2013 NLC Fellows: Sacramento


Alessandra Brown, Finance Budget Analyst, California Department of Finance

Alessandra is passionate about public service and developing sustainable communities. She currently serves as a budget analyst with the California Department of Finance, overseeing critical infrastructure projects related to public safety realignment. Before joining Finance, she was an Executive Fellow with the Governor's Office of Planning and Research where she was instrumental in developing the Environmental Goals and Progress Report and worked on a number of issues such as transportation planning and renewable energy. Previously, she was a Senior Fellow with the non-profit Groundswell in Washington, D.C., organizing communities around energy issues, and interned with the White House Council on Environmental Quality and with Democracy for America in Burlington, Vermont. Alessandra graduated in 2009 with a degree in Marketing and International Business from Georgetown University. As a student leader and President of the Georgetown NAACP chapter she fought for equality and justice for all. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, but now a proud Californian, she loves to cook and try all the sports she never played as a kid because she was too busy reading books.

Cody Potter, Senior Organizer, UC Employees - AFSCME Local 3299

Cody Potter is a Senior Organizer with the UC Employees- American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, a union of 20,000+ members throughout the University of California. As a contracted-out Sodexho worker in the UC Santa Cruz dining halls, Cody successfully organized with 200 minimum-waged co-workers and their families to be “in-sourced” as direct UC employees and union members in 2003. The change almost instantly meant families going from turn of the century poverty and up to three jobs to visits to the dentist and eye doctor for the first time in decades, health insurance they could finally afford, livable wages to support their families on and a modest but secure pension some had been missing out on for up to 30 years because they’d been contracted-out. Since then, Cody has organized with and in-sourced hundreds of others throughout the UC to get the healthcare, wages and dignified contracts they and their families deserve. Other major accomplishments include establishing a union at the UC Hastings College of Law, leading a team of volunteers that helped swing Carson City and Nevada for working families in the 2008 elections, and leading his Staff Union as President. Cody has also worked extensively with AFSCME 3299 as a labor representative, communications & media coordinator and political organizer & lobbying coordinator. Cody’s job is doubly rewarding because it also helps keep UC more accessible and accountable to working class and students of color. Born and raised in Cedar Pines Park, California, Cody has always displayed a passion for social and economic justice, participating as a youth in Food Not Bombs, food justice, and immigrants, gay and women’s rights activities. Cody gained fluency in Spanish and earned a BA with Honors in Community Studies at UC Santa Cruz in 2003, a program that no longer exists due to heavy budget cuts at UC. When not at work, Cody likes to cook organic halal food at home in West Sacramento for his beautiful wife Arooj (an Organizer with UNITE-HERE Local 49), 5 year old son Yahya and newborn daughter Imaan, as well as attend SALAM Center Masjid, play soccer and visit family in Stockton and the San Bernardino mountains as much as possible.

Colin Blattel, Senior Program Manager, City Year

Colin Blattel is a lifelong learner and committed to civic engagement and social entrepreneurship to improve Sacramento’s communities. Presently, Colin is a Senior Program Manager for City Year Sacramento, an education based non-profit providing vital targeted interventions to off track students in high need, high poverty schools at risk of high dropout rates. Colin manages a team of 13 AmeriCorps members who serve as “co-teachers” working with students exhibiting “early warning indicators” in English, Math, attendance, and behavior. Previously with City Year Miami, Colin helped to move Booker T Washington Senior High School from a “D” to a “B” based on the state’s grading rubric. Simultaneously, Colin is a Master of Public Policy and Administration candidate at Sacramento State University where he also serves as the Vice President of Internal Affairs for the Graduate Association of Students in Public Policy and Administration. Beyond work, Colin volunteers his time with a number of community organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters, College Summit, the Overtown Youth Center, Fairchild Tropical Gardens, and Take Stock in Children. Internationally Colin has worked in Leogane, Haiti with All Hands Volunteers to build new schools and biosand water filters after the devastating quake. Colin also worked as a field organizer for the 2012 Barack Obama Presidential Campaign with Organizing for America in Miami, Florida.

