton was a Senior Program Officer at the James Irvine Foundation where she helped design and lead several key initiatives including the Future of California Elections, the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Awards, and an effort to deepen public engagement in redistricting processes. Before joining Irvine, Ms. Hazelton was Associate Director of the nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids and served in both the capitol and district offices of California Assemblymembers Carol Liu and Jack Scott. Ms. Hazelton has worked on numerous political campaigns including Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 Presidential campaigns. She earned a master’s degree in public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, a bachelor’s degree in history at Scripps College, and attended Pasadena City College where she engaged hundreds of students in grassroots advocacy.
Director, California Local Redistricting Project
Nicolas Heidorn is the director of the California Local Redistricting Project, which is a collaboration between California Common Cause and McGeorge School of Law to promote redistricting reform best practices. Mr. Heidorn also serves as the policy and legal director at California Common Cause. He has worked extensively on local districting and redistricting issues, including drafting Measure L, the charter amendment that created the city of Sacramento’s independent redistricting commission, and Senate Bill 1108 (Allen, 2016), which authorized all California general law cities and counties to adopt independent redistricting commissions. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his B.A. in government from Claremont McKenna College.
County Clerk, Recorder and Assessor, Santa Barbara County
Joe Holland, the Santa Barbara county clerk, recorder, assessor and registrar of voters, was first elected to the office in March 2002. Mr. Holland began a successful career in the Assessors Office in 1984 when he took a position as a real property appraiser. Active in the community, Mr. Holland serves as a volunteer board member on the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Economics and a Masters Degree in Economics from UC Santa Barbara, graduated from the UCLA Executive Program at the Anderson School of Business, and holds the designation of certified public finance officer.
Daniel Kikuo Ichinose, M.A.
Director, Demographic Research Project, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles
Daniel Kikuo Ichinose directs the Demographic Research Project at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, the nation’s largest legal organization serving Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities. Mr. Ichinose oversees the organization’s Census Information Center (CIC) and is lead researcher on several projects, including ongoing studies of Asian American political participation. He is a veteran of two statewide redistricting campaigns, working with stakeholders throughout California to construct the Asian American and NHPI community’s first statewide redistricting proposal in 2001 and the state’s first majority Asian American legislative district in 2011. He holds a M.A. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Stephen J. Kaufman
Principal Attorney, Kaufman Legal Group
Stephen J. Kaufman is the founder of Kaufman Legal Group, a leading political law firm with offices in Los Angeles and Sacramento. A recognized authority in the field of campaign finance and election law, he represents elected officials, candidates, PACs, labor unions, non-profit organizations and ballot measure campaigns on a wide variety of campaign finance, election and governmental ethics matters. Mr. Kaufman was a recount attorney for the Gore-Lieberman campaign in Florida following the 2000 presidential election, and currently serves as chair of the State Voting Modernization Board. Mr. Kaufman is a former president of the California Political Attorneys Association, and has served on a number of non-profit Boards, including the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles Education Fund.
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, Ph.D.
Director, The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE)
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg is the director of CIRCLE (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement) at Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. CIRCLE’s research topics range from youth voting, youth organizing, national service, and civic engagement, to name a few. CIRCLE focuses on producing research and information that enable young people of all backgrounds to access meaningful civic learning and engagement opportunities through rigorous and timely research and targeted dissemination efforts. Ms. Kawashima-Ginsberg represents CIRCLE’s work through a wide range of audiences including educators, policymakers, and parents, through outlets such as New York Times, NPR, Vox, C-SPAN, and NBC and serves on the Board of Directors of Democracy Works, Generation Citizen (a civic education organization), and the Leadership Council of Nonprofit VOTE. She sees research as a powerful tool for addressing inequity.
Registrar of Voters, Orange County
Neal Kelley is registrar of voters for Orange County, California, the fifth largest voting jurisdiction in the United States, serving more than 1.6 million registered voters. Mr. Kelley has led the Registrar of Voters’ office through the largest cycle of elections in the County’s 128-year history, has been the recipient of numerous state and national awards for election administration, and was recently awarded the “Public Official of the Year” award by the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks. Mr. Kelley is an appointed member and immediate past chair of the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Board of Advisors and a member of the EAC Voting Systems Standards Board, is a member of the EAC / National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC), is the past president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO), and is the past president for the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks (NACRC). He currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Future of Voting Committee and is an appointed member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Government Coordinating Council (GCC) for the Election Critical Infrastructure Subsector. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business and management from the University of Redlands and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California.
