Party Leaders

Rusty Hicks, Chair

chair@cadem.org

Rusty Hicks' Biography

A Proven Record of Empowering People and Winning Tough Campaigns

Rusty Hicks was elected to serve as Chair of the California Democratic Party on June 1st, 2019. Rusty believes the party’s top priority should be grassroots organizing to create people-powered election victories.

As a labor union activist, Rusty has a proven record of organizing grassroots power in order to win tough races. As a DSCC delegate for over 12 years, Rusty has seen the powerful impact of party voter registration, persuasion and turnout efforts.

As President of the LA County Federation of Labor, Rusty Hicks stood up to powerful corporations to make progress for working families and organized to create real change. Rusty’s initiatives at the LA Fed include:

  • Diverse leadership: As a result of Rusty’s leadership, there are twice as many women, five times more young leaders, and 60% of all leaders are people of color.
  • Opportunity for the formerly incarcerated: Rusty built a jobs program to help formerly incarcerated women and men rejoin the workforce and secure good union jobs.
  • Fight for 15: Rusty helped lead the successful campaign for the $15 minimum wage, first in LA, then statewide, which helps lift people out of poverty, helps pay the rent and supports working families.
  • Health care for all: Rusty fought to guarantee healthcare coverage for every immigrant child. He supports Medicare for All.
  • Sexual harassment and assault: Rusty fought for and built a coalition to win greater worker protections against sexual harassment and assault for vulnerable workers in the hospitality industry.
  • Safe and healthy environment: Rusty fought for environmental justice and helped lead the campaign for safe and clean water in Los Angeles. He supports a Green New Deal to prevent climate disaster and create jobs.
  • Policy at the ballot box: Rusty was a driving force in ballot measures to build affordable housing, provide homeless housing and services, and expand the LA transit system.

The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor is comprised of more than 300 local unions that represent 800,000 workers. For ten years, Rusty served as Political Director where he led the LA Fed’s day-to-day political operations in campaigns across Southern California.

Rusty took a leave from the LA Fed to join the Obama 2008 campaign, where he served as the California Political Director. Early in his career, Rusty learned the power of local action while working for the late Assemblymember Mike Gordon and then-Assemblymember Ted Lieu.

Raised by a single mother, Rusty understands the challenges of working families firsthand. His mother was a bookkeeper, his grandfather worked as a grocery clerk and his grandmother was a teacher’s aide. Their hard work inspired Rusty to a life of service.

Rusty is a Lieutenant in the US Navy Reserve and a graduate of Austin College and Loyola Law School. Rusty lives in Pasadena with his wife, Sandra Sanchez, and their dog Charlie

Betty Yee, Vice Chair

Betty Yee's Biography

A native of San Francisco and a proud product of its public schools, Betty was born to immigrant parents who built a laundry and dry-cleaning business from scratch in the Parkside District of the city. With the help of her family, community, public schools, and teachers who went the extra mile, Betty rose from minding the books of the family business to minding the books of the 5th largest economy in the world.

She was elected to the California State Board of Equalization in 2006 and re-elected in 2010, representing close to 9 million Californians. Prior to this, Betty served as the State’s budget director.

Currently serving as our controller, Betty has been on our side — holding government accountable, working to ensure income and retirement security, protecting our environment, and taking on big companies more interested in lining their pockets — to make sure the doors of opportunity continue to stay open — so every Californian can fulfill their dreams, raise their families, and thrive.

Since she was elected Controller in 2014, she led audits of state and local government that uncovered over $4 billion in misused public funds.

Betty has protected California’s environment and safeguarded our pristine coastline. As chair of the State Lands Commission, she worked to decommission the last nuclear power plant in California and the last state oil platform in the Santa Barbara Channel. She has defended California’s waters against federal oil drilling plans and protected public access to public trust lands and beaches.

David Campos, Vice Chair

 

David Campos' Biography

David Campos is a formerly undocumented youth whose parents brought him to this country (at the age of 14) escaping political turmoil in their native Guatemala.  Even though David didn’t speak English when he first came to the country, he graduated first in his class from Thomas Jefferson High School, in South Central Los Angeles.  David earned scholarships to and worked his way through Stanford University and Harvard Law School.  David has dedicated his life to public service, having served as a Deputy City Attorney, General Counsel to San Francisco Public Schools, a San Francisco Police Commissioner and an elected member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  Until recently, David served as a Deputy County Executive for the County of Santa Clara, where he oversaw the operations of various departments and agencies.  David currently serves as Chief of Staff for progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.  David has been involved in the Democratic politics for close to two decades, having been a member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee since 2004 and having served as Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party from 2017 until his recent election as Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party.  

