Alumnae

Click here to check out the diverse and inspiring group of Emerge alumnae from around the country.

Aside from her service of the City of Stockton Planning Commission, Sandra is a researcher for the California Institute for Nursing and Healthcare. Additionally, she is president and CEO of Healthcare Insight, a startup consultancy organization that focuses on issues of healthcare for California. In her more than 20 year nursing career, Sandra has established a strong background of leadership in healthcare, nursing leadership and change implementation. Sandra's favorite quote on change is "The other side of the ocean is blue. It is the seascape that needs a change. Change it today!"

Aside from her service of the City of Stockton Planning Commission, Sandra is a researcher for the California Institute for Nursing and Healthcare. Additionally, she is president and CEO of Healthcare Insight, a startup consultancy organization that focuses on issues of healthcare for California. In her more than 20 year nursing career, Sandra has established a strong background of leadership in healthcare, nursing leadership and change implementation. Sandra's favorite quote on change is "The other side of the ocean is blue. It is the seascape that needs a change.

A Ventura native and Santa Barbara resident, Danielle tries criminal defense and civil cases on the central coast.  Danielle serves on a number of local and statewide boards and is passionate about protecting the environment and prioritizing public education.  

A Ventura native and Santa Barbara resident, Danielle tries criminal defense and civil cases on the central coast.  Danielle serves on a number of local and statewide boards and is passionate about protecting the environment and prioritizing public education.  

Dana Dean runs her own boutique law firm focused on land use, real estate, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A tireless advocate for democratic values, in particular equal access to quality education for all children, she currently serves as Vice President of the Solano County Board of Education, after having served for 5 years on the Benicia Unified School Board. She is also in her second term on the First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission. 

Dana Dean runs her own boutique law firm focused on land use, real estate, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). A tireless advocate for democratic values, in particular equal access to quality education for all children, she currently serves as Vice President of the Solano County Board of Education, after having served for 5 years on the Benicia Unified School Board. She is also in her second term on the First 5 Solano Children and Families Commission.  In addition, Dana serves as co-chair for the Finance Committee of the California Democratic Party. 

Petra DeJesus is an attorney in San Francisco, CA and a member of the SF Police Commission. After graduating from law school, Petra DeJesus focused most of her legal career in public interest law. She represented low income individuals at California Rural Legal Assistance, Mission Community Legal Defense, and the San Francisco Public Defender’s office. As a senior Public Defender trial attorney, she has experience in all aspects of criminal litigation and has completed numerous jury trials including serious felonies and homicides.
In 1995, Ms.

Melissa Demyan is a professional political operative, an organizer, and a human rights activist with experience in leadership, research, fundraising, and intersectional communication. Melissa graduated from Trinity College Dublin in 2013 with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics & Sociology—Joint Honors Politics & Sociology. She currently serves as the Vice President of the Moorpark Democratic Club. Elected as a Delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention, she earned the most votes among women running in Ventura County.

Shirley Desai is a San Francisco Bay Area based entrepreneur and author. As a writer, she enjoys bringing important abstract, spiritual concepts to life through story telling. Shirley has a diverse work history with experience with large market leaders including FedEx and Intel Corporation as well as much smaller organizations. Shirley is also a licensed general contractor specializing in commercial construction.

Shirley Desai is a San Francisco Bay Area based entrepreneur and author. As a writer, she enjoys bringing important abstract, spiritual concepts to life through story telling.
Shirley has a diverse work history with experience with large market leaders including FedEx and Intel Corporation as well as much smaller organizations. Shirley has a BS in Computer Information Systems and an MBA from the Indiana University – Kelley School of Business.
Shirley is also a licensed general contractor specializing in commercial construction.

Dr. Nyeisha DeWitt is the proud parent of three children who attend public schools in Oakland. She an active member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, Oakland Unified School District’s Truancy Task Force, Effective Teachers for Oakland Task Force, Measure Y Oversight Committee and she is the chair of the Measure A Citizens Oversight Committee.  Working toward the goal of increasing jobs for Oakland residents and enhancing outcomes for young people, in her spare time, she serves as a member of a number of community-based committees.

