Meet the 2017 Sacramento Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)
Jose Alvarado, Legislative Aide, Office of Assemblyman Rudy Salas
Jose Alvarado grew up in the city of Hawaiian Gardens, the smallest city in Los Angeles County. Both of his parents emigrated from Mexico in the early 1980ís and spent their first few years in the United States working in the fields of the Central Valley before relocating to Southeast Los Angeles. Jose received his B.A from UC Berkeley where he double majored in history and rhetoric. He wrote his senior thesis on the Frankfurt School under the guidance of intellectual historian Martin Jay. While at Berkeley, Jose was elected to serve on the board of directors of the Berkeley Student Cooperative on three separate occasions, participated in the Teach-In-Prison program, was selected as a Cal-In-Sacramento fellow (2013), interned for members of Congress, joined several on-campus groups, and studied abroad in Berlin. After graduating from Berkeley, Jose moved to Sacramento to start working in the office of Governor Jerry Brown. Jose sits on the elected board of the California Latino Capitol Association (CLCA), where he serves as treasurer. He also remains active in the Berkeley community, helping co-found the Sacramento branch of the UC Berkeley Chicano Latino Alumni Association (CLAA), and also serving as the statewide treasurer for the organization. Jose is currently a Legislative Assistant for Assemblyman Rudy Salas. He staffs him on labor, education, environmental, public safety, and other issues. Prior to that, he worked in the office of Senator Loni Hancock. In his free time, Jose likes to sit in cafes, travel, read, and spend time with friends and family.
Katie Hanzlik, Senior Account Executive, Lucas Public Affairs
Katie Hanzlikís experience working in and around the California State Legislature makes her a valuable resource in her role as a Senior Account Executive develops and implements strategic communications plans that help shape important public policy. Katieís strong writing and social media skills also help reach key audiences on important policy issues, particularly in the fields of health care, biotechnology, and social justice. Prior to joining Lucas Public Affairs, Katie spent several years providing legislative support at a leading lobbying firm where she tracked bills, conducted research and coordinated lobby days for a variety of the firmís clients. Katie began her career as an intern in the district office of then-Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, where she utilized legislative resources to provide constituents and the public with accurate and up-to-date information about the Senatorís policies and priorities. Katie is an active member of Fem Dems of Sacramento and of the Sacramento County Young Democrats, where she currently serves as Communications Director and oversees the clubís social media and other online platforms. Katie graduated from University of California, Santa Barbara with BAs in Global Studies and French. While earning her degree, she spent a year studying Political Science in Lyon, France. Katie lives in Midtown Sacramento, where she is an avid runner and foodie.
Carolyn Kiesner, Business Development Manager, OpTerra Energy Services
Carolyn Kiesner is a Business Development Manager at OpTerra Energy Services, an industry leader and pioneer in advancing the sustainable energy economy, energizing opportunity and building positive impact for the communities and institutions nationwide. As a Business Development Manager, Carolyn uses her energy expertise and dedication for a more sustainable world to work with cities and school districts to develop wide reaching energy programs. OpTerraís unique educational impact arm allows Carolyn to work with school districts to connect energy technology to STEM education programs and career pathways, something she is truly passionate about. Carolyn has a Bachelorís Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northern Illinois University and enjoys strategic problem solving and out of the box thinking. Carolyn currently serves as the Association of Energy Engineers NorCal Chapter Vice-President where she helps create a space to bring the local energy professionals together to engage in leading edge technology and energy policy. Being in a male dominated field, Carolyn has always had a strong passion for women in engineering and science careers. Carolyn enjoys volunteering her time to work with local school districts to empower students, specifically female students, to engage in STEM careers. Carolyn grew up in the West Suburbs of Chicago and has lived in Sacramento for almost 10 years. Leading with authenticity, compassion and a collaborative attitude is important to Carolyn. She believes a new style of leadership is needed within our communities in order for positive change to happen. Outside of her professional sphere Carolyn enjoys yoga, the outdoors, music and Chicago sports teams.
Sadalia King, Legislative Aide, California State Senate
Sadalia King was born and raised in Sacramento, California. She received her B.A. in Sociology, Law and Society Emphasis and a minor in African American and African Studies from the University of California, Davis. After witnessing the infamous pepper spray incident during her first quarter attending the university, she soon after became heavily involved in the campus community as the Vice President of the Black Student Union, Publicity Chair of the UC Davis Chapter of the Afrikan Black Coalition Conference, and the Co-Chair of the Black Graduation Celebration, among other positions. From these experiences she developed a passion to work and empower underserved communities. Sadalia currently serves as a Legislative Aide in the Office of Senator Toni G. Atkins (D- San Diego) where she oversees a number of policy areas, including higher education, transportation and housing, banking and financial institutions, and veteranís affairs. She is an active member in several political clubs including the Sacramento County Young Democrats and the Feminist Democrats of Sacramento. She is also a founding board member and currently serving as the President for Black Young Democrats of Sacramento. Sadalia volunteers her spare time with the Sacramento Hub of the World Economic Forumís Global Shapers Community, as a board member for the Black Youth Leadership Project, and the California Capitol Black Staff Association. She is also a proud, finer women of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.
