EQCA
Equality California
About EQCA

Rick Zbur
Executive Director

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Native of: New Mexico
  • Alum: Yale University and Harvard Law

Rick Zbur is a distinguished lawyer with a long history of advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and environmental causes. Zbur retired from Latham & Watkins, one of the world’s largest and most respected law firms, where he was a senior partner and practiced law for 29 years.

Read Rick's full bio here

rick(at)eqca(dot)org

Gary Collis
Deputy Director, Programs and Development

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Native of: Galesburg, Il.
  • Weirdest job: Corn detassler

A native of Illinois, Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in organizational management at the University of Illinois. Gary joins EQCA after working as a civil litigator in Los Angeles for seventeen years, most recently at Gordon & Rees LLP, handling a wide range of disputes in trial and appellate courts. Gary is responsible for development at EQCA, including organizing the Equality Awards held annually in five cities throughout California. Gary also administers many of EQCA’s programs, including Health Happens with Equality, the Breakthrough Conversation and Central Valley undocumented LGBT immigrant outreach.

gary(at)eqca(dot)org

Laurie Hasencamp

Laurie hasencamp

Interim Chief Operations Officer

Laurie served for 10 months in 2012 as EQCA’s interim executive director and currently serves as board treasurer. A long-time backer of Equality California, Laurie has dedicated her time to community service since retiring from practicing law in 2002. She is a member of the Founder’s Council of The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and a former member of the Board of Directors of Lambda Legal.

Tony Hoang
Chief of Staff

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Home town: Houston, Texas
  • Loves: College football, concerts and cooking

As Chief of Staff, Tony directs many of the day-to-day activities as well as manages many of EQCA's external relationships with allied coalitions and organizations. He is the point person on staff for EQCA PAC's activities and manages the organization's field team. Tony started his journey with EQCA as a field intern in 2009 and has served in various capacities throughout the organization with the most recent being the Operations Director. A native Texan, Tony earned his B.A. in International Relations with dual minors in Human Rights and Natural Sciences from the University of Southern California. During his undergraduate career, he also worked at the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

tony(at)eqca(dot)org
 
Melissa Estrada
Field and Data Associate
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Interests: Googling, Locked up raw, psychology today, and quoting Dr. Seuss
  • Quote: Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you'er than you. --Dr. Seuss

As Field and Data Associate, Melissa works behind the scenes to keep EQCA humming by making sure the money's counted, the data's entered and just generally doing what needs to get done. Melissa has worked multiple campaigns with EQCA, and shows her dedication with a smile every day.

Brad Lundahl
Program Associate

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Native of: Vancouver
  • Hobbies: Sailing and being on the water

Brad Lundahl is a pre-medical student with a background in immunology and biology. He grew up in Vancouver, Canada, and attended the University of British Columbia. Brad has spent the last three years in a binational relationship, travelling between Vancouver and California, and has become intimately familiar with the U.S. political system — specifically, the challenges facing binational LGBT couples, which encouraged him to enter the political arena and fight for the rights of all LGBT individuals. Driven by his passion for health care and equality for all minority groups, Brad hopes to focus on advancing the progressive legislation he seems as integral to the growth and prosperity of California and the country he now calls home.

brad(at)eqca(dot)org

Jo Michael
Legislative Associate

  • Location: Sacramento, CA
  • Native of: Colorado
  • Alum: University of Southern California

Jo Michael began at EQCA as a Legislative Fellow in August 2012 and is now working full-time on legislative advocacy projects. Jo is a graduate of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and is admitted to practice law in California. He has previously worked at Family Equality Council, Advocates for Informed Choice, ONE Archives and as a field organizer for the No on 8 campaign. He currently serves on the board of SacLEGAL. Jo has been involved in the movement for equality since 2003, when he co-founded his high school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance and hopes to continue working in the movement throughout his career.

jo(at)eqca(dot)org

Valecia Phillips
Director of Finance and Administration

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Native of: New York
  • Sings with: Angel City Chorale

Valecia Phillips is a seasoned chief financial officer with broad and progressive experience in the arts, public media and government. Prior to joining EQCA, Valecia served for a decade as director of business and finance for UCLA Live, an internationally renowned performing arts program at the University of California Los Angeles. In her hometown New York, she held a variety of leadership and analytical positions at Sony Music Entertainment, Aaron Davis Hall in Harlem and the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget. She received her MBA from New York University’s Stern School of Business.