Dr. Nyeisha DeWitt is the proud parent of three children who attend public schools in Oakland. She an active member of the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, Oakland Unified School District’s Truancy Task Force, Effective Teachers for Oakland Task Force, Measure Y Oversight Committee and she is the chair of the Measure A Citizens Oversight Committee.

Jessica grew up in East Palo Alto and San Jose, CA and graduated from Harker High School in San Jose, where she was captain of the wrestling team. As an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University, Jessica led a student movement that made Pittsburgh, PA the first mid-sized US city to introduce legislation aimed combatting a particular sex trafficking network; her legislation was later passed in two states.

Jessica grew up in East Palo Alto and San Jose, CA and graduated from Harker High School in San Jose, where she was captain of the wrestling team. As an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University, Jessica led a student movement that made Pittsburgh, PA the first mid-sized US city to introduce legislation aimed combatting a particular sex trafficking network; her legislation was later passed in two states.

Ms. Maya Dillard Smith, an Oakland native, is a two-term, senate-appointed member of the California Commission on Judicial Performance where she chairs the Rules Committee. She is a public safety expert and mother of three, who served as senior advisor to the Mayor and Director of Violence Prevention for the City and County of San Francisco from 2007 to 2009.

Ms. Maya Dillard Smith, an Oakland native, is a two-term, senate-appointed member of the California Commission on Judicial Performance where she chairs the Rules Committee. She is a public safety expert and mother of three, who served as senior advisor to the Mayor and Director of Violence Prevention for the City and County of San Francisco from 2007 to 2009.

Kristina M. Dixon currently works as a Strategic Program and Financial Management Consultant serving the needs of nonprofit organizations and Small Businesses in Southern California, and most recently she served as the Controller for Chinatown Service Center. With over eight years of professional experience working within the nonprofit industry, and over twenty years of experience serving the communities where she has lived and worked; Kristina has a standing commitment to improving the overall economic and social well-being of underserved communities.

Kristina M. Dixon currently works as a Strategic Program and Financial Management Consultant serving the needs of nonprofit organizations and Small Businesses in Southern California, and most recently she served as the Controller for Chinatown Service Center.

Christiana Dominguez is an attorney in Blanning & Baker's Sacramento office providing legal representation to client organizations and their members. Dominguez specializes in labor law experience.  She has represented clients in administrative hearings, arbitrations, and in state court as well as aided in the day-to-day enforcement of contractual rights and the protection of employees’ due process rights.

Christiana Dominguez is an attorney in Blanning & Baker's Sacramento office providing legal representation to client organizations and their members.
Dominguez specializes in labor law experience.  She has represented clients in administrative hearings, arbitrations, and in state court as well as aided in the day-to-day enforcement of contractual rights and the protection of employees’ due process rights.
Early in her career, she served as a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow in the office of Speaker Herb J. Wesson, Jr.

Raquel Donoso is an accomplished community and public policy leader with over a decade of policy advocacy experience at the state and regional level. She has devoted her career to policy issues affecting women and families. Prior to joining LCF she served as the Associate Director of Latino Issues Forum, a statewide policy and advocacy organization. At the Latino Issues Forum she championed campaigns to increase health access, improve environmental conditions and address education equity in the Latino community.

Raquel Donoso is an accomplished community and public policy leader with over a decade of policy advocacy experience at the state and regional level. She has devoted her career to policy issues affecting women and families. Prior to joining LCF she served as the Associate Director of Latino Issues Forum, a statewide policy and advocacy organization. At the Latino Issues Forum she championed campaigns to increase health access, improve environmental conditions and address education equity in the Latino community.

As the Director of the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team in the City Los Angeles, Becca Doten coordinates more than 150 volunteers who respond to traumatic events and crisis situations.  She is a sworn LAPD Reserve Officer and serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit Students Run LA.  An active Democrat, Ms. Doten is an elected member of the DNC, the Treasurer of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party and a Truman National Security Project Partner.