Sarah Krasin, Vice President, CCS
Sarah is driven by the belief that effective philanthropy can transform our communities. As a Vice President with CCS, one of the largest and most comprehensive strategic fundraising firms in the world, Sarah is honored to partner with diverse non-profits as they make big plans to increase their impact. Sarah is currently embedded as on-site campaign counsel for the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento. Prior to the Crocker, Sarah advised Notre Dame High School San Jose, the oldest all-girls high school in California, as they embarked on a new campus Master Plan. After conducting a feasibility study for a $20 million campaign, Sarah directed their planning and leadership gifts phases. In 2014, Sarah worked with Antioch University, a private university with five campuses in four states, on developing and implementing a comprehensive major gifts program. Sarah was also part of the leadership team that hired and transitioned new staff for Antiochís expanded University Advancement office. Sarah also has extensive experience in the religious sector. In 2012, Sarah served as on-site campaign counsel for St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, an institute of higher education and formation for men entering the Catholic priesthood. Sarah managed more than 30 volunteer committees and her leadership of campaign activity directly resulted in more than $10.5 million raised. Sarah then led campaigns in Illinois and Texas, where she guided parish leadership in securing their first-ever six-figure gifts and achieved goals totaling more than $9 million. Prior to joining CCS, Sarah managed and consulted for more than 20 political fundraising programs in Milwaukee, Madison and Los Angeles. During her time in politics, Sarah coached candidates for local, state and federal offices on effective fundraising strategies that allowed them to out-raise incumbents and win highly contested seats. Sarah also partnered with several Milwaukee-based organizations to lead fundraising trainings for first-time local candidates. Sarah is originally from Wisconsin and graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee. She and her fiancÈ, also a Wisconsinite, continue to be devoted Green Bay Packers fans.
Esha Mathew, Legislative Assistant, California State Assembly
Esha Mathew obtained her BS and MEng in Bioengineering with a minor in Engineering Project Management from Cornell University. She then worked at Childrenís Hospital Boston, where she investigated the use of silk constructs for bladder repair. Esha then obtained her PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology and a graduate certificate in Science, Technology, and Public Policy from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her thesis focused on a specific conversation between tumor cells and the non-tumor cells around them in pancreatic cancer. At Michigan, she served on the executive board of FEMMES, a student organization whose goal was to close gender disparities in STEM fields by focusing on elementary school girls. She volunteered with Washtenaw Literacy as both a basic adult literacy and English as a Second Language tutor. She also served as co-chair of the Genomics Policy Forum for the American Public Health Association which assessed the implementation of oncogenomics in different communities. After her PhD, Esha served as a California Council on Science and Technology fellow in the office of Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who then retained her as a Legislative Aide. She staffs a range of policy issues including Health, Human Services, and Education. She also volunteers as a tutor with Improve Your Tomorrow, which serves high school students in South Sacramento. In her spare time, she cheers for the New England Patriots, practices her henna art, and rekindles her amateur radio hobby.
Neil Matouka, Project Manager, The Local Government Commission
Neil Matouka is a Project Manager at the Local Government Commission, managing Energize Fresno, a California Energy Commission-funded project working with the City of Fresno to develop an energy performance district model and funding platform that is replicable in cities across the state. Prior to joining LGC, Neil worked and lived in North Carolina, co-founding an environmental business consulting firm. There, he specialized in helping small businesses and startups refine their business models, launch novel products, and streamline operations to minimize environmental impacts. While in Durham, NC, Neil was a member of the Duke University Campus Sustainability Committee, served on the Durham Environmental Affairs Board, and was captain and president of the Duke Graduate Rugby Football Club. Neil holds a Master of Environmental Management from the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment, specializing in Environmental Economics and Policy and focusing on technology evaluation and marketization. In addition to his work, Neil is a member of the National Parks Conservation Associationís Next Generation Advisory Council and an at-large board member of the Environmental Council of Sacramento. He also plays rugby with the Sacramento Capitals, hikes, and enjoys reading in foreign languages.
