EQCA
Equality California
About EQCA

Meet the Staff 

John O'Connor
Executive Director

  • Location: West Hollywood, CA
  • Native of: New Jersey
  • Alum: Georgetown University

John O'Connor is a seasoned executive with extensive management, fundraising, strategy and advocacy experience in dynamic foundation, corporate and nonprofit organizations. With over 15 years in cause-related work and a strong record of accomplishment, O'Connor is an excellent choice to lead Equality California into its next chapter.

Read John's full bio here

john(at)eqca(dot)org

Jack Lorenz
Deputy Director, Programs and Development

  • Location: West Hollywood, CA
  • Native of: New York

Jack oversees all of our programs- educational, advocacy and outreach as well as our development- fundraising, special events and sponsorships. For the 13 years prior to EQCA, Jack was the Executive Director of the Gatekeeper Foundation, whose work focused on advocacy and programming related to the fair and appropriate treatment of immigrants and other vulnerable populations. Prior to his work with social justice and civil rights organizations Jack was a film and television studio executive, having worked for Disney, Universal and Mandalay Entertainment. Jack holds a Masters Degree in Humanities from California State University.

jack(at)eqca(dot)org

Rikimah Glymph
Chief Administrative Officer

  • Location: San Francisco
  • Home town: Los Angeles
  • Loves: Food/cooking, traveling, sports, horseback riding, learning new things, building infrastructure, and spending time with her son.
  • Fun fact: My favority countries are Senegal, West Africa, Argentina, Sweden, and France.

Rikimah joined Equality California April 2013 and serves as Chief Administrative Officer. Prior to joining Equality California, Rikimah served as the Director of Operations & Administration at Color Of Change. She previously worked at the New Organizing Institute as their Director of Finance & Operations, Office of Presidential Correspondence, and for Democrats Abroad in Argentina. During the 2008 Obama campaign, Rikimah was a Volunteer Coordinator and Canvasser in Los Angeles. She holds a B.A. in History from the University of California, Los Angeles, an MBA, and a Masters in Project Management. She currently serves on the UCLA Black Alumni Associations Board.

rikimah(at)eqca(dot)org

Tony Hoang
Chief of Staff

  • Location: Downtown Los Angeles 
  • 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. with dual majors in International Relations and Political Science and a minor in Natural Sciences from the University of Southern California. During his undergraduate career, he 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
  • 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.

Mike Gallagher
Development Associate

  • Location: West Hollywood, CA
  • Native of:St. Louis, MO
  • Loves: Roadtrips, Hiking, and California sunsets

Mike works in Equality California’s Development Department focusing on the Capitol Club, donor relations and event management. Mike studied Business Administration and Finance at Loyola University Chicago and has worked with nonprofit organizations for over ten years. After living in St. Louis, Chicago, and Orange County, Mike now resides in Los Angeles where he is excited to bring his diverse background and administrative skills to the EQCA team.

mike(at)eqca(dot)org
 

Jo Michael
Legislative Associate

  • Location: Sacramento
  • 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

Ruben Sierra
Southern California Field Manager

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, California
  • Loves: Physical Education, Community Organizing, and Delicious Food

The Southern California Field Manager, Ruben has extensive community, political, and labor organizing experience. Since 2009, Ruben has organized community members throughout Los Angeles to help provide scholarships to K-8 students living in poverty. As a labor organizer for the Service Employees International Union (USWW), he organized service workers to win collective bargaining agreements that included higher wages, affordable healthcare, and other essential work benefits. In 2012, Ruben was the main field organizer in Ashtabula, Ohio — 1 of 16 blue counties — for President Obama’s reelection campaign. Previously to his position at EQCA, Ruben was a community organizer with The Wall–Las Memorias Project in northeast Los Angeles. Ruben has also contributed his time working at the California State Assembly in Sacramento, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, D.C., in addition to numerous local, state, and federal electoral campaigns. Ruben is also currently pursuing a Juris Doctor with an emphasis in the Public Interest at the People’s College of Law located in Los Angeles.

 

Josh Steichmann
Communications Associate

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • 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.