As the Director of the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team in the City Los Angeles, Becca Doten coordinates more than 150 volunteers who respond to traumatic events and crisis situations.  She is a sworn LAPD Reserve Officer and serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit Students Run LA.  An active Democrat, Ms. Doten is an elected member of the DNC, the Treasurer of the Women’s Caucus of the California Democratic Party and a Truman National Security Project Partner.

With over a decade of experience in transportation policy and planning (as well as related experience in government relations and nonprofit management), Emily has an aptitude for seeing where small changes in a system can make a big impact. She has most recently worked on SMARTmuni, a transit line management tool that marries NextBus data and an iPad interface to empower transit agency staff to tackle vehicle bunching, missed runs, and other operational issues in real-time.

With over a decade of experience in transportation policy and planning (as well as related experience in government relations and nonprofit management), Emily has an aptitude for seeing where small changes in a system can make a big impact. She has most recently worked on SMARTmuni, a transit line management tool that marries NextBus data and an iPad interface to empower transit agency staff to tackle vehicle bunching, missed runs, and other operational issues in real-time.

Lori Droste is the Chair of the City of Berkeley's Commission on the Status of Women, Vice-Chair of the Alameda Human Relations Commission. She also serves as a commissioner on the Housing Advisory Commission in Berkeley. In addition, she serves on the board of both the National Women's Political Caucus-Alameda North and the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association. Lori has broad experience in public service having spent years as a public high school teacher and an educator for homeless individuals within Alameda County. 

Lori Droste is the Chair of the City of Berkeley's Commission on the Status of Women, Vice-Chair of the Alameda Human Relations Commission. She also serves as a commissioner on the Housing Advisory Commission in Berkeley. In addition, she serves on the board of both the National Women's Political Caucus-Alameda North and the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association. Lori has broad experience in public service having spent years as a public high school teacher and an educator for homeless individuals within Alameda County.

Since her earliest days, Zoe Dunning has been a champion for equality. Zoe graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in one of the earliest classes that included women. After completing six years of active duty service, she transitioned into the Navy Reserves so she could attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Since her earliest days, Zoe Dunning has been a champion for equality. Zoe graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis in one of the earliest classes that included women. After completing six years of active duty service, she transitioned into the Navy Reserves so she could attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In January of 1993, while still a student at Stanford, she courageously and publicly came out as a lesbian in protest of the ban on gay service in the U.S. military.

Elizabeth Echols currently serves as CEO of OpNet Community Ventures, Inc., a nationally recognized non-profit organization dedicated to promoting opportunities in the technology industry for low-income young adults, with a particular emphasis on women and people of color.  Prior to joining OpNet, Echols held several senior political appointments in the Clinton White House and Commerce Department.

Elizabeth Echols has a long record of public and community service. She has distinguished herself as a successful advocate for educational opportunity, job creation, and the environment. Elizabeth currently serves as Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) appointed by President Barack Obama. She also serves as Senior Advisor on Clean Tech and Energy Efficiency Initiatives and as a member of the White House Business Council.

I am 38 years old. I moved to Los Angeles, CA with my husband and three children (11, 9 and 6) three years ago from Roslyn Harbor, NY.

I am 38 years old. I moved to Los Angeles, CA with my husband and three children (11, 9 and 6) three years ago from Roslyn Harbor, NY. I have two undergraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania- one in Finance and Accounting from the Wharton School and the other in Systems Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. My passion has always been solving problems and improving systems or businesses.

Mara Elliott is a Chief Deputy City Attorney. She and her team advise department heads, the City Council, and the Mayor on issues relating to purchasing and contracting, environmental services, the Americans with Disabilities Act, living wages, storm water pollution and remediation, information technology, clean energy, and equal opportunity contracting. She has practiced law, primarily in the public sector, for twenty years.

Mara Elliott is a Chief Deputy City Attorney. She and her team advise department heads, the City Council, and the Mayor on issues relating to purchasing and contracting, environmental services, the Americans with Disabilities Act, living wages, storm water pollution and remediation, information technology, clean energy, and equal opportunity contracting. She has practiced law, primarily in the public sector, for twenty years.