Lisa Murphy, Consultant, Kaufman Campaign Consultants

Lisa Murphy has worked at Kaufman Campaign Consultants, under the leadership of highly regarded political campaign consultant Gale Kaufman, for over five years. She most recently served as Deputy Communications Director for the successful No on Prop 32 campaign. At Kaufman Murphy has worked on a variety of high profile ballot initiative campaigns, including Yes on Prop 25 (2010), No on Prop 16 (2010) and No on Prop 6 (2008). She has also been instrumental to several successful candidate campaigns, including Joan Buchanan for Assembly, Ted Lieu for State Senate, and numerous independent expenditure campaigns. From 2008 to 2010, Murphy served as a DSCC delegate to the California Democratic Party. She is also a member of the Sacramento County Young Democrats. Murphy graduated from University of California Davis, in 2007 with a B.A. in Communications and Political Science. She grew up in San Rafael, CA. In her free time she contributes to a local blog, practices yoga and enjoys cooking.

Marina Wiant, Policy Director, California Housing Consortium

Marina Wiant is policy director at the California Housing Consortium (CHC), the statewide housing advocacy organization representing the development, building, financial, and public sectors dedicated to advancing affordable housing and community development across California. At CHC, Marina plans, directs, and coordinates all activities related to the development of their affordable housing policy positions, including interacting regularly with government officials, testifying in hearings, tracking legislation, planning policy-related events, and preparing materials to inform CHC members, the media, and the general public of issues of concern to the affordable housing industry. Prior to joining CHC, Marina worked as a legislative staffer in the California State Assembly and also interned with the Assembly Business, Professions, and Consumer Protection Committee. Marina is passionate about the protection of human rights and serving the public good. While in law school, Marina worked at the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office and was a research fellow at the Panetta Institute for Public Policy. She was also actively involved in the Student Bar Association, the Journal of International Law, and The Advocate, Santa Clara’s law student newspaper. Marina spent a summer abroad, participating in an immersion program on the advancement of human rights. Marina received her J.D. from Santa Clara University, with an emphasis in international law, and received her B.A. from UCLA, majoring in political science and minoring in Global Studies and Russian Language. She was admitted to the California State Bar in December 2010.

Guadalupe Castillo, Legislative and Policy Analyst, Department of Consumer Affairs

Guadalupe Castillo serves as Legislative and Policy Analyst for the Department of Consumer Affairs. Guadalupe is the primary staff for legislative issues relating to accountancy, acupuncture, barbering and cosmetology, landlord/tenant rights and dentistry. Previously, she served as the Government Affairs Associate at CaliforniaVolunteers, Office of the Governor in matters regarding federal and state policy and legislation and as the lead communications staff for the agency. She first joined CaliforniaVolunteers as an Executive Fellow in Fall of 2007 through the Capitol Fellows Program run by the Center for California Studies at CSU Sacramento. Guadalupe received her Bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego where she studied Spanish literature and international policy. During her college life, she diligently worked with incoming students to increase the retention rate of graduation through the Summer Bridge and Student Support Services programs. On her spare time, she danced with the Ballet Folklórico La Joya de México group. Upon her graduation, she accepted the offer to join Phi Beta Kappa. A native of California, Guadalupe grew up in the city of Carson – home of the Goodyear blimp and the Los Angeles Galaxy – and was the first in her family to graduate from college in the United States. She serves her community through her participation in the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Project, the Puente Program at Cosumnes River College, the Junior League of Sacramento and Sacramento CERT. She also enjoys reading, exploring the outdoors and one day hopes to visit every baseball stadium in the country.