valecia(at)eqca(dot)org

Josh Steichmann
Communications Manager

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Home town: Ann Arbor, MI
  • Loves: Mixtapes, book learnin' and photography

Josh started volunteering for EQCA as a wedding present for a high school friend whose wedding he officiated prior to Prop. 8, and now works on the communication team, getting the word out about all the great stuff EQCA does. He has a journalism degree from Eastern Michigan (go Emus) and has previously worked as a rock journalist. His beard is the envy of the office.

steichmann(at)eqca(dot)org

George Zander
Coachella Valley Field Manager

  • Alum: University Of Washington, Seattle
  • First love: Political Action
  • Second love: Cooking
  • Third love: His cat, Petey

Local coalition building, voter contact, volunteer recruitment and management. George has been actively involved in Democratic Party and LGBT issues since 1980, when he was one of the first board members of Seattle's first openly lesbian and gay lobbying organization, The Dorian Group. He has worked for dozens of issues and candidates, including being the Chair of the King County Democratic Party, the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign and staff for Senator Barbara Boxer. He sits on the Palm Springs Police Advisory Board, and the PSPD LGBT Outreach Committee, as well as Vice Chair of the Warm Sands Neighborhood Organization and remains on the steering Committee of the Desert Stonewall Democrats. He lives with his husband Chris and three loving cats — Petey, Satya and Charly.

george(at)eqca(dot)org

Scott Gizicki
Development And Program Associate

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Hometown: Detroit, Mi.
  • Favorite Holiday: May the Fourth

Scott J Gizicki was born and raised in Detroit, MI where eventually studied Public Relations at Western Michigan University. During his collegiate career, he worked various roles within WMU's Development and Annual Fund Department including fundraising and event coordination. Scott has several years experience of fundraising for various non-profits but first stepped into canvassing when he began at Equality California in October of 2012. Soon thereafter, Scott solely lead the Street Canvass until the Fall of 2014 when he returned to his roots of working in Development.

Colin Hernandez
Communications Intern

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite Activity: Sleeping
  • Favorite Games: Mario Party, Apples to Apples, and Risk

Colin is our latest Communications Intern. He was born and raised in Los Angeles but graduated with a degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He has worked with various campaigns, politicians, and some documentaries. His passion is making sure that everyone is treated as equals, which is what brought him to EQCA. When he is not working, he likes to relax with his dog, play a few rounds Super Smash Bros. with friends (Bring it!), and go to Dodger games.

 

Meet the Field Staff

Justin Florez
Phone Bank Lead

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Inspirations: John Lennon, Freddy Mercury and his Mother
  • Aspirations: To find true love and play music forever

Justin has been an avid activist, fundraiser, phone banker and canvasser since 2008. Being at the front line of the fight for equality is something he takes great pride in. He loves going to live concerts, cliff jumping and singing in the shower. He hates pollution, cigarettes and anti-equality extremists.

Brianna Eaton
Street Canvass Lead

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite TV Show: Criminal Minds
  • Goal: To become a child psychologist

Brianna raises awareness and funds for EQCA's Breakthrough Conversations project. She has previously canvassed on behalf of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Brianna loves to read and follow politics along with camping, fishing and pretty much anything to do with the great outdoors.

Roman Venalonzo
Phone Bank Lead

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite Artists: Red Hot Chili Peppers & Santana
  • Travel Highlights: Egypt and the Giza pyramids

Roman Venalonzo is extremely passionate about music, kids, and LGBT rights. He enjoys playing guitar, traveling, and hanging out at home with Cali the Pit Bull and friends.

Ali Kane
Assistant Canvass Lead

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Ali's passion for activism and equality began at Bentley University, where she founded the first Queer Women's Group on a socially-conservative campus, as well as launched the "Reject Stereotypes, Accept People" photo campaign. She is thrilled to continue her work for LGBTQ equality as an Assistant Lead for them street team.

Jesse Quintanilla
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite hairstyle: Ponytail
  • Already sick of: "Jesse's Girl" jokes

Jesse Quintanilla is someone else who is awesome despite needing more bio information turned in.