Chair, Board of Directors – CALPIRG Students
Jamie Kennerk is a third year political science and global studies student at UCLA. They currently sit as the chair of CALPIRG’s statewide board of directors, as well as chair of their campus chapter. They began working with CALPIRG their first year of college and fell in love with activism. The first campaign they led involved passing SB 254 (Allen) to lessen the influence of big money in politics. Since, they have worked on issues ranging from fair elections to promoting cheaper textbooks, voter registration, and affordable housing initiatives at their campus. In 2016, Jamie was the CALPIRG coordinator in a student coalition at UCLA called BruinsVote, which registered over 10,000 UCLA students to vote in a matter of weeks. Currently, they are working to prepare their campus for another huge voter registration push during the 2018 elections.
Voting Rights Project Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA
Deanna Kitamura is the voting rights project director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA (Advancing Justice-LA). She is a co-author of Voices of Democracy: The State of Language Access in California’s November 2016 Elections and Voices of Democracy: Asian Americans and Language Access During the 2012 Elections. Ms. Kitamura serves on various committees including the Secretary of State’s Language Accessibility Advisory Committee and Los Angeles County’s Voting Solutions for All People Committee. Ms. Kitamura has worked on a number of election related bills, including the law that allows LPRs to work as poll workers in California. She graduated from Pomona College and UCLA School of Law.
Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, Los Angeles County
Dean Logan is the registrar-recorder/county clerk for Los Angeles County, California — the nation’s largest, most diverse and complex local election jurisdiction serving more than 5.2 million registered voters. He currently serves as president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) and the Pew Center on the States’ Voter Registration Modernization and Performance Index for Elections working groups. He is an active participant in the Future of California Elections collaborative and serves on the Board of Directors for the National Elections Center. Mr. Logan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Azusa Pacific University and earned an executive Master’s Degree in Public Administration through the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington.
Manager & Attorney, ACLU of California Voting Rights Project
Raúl Macías is a voting rights attorney with the ACLU of California. Since joining the ACLU in 2011, he has worked to increase compliance with the National Voter Registration Act, as well as language access and voting rights legislation.
Deputy Secretary of State and Chief Communications Officer
Jesse Melgar is the deputy secretary of state and chief communications officer for the California Secretary of State’s office where he directs communications strategy for the agency and its various divisions: Elections, Business Programs, Political Reform and State Archives. Previously, Melgar served as director of communications for California State Senator Ricardo Lara and as spokesperson for the California Latino Legislative Caucus. He also served as statewide communications director for LGBT advocacy organization Equality California. Melgar holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Chicano Studies from UCLA and a Master of Public Policy from the UCR School of Public Policy.
Elections Outreach Coordinator
Eren Mendez is the elections outreach coordinator for the Contra Costa County Elections Division. She began her service as an election official in 2006 and currently serves as co-chair of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials (CACEO) Voters with Specific Needs Subcommittee, serves on the California Secretary of State’s Language Accessibility Advisory Committee (LAAC) and is a member of the Bay Area Voter Outreach Committee (BAVOC). Ms. Mendez is originally from Nayarit, Mexico and is grateful to use the platform a career in public service provides to influence civic engagement in her community.
Governmental & Legislative Affairs Manager, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk
Aaron Nevarez is a division manager with the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk. He oversees the Governmental & Legislative Affairs Division, which supports the Department’s mission through strategic advocacy, effective communications and community engagement. He serves as the Department’s liaison with the Board of Supervisors, County departments and commissions, city clerks and other public officials. Additionally, he identifies new programs and services, and provides consultation in the development of the new plans, systems and policies for the Department. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science/International Relations from the University of California, San Diego. He also is a graduate of Los Angeles County’s Executive Leadership Development Program.
Supervising Attorney for Voting Rights, Disability Rights California
Fred Nisen is the supervising attorney for Disability Rights California (DRC), working out of its Oakland office. DRC is California’s federally mandated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities. He has worked for DRC for the last 19 years and has worked on voting rights issues. He coordinates DRC’s voting work and leads a team of attorneys and advocates seeking to improve voting accessibility statewide. For example, Mr. Nisen coordinates DRC’s Election Day Hotline and trains election officials on disability accessibility issues. He is a co-chair of the Secretary of State’s Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee (VAAC) and serves on the local VAAC in at least six counties in the Greater Bay Area. Mr. Nisen is a member of Future of California Elections (FoCE) and is on the steering committee of Voter’s Choice California, a network sponsored by FoCE, working with counties and community-based organizations to ensure the smooth implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act.
