Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
Our Staff

Rick Chavez Zbur (he/him/his)

Executive Director

Rick Chavez Zbur is a distinguished lawyer with a long history of advocacy for LGBTQ+ and environmental causes. Zbur has served as Executive Director of Equality California since 2014, when he 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.

At Equality California, Zbur has led the organization through a period of significant growth and an expansion of its mission to include advancing civil rights and social justice for the diverse communities to which LGBTQ+ people belong — communities of color, communities of faith, immigrants, women and people living with HIV.

A lifelong LGBTQ+ trailblazer, Zbur was Latham & Watkins’ first openly gay attorney and first openly gay partner. He worked in all aspects of the firm’s environmental, land and resource practice, including leading the firm’s extensive work before the California Coastal Commission.

Zbur was cited one of Southern California’s top ten environmental attorneys by the Los Angeles Business Journal in its 2009 “Who’s Who in Law” feature. He was also cited as a leading environmental attorney by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2008 and 2009.

He took a leave of absence from his firm in January 1996 to run for Congress in California’s 38th Congressional District, where he became the first openly gay, non-incumbent to win a contested primary for U.S. Congress. At the time, his campaign was one of the larger Congressional campaigns in the country with approximately 14 staff members and a budget of over $1 million. His experience running for office, combined with his years in practice as a senior partner at Latham & Watkins and his significant advocacy work have made Zbur well known in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Zbur is Chair Emeritus of the board of the California League of Conservation Voters, the political action arm of California’s environment community, where he leads the organization and oversees its strategic direction. CLCV is a leading environmental organization that utilizes political strength to protect and improve the environmental quality of California. He formerly served on the board of Lambda Legal and was a founding director and vice president at the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

A proud co-parent to three children with their lesbian co-parents, Zbur grew up in a farming community in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his mother, Erlinda Chavez Zbur and her family have lived for generations.

Zbur is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.

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Tony Hoang (he/him/his)

Managing Director

Tony Hoang is the managing director for Equality California. In that role, he oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. Prior to joining Equality California, Tony interned at the Pacific Council of International Policy and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He holds a BA in international relations from the University of Southern California with minors in political science and biology. Tony serves on the board of directors of the Equality Federation, the national movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advocating for LGBTQ people. Tony is also Vice President of the Los Angeles Innovation and Performance Commission and sits on the advisory board of Generation Change, an organization dedicated to electing millennials to office. He lives in Downtown Los Angeles with his partner Ian.

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Samuel Garrett-Pate (he/him/his)

Communications Director

Samuel Garrett-Pate is the communications director for Equality California, where he oversees the organization's strategic communications, brand management and media relations. Prior to joining EQCA, Sam was a Senior Account Executive at RALLY, where he led public affairs, political strategy and litigation communications campaigns on behalf of the firm's clients. He previously served as an aide to New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and received his BA in political science from the George Washington University. Outside of EQCA, Sam serves as the Co-Chair of LGBTQ Victory Fund’s Victory Campaign Board and lives in Downtown Los Angeles with his two cats.

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Tami Martin (she/her/hers)

Legislative Director

Tami Martin serves as Equality California's Legislative Director, advancing the LGBTQ+ community's priorities in Sacramento through legislative, budget, and administrative advocacy. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and received both a law degree and a master's degree in law and government from American University Washington College of Law. Tami also currently serves on the board of the Capitol LGBTQ Association, where she represents the professional needs of advocates in the California State Capitol community. Originally from California, Tami is proud to be a voice for the LGBTQ+ community in her home state. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the world with her speckled best friend, an adopted Cattle Dog mix named Beau.

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Valecia Phillips (she/her/hers)

Director of Finance & Administration

Valecia Phillips is the chief financial officer for Equality California and has broad experience in the arts, public media and government. Prior to joining EQCA, she 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 of 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 holds a BA in economics from State University of New York at Stony Brook and an MBA in finance from New York University Stern School of Business. In her spare time, she is a public radio producer and vocalist.

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Valerie Ploumpis (she/her/hers)

National Policy Director

Valerie Ploumpis is national policy director for Equality California, based in Washington, D.C.. She is a political expert with more than two decades of experience in issue-advocacy campaigns, grassroots education and mobilization, coalition building, lobbying and media outreach. She serves as co-chair on the board of directors of OutRight International Action, a global LGBT civil rights organization, and was board co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund’s Campaign Board, a national PAC which endorses and supports LGBT political candidates and elected officials. Prior to joining Equality California, she was a principal at Burnside & Associates, where she managed political and mobilization campaigns. Prior to that, Ploumpis served as a legislative and policy advocate for several international trade organizations in Washington, D.C. She holds a BA in international relations from Mills College and an MA in international relations from Johns Hopkins University.