Ernesto Meza, Legislative Assistant, California State Legislature
Ernesto was born and raised in the Central Valley, a product of the city of Stockton. He comes from a family of immigrant farmworkers who taught him the value of hard work. During his spring breaks in high school, he worked with his father out in the fields. Ernesto†knows first-hand the challenges facing working families and is committed to creating a high quality of life and community well-being for all. Ernesto Meza is currently a Legislative Assitant in the office of Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens). Part of his duties include staffing and advising the assemblymember in a number of areas, from Agriculture to Governmental Organizations. In addition, he manages external communications for the Assemblymember's social media accounts. Ernesto began his career in Sacramento as a participant of the Sacramento Semester Program, a program that grants students full-time internships at the California State Legislature and seminars at the California State University, Sacramento.† Prior to joining the Capitol, Ernesto attended San Joaquin Delta Community College in Stockton. It was his political science courses and professors there that sparked his passion for public service and government. He then transferred to the California State University, Fresno and graduated with a degree in Political Science. Ernesto continues showing his commitment to his community. He has served on the board of the California Latino Capitol Association and is a mentor with the Puente Project, a program dedicated to making higher education accessible for first-generation students. During his free time Ernesto enjoys photography, sports, and traveling the great State of California with family and friends.
Lila Mirrashidi, Deputy Commissioner, Legal Department of Business Oversight
Lila Mirrashidi is the Deputy Commissioner of the Legal Division at the Department of Business Oversight. She currently advises the Commissioner and executive staff on all legal matters, including legislation, regulations, and enforcement actions against financial institutions. Previously, Lila served as Deputy Commissioner of Business Regulations at the Department of Corporations, in which she oversaw the Departmentís regulatory scheme as well as served as the project manager for the departmentís merger with the Department of Financial Institutions. Prior to that, she served as Deputy Appointments Secretary for Governor Jerry Brown. In that capacity, she provided recommendations to the Governor on hundreds of appointments to multiple executive branch agencies. She also served on Governor Brownís 2010 gubernatorial campaign as Deputy Research Director. Lila received a Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Ngabo Nzigira, Medical Student, University of California-Davis
Ngabo Nzigira is a current medical student at the University of California Davis. He is part of the inaugural class for a novel accelerated medical school curriculum into Primary Care (UCD ACE-PC). He grew up the children of two Rwandan immigrants born in the bay area but raised mostly in south Sacramento. He graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition science in 2011 and served as a community health Peace Corps volunteer from 2012-2014 in San Juan de Pueblo Viejo, Ecuador. He is very interested in Healthcare access, racial/gender equity, criminal justice reform and giving back to the city he knows and loves, especially the most vulnerable.
Angelica Quirarte, Innovation and Accountability Strategist, CA Government Operations Agency
Angelica ""Angie"" Quirarte is a Policy Analyst for the CA Government Operations Agency. Angie works in the Government Innovation and Accountability unit within the CA Government Operations Agency where she contributes to and manages several initiatives in technology innovation, civic engagement, workforce planning, and leadership at the state level. Angie found her way to Sacramento through the Capital Fellows Program in 2013 as an Executive Fellow. She was immediately hired as a policy analyst and has been working on policy implementation and strategy. Angie is an active board member of the Sacramento ACLU Chapter where she works with other community advocates on addressing local civil liberties issues and other groups and organizations who work with disadvantaged populations. She was also the Vice-president of Youth and Education Committee Chair of the League of United American Citizens (LULAC) Lorenzo PatiÒo Council 2862. Under her leadership, her council was one of eight in the nation to receive a $20,000 grant to pilot a program that would help reduce high school dropout rates in the Sacramento Region. Angie is also affiliated with other local organizations and is often looking stay active in the community she lives in. Angie was born in Guadalajara Mexico and migrated to the United States with her family when she was 11 years old. She grew up in the Bay Area and graduated with a BA in History of Public Policy from the UC Santa Barbara.
Kelly Reynolds, Program Associate, Capitol Impact, LLC
Kelly Reynolds is a program associate for Capitol Impact, a Sacramento-based consulting firm dedicated to improving policy and practice in California, with a particular emphasis on public education. At Capitol Impact, Reynolds leads coalition building and serves as a key resource connector between education, community-based organizations, and business to drive key policy and strategic priorities to improve California's public education. Prior to Capitol Impact, Reynolds worked at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce expanding college access and success through management of the L.A. Cash for College program, one of the largest financial aid education efforts in the region. In this capacity, Reynolds led major programmatic events and workshops that assisted local students with college-going and financial aid processes, serving 20,000 students and families each year. In 2015, L.A. Cash for College received recognition from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. While in college, Reynolds participated in the UCDC program and interned at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., where she supported communication efforts and researched national education issues. Reynolds attended the University of California, San Diego and earned her bachelor's degree in political science and history. Reynolds has lived in two countries and three states. In her free time, she enjoys practicing yoga, reading a good book, and daydreaming of the next trip she is planning.
