CONTACT: Ana Beatriz Cholo,, 312-927-4845 (cell)

California Calls Experts Available to Comment on State Budget, Tax Reform, Civic Engagement & Critical Social Issues

LOS ANGELES – California Calls, a statewide alliance of 31 organizations organized around tax and fiscal policy reform, has a number of experts available to speak to reporters regarding tax-related issues, the ongoing state budget discussions, and policies which have an impact on the alliance’s base of supporters – poor, working class families, communities of color, immigrants and young people.

The alliance and its allies turned out half-a-million infrequent and unlikely voters in 2012, a mobilization credited with providing the margin of victory for the Prop 30 initiative which raises taxes on incomes over $250,000 and increased the sales tax by .25 percent. California Calls is now focused on exploring other revenue generating measures that can help to restore the billions that have been slashed from education, health and human services over the last decade, including reforming the commercial property tax system, closing corporate tax loopholes and other proposals.


Anthony Thigpenn, President, California Calls
Anthony Thigpenn, a Los Angeles-based community organizer for more than 30 years, heads California Calls. He is also the founder and president of AGENDA and Strategic Concepts in Organizing & Policy Education (SCOPE), two grassroots organizations formed in South Los Angeles after the 1992 uprising with a focus on job creation and economic policy reform. Thigpenn’s expertise in voter field strategy spans 30 years and he is widely recognized as a leading expert in grassroots, civic engagement technology and programs. He ran successful field campaigns for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Karen Bass, State Senator Kevin de León, and others.

Areas of expertise: political, strategic and neighborhood organizing, economic justice and budget issues, building community organizations, engaging and shaping the electorate via civic engagement, public policy advocacy, Prop 13, new voter field technology, commercial property tax reform and California ballot initiatives and elections.
Geographic focus: statewide and Los Angeles
Contact: Ana Beatriz Cholo,, 312-927-4845 (cell)

Pablo Rodriguez, Executive Director, Communities for a New California Education Fund
Pablo Rodriguez has experience developing successful mass civic and electoral participation campaigns throughout the U.S. He has worked in the development and implementation of political strategy, issue research, communications, farm workers, service-learning, and community organizing projects. Communities for a New California  is a statewide civil and human rights organization committed to achieving public policy that is socially, economically, and environmentally just for California’s families.

Areas of expertise: strategic organizing, public policy advocacy
Geographic focus: Central Coast, San Joaquin Valley, Imperial and Coachella Valley
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Pablo Rodriguez,, 510-842-6063

Christina Livingston, Executive Director, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE)
Christina Livingston is the executive director for ACCE and ACCE Institute. She and her team work one-on-one with community members from San Diego to Sacramento on a variety of issues ranging from local neighborhood concerns to statewide and sometimes national policy fights. ACCE is a statewide community organization working with thousands of members in 11 counties creating transformative change by helping ordinary citizens to organize and take action. The organization is a multi-racial, democratic, non-profit community organization building power in low to moderate income neighborhoods to stand and fight for social, economic, and racial justice. ACCE staff and members are able to provide both technical expertise/commentary and community stake-holder reaction on a range of issues.

Areas of expertise: Public education, healthcare, home foreclosures, predatory public financing, transit organizing, bank accountability, gentrification
Geographic focus: San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, Contra Costa County, San Francisco, Sacramento
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Christina Livingston,, 213-270-4901


Derecka Mehrens, Interim Executive Director, Working Partnerships, USA
Derecka Mehrens brings more than a decade of community organizing and civic engagement experience working in communities of color and with low and moderate-income families. She was instrumental in developing organizing and campaign strategies to win policies that improved the lives of workers and their families, including the recent minimum wage increase in the City of San Jose. Working Partnerships USA, founded in 1995, is an independently funded social change organization founded by labor and community groups that equips everyday people to participate and win in developing a fair and free society.

Areas of expertise: Minimum wage, neighborhood revitalization, developing and advocating for policies that address racial and economic injustice, worker organizing, health and safety training for low-wage workers and health policies designed to address obesity-related conditions that disproportionately affect the poor in Santa Clara County. Focus areas: economic research and analysis, government accountability and reform, health care, organizing and leadership development.
Geographic focus: Santa Clara County
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Jody Meacham,, 408-833-5936 (cell)

Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont, Executive Director, Oakland Rising
Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont is a longtime organizer who used the community/labor organizing model to build capacity for President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and helped him win 3 of 10 Congressional districts – more than any other Regional Field Director in California. Oakland Rising educates and mobilizes voters in East and West Oakland’s neighborhood. Their current work focuses on building a permanent political/electoral infrastructure; exercising and expanding political influence; and aligning organizations and coordinating with other progressive forces.

 Areas of expertise: Oakland, Oakland politics, local tax and fiscal policy, voter engagement/field, instant run-off voting, and Oakland elections
Geographic focus: Oakland
Languages spoken: English
Contact: Esperanza Tervalon-Daumont,, 510-261-2600 x 104

Mario Rubiano Yedidia, Political Coordinator, San Francisco Rising
Mario Rubiano Yedidia comes to San Francisco Rising with three and a half years of experience in City Hall, where he directed the San Francisco Youth Commission. He is an alumnus of the 2008 Obama for America field operation, where he organized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the general election. San Francisco Rising is a new grassroots alliance that has united to make change in San Francisco. The organization brings together African American, Latino, Chinese and Filipino communities and leaders from across the city to create a new, community-based political infrastructure capable of running sophisticated electoral operations each election cycle.