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 the King County Democratic Party, the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign and Senator Barbara Boxer. Twice a month, George publishes a travel column in the BottomLine Magazine, re-exploring faraway destinations he visited during his time in the travel industry.

george(at)eqca(dot)org

Meet the Field Staff

Samantha Castillo
Phone Banker

  • Location: West Hollywood
  • Home: Atwater / Silverlake
  • Horoscope: Taurus
  • LA graffiti and street art, tattoos, Italian food, video games and English bulldogs
Samantha is a Latina Los Angeles native. She is currently working on becoming a special effects make-up artist and plans on pursing a career in the film industry. When she is not fighting for equality she likes spending her time reading, crafting, sketching and occasionally going out with friends.

Brianna Eaton
Street Canvasser

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.

Justin Florez
Phone Bank Lead

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • 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.

Roman Venalonzo
Phone bank lead

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • 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.

Edwin Tomyoy
Street Canvasser

  • Location: West Hollywood
  • Hometown: Port of Spain, Trinidad
  • Travel highlights: Visited a family of wild mountain gorillas in the Vurunga National Forest in Rwanda; landed a 68-pound king salmon on the Keenai River in Alaska; got shocked by a giant electric ray while scuba diving 
Edwin hails from the Caribbean country of Trinidad and Tobago. He has lived in Los Angeles since 1961. Edwin has been involved with various nonprofits and is on the board of Drew Cares International, an organization that does work with AIDS in Rwanda, Angola, Jamaica and Belize. He has worked to support marriage equality since 2009. Edwin is a foodie and a gourmet chef who maintains a garden and grows many of his vegetables, herbs and fruit. He is also a retired teacher.
 

Arturo Valencia
Phone Banker

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Interests: Advocacy, Social Justice, and a dog called "Pinky"
  • Entertainment: Sci-Fi movies and U.S. National Parks

Arturo came to Los Angeles back in 1990 via Tucson, Arizona. He got his start as an HIV/AIDS health educator and outreach worker in East L.A, and is now a part of EQCA's phone team. He also works as an HIV pre/post test counselor at John Wesley Community Health. With a strong outreach and canvassing background, Arturo applies his 15 years of experience reaching out to people delivering one message: We need to secure legal protections for LGBT Californians. 

Jay Xavier
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • 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 settles here in beautiful Los Angeles and works as an activist, bringing equality to one human at a time.

Martha Acevedo
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Hometown: San Diego, CA
  • Favorite Sports Team: CHARGERS!

Born and raised in San Diego, Martha moved to LA when at the age of 15. She began her activism when her Hermano got her to volunteer with the Stonewall Young Democrats. She and her brother are the openly "L" and "G" part of her family. Martha enjoys making people laugh (especially her first canvassing buddy, Jess P), being sarcastic, going to San Diego, being ridiculous and watching the TV show Girls with her gays.

Toni Newman 
Phone banker

Toni Newman is from Jacksonville NC and lives in Silverlake, California. A graduate of Wake Forest University with BA in Sociology, Toni is currently studying law to obtain a JD degree. When she's not hitting the phones for EQCA, Toni is writing for Proudtobeout.org, blogging for Huffington Post, enjoying jazz music or watching a good movie.

Jessica Parral
Street canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Favorite band: The Killers
  • Hometown: West Covina, Ca.

Jessica has previously canvassed for the Democratic National Committee and the American Civil Liberties Union. She plans on working for non-profits and social justice organizations her entire life, and is very proud of having trained fellow canvasser Martha on her first day.

Brandon Benoit
Assistant Street Lead

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

Brandon rocks the street team out of West Hollywood, and needs to get full a bio sent in.

Noah Snyder
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Favorite band: Noah and the Whale
  • Favorite quote: "Just do what you are doing if it feels alright while you are doing it," The Atma.

Noah is a Southern California native with two concurring degrees from California State University, Chico, in theatre arts and political science. In his spare time he works on writing plays, teaching improv and managing social media.

Geneya Terlouw
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Hometown: Stockton

Geneya is pretty sweet, but she needs to get a full bio turned in.

Jesse Quintanilla
Assistant Canvass Lead

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • 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.

 

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