Nichole Rice, District Legislative Representative, UFCW Local 8-Golden State
Nichole Trujillo Rice is the Political and Legislative Representative for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8-Golden State (UFCW), AFL-CIO, representing approximately 35,000 members throughout California who work in the retail grocery, wholesale meat, pharmaceutical and other industries. Nichole began working for UFCW in 2008 and has been on the frontlines in all phases of the political and legislative process throughout Local 8ís vast jurisdiction working to protect and perpetuate the interests of UFCW members, their families and their communities. Nichole has spent the majority of her time working in the Greater Sacramento-area and Central Valley of California. She was elected Secretary-Treasurer (Principal Officer) of the San Joaquin-Calaveras Counties Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO in 2015 and serves as one of three Trustees to the North Valley Labor Federation. Although it can be difficult to push a progressive platform within the Central Valley, Nichole is dedicated to improving the lives of all working families and credits her devoted colleagues for their support. Nichole received her B.S. in International Business from the California State University of Sacramento. She is a passionate advocate for working families and emphasizes a need for health care reform and retirement security. Outside of the Labor movement, Nichole is active in her community, local politics and has an enthusiasm for the outdoors. Nichole recently relocated her family to Auburn, CA where she enjoys trail running and hiking.
Mariana Corona Sabeniano, Legislative Director, California State Assembly
For the last nine years, Mariana has served as staff in the California State Assembly ñ her most recent position is as Legislative Director in an Assembly office. In her current capacity, Mariana oversees the Assemblymemberís legislative agenda and helps the Member prepare to vote on legislation. Mariana's public service career began when she participated in the Sacramento Semester Program in 2005. Mariana currently serves as an appointee on two local commissions: Sacramento Community Police Commission and the Natomas Community Planning Advisory Council. She enjoys giving back to her alma mater through her involvement as President-Elect of the Sacramento State Alumni Associationís Hornets Policy & Politics Alumni Chapter (HPPA). HPPAís mission is to support the professional development of alumni, create career opportunities for students, and support undergraduate/graduate students with scholarships. Additionally, Mariana mentors youth through her participation with the Sacramento Latina Youth Leadership Institute, which is a program for young Latinas in Sacramento, with focus on development in personal, professional, academic, community and cultural awareness. Furthermore, Mariana serves on the steering committee for the Sacramento Latina Leaders Network, which provides leadership development opportunities to advance the professional, personal and civic lives of emerging and prominent Latina Leaders. Mariana is also a current participant in the Emerge California, Class of 2017. Mariana grew up in Arbuckle, California. She and her four brothers and sister are first-generation, with immigrant parents from Mexico. Mariana is the first one in her family to attend and graduate from college. She earned her bachelorís degree from Sacramento State University and a Masterís of Science in Law from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She is an alumnus of the Hispanas Organized for Political Equity (HOPE) Leadership Institute, Class of 2015 and Leadership California, Class of 2015. In her free time, Mariana enjoys spending time with her husband, family, and dogs.
Amanda Shepherd-Littlejohn, Gynecology Oncology Surgical Fellow, University of California-Davis
Amanda Shepherd-Littlejohn is a Gynecology Oncology surgical fellow at the University of California-Davis. Her specialty focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the female reproductive system. As a surgeon, she is focusing on increasing the use of robotic surgery in cancer patients. As a researcher, she is studying the effect of meditation, yoga, and self-compassion on patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. After attending the Medical University of South Carolina, Amanda finished residency at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia and went on to obtain a Masterís of Science in Clinical Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania. She has already published in the area of robotic surgery for the treatment of uterine cancers. She has held office in the South Carolina chapters of the American Medical Womenís Association (AMWA) and Medical Students for Choice. She volunteered as a SAFE team member for four years, assisting victims of sexual assault in the immediate aftermath and in post-assault counseling sessions. Amanda is passionate about pursuing policies related to social justice and human rights. She is specifically interested in womenís rights to equal pay and access to reproductive choice. She also endeavors to secure a patientís right to die with dignity in every state in the nation. Growing up in Portugal, Amanda is fluent in the Portuguese language and in navigating Portuguese cuisine. She has developed a love for foreign cultures and travel, having already visited 32 countries. When she is not in the operating room or traveling out of the country, she and her husband Jim can be found wine tasting in Napa or running with their black lab, Frankie.
