Courage California believes that California must be a beacon of progressive, equitable, and truly representative democracy. As the 5th largest economy in the world — and the United States’ largest and most diverse state — California is uniquely positioned to serve as a model for the country.
By providing the information, resources and infrastructure Californians need to hold their elected officials accountable, Courage California is fighting for a California that works for all of us. To achieve this, State and local representatives must be accountable to and reflective of the Californians they seek to serve, and work for the public’s benefit — as opposed to prioritizing the will of corporate lobbyists and campaign contributors.
Driven by our members and partnerships throughout the state, Courage California actively calls out institutional corruption and oppression, improves coordination and collaboration between progressive organizations, and demands that state and local representatives be accountable to and reflective of the Californians they seek to serve.
Uniting for a more Courageous California.
With Courage, We Can.
Courage California provides the tools needed to unite with communities organizing for progressive change, exposing the forces of corruption, and hold our representatives to account in order to ensure that California’s elected officials act with courage.
We uphold our mission and work towards the vision of California as a model of progressive, equitable, and representative democracy that sets the standard for our country.
A daughter of refugees from Laos, Mai was born and raised in Fresno, CA. As a first generation Hmong American who experienced poverty in childhood, she was inspired to volunteer for her first electoral campaign at the age of 14. Mai has since dedicated her career to fighting for disenfranchised communities in various roles prior to joining Courage. She has served in community-based organizations, labor unions, and the CA state government. Mai believes that in order to change our communities, we need to dismantle the political barriers that reinforce disparities, and continue building power through community organizing, civic engagement, and systems change work. She is a proud aunt, and honors her mother, Ka Vue, the most resilient womyn she knows.
Isidra received a B.A in Media Arts option in production with a minor in broadcasting from California State University, Chico. Passionate about using media as a tool for change, Isidra worked as a graphic designer for a progressive city council runner who won their seat in the city of Delano in 2020. Prior to joining Courage California, Isidra spent her time at Chico State as a student assistant empowering faculty through the use of academic technologies during the sudden transition to a fully online learning environment. In her free time, you can find Isidra painting, chasing sunsets, and getting caught up on the latest fantasy novel.
Irene joined Courage California, in 2020, as the first woman of color to lead the organization. She brings more than twenty years of experience working with and advocating for low-income communities of color, including in immigrant and refugee support services, public housing, early childhood education, media, philanthropy and politics. Prior to joining Courage California, Irene was a strategic advisor to the leadership of California Donor Table, Way to Win, Native Americans in Philanthropy, California Native Vote Project, and Vision Maker Media, focusing on community engagement, program strategy, development, and organizational transitions.
Angela Chavez is the former External Affairs and Media Relations Communications Specialist at California Complete Count Census 2020, appointed under Gov. Brown, where she led the development and coordination of the 2020 Census Statewide Outreach and Communications Strategy and developed the state’s $47M media relations strategy. Prior to her appointment, Angela was a Director at Mercury Public Affairs’ Sacramento office, consulting on statewide media relations and public affairs, specializing in narrative change. Notable statewide advocacy clients included The California Endowment, California Environmental Justice Alliance, California Food Policy Advocates, and No Kid Hungry.
In 2009 Angela founded Chicas Latinas de Sacramento, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. She has a B.A. in journalism from California State University of Sacramento and is a former multimedia reporter for the Visalia Times-Delta.
Senior Communications and Voter Engagement Manager
Jay received a BA in Economics with a minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. Following graduation, Jay moved to New York where he became involved in fundraising efforts for independent media and public access radio. Prior to joining Courage California, he held political communication positions in Washington, DC and Florida. Jay is excited to be back in California and working with Courage California to launch the first statewide progressive voter guide.
Policy and Partnerships Manager
Raquel first became politically active as a teenager attending Prop 8 protests in Los Angeles. While attending the University of California, Berkeley, they continued their activism as a member of Berkeley’s International Socialist Organization chapter, while finding community in LGBTQ+ organizations. With bachelor’s’ degrees in Art History and Anthropology they helped found the zine of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Student Committee, and worked with rare materials in Bancroft Library. They’re excited to return to their organizing roots as part of the Courage California team.
Prior to joining Courage California, Lindsay worked in integrated marketing and events in the entertainment industry. Lindsay’s activism started with harm reduction programs in high school. He earned a BA in Film and Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz, and has volunteered for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and AIDS Project Los Angeles.