Areas of expertise: San Francisco politics, community organizing, youth programs
Geographic focus: San Francisco
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Mario Rubiano Yedidia,, 415-684-3473


Camila Chávez, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF)
Camila Chávez oversees training for low-income community members in the areas of leadership and organizing skills specific to civic and electoral participation so that they can become catalysts for change in their own communities. In 2003, Ms. Chávez helped establish the Dolores Huerta Foundation (DHF) with her mother, civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. DHF is a community benefit organization that organizes at the grassroots level, engaging and developing leaders through hands-on training and direct action.

 Areas of expertise: education and youth development; economic development
Geographic focus: Central Valley (Kern and Tulare counties)
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Camila Chavez,, 661-322-3033 (ofc), 415-377-4184 (cell),


Marcos Vargas, Founding Executive Director, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE)
Marcos Vargas has many years of experience in community organizing and policy advocacy. He served as the

Executive Director of El Concilio del Condado de Ventura, a Ventura County Latino community advocacy and multi-service organization, the founding chairperson of the Ventura County Living Wage Coalition and the Director of Planning for the United Way of Ventura County. CAUSE’s mission is to build grassroots power to realize social, economic and environmental justice for the people of California’s Central Coast Region through policy research, leadership development, organizing, and advocacy.

Areas of expertise: Community organizing and policy advocacy, leadership development, redistricting and voting rights, immigration reform, environmental justice, non-profit organizational development, social justice philanthropy, urban planning and smart growth, educational reform, and economic justice campaigns that bring together diverse community and labor organizations.
Geographic focus: Central Coast Region consisting of the Counties of Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Lucas Zucker, Researcher and Community Organizer,, 805-658-0810 ext. 204


Maria Brenes, Executive Director, InnerCity Struggle
Maria Brenes was academically trained at UC Berkeley and Harvard’s School of Education. She became a nationally recognized leader as a grassroots strategist and organizer in Los Angeles and the Bay area. Brenes has developed strong relationships with local school and city elected officials, as well as key labor leaders in the Eastside and Greater Los Angeles area. InnerCity Struggle has worked with youth and community residents since 1994 to promote safe, healthy and non-violent communities in the Eastside.

Areas of expertise: education, Latino politics, civic engagement trends among people of color, youth organizing, campaign development, grassroots fundraising, strategic planning processes and coalition building.
Geographic focus: Boyle Heights, unincorporated East Los Angeles, El Sereno and Lincoln Heights
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Maria Brenes,, 323-253-6522 (cell)

Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President and CEO, Community Coalition
Marqueece Harris-Dawson has extensive experience in electoral politics, community organizing, education reform, efforts to strengthen the child welfare system, and urban planning and land use issues. Founded in 1990, Community Coalition is best known for leading nationally recognized grassroots campaigns that include groundbreaking nuisance abatement work to close over 150 liquor stores and educational justice campaigns to transform the quality of public education.

Areas of expertise: strategic organizing, public policy advocacy, civic engagement, education, child welfare reform
Geographic focus: South Los Angeles
Language: English
Contact: Jung Hee Choi,, 323-750-9087, ext. 226

Gloria Walton, Executive Director, Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE)
Gloria Walton has led efforts to experiment with strategies to engage, motivate, and inspire voters in neighborhoods across the city to exercise their voice in public policies that affect their lives. SCOPE works to reduce barriers to social and economic opportunities for poor and working class communities by creating public sector jobs and training programs. The organization has identified over 34,000 voters in Los Angeles County who believe that government must invest in family supporting jobs, quality education, and clean air and water.

Areas of expertise: strategic grassroots organizing, public policy advocacy, grassroots leadership development, civic engagement, job training.

Geographic focus: South Los Angeles
Languages spoken: English
Contact: Satish Kunisi,, 323-540-4623


Rev. Samuel J. Casey, Executive Director, Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement (COPE)
Pastor Samuel J. Casey began his ministry 19 years ago. Since 2000 when it was founded, COPE has trained well over 350 clergy, lay leaders, parents, and community leaders in the art of faith-based community organizing. Their focus is to build a collaboration of proactive and prophetic leadership to address and serve neglected African American neighborhoods. As a result, they have created a model for isolated churches and community groups to come together in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Their ministry goes beyond church walls to provide critical community services, while also building political power to make lasting policy change.

Areas of expertise: faith-based community organizing, public policy formation, program development, mentoring relationships, development of regional and local public policy initiatives.
Geographic area: San Bernardino and Riverside Counties
Contact: Pastor Benjamin Briggs,, 909-888-7881, ext. 1252 or 1253

Edward S. McField, PhD, Executive Director, Knotts Family Agency
Edward McField has a passion for community service and holds a Master’s in Community Development and Doctorate in Social Policy and Social Research. Knotts Family Agency was established in 1992 by Gwen and James Knotts as a safety net strategy for homeless teens and their babies. With a track record of almost 20 years, the organization evolved from a focus on foster care to now supporting safe, stable families and communities, through programs and policy advocacy.

Areas of expertise: access to care, health and social welfare policy, community-based participatory research, homeless teens and their babies, foster care, parenting, youth mentoring, financial and environmental literacy, job training, and early intervention efforts to improve mental health.
Geographic focus: San Bernardino, Riverside
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Edward McField,, 909-880-0600


Andrea Guerrero, Executive Director, Alliance San Diego
Andrea Guerrero is an expert on issues related to protecting civil rights, immigration reform and advancing social justice. Alliance San Diego focuses on building coalitions to promote social justice and social change. Hundreds of Alliance San Diego volunteers have brought tens of thousands of voters into the election process. In a county with nearly 1.5 million voters but regular participation rates of only 60%, their efforts have made a decisive difference in election after election.

Areas of expertise: strategic organizing, public policy advocacy, immigration reform, educational equity
Geographic focus: San Diego County
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Contact: Andrea Guerrero,; 619-722-5112