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Robbie Rodriguez (he/him/his)

Program Director

Robbie Rodriguez is Equality California’s program director, overseeing all of the organization’s public education and advocacy programs on various issues including health, leadership development, immigration, and education. Prior to joining Equality California, he worked for Dewey Square Group. As a senior associate at Dewey Square, Robbie specialized in nonprofit and issue-based communications and managed several multimedia projects for the firm’s Social Innovation and Philanthropy practice. Robbie started his career after being selected to serve as one-of-three AmeriCorps VISTA’s for former California First Lady, Maria Shriver’s WE Connect program. Robbie grew up in the heart of the Central Valley and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from San Francisco State University. After stints in San Francisco and Sacramento, Robbie currently lives in West Hollywood.

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André C. Wade (he/him/his)

State Director, Silver State Equality

André C. Wade is the state director for Silver State Equality. In this role he leads legislative, fundraising and political efforts in the state of Nevada. Previously he was the executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. With a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Public Administration, André has worked in human services for more than 20 years in a variety of public and nonprofit contexts including at the National Alliance to End Homelessness as a program and policy analyst. André has served on several boards and committees focused on LGBTQ equality and inclusion such as the Human Rights Campaigns (HRC) steering committee in Las Vegas, HRC’s All Children’s All Families program and the Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors Fund. Currently, André is the chair of the advisory committee for the Nevada Office of Minority Health and Equity. A native of Las Vegas, André is a certified SMART Flow Yoga instructor who enjoys traveling and reading.

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Erin Arendse (she/her/hers)

Associate Program Director

Erin Arendse is an associate program director for Equality California, leading the grants fundraising strategy. Prior to joining EQCA, she was the Senior Manager for Grants and Compliance at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and worked as a freelance and volunteer grant writer for a number of organizations. She graduated from California State University Long Beach with an M.A. in English, and is a former English professor, having taught at Orange Coast College and Biola University. An avid runner and hiker, Erin currently lives in Long Beach.

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Michael Chavez (he/him/his)

Associate Director of Events & Sponsorships

Michael is the associate director of events and sponsorships for Equality California. Prior to joining Equality California, he worked in development for arts organizations around Los Angeles, most recently serving as a member of the special events team at LA Opera. His history also includes teaching for various public school music programs around Southern California. Michael holds a BA in music from California State University, Fullerton and resides in Downtown, Los Angeles.

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Lexi Hawley (she/her/hers)

Associate Director of Donor Relations

Lexi Hawley is the associate director of donor relations for Equality California, focusing on strengthening and growing the organization's individual giving programs--Capitol Club and Leadership Circle. She has a wealth of LGBTQ+ nonprofit experience, having worked in front-line fundraising, development operations and programmatic roles at Point Foundation, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, and the SF AIDS Foundation. Prior to that, Lexi spent five years at Google as a legal analyst and began her career in Genentech's patient assistance department, Access Solutions. She is a 4th generation San Franciscan and earned a B.A. with honors in Philosophy from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Lexi is a 4-time AIDS/LifeCycle participant, having cycled the past 2 years. She lives in Hollywood with her extremely high maintenance cat, Alaska.

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Jeremy Payne (he/him/his)

Associate Program Director

Jeremy Payne is an associate program director for Equality California responsible for voter registration and community engagement in Southern California. Prior to joining Equality California, he worked with a national campaign consulting firm based in Los Angeles, assisting Democratic and progressive candidates across the country in the fields of campaign messaging, fundraising, and production. A native Californian, Jeremy earned his degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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Joshua Stickney (he/him/his)

Deputy Communications Director

Josh Stickney is the deputy communications director for Equality California and Silver State Equality, where he leads the organization’s digital initiatives and manages communications for Equality California's legislative and political programs, as well as local press for Northern California. Prior to joining Equality California, Josh worked in communications and development with Equality Federation, the national movement builder and strategic partner to state-based LGBTQ advocacy organizations. Originally from Oklahoma, Josh has worked with progressive political campaigns and nonprofits across the country since 2014. He was previously a Junior Partner at Skyfire Media, LLC as well as the finance director for a statewide campaign. Josh attended the University of Oklahoma and lives in the Bay Area with his partner and their Goldendoodle.

