EQCA
Equality California
About EQCA

Meet the Staff 

Rick Zbur
Executive Director-elect

  • Location: West Hollywood, 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 is retiring from Latham & Watkins, one of the world’s largest and most respected law firms, where he is a senior partner and has practiced law for 29 years.

Read Rick's full bio here

rick(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.

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

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. 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
  • 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.

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

Jacob Samples
Operations Manager

  • Location: Beaumont, CA
  • Home town: Glendora, CA
  • Favorite meal: Music and Theater

Jacob joined Equality California in September of 2013 as the Operations Manager. Prior to this, Jacob worked at The LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, CA for 2 and 1/2 years, where he began as an intake ​coordinator for the counseling department, and eventually moved his way up to executive administrator for the organization. Jacob received his B.A in Liberal Studies with a minor in Theater Management from Cal. State Fullerton, and his M.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in LGBT-Affirmative Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Jacob was heavily involved with Cal. State Fullerton's Queer Straight Alliance as an officer, and has served on several LGBT Committees since, including a youth anti-bullying & suicide prevention advisory committee through his work with LGBT Youth in the Coachella Valley.
jacob(at)eqca(dot)org

Ewan Stark
Program Manager

  • Location: Los Angeles, California
  • Home town: Tigard, OR
  • Favorite meal: Breakfast

As program manager, Ewan coordinates the outreach and education for the Health Happens with Equality campaign, participates in community and LGBT pride festivals in Southern California, and assists with development and events throughout the year. Ewan was born and raised near Portland, Oregon and completed his Bachelors in Public Health from Oregon State University by moving to Los Angeles for an internship with Equality California. He loved it and stayed.
ewan(at)eqca(dot)org

Josh Steichmann
Communications Manager

  • 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.

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 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

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.

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.

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
Assistant Street Canvass Lead

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.

Scott Gizicki
Street Canvass Lead

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

Scott has been the bedrock of the street canvass since he took over, and he hopes to further his passion for non-profits with a position in development.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Kate Z.
Street Canvasser

  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Hometown: South Bay, Ca.
  • Inspirations: Vince Lombardi, Bjork, Captain Jean Luc Picard, Yoda, Kahlil Gibran, my grandparents

Kate loves this work, and is happy to be fighting for LGBT rights! Before the crash, she was an executive with 10 years cumulative experience in fundraising, activism, outreach, development and management. Currently, she is also a child care worker, and has also been a paid freelance writer, movie critic and musician.

 

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