Executive Director, Future of California Elections
Astrid Ochoa is the Executive Director of Future of California Elections (FoCE). Ms. Ochoa is a visionary leader and has served as the Interim Executive Director since last August and previously as the Deputy Director of FoCE since 2013. Ms. Ochoa has demonstrated experience in leading successful statewide and national initiatives and building cross sector partnerships among corporate, government and nonprofit sectors. She brings with her diverse policy expertise in civic and voter engagement, redistricting and language access. Ms. Ochoa holds a double master’s in public affairs and urban and regional planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a bachelor’s from Pomona College in international relations. She currently Co-Chairs the California Secretary of State’s Language Accessibility Advisory Committee and sits on the Voter’s Choice Act Taskforce. Ms. Ochoa also leads FoCE’s newly launched project Voter’s Choice California, which is focused on implementing California’s new voting reforms which have the potential of transforming California elections, making voting modern and convenient for all voters.
Executive Director, UpValley Family Centers of Napa County
Jenny Ocon is executive director of UpValley Family Centers of Napa County. She joined the organization in 2014 when it was created from a merger of two rural family resource centers. Ms. Ocon has over 20 years of nonprofit experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, working with nonprofits, family resource centers and schools in the areas of family engagement, parent leadership, collaborative social service models, community organizing and immigrant rights. In her role with UpValley Family Centers, Jenny has worked closely with other organizations in Napa County through a Community Leaders Coalition to support the full participation of underserved communities in elections leading up to the roll-out of the Voters Choice Act. Ms. Ocon serves on the steering committee of the Napa Child Abuse Prevention Council and the Leadership Council of Live Healthy Napa County. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.
Hon. Alex Padilla
California Secretary of State
Alex Padilla was sworn in as California Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 becoming the first-ever Latino elected to the position. He is committed to modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights.
A national leader on protecting voter privacy, Secretary Padilla was the first secretary of state to refuse the White House’s unprecedented request to obtain the personal data of every voter through its troubled Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Believing the Commission’s efforts were a pretext to enacting voter suppression measures, the Secretary challenged the Commission’s agenda and appointees, many of whom had well-documented histories of supporting restrictive voting policies that make it harder for eligible Americans to vote. Several secretaries of state agreed and advocates sued. The commission was disbanded in 2018.
In 2016, Secretary Padilla oversaw the state’s historic General Election. Working with statewide partners, the Secretary helped add upwards of one million registered voters to the rolls. More than 19.4 million Californians were registered and more than 14.6 million cast ballots on Election Day – both state records.
To expand voting rights to more Californians, in 2015, the Secretary sponsored legislation to establish vote centers, expand early voting and implement same-day conditional voter registration through the Voter’s Choice Act. He also sponsored the New Motor Voter Act which will eventually register to vote every eligible California citizen who goes to a DMV office to get a driver’s license or renew one, potentially registering millions.
Making it easier to do business in California, the Secretary is automating and digitizing business functions within his office. His new Bizfile California portal is helping hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs file important business documents with the state online.
Padilla’s parents emigrated from Mexico and raised their family in the working class community of Pacoima, California. Padilla attended local public schools and went onto graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
In 1999, at the age of 26, Padilla was elected to the Los Angeles City Council to represent the same east San Fernando Valley community where he grew up. In 2001, his colleagues elected him to the first of three terms as Council President, becoming the youngest member and the first Latino to serve in this capacity.
Voting Rights Attorney, MALDEF
Tanya Pellegrini is a staff attorney at MALDEF where she litigates civil rights cases in several practice areas, including in the areas of voting rights, immigrant rights, education, and employment. Ms. Pellegrini has experience with both the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the California Voting Rights Act.