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Mike Ai (he/him/his)

Manager of Electoral Programs and Special Projects

Mike Ai is Manager of Electoral Programs and Special Projects focusing on Equality California's candidate endorsements, electoral programs and special projects for the executive director and managing director. Prior to joining EQCA, Mike was the LGBTQ Liaison and Legislative Deputy for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the Deputy District Director for Councilman Mike Bonin. Mike rejoins the EQCA team after previously working for the organization as the Los Angeles Campaign Manager during the fight for marriage equality. Mike graduated from UCLA with a BA in Economics and a minor in Accounting. He lives in West Hollywood with his dog Coco.

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Wendy Anguiano (she/her/hers)

Program Associate

Wendy Anguiano is a program associate at Equality California, primarily responsible for assisting with the LGBTQ+ Cultural Competency Training. Wendy has previously volunteered at LGBTQ+ nonprofits and worked in higher education within student affairs, focusing on LGBTQ+ centers. She holds a Dual BA in Women and Gender Studies and English from California State University, Fullerton, and a Dual MA from Claremont Graduate University in Applied Gender Studies and Community-Engaged Education and Social Change. Originally from Los Angeles, Wendy is excited to be back! In her free time, Wendy enjoys eating vegan ice cream and going to karaoke with all her friends.

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Beatriz Baez (she/her/hers)

Program Associate

Beatriz Baez is a Program Associate at Equality California focusing on the OUT Against Big Tobacco Program in the Central Valley. Prior to joining Equality California, Beatriz worked in the field of Higher Education and Student Affairs working with students and supporting their development and retention through higher education. She received a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz in Politics and Latin American and Latino Studies and a MA from CSU Fresno in Higher Education, Administration, and Leadership. Beatriz resides in the Central Valley with her cats and enjoys reading, gardening, and Netflix originals.

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Zizi Bandera (they/them/ella)

Program Manager

Zizi Bandera is a program manager at Equality California responsible for the organization’s LGBTQ immigrant rights advocacy, Safe & Supportive Schools Program, and LGBTQ cultural competency training program. Zizi joins EQCA with a background in organizing, movement building, and political advocacy at Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA (CHIRLA), and Somos Familia—where they serve on the board of directors. Zizi holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Mills College and a Bachelor’s in Economics from UC Riverside. Recently, they collaborated with the San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives to offer recommendations for modernizing the SF City ID to be affirming of and pragmatic for transgender and immigrant populations. Zizi was born and raised in Los Angeles and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they enjoy spending time in nature.

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Tymothie-James Bergendahl (they/them/theirs)

Development Associate

Tymothie-James Bergendahl is a development associate for Equality California. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, they served on the board of JTIMA, an LGBT civil rights organization based in and around Boston, as well as co-managed the Massachusetts chapter of GetEqual, a national LGBT focused civil rights organization. Their work in Boston was primarily focused on LGBT youth homelessness and the rights and protections of transgender individuals within the state.

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Michelle Castillo (she/her/hers)

Administrative Manager

Michelle Castillo is the Administrative Manager for Equality California. She assists with ensuring effective and professional day-to-day infrastructure operations, and provides support in finance, human resources, technology and general administration. Prior to joining Equality California, Michelle was the Administrative/Operations Manager for Crossroads, a nonprofit project that raised funds to preserve democratic principles in Israel, and the Corporate Services Manager for Navigage, a nonprofit continuing care retirement community where she managed diverse small business functions. Michelle holds a BA in Broadcasting from California State University of Los Angeles and an MBA from University of Phoenix. She is an avid supporter of community gardens, Griffith Park and her pups Nick and Willie.

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Marisa De Los Santos (she/her/hers)

Events Associate

Marisa De Los Santos is an events associate for Equality California, where she supports the planning and production of all fundraising and donor engagement events. Prior to joining Equality California, Marisa worked for the nonprofit fundraising software company OneCause, and previously worked with the Youth Services Program at the LGBTQ Center Long Beach and for GLAAD helping to coordinate the organization’s annual Media Awards. Marisa holds a BA in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies from California State University, Long Beach. She is a volunteer with Pride Inc., AIDS Walk and the AIDS Foodstore. Marisa lives in Long Beach with her wife Jaymee and dog Ebby, and she enjoys going to concerts and ballets.

