California State Senator Ben Allen was elected on November 4th, 2014 to represent the 26th Senate District, which consists of the Westside and coastal South Bay communities of Los Angeles County. He was selected as a freshman senator to serve as chair of the Senate's Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments as well as the state legislature's Joint Committee on the Arts. He also serves on the Senate's Budget Committee, the Budget Subcommittee that oversees the state's education budget, the Natural Resources and Water Committee, the Transportation and Housing Committee, and the Veterans Affairs Committee. Ben is a former board member, and former Board President, of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and was elected as the top vote-getter in both his 2008 election and 2012 reelection. He is of counsel with the law firm of Richardson & Patel LLP and is a past lecturer at UCLA Law School, where he taught education law and policy. While in law school, Allen served as a voting member of the University of California Board of Regents, and as a judicial clerk with the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Prior to his law career, Allen worked for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and then as communications director for Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY). He is a senior fellow with the international human rights organization Humanity in Action, is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and a graduate of the Jewish Federation's New Leaders Project. Allen has degrees from Harvard, Cambridge, and UC Berkeley, and he is fluent in Spanish.
Tom is a long-time San Francisco leader who has served the City for four decades as a teacher, School Board President, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and history-making member of the State Assembly. Tom was elected to the San Francisco School Board in 1990, where he served until 1994 and was twice elected President of the School Board. In 1994, Tom won citywide election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. In 2000, after the institution of district elections, he was elected District 9 Supervisor. He served as President of the Board of Supervisors from 1998 to 2002. Tom served in the California State Assembly November 2008 until 2014, when he left office because of term limits. His many landmark accomplishments include: passing the Healthy San Francisco program, which made San Francisco the first city in America to provide universal health care access and sponsoring sweeping campaign finance reform and ethics laws to minimize the influence of special interest money on elections and to open government to public participation. He authored: “Great Schools for a Great City” which added $300 million to San Francisco public schools, legislation that established San Francisco’s Rainy Day Fund, a Hetch Hetchy water system improvement bond measure that created 28,000 jobs, domestic partners legislation to extend marriage privileges to domestic partners, the landmark Seth's Anti-Bullying Law, a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and the Trust Act which gave communities the right to opt-out of the controversial Secure Communities enforcement program. Finally, Tom authored a bill to close Proposition 13 corporate loopholes, which passed the Assembly in 2014 on a bipartisan 56-8 vote.
Tony Thurmond was elected to represent California’s 15th Assembly District in November 2014. The district includes the East Bay communities that stretch along the I-80 corridor from Hercules to Oakland, including Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, El Cerrito, Pinole, Richmond, San Pablo, El Sobrante, and Kensington. First elected to the Richmond City Council in 2005, Thurmond served as Council Liaison to Richmond’s Youth Commission, the Workforce Investment Board and the West Contra Costa Unified School District. His priorities in the Assembly will be a continuation of his priorities as a non-profit leader, school board member, and as a city councilmember. Specifically, Tony plans to focus on improving the local and statewide economy, improving education from the ground up, and preventing crime. As a community advocate, Thurmond has helped create job training and workforce housing programs that can serve as a model for state efforts at poverty reduction. Further, he recognizes that creating sustainable jobs for California youth is a successful way to reinvest in local communities. Immediately prior to his election to the Assembly, Thurmond’s project, CEO Youth, was improving school attendance and reducing dropout rates—issues that he will continue to prioritize in the Assembly. He recognizes that jobs, education, and crime are interrelated challenges. A Fellow in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Children and Family Fellowship program, Tony is a graduate and former student body president of Temple University. He did his graduate work at Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, PA) where he received dual Masters Degrees in Law and Social Policy and Social Work. He lives in Richmond, California.
Nick was elected to the BART Board on November 4, 2014. He represents District 8, which includes portions of San Francisco. Nicholas launched RenGen Energy, a company that developed and built renewable energy power plants. Nicholas quickly grew the business, building over $100m of solar power plants and providing thousands of homes and businesses clean electricity. He worked closely with communities and local governments to create consensus and generate well-paying local jobs. A lifelong Democrat, Nicholas has been fighting for a just and sustainable future ever since he first knocked on doors for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in college. He was appointed by Mayor Ed Lee to San Francisco’s Environment Commission, and helped bring low-cost loans to San Franciscans looking to upgrade their homes to make them more comfortable and energy efficient. Nicholas has pressured the city to plan for significantly improved speed, reliability and frequency of buses on Geary Blvd, and co-authored an influential review of Caltrans, the state transportation agency, which identified structural issues in the organization that encouraged urban sprawl and led to poor performance. The report spurred much needed action in Sacramento. Nicholas’s commitment to world-class public transportation is grounded in his family, and his community. He volunteers with numerous non-profit and community groups -- serving on the board of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the California League of Conservation Voters and as the founder of Leadership For a Clean Economy. Nicholas graduated from Harvard. He lives in Pacific Heights with his wife Tali, whom he met in college. In their spare time they like exploring the city on foot, and cooking for each other and friends.
Gayle joined the Richmond City Council in 2004. She was elected Mayor of the City of Richmond, CA in November 2006, and was re-elected in November 2010. In November of 2014 she was elected to the City Council. As Mayor of Richmond, Gayle led the City in a progressive direction that kept City workers in jobs and City services in place, even in hard economic times. In 2014 under Gayle’s leadership, the City Council passed a Minimum Wage Increase Ordinance, raising the minimum hourly wage for Richmond workers to $13.00 by 2018. Gayle facilitated grassroots efforts calling for fair taxation that led to an historic settlement in which Chevron agreed to pay an additional $114 million into the City’s general fund over the next 15 years. During her tenure as Mayor, violent crime and property crimes have showed significant declining trends: homicides decreased 66 percent from 47 in 2007 to 16 in 2013 – the lowest total in 33 years. Gayle has a background as an educator, and professional experience in nonprofit leadership organizations promoting literacy, social justice, and environmental health. Gayle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, graduating summa cum laude. Her graduate studies include psychology and education.