County Clerk/Registrar of Voters, Santa Cruz County
Gail Pellerin is County Clerk/Registrar of Voters for Santa Cruz County, California. Ms. Pellerin was appointed to the position in July 2004 after serving as the county’s Elections Manager since 1993, and was elected to her third 4-year term in 2014. She has more than 32 years of experience in public service, seven years working for the State Legislature in Sacramento and 25 years serving as the primary elections official in Santa Cruz County. Ms. Pellerin served as President of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials from 2010 to 2012, has served on the Secretary of State’s Voting Accessibility Advisory Committee since 2006, and has been a member of the Future of California Elections since 2011. She has authored several election guidebooks to assist voters in navigating through various election procedures, including Initiatives, Recalls, and Referendums.
Chief Counsel, Secretary of State
Steve Reyes has served as chief counsel for Secretary of State Alex Padilla since 2015. He advises the Secretary on legal and policy matters across the agency’s numerous divisions and has focused on helping advance the Secretary’s mission to increase civic participation. Before joining the Secretary of State’s office, Mr. Reyes worked for the California Community Foundation, identifying resources for unaccompanied minors. Prior to that, he served as a senior legislative health deputy for Supervisor Gloria Molina. He also served as a voting rights attorney for MALDEF and elections counsel with the Kaufman Legal Group.
Deputy Director, League of Women Voters of California
Dora Rose is the Deputy Director for the League of Women Voters of California. Ms. Rose joined the staff in 2015 as Senior Director of Civic Engagement. In that role she spearheaded civic tech work on Voter’s Edge California, the implementation of the Voter’s Choice Act, and successful adoption of best practices designed to make official voter information clear and comprehensible. In her current role, she directs the League’s work on both advocacy and education. On advocacy she is focused on driving impact, pursuant to League principles, through legislation and ballot measures. On the education side she works to cultivate an informed, empowered, and more representative electorate. She has been a civil rights litigator, policy advocate, and voting rights activist for over twenty-five years. Her experience includes holding leadership positions as General Counsel and Director of Voter Protection for the Ohio Democratic Party, with the Voting Rights Institute, the Center for Election Integrity at Cleveland State University, and as a cooperating attorney with the ACLU of California. She is an attorney barred in California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
Executive Director, CALPIRG and CALPIRG Education Fund
Emily Rusch is the executive director of CALPIRG and CALPIRG Education Fund and has been an active member of the Future of California Elections collaborative since its inception. Ms. Rusch has testified before the California State Legislature on many issues, including election reform, money in politics, consumer protections, energy and transportation policy, and public health protections. Her advocacy around election reform often draws upon the experience of CALPIRG’s New Voters Project, a non-partisan effort that engages youth volunteers in voter registration, education, and turnout on college campuses. Ms. Rusch received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and Spanish from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
Government Services Project Manager, Center for Technology and Civic Life
Kurt Sampsel is government services project manager at the Center for Technology and Civic Life. Before coming to work for CTCL, Mr. Sampsel earned a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, where his research covered media regulation, reform, and activism. In addition to his research experience, he brings a background in journalism, teaching, and curriculum design. At CTCL, his work focuses on helping election officials use tech to better engage their communities and make voting easier. Throughout his career, he has worked to harness the power of communication in the service of democracy and the public interest.
Deputy Secretary of State, Policy & Planning
James Schwab is deputy secretary of state for policy and planning for California Secretary of State Alex Padilla where he oversees implementation of new election laws and policy. Prior to working for the Secretary of State, Mr. Schwab worked in the State Capitol as a legislative staffer for several years. In addition to his state service, he has also managed the field campaigns of several local legislative and city council races. He received his undergraduate degree in International Relations from UC Davis.
Voting Rights Strategist
Lori Shellenberger is an election reform and voting rights strategist. She consults on and leads state and national efforts to build a more inclusive and representative democracy, including redistricting reform, National Voter Registration Act compliance, felony re-enfranchisement, and integrated voter engagement. Previously, Ms. Shellenberger was the director of the ACLU of California’s Voting Rights Project.
Paul R. Spencer
Staff Attorney for Voting Rights, Disability Rights California
Paul Spencer is a staff attorney with Disability Rights California’s Voting Rights Practice Group. Mr. Spencer is based out of San Diego and works on issues across California affecting voters with disabilities. He is focused on removing barriers to voter registration, improving in-person accessible voting, and empowering people with disabilities to vote.
Staff Attorney and Voting Rights Program Manager
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
Jonathan Stein is the head of the voting rights program at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and was formerly a staff attorney at the ACLU of California Voting Rights Program. He is the chair of the Board of Directors at California Common Cause and is the chair of the Oakland Public Ethics Commission. Mr. Stein received his JD and MPP from UC Berkeley, where he was the University of California student regent and a member of the South Asian Law Students Association. He was formerly a reporter and presidential campaign correspondent for Mother Jones magazine.