Vecky Elliott is a political consultant, community organizer and a social and environmental justice activist in Tracy, CA. Her background is in political science, comparative politics, international relations and civic engagement. She has taught at the Tyler Junior College and at the University of Texas at Tyler, where she co-founded the Model United Nations program. Ms. Elliott currently serves as the president of the Democratic Party of Greater Tracy.

Kimberly Ellis is currently running for California Democratic Party Chair and the outgoing Executive Director of Emerge California. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of Emerge California, Kimberly was Emerge America's National Affiliate Director.
The majority of Kimberly's background and experience is in operations management and organizational infrastructure development and implementation. She has worked in private industry, government, and the non-profit sector.

Kimberly Ellis is currently running for California Democratic Party Chair and the outgoing Executive Director of Emerge California. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of Emerge California, Kimberly was Emerge America's National Affiliate Director.
The majority of Kimberly's background and experience is in operations management and organizational infrastructure development and implementation.

Born and raised in California, I am a product of California’s public schools from preschool (Teddy Bear Nursery School) through graduate school (UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University).  I am also a proud parent of two children in PAUSD schools and I work part-time as a teacher and parent educator at Parents Place (an organization of Jewish Family & Children’s Services), supporting both families and teachers with the most current child development research and best practices in the early learning community.

Born and raised in California, I am a product of California’s public schools from preschool (Teddy Bear Nursery School) through graduate school (UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University).  I am also a proud parent of two children in PAUSD schools and I work part-time as a teacher and parent educator at Parents Place (an organization of Jewish Family & Children’s Services), supporting both families and teachers with the most current child development research and best practices in the early learning community. 
Like many families, we moved to Palo Alto because of the excellent reputation

Lisette Estrella-Henderson was sworn in as the Solano County Superintendent of Schools in January of 2017-the first Latina County Superintendent of Schools in Solano’s history and only the second female to hold the position. She is deeply committed to providing every Solano County student with equal access to the highest quality education as well as the necessary support services that will enable all students to be successful in college and careers, and as productive citizens of the community.

Alecia's experience with education includes advocating for children, parents, teachers, and her community as a past PTA President, elementary and high school Site Council member, and Board Director for the North Highlands Recreation and Park District.

Alecia's experience with education includes advocating for children, parents, teachers, and her community as a past PTA President, elementary and high school Site Council member, and Board Director for the North Highlands Recreation and Park District.

Priscilla Falter completed her Bachelors in International Relations at Mills College in Oakland, California.

Priscilla Falter completed her Bachelors in International Relations at Mills College in Oakland, California. During her time at Mills College, she participated in the Civic Leadership Institute and the Ignite Program where she gained an understanding of leadership and skills applicable to civic engagement, leadership and social policy work.

Tyra Fennell develops and implements programs for the San Francisco Arts Commission such as StreetSmARTS, a mural art program that celebrates the vibrancy of urban art by connecting established muralists with private property owners in order to deter property vandalism.

Tyra Fennell develops and implements programs for the San Francisco Arts Commission such as StreetSmARTS, a mural art program that celebrates the vibrancy of urban art by connecting established muralists with private property owners in order to deter property vandalism. Tyra also managed the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Mayor’s Art Awards and is credited for starting SF49ers Vernon Davis' Visual Arts Scholarship Fund, now the Vernon Davis Foundation for the Arts.
In 2013, Ms. Fennell began growing arts enrichment events as a vehicle to encourage economic growth in District 10.

Erika Feresten is one of the foremost executive coaches in the political arena. Her clients have included members of the United States House of Representatives, state legislators from across the country, city leaders in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. as well as candidates during their runs for political office.

Erika Feresten is one of the foremost executive coaches in the political arena. Her clients have included members of the United States House of Representatives, state legislators from across the country, city leaders in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. as well as candidates during their runs for political office.
As a Political Leadership Coach, Erika uses her extensive experience in public media to support those entering and residing in the “glass houses” of public life.

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