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Rick Zbur

Executive Director

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.

A lifelong LGBT 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

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 worked 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

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 on the Victory Fund’s Campaign Board and lives in Downtown Los Angeles with his husband Matthew and their two cats.

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Alice Kessler

Outside Legislative Director

Alice Kessler serves as Equality California’s outside legislative consultant, directing the organization’s work in Sacramento. Alice is managing director of DiMare, Brown Hicks & Kessler and is an accomplished legislative strategist with more than a dozen years of experience in state and local government relations. Her professional background includes legal and policy work for diverse organizations, including Disability Rights California, the University of California, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. A graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of California, Davis School of Law, she is licensed to practice law in California state and federal courts.

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Robbie Martin

Director of Development

Robbie Martin is Director of Development for Equality California, leading the organization's events, major gifts, and corporate fundraising efforts. He previously held roles in corporate relations at preeminent Los Angeles cultural organizations, Center Theatre Group and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Martin hails from Chicago, where he began his career in corporate finance. He earned a Master's in Social Entrepreneurship and Change from Pepperdine University in 2016, and is a member of Town Hall Los Angeles' Young Professionals committee. He lives in Downtown Los Angeles with his dog Waffles.

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Valecia Phillips

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

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 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

Program Director

Robbie Rodriguez is one of Equality California’s two program directors, overseeing the organization’s health, education and immigration programs. Prior to joining EQCA, he worked for Dewey Square Group (DSG), a national public affairs firm. While at DSG, Robbie specialized in nonprofit and issue-based communications, and managed several Spanish-language media projects for the firm’s Social Innovation and Philanthropy practice. Robbie grew up in the heart of the Central Valley, but has also lived in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Robbie holds a BA in sociology from San Francisco State University.

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Mike Ai

Program Manager

Mike Ai is a program manager at Equality California overseeing EQCA’s California Tobacco Control Program (CTCP), an initiative to reduce tobacco and tobacco products in the LGBTQ community. 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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Andrew Arias

Education and Outreach Supervisor

Andrew Arias is an education and outreach supervisor for Equality California. Andrew manages eight associates whose work helps support sponsored legislation, political action committee work and public education initiatives. His experiences growing up in Los Angeles as an LGBT Latino led to a lifelong passion for advocacy. He is currently pursuing his BA in communications at East Los Angeles College. In his spare time, he enjoys staying active and playing sports. 

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Tymothie-James Bergendahl

Education and Outreach Supervisor

Tymothie-James Bergendahl is an education and outreach supervisor. 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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Michael Chavez

Development Manager

Michael is a development manager 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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Carolyn Chu

Program Associate

Carolyn Chu is a program associate focusing on Equality California’s tobacco control program. Originally from San Francisco, Carolyn moved to the Pacific Northwest after graduating from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in Environmental Science. Throughout her time living in the Northwest, she worked in a variety of nonprofit organizations and volunteered her time with an Asian Pacific Islander advocacy organization. Prior to joining EQCA, she was the Program Manager at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, which places and supports AmeriCorps members in full-time service positions. In her spare time, Carolyn enjoys making art, including pottery, miniatures and comics.

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Marcus Tran Degnan

Development Associate

Marcus Tran Degnan is a development associate for Equality California. Prior to joining EQCA, Marcus worked as a researcher for the Center for the Study of Women at the University of California, Los Angeles, analyzing nationwide campus policies on Title IX and sexual assault. He holds a master’s degree in Asian American Studies from UCLA and a bachelor’s in English from the University of Florida. Marcus has numerous involvements with different Asian American-based volunteer organizations both in California and in Florida, where he is originally from. In his spare time, he enjoys fiction writing, working out, and getting lost.

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Estrella Lucero

Program Manager

Estrella Lucero is a program manager responsible for overseeing and executing Equality California Institute's healthcare and health advocacy work statewide. Prior to joining EQCA, Estrella worked as a political campaign consultant working on various state candidate campaigns. She is also an alumna of Coro Southern California. Estrella graduated from Occidental College with a degree in politics and was involved in on-campus student organizing around issues of racial diversity, sexual assault and LGBTQ equality. Estrella is a native of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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Brad Lundahl

Program Manager

Brad Lundahl is a program manager focusing on Equality California's candidate endorsements, HIV and electoral programs, and special projects for the executive director and managing director. He grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia, and attended the University of British Columbia. Driven by his passion for health care and equality for all vulnerable communities, Brad hopes to focus on advancing the progressive legislation he sees as integral to the growth and prosperity of California and the country he now calls home.