Boards of Directors
Courage California (501 c4)
Courage California Institute (501 c3)
Lisa Garcia Bedolla
Equality on Trial
Equality on Trial (EOT formerly Prop 8 Trial Tracker) is a project of Courage California Institute, originally established to cover the Perry v. Brown trial 2009, in which Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier sued the state for anti-gay discrimination. Prop 8 Trial Tracker covered the trial live from the courthouse, collected all of the latest motions and court rulings on one site, and documented and responded to right-wing attacks on the process. Re-branded as Equality on Trial, the site now covers legal issues pertaining to the LGBT community, including state and federal marriage equality cases, challenges to the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act, and more.
Equality on Trial is led by Scottie Thomaston, an activist and writer based in south Alabama. In addition to being a Contributor at Courage California Institute’s EqualityOnTrial.com, he has been a longtime contributor to DailyKos, Fire Dog Lake, Critical Mass Progress, and The Huffington Post’s ‘Gay Voices.’ As a lifelong activist, he has worked to help to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy” and to end proposed statewide amendments and legislation such as the recently withdrawn anti-transgender bill proposed in Tennessee’s General Assembly. He’s written on topics ranging from LGBT rights to disability rights and criminal justice.
For inquiries related to Courage California Institute, which sponsors and funds Equality on Trial, contact Irene Kao, Executive Director, at [email protected] For inquiries related to Equality on Trial content, contact Scottie Thomaston via [email protected] You can also follow us on Twitter and tweet at us via @equalityontrial as well as on Facebook via Testimony: Equality on Trial.Equality on Trial
Courage California Institute
Courage California Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is an educational affiliate of Courage California. Our mission is to defend and extend economic justice, human rights, and corporate and political accountability through public education, strategic research, and innovative leadership-development training.
Democracy in the U.S. can represent and serve all residents when ALL communities have the power to use their voice and be heard by leadership.
We believe that in order for California to have a truly equitable and representative democracy — everyone must have access to trusted, reliable, and unbiased information and tools to help voters better understand civic engagement, at every level. Courage California Institute empowers Californians through education and resources to courageously participate in the democratic process and create change for the betterment of their families and communities.
Contributions to Courage California Institute are TAX DEDUCTIBLE within IRS guidelines.Courage California Institute
Structure & Status
Formed in 2006, Courage California is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. The 501(c)(4) designation allows Courage California to advocate for legislation and influence the decisions of our elected leaders.
Contributions made to Courage California are NOT tax deductible, tax ID: 20-4841338.
Courage California Issues Committee is a ballot committee, under our 501(c)(4) designation, active on statewide and local ballot campaigns and is registered with the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
Courage California Super PAC is a separately incorporated super PAC that supports and opposes candidates for federal office.
Courage California Institute is a separately incorporated 501(c)(3) charitable organization, visit www.couragecaliforniainstitute.org to learn more. Contributions to Courage California Institute are tax deductible.
A “partner” of Courage California is defined as any organization, elected official, or community leader who we work with on any action or a longer-term body of work. We are actively expanding our partner network as part of our vision of uniting communities and leveraging our collective power for change.
We pride ourselves on working with a broad array of partner organizations to break down silos and build progressive power across issues, organizations, and communities, statewide and across the United States. Our partner network includes more than 300 organizations. Courage California is also a proud state partner of the ProgressNow network.
Courage California has 1.4 million members throughout California, the United States, and globally. We engage our digital membership on political actions throughout each year, from signing petitions, to calling their legislators, to joining protests and other direct actions in their communities. Courage members are also members of some of our partner organizations, bringing greater coordination and unity to the progressive political movement in California.
California Green New Deal is a coalition of community organizations, advocates, unions, and allies across California who believe that the future of our state and planet depends on rapidly transitioning to a clean energy economy with justice at its core.
Building the California Dream Alliance is a broad advocacy coalition of over 70 progressive organizations that have joined together to build a California where EVERYONE has a shot at the California Dream.
The California Working Families Party is the grassroots party for the multiracial working class, fighting to make California care for all its people, not just the wealthy and well connected.
Healthy California Now is a statewide coalition of organizations and activists dedicated to establishing a single-payer, Medicare For All system in California.
ProgressNow works with our states partners to promote progressive ideas and causes through earned media strategies and cutting-edge new media.