Jetaun Stevens, Staff Attorney, Children's Law Center of California
Jetaun Stevens was born and raised in Sacramento California. She received her B.A. in English from Alabama A&M University in 2005 and her J.D. from Santa Clara University in 2009. In law school, Jetaun's studies focused on international human rights and public interest law and she served as an Editor for the Santa Clara International Law Journal. Jetaun had the opportunity to study at the Rene Casin International Institute of Human Rights in Strausborg France in July 2007. She also had the opportunity to serve as a summer intern for the Center for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco, represent employees for a semester at the Katherine and George Alexander Community Legal Aid Clinic, Worker's Rights clinic, and assist displaced homeowners at the New Orleans Legal Assistance Corporation for her spring break in 2008. Jetaun has continued her commitment to public interest work after law school. She is currently a Staff Attorney at Children's Law Center of California where she represents abused and neglected children in Sacramento County. She is also currently a member of the Greater Sacramento Urban League Young Professionals leadership team where she serves as the Economic and Professional Development Committee Chair. In her free time, Jetaun enjoys Salsa and Samba dancing, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Jose Torres, Legislative Analyst, California Energy Commission
Jose Torres is currently a Legislative Analyst for the California Energy Commissionís Office of Governmental Affairs. In this role, Jose maintains a cooperative relationship between the Energy Commission, the Administration, and the members and staff of the California Legislature. Prior to joining the California Energy Commission Jose worked in both the California State Assembly and California State Senate. Jose Torres was a Legislative Aide for the Office of Assemblymember Mike Gatto and a Legislative Aide and Interim Legislative Director for the Office of Assemblymember Henry T. Perea. He started his career in the Capitol as a California Senate Fellow in the Office of Senator Alex Padilla. In these capacities, Jose had the ability to focus on various policy issues including but not limited to natural resources, environmental justice, energy, transportation, insurance, and banking and finance. During his time in Sacramento Jose served on the board of the California Latino Capitol Association (CLCA) as the Outreach Coordinator where he worked to actively engage CLCA with the local Sacramento Community. Prior to coming to Sacramento, Jose graduated from the California State University, Fullerton earning Bachelors of Arts Degrees in both Philosophy and Political Science with a minor in Economics. He interned for the Office of Senator Lou Correa in Orange County, CA and the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, DC where he developed his interest in advocating for underrepresented communities through policy. Before his career in state policy he was involved with undergraduate research in the McNair Scholar Program where he focused on the benefits of a vegan diet for the Latino community. Furthermore, Jose was also a grassroots and community organizer at Cal State Fullerton with Students for Quality Education, M.E.Ch.A. and other student advocacy groups against tuition hikes and increasing access to higher education. He comes from a working-class immigrant family that benefitted from Californiaís public services, which continues to give him the passion to fight for progressive values. He is originally from Los Angeles, CA, but at the age of 12 he moved to Moreno Valley, CA. In his free time, Jose likes to screen write social and political dramas. Some of the screenwriters that inspire him are Alejandro G. Inarritu, Alfonso Cuaron, and Pedro Almodovar, and Stanley Kubrick. When heís not writing he also likes to hike, and listen to live music.
Phillip Vander Klay, Legislative Aide, California State Senate
Phillip Vander Klay has grown up in Sacramento; living, working, and learning in its vibrant and diverse communities. His family moved to Sacramento from the Dominican Republic when he was six, and since then Phillip has been actively involved in the community, whether helping out at church or playing in community sports leagues. During the summer, he would work as a lifeguard at one of the many public pools scattered across Sacramento, seeing firsthand the effects of poverty, gang influence, and a dearth of resources. These experiences and the struggles that his friends faced growing up, inspired him to pursue a career in government so that he could make positive change in his community. After graduating from John F. Kennedy high school, he went out-of-state to study Political Science at Calvin College in Michigan and gained a new perspective on the diverse worldviews of people from across the country. Armed with his degree and a deeper perspective, Phillip moved back to Sacramento to begin a career in government as a Senate Fellow. He has been working in the California State Capitol for over three years now and is currently a Legislative Aide for Senator Connie M. Leyva. In this role, Phillip handles a large variety of issues and responsibilities. He staffs numerous bills for the Senator, navigating them through the legislative process. As Senator Leyvaís education staffer, he analyzes all legislation that passes through Senate Education Committee, meets with various stakeholders, and makes recommendations to the Senator. His other responsibilities include: handling communications tasks, working on district-level problems, and advancing the Senatorís budget priorities. Outside of work, Phillip enjoys participating in basketball and football leagues, playing guitar at his church, reading novels or political books, and spending time with his family and friends.