Melahat Rafiei, Secretary

Melahat Rafiei's Biography

Melahat Rafiei is a two-term Democratic National Committee Member (DNC), former Executive Director of the Orange County Democratic Party, refugee, single mom, and small business owner. Growing up, she and her family fled a war-torn Iran, and in the spring of 1983, they arrived in San Jose, California, with less than $500 cash and nowhere to go. Like so many Americans before them, through hard work, determination, and the opportunities made possible in The United States, her parents built a good life, making it possible for all of them to live the American Dream.

As a DNC member, she has been an advocate for California and worked to navigate and reform the top-down organization. Her progressive record includes votes to give more power and influence to local delegates, support a Climate Change Debate in the 2020 Democratic Primary, and travel across the United States fighting against poverty issues, including fighting for an Earned Income Tax Credit in Iowa, Arkansas, and Nebraska.

Locally, Melahat has been a voting delegate with the California Democratic Party for over 20 years. She currently serves as a voting member of the Rules Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Finance. As an active democratic leader, she has led countless campaign finance trainings across California to help local clubs, county central committees, and democratic organizations maximize their funds to elect more Democrats. She has also worked to help get dirty money out of our state party while ensuring we have the resources to remain competitive and helped to expand ADEM Elections.

Professionally, Melahat serves as the Principal of Progressive Solutions Consulting, a full-service boutique campaign consulting firm where she works to elect women of color and LGBTQ candidates to office. She has led several groundbreaking campaigns, including Farrah Khan for Irvine Mayor (the first Muslim woman Mayor of a major city in California), Sepi Shyne to the West Hollywood City Council (the first woman of color in the history of West Hollywood), Mary Zendejas to the Long Beach City Council (the only woman in a wheelchair elected in the United States), and countless others throughout Southern California.

April Verrett, Controller

April Verrett's Biography

April Verrett serves as President of Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 2015 – California’s largest union, and the nation’s largest long term care union, representing over 400,000 home care and nursing home workers throughout California. 

Although now based in Los Angeles, April’s story begins proudly on the South Side of Chicago. Raised by her grandmother, who worked as a locker room attendant for the Chicago Park District, herself a union steward for SEIU Local 46, April learned early on the values of perseverance, collective action, and community.

April also leads nationally for SEIU International. She is an International Vice President, chairs the union’s National Home Care Council, co-chairs the National Organizing Committee and is a member of the Finance.

She has been tapped twice by Governor Newsom to serve.  First in 2019 to serve on the Alzheimer’s Prevention and Preparedness Task Force which is tasked with developing a plan to address and manage Alzheimer’s disease and other aging-related conditions throughout California.  Again in 2020 he selected her for his Taskforce on Business and Jobs Recovery.  April’s work on the Taskforce is helping to reopen the fifth largest economy in the world post COVID-19 and ensure that the needs of all working families are front and center in the process of rebuilding our economy equitably.

April is committed to dismantling structural racism by providing equity to individuals and communities of color. April has continued to demand equity through her work with several organizations who share this vision and by elevating the voices and first hand accounts of the impact that racial inequities have had during the pandemic on Local 2015 members. April is also a member of the Committee for Greater LA, a coalition of diverse leaders who came together to understand the impact of COVID-19 on different populations. 

As a labor leader and activist, April has spent most of her career helping workers form unions to ensure that their voices are heard and respected. April is a tireless advocate for working people, driven by the belief that “unions give workers a platform to fight for more than wages, benefits and working conditions, but also around everything that matters in our members’ lives and their communities.”

Regional Directors 

Region 2

Assembly Districts 4, 11, 14, 16

Lynette Henley 

707-688-3004     

Region 4

Assembly Districts 5, 12, 13, 21

Alejandro Carrillo

209-600-3864

Region 6

Assembly Districts 17, 19, 22, 24

Hene Kelly

415.533.5244

Region 14

Assembly Districts 54, 59, 62, 64

Miguel Martinez

(323) 484-6459

Miguel@CaDemRegion14.org

Region 20

Assembly Districts 77, 78, 79, 80

Michelle Krug

michellerkrug@gmail.com