Sasha Horwitz, Legislative Aide, California Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield

Originally from Los Angeles, Sasha Horwitz, began his career interning for LA Mayor James Hahn and has been working in politics ever since, including stints with Congressman Howard Berman, a polling firm, several ballot initiative campaigns and the California legislature. He is passionate about science and the power of government to encourage and develop the next generation of innovators. Sasha has a Masters in Public Policy from UC Berkeley and BA in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. After grad school he returned to LA to join a think tank where his research focused on redistricting, term limits and campaign finance reform. Sasha also spent time in the Bay Area working as a political consultant. In 2011, he moved to Sacramento to work in the State Assembly. When he isn't busy analyzing legislation and frantically refreshing Huffington Post, Sasha can be found playing pub trivia, brewing hard cider, and complaining about the bad writing on TV crime shows.

Shadi Karajeh, Volunteer Program Coordinator, International Rescue Committee

Shadi Karajeh is currently the Volunteer Program Coordinator for the International Rescue Committee in Sacramento, a leading non-sectarian, non-profit organization providing resettlement service, and advocacy for refugees and victims of operation. He is responsible for the organization and oversight of volunteer and internship activities, and assisting in outreach and resource development efforts. Shadi is passionate about creating new programs that assist refugees in starting their new lives in the United States, and ultimately helping them in becoming self-sufficient. Shadi is also interested in small business development and operations. He is currently serving as Board Member and Operations Manager at HeartBeat Clothing LLC, where he helped lay much of the brand framework on the legal front. He was a 2009 Vision Program Fellow at Abraham’s Vision, a Conflict Transformation and Resolution fellowship that centered on analysis of comparative conflict and social justice; conducting research in Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. His past experiences have given him firsthand knowledge of, non-profit management, entrepreneurship, and conflict transformation. Originally from Sacramento, Shadi is a member of Epsilon Sigma Rho Fraternity, Incorporated and the World Affairs Council of Northern California. Shadi received his BA in Government with a concentration in International Relations, and minors in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies & Peace and Conflict Resolution from California State University, Sacramento. Shadi’s future plans include attending graduate school and pursuing a degree in nonprofit management or public and urban policy while continuing his work with the International Rescue Committee.

Jacqueline Serna, Associate Legislative Counsel, Consumer Attorneys of California

Jacqueline works as Legislative Counsel for the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC). At CAOC she has worked on issues involving employee and consumer rights, elder abuse and ensuring access to the civil justice system. Her work has included successful advocacy for limiting grueling civil depositions in California state courts. Prior to CAOC she served as a Jesse M. Unruh Fellow in the office of Assembly member Ricardo Lara where she worked on successful legislation to expand California’s pregnancy disability leave laws and ensure equal access to education for undocumented students. Jacqueline graduated cum laude from UCLA with her B.A. in History and Chicana/o Studies and earned her Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of the Law. While at UCLA Law she participated in the International Justice Clinic, where she engaged with members of the Cambodian diaspora community in the United States who had survived the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Jacqueline served on the board for the National Latino Law Students Assn., as Outreach Chair for the La Raza Law Students Assn. and as an Associate Editor for the Chicano-Latino Law Review. She is a former Mexican American Bar Foundation Award winner and an alumna of the UCLA Law Fellows Program. Born and raised in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Jacqueline aspires to use her legal background and advocacy skills to achieve positive legislation and policy changes that will better the lives of all Californians.

Dyane Osorio, Policy Consultant, Jim Gonzalez & Associates

Dyane Osorio is a Policy Consultant at Jim Gonzalez & Associates. She prepares reports for the firm, and its clients, on various public policy issues: higher education; environmental justice; elections and voter participation. Also as a Lead Community Organizer for the non-profit Latino Policy Coalition, last election session she was part of the successful efforts in Arizona to get out the Latino Vote in record numbers. Whilst, continuing the push for the reunification of thousands of separated immigrant families, and pressure for a solution in the new immigration reform bill. Three years ago Dyane co-founded the educational non-profit Dream. Develop. Do.. She is currently the president of the all-volunteer board of directors. The organization provides scholarships to underrepresented and underserved youth in California. Holding up to the axiom, education is the universal equalizer. Dyane received her B.A. in Political Science and dual Minors in Economics and History from Cal State University, Northridge.