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John Anthony Madrigal

Program Associate

John Anthony is a program associate responsible for Pride season engagement, voter registration, Equality California Institute's leadership Academy and key mobilizing and organizing initiatives in Southern California. Prior to joining Equality California, he worked at a federally qualified health center in Long Beach where he oversaw a portfolio of several federally and privately funded public health programs addressing public health disparities He has worked with local and state leaders on various policy advocacy campaigns to advance health equity and reduce health disparities for underserved and vulnerable communities. John Anthony graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with degrees in psychology and English literature and is pursuing a masters degree in public health at the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA. John Anthony is a native of the South Bay area of Los Angeles and is a proud father to his daughter, Arielle. 

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Tami Martin

Program Manager

Tami Martin is a program manager focusing on Equality California's Safe & Supportive Schools Program, annual advocacy and education events, trainings for healthcare professionals, immigration program, and undergraduate leadership development fellowship. Although a native Californian, Tami spent over a decade on the East Coast, where she served as Co-President of the LGBT Bar Association of DC and worked with the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress. Tami received her BA in government from Dartmouth College and both a law degree and a master's degree in law and government from American University Washington College of Law.

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Justin Massey

Program Associate

Justin Massey is a program associate for Equality California responsible for organizing Southern California Pride events and healthcare-related initiatives. Prior to joining Equality California, Justin worked as a independent political campaign consultant for local progressive candidates and as an associate for an Orange County political fundraising firm. He is active in a number of local political and non-profit organizations including OC Young Democrats, LGBT Center OC, Kiwanis Club of Greater Anaheim and Miss Anaheim Scholarship Organization. Justin graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from Wheaton College in Illinois.

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Jo Michael

Legislative Manager

Jo Michael is Equality California’s legislative manager, based in Sacramento. He has helped advance more than 20 successful pieces of sponsored and supported legislation for the organization. Jo was named one of the Best LGBT Lawyers under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association for 2015 and is a former co-chair of SacLEGAL, Sacramento’s LGBT bar association. His commitment to working for social justice and LGBT civil rights date back over a decade to when he co-founded his high school’s first Gay-Straight Alliance. Jo holds a bachelor's degree in linguistics and psychology from USC and a juris doctor from McGeorge School of Law.

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Chelsea Mottern

Deputy Program Director for Grants Administration

Chelsea Mottern is the deputy program director for grants administration. She is responsible for managing relationships with foundation and corporate donors, as well as day-to-day grants management. Prior to joining Equality California, she worked in institutional giving for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. She graduated with a master's in public policy from the University of Southern California and a bachelor's degree in political science from Vassar College. During her time at USC, she helped establish the Price School of Public Policy's first graduate-level LGBT student organization.

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William Muetzenberg

Legislative Assistant

William Muetzenberg is a legislative assistant for Equality California and is based in Sacramento. He is responsible for assisting EQCA's Legislative Team with developing and advocating for the organization's sponsored and supported state-level legislation. A recent graduate from the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelors in Political Science, William worked as an EQCA intern in 2016 and as an EQCAI-Comcast Fellow in 2017. In addition, William has also interned for the State Assembly in Sacramento and the Congressional Management Foundation in Washington, D.C. Born and raised in California, William is an avid traveler, enjoys working out, and loves to read books on history.

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Andrew Pascual

Administrative Associate

Andrew Pascual is an Administrative Associate for Equality California. He is responsible for IT and database management, as well as organizational infrastructure development. Prior to joining Equality California, Andrew worked at the lay Buddhist organization, Soka Gakkai International as part of its member services team. Prior to that he was a senior data manager for Thomson Reuters where he was responsible for quality control and maintenance for their website. He graduated from Bucknell University with a BA in International Relations. Outside of Equality California, Andrew holds leadership responsibilities in his Buddhist organization and enjoys being in the kitchen, whether it's to cook or bake something sweet.

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Jeremy Payne

Program Associate

Jeremy Payne is a program associate 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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Becki Pine

Development Manager

Becki Pine is a development manager for Equality California, focused on growing relationships with individual supporters. A lifelong advocate for LGBTQ rights, Becki has worked with organizations including The Trevor Project, Making Gay History, and VideoOut to develop an organizational voice and build networks. Becki holds a Bachelor’s degree in Culture and Communication with minors in French, Italian and Spanish, and a concentration in media and cultural studies, as well as a Master’s degree in Communications — both from Ithaca College. She has also earned continuing education certificates in event planning and data driven marketing from UMass Amherst and Cornell University, respectively. As a recent New York transplant, Becki is excited to plant roots in the Los Angeles LGBTQ community.

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Joshua Stickney

Digital Communications Manager

Josh Stickney is the Digital Communications Manager for Equality California where he leads the organization’s digital initiatives as well as the online fundraising program. Prior to joining EQCA, 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-Norman and lives in the Bay Area with his partner Tanner and their Goldendoodle Rey.

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