Jim is currently the Vice Mayor of San Leandro. He is also the Political Chair of Retiree Chapter 57 of AFSCME, and a current member of: the California State Democratic Central Committee, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, California Alliance of Retired Americans, Federation of Retired Union Members, Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, and League of Conservation Voters. Jim attended Merritt College, Cal State-East Bay, and University of California at Berkeley with an emphasis in science and sociology. He is married to Diana Prola, President of the San Leandro School Board, and has three grown children.
Nancy began her community volunteer efforts over 25 years ago with PTA, where she was awarded for developing the district-wide fundraising policy for Palo Alto public schools. She has held leadership roles in the community including various parcel tax and bond measures to increase funding for education, infrastructure, libraries, and teachers. In 2009, she was elected to Palo Alto City Council where she accomplished many objectives including deepening the relationship between the city and school community by establishing a Regional Housing Mandate Committee with members from the city council and school board to establish the city’s housing and zoning policies. Additionally she served on the Peninsula League of Cities Executive Board, and was an alternate to Northern California Power Agency. Nancy holds a masters degree in International Relations with a focus in International Political Economy and Development Theory, and is a retired commercial real estate accountant.
Matt is a Commissioner on the San Francisco Board of Education, currently serving as the Board’s President. He is the Director of Policy at Rebuild the Dream, where he leads policy advocacy for #cut50, a bipartisan initiative to cut the prison population in half in ten years, and #YesWeCode, an initiative to create a pipeline for 100,000 low opportunity youth to become the best coders, computer engineers and designers in the world. Matt is an Education Fellow and Adjunct Faculty Member at the Stanford d.school, where he uses design thinking and human centered design to incubate new ideas in education relating to student voice and student engagement. Matt has a BA from UC Berkeley, an MA from Stanford University School of Education, a JD from Stanford Law School with a focus on education law, and an LLM in Human Rights from National University of Ireland where he was a Senator George Mitchell Scholar. As the former Executive Director of the University of California Student Association, Matt worked directly for the over 200,000 students in the UC system, managing a budget of over half a million dollars and a team of dedicated professional staff, to ensure public education is protected for current and future generations. Matt is the Co-founder and Chair of Citizen Hope, a Bay Area organization which encourages civic engagement and community service. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Mission Economic Development Agency, Advisory Board for Music Mural and Arts Program, a member of the Glide Legacy Committee, member of the 2012 Democratic Party National Platform Committee, delegate to the California Democratic Party, and an appointee to Attorney General Kamala Harris' Education and Truancy Work Group.
Karalee was elected to the Morongo Unified School District in 2012 and currently serves as the Board’s President. As a mother of five school age children, Karalee puts quality education, for all California children, at the top of her priority list. Karalee ran for California's 42nd Assembly District in 2014. She intends to run again at a future date after completing her B.A program in Child Development.
Rich Gordon has spent his life in service to others. First as a minister in the United Methodist Church and later in the nonprofit sector he worked with young people and families. He would eventually spend twenty-four years in elected office. From 2010 to 2016, Rich Gordon served as a member of the California State Assembly. As a member of the Assembly he served as Chair of the Rules Committee. He saw 70% of the legislative ideas he pursued signed into law. He did significant work in the areas of the environment, election law and transparency, and water policy. Most significant was his work on sea-level rise that led to adaptation planning being recognized and funded as a state priority. As a member of the Assembly, Rich earned the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Prior to service in the Assembly, Rich Gordon served for thirteen years on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. As a County Supervisor, Gordon was actively involved in the creation of the Children’s Health Initiative that guarantees health care coverage for children. In 2008, Gordon served as the President of the California State Association of Counties, which represents all of California’s 58 counties. Mr. Gordon also served as a member of the San Mateo County Board of Education for five years. Prior to public service his work was as a minister in the United Methodist Church and for twenty years he worked in the nonprofit sector where he was the founder and Executive Director of Youth and Family Assistance. Currently, Rich is serving as the Government Relations Officer for a nonprofit mental health agency, Caminar.
Nina Senn is a longtime resident of California. She attended public K-12 schools in Southern California and moved to Central and Northern California to attend college and work. Nina is the daughter of California public school K-12 and UC educators. One of her most vivid memories was in 1978 when her non-political mother, who taught 3rd grade, picked up a picket sign that warned voters about Prop. 13. As a public school student, parent leader and school board member since Prop. 13’s passage forty years ago, Nina has firsthand knowledge of Prop. 13's devastating effect on California K-12 public schools as they plummeted from the top to the bottom. She believes strongly that Prop. 13 reform is vital to California's future success.
Nina received her B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and her law degree from Santa Clara University. She has a multi-dimensional professional life in the tech industry as a business person and a lawyer and has also served in leadership positions in both non-profits and educational institutions. As in-house counsel to multi-billion dollar high tech and logistics companies based in Europe and the U.S. for over 20 years, she handled a variety of domestic and international commercial and departmental matters. For over ten years, she also served in a variety of roles in the non-profit dispute resolution sector: as SEEDS Board President, Federal and Superior court and community mediator and public school restorative justice circle keeper. Most recently, Nina served as an elected policy maker in her role as a School Board Director for the Oakland Unified School District (2015-2019) with two of those years as Vice President, where she championed and collaborated with other policy makers and community leaders to increase funding for schools by passing Measure G1, a $144 million parcel tax in Oakland and AB 1840, a multi-year, multi-million dollar fiscal relief trailer bill that benefited several financially distressed school districts across the State of California.