Brandon Benoit
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Favorite breakfast: Eggs Benedict
  • Favorite cheese: Gouda

Brandon has been canvassing with EQCA for over two years now and could not be any prouder of the work he does. He hails from Evanston, IL by way of Albuquerque, NM. Brandon is a big fan of the arts, music, fashion and is a born entertainer. His favorite food is green chili.

Jay Xavier
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
  • Favorite team: The Knicks, baby

Born and raised in Brooklyn NY, this modern day nomad has moved from New York to Florida and then California, trading good pizza for good weather. After seeing the world, Jay has now settled here in beautiful Los Angeles and works as an activist, bringing equality to one human at a time.

Noelani Thompson
Phone Banker

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Noelani moved to Los Angeles from Honolulu to experience more of the world and what it has to offer. She works on EQCA's phone bank team because she wanted to be a part of something that would make an impact on her community. When Noelani is not working, she loves to spend time with her girlfriend, cook amazing meals, and teach kids how to swim. She hopes to someday finish school and start a family.

Andrew Arias
Phone Banker

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Hometown: Cudahy, CA
  • Favorite Activies: Hiking, staying active, and enjoying a night out

Andrew enjoys giving back to his community which is why he became involved with Equality California's phone team. He hopes to use what he has learned to directly and personally impact the people around him.

Tym Bergendahl
Phone Banker

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Hometown: Boston, MA
  • Favorite Activies: Experiencing California to the fullest, having a great night with friends, and exploring Los Angeles

Tym has been living in California for the past three years. What drew him to be involved with EQCA was his passion to better his community. Tym has always had an interested with grassroots causes/organizations, specifically those focused around Immigration Reform and LGBT rights. He hopes to someday to use the skills and knowledge he has learned over the years to start his own non-profit, one that aims to protect homeless and at-risk LGBT youth.

Moremi Okoroh
Phone Banker

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
  • Favorite Films: Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sense and Sensibility, and Les Amours Imaginaires

Moremi left Phoenix, Arizona and came to Los Angeles to further her career in acting. She became involved with EQCA's phone bank team because she wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself. Besides acting, One of Moremi's biggest passions is giving back to the Community. She hopes she can give back even more when she becomes a well-known actress.

Ian Toledo
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Ian is originally from Omaha, Nebraska but currently resides in West Hollywood. While dedicated to cause here at Equality California, Ian is also an aspiring actor. He is a big fan of Taylor Swift and Electronic Dance Music.

Renee Noseda
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Renee hails from Detroit, MI where she attended The University of Michigan and graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology and Gender and Health. Turtles are her favorite animal.

Jasmine Richards
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Jasmine, also known as Jaz, is from Pasadena, CA. She graduated from Pasadena High School and loves to sing and dance. Jasmine prides herself on being a voice for the voiceless.

Ramy Zohdy
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Ramy is from Baton Rouge, LA and also lived in Washington DC for 6 years. He is an avid fan of working out at the gym and loves turtles.

John Lopez
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

John is originally from Dallas, TX. Before Equality California, John worked with Planned Parenthood and has experience working with AIDS Services of Austin. He is an aspiring singer and actor of the stage, enjoying musical theatre and opera.

Desiree 'DJ' Jacquez
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

DJ was born and raised in Los Angeles and was an active member of East LA College's Queer-Straight Alliance. She grew up in the group home and foster care system and often had to defend her rights as well as the rights of other LGBT kids facing discrimination from group home staff. She began canvassing for HRC in 2014 where she focused heavily on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and has been proudly canvassing for EQCA since September of 2014. She loves cats.

Candance Dovie
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Candace was born and raised in Los Angeles and graduated from Cal State LA with a BA in Theatre Arts and Dance. She loves cats and cupcakes and hopes to one day travel the world.

Sara Veilleux
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

Sara hails from Maine and is happy to be out of the snowy weather. Three things that Sara could not survive without are chewing gum, peanut butter and 80s pop music. She is passionate about most things but primarily on things pertaining to psychology, spirituality and social justice. Sara also prides herself on trying to guess people's signs and personality type based on the Myers-Briggs Indicator.

 

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