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San Juana Deloa (she/her/hers)

Program Associate

San Juana Deloa is a Program Associate at Equality California with a focus on the education programs, Equality California Mentorships Corps, and Safe and Supportive Schools. San Juana joins EQCA with a background in education, community organizing, marketing, communications, and public relations. She most recently taught middle school in Houston, Texas as a Teach for America Corps Member. San Juana holds a BS in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. A native Californian, San Juana is excited to be back in her home state. In her spare time, you can catch her reading on the beach or exploring coffee shops all over Southern California.

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Alexandria Hughes (they/them/theirs)

Grants Associate

Alexandria Hughes (Allie) is the grants associate for Equality California Institute, responsible for all aspects of grant prospecting, proposal writing and grant management. A year-long internship with Children’s Bureau provided Allie with a thorough introduction to the world of grants, helping to secure their previous position as a Grant Writer and Cultural Enrichment Officer at the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise. Prior to their work in the Californian non-profit sector, Allie lived in Leeds, England. During their time in ‘the north’ Allie worked in academia as a social policy teacher and PhD researcher, as well as in the community as an independent-living assistant and disability rights advocate. In their spare time Allie can be found at queer DIY events, trying to keep their houseplants alive and/or talking to their foster cat, Hero.

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Shannon Kozlovich (she/her/hers)

Program Manager

Shannon Kozlovich is a program manager at Equality California overseeing EQCAI’s Tobacco Control Program, an initiative to reduce tobacco-related health disparities in the LGBTQ+ community. Prior to joining EQCA, Shannon worked as a research scientist studying the impact of nicotine on cancer treatments, how menthol increases the health impact of tobacco use, and the metabolism of the most potent cancer-causing compound in tobacco. Shannon holds a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Washington State University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco with the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. During her graduate studies, Shannon founded and organized a science-policy association with the goal of ensuring science trainees are given the skills to communicate research findings and impact to the general public and policy makers. She also volunteered as an advocate and community outreach coordinator for Spokane Parents of Transgender and Transitioning Youth, an event organizer for Science March – Spokane, and was a member of university working groups aimed at improving gender equity in campus life and within university policy. In her free time, she listens to audio recordings of US Supreme Court Cases while knitting geeky hats.

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Marisa London (she/her/hers)

Senior Program Associate

Marisa London is a program associate primarily working on the OUT Against Big Tobacco Program. Prior to joining Equality California, Marisa worked on community engagement and public education in environmental justice, housing, and transportation initiatives at a Los Angeles-based public affairs firm. She received a BA from Yale College in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Sociology with a concentration in Health. A Los Angeles native, Marisa is excited to be back in the city where she can spend time outdoors, play with her two dogs, and sit in hours of traffic freely.

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Chris Records (he/him/his)

Program Manager

Chris Records is a program manager at Equality California overseeing EQCA’s education programs. Prior to joining EQCA, Chris worked in non-profit consulting, community organizing, and development, serving organizations and initiatives focused on education, genocide awareness and prevention, refugee issues, and LGBTQ mental health. He also taught high school special education in Los Angeles Unified. Chris holds Master’s degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning from USC, an MA in Education from Loyola Marymount, and a BA in History from UC Riverside. In his spare time, he is active in his local Episcopal congregation and writes poetry and prose. His first book will be published by a small press in his native Inland Empire in 2020.

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Beatriz E. Valenzuela (she/her/hers)

Communications Manager & Press Secretary

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is Equality California's Communications Manager & Press Secretary based out of the LA office. Beatriz is fluent in Spanish and primarily handles communications for our programmatic work, as well as all Spanish-language communications and local press in Southern California and the Central Valley. She comes to Equality California with over 15 years of experience working as a journalist for the Southern California News Group, a network of daily newspapers throughout Southern California that includes the LA Daily News, Press-Enterprise, OC Register and the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Beatriz attended Pasadena City College.

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Adrielle Welch-Brooks (she/her/hers)

Development Operations Associate

Adrielle Welch-Brooks is a development operations associate for Equality California. Prior to joining EQCA, she focused on interpersonal social justice work including educational programming, community food programs, and community events, in addition to being a part of the AMPAS Gold Talent Development and Inclusion program. Originally from the Bay Area, Adrielle moved south to earn her B.A. in Film and Electronic Arts from California State University: Long Beach and now resides in Los Angeles, where she enjoys the activity of the city and survives the air quality with the help of her many houseplants.

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