Departmental Systems Analyst, San Mateo County Elections
Jennifer Tagg is a departmental systems analyst for the Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder-Elections in San Mateo County, California. She has worked at the department since 2008 in a number of different roles. Returning to the Elections Division in 2016, she lead implementation of the first Accessible Vote by Mail system in California and is leading the planning for the California Voter’s Choice Act in San Mateo County for the June 2018 election. Ms. Tagg has a Bachelor’s Degree from Vanderbilt University.
Director of Policy & Civic Technology
Jen Tolentino is Rock the Vote’s director of policy and civic tech. She leads the organization’s engagement in election administration, voting rights, and technology policy by identifying opportunities to increase access for young voters across the country through policy, innovation, and partnerships. She also spearheads the continued development and distribution of Rock the Vote’s online civic tech resources, including its open source voter registration platform that was utilized by more than 900 partners in 2016. Prior to joining Rock the Vote, Ms. Tolentino worked on the Voting Information Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, an open data partnership of Pew and Google that works with state and local election officials to make voting information more accessible. She has also spent time engaging advocates across the country on preservation issues at the National Trust, worked as a graduate student researcher to former Gov. Michael Dukakis, and served as a post-secondary coach with For Love Of Children. She received her BA in English from UC Riverside and her MPP from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.
Jerome O. Torres
Past Chairperson, Chula Vista Districting Commission
In 2014-15, Jerome O. Torres served as the chair of the Chula Vista Districting Commission, which created a districting plan to change the election process of Councilmembers from at-large to four districts. Representatives for Districts 3 and 4 were elected in 2016 and representatives for the remaining two districts will be elected in 2018. During the 1990’s, as a key member of a Latino advocacy coalition, Mr. Torres participated in the redistricting of the Council Districts for the City of Long Beach, enabling the election of the first Latino representative to the City Council. Additionally, Mr. Torres served as a key member of the Community Advisory Committee on Trustee Area Elections for the Long Beach Community College District which created a districting plan that changed the election of Trustees from at-large to five districts. Currently retired, Mr. Torres has 30 years of public service at the city, county, school district and university level.
Director of Elections, Oregon Secretary of State
Steve Trout has over 20 years experience in election law and administration. He is currently Oregon’s director of elections, chair of the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), and secretary for the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED). Previously he served as the director of election innovation at Clear Ballot, and served on the EAC’s Future of VVSG Workgroup. While in Oregon, Mr. Trout pioneered using tablets in elections and automatic voter registration. He also worked in the private sector for 5 years assisting local governments with compliance with election laws, including HAVA and the Voting Rights Act, as well as with election administration and training. He has also served as senior election counsel to the California Secretary of State and as assistant registrar of voters in San Bernardino County, CA. He has served as counsel to the California Voting Modernization Board, and has taught continuing legal education seminars on election law and HAVA to state and county counsel from throughout the country. Mr. Trout holds a Juris Doctor in Law, Bachelor of Science in Managerial Economics, and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, all from the University of California – Davis.
Phillip R. Ung
Director, Legislation and External Affairs, Fair Political Practices Commission
Phillip Ung is the director of legislation and external affairs for the California Fair Political Practices Commission. The Commission is charged with enforcing, implementing, and administering California’s Political Reform Act that governs campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics. Mr. Ung serves as the chief liaison to the Legislature and external interest groups. Prior to his current position, he was a legislative advocate for California Forward and California Common Cause. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Sacramento State University in history and political science and currently attends law school at night.
Founder and Co-Executive Director, Los Angeles Community Action Network
Pete White is the Founder and Co-Executive Director of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN), a grassroots organization working to ensure the human right to housing, health and security are upheld in Los Angeles. Mr. White has been a community organizer in Los Angeles communities since 1992 and has educated and organized thousands of low-income people on a multitude of issues and campaigns. A lifetime resident of South Central Los Angeles, he is committed to fight for a Los Angeles that does not tolerate racial injustice, promotes an equitable distribution of resources, and includes everyone. Mr. White believes that organizing and leadership development are essential tools needed to achieve social change and racial justice. He has also served on a variety of Boards and Advisory Committees related to homelessness, organizing, and grassroots funding.