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About

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.

With Courage, We Can. 

Staff

Irene Kao

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Executive Director

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.

Caitlin Alesio Maloney

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Director of Voter Engagement and Technology

Caitlin originally joined the Courage California team from 2008-2014 and served as a Field Organizer, EqualityHub Manager, and Data Director. After a stint as Deputy Technology Director for ProgressNow, she is back in the fold as a Director of Voter Engagement and Technology. Previously, Caitlin worked as a Campus Campaign Manager for No on Prop 8, and for Libraries for the Future, a national non-profit supporting innovation and investment in America’s public libraries. Raised in New Hampshire, she now lives in San Rafael, CA with her wife and son. When not attached to her computer, you can find Caitlin cooking, gardening, or hanging out with honeybees. 

Angela (Rosas) Chavez

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Director of Communications

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.

Jay Chotirmal

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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.

Raquel Parra

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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.

Molly Watson

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Senior Development and Partnerships Manager

Molly joined Courage California in 2017 when she returned home to California with her husband and toddler after seven years in Brooklyn, NY. While in New York, Molly worked as an Advocate and Academic Coordinator for underserved youth at Harlem Children’s Zone. Most recently, she spent three years fundraising for a safety net hospital in downtown Brooklyn, and dabbles in health care research. Molly earned a BA in Afro-Ethnic Studies from CSU Fullerton and studied Urban Affairs at CUNY Hunter in Manhattan, NY. Molly’s favorite things include her family and tanning in the California sun.

Lindsay West

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Senior Operations Manager

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. 

Deepthi Welaratna

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Voter Engagement Manager

Deepthi joins the Courage California team to help launch California’s first statewide progressive voter guide, aimed at giving all Californians the information they need to vote according to their values. Deepthi brings nearly two decades of commitment to systems change through public policy campaigns, creative leadership programs, and global movement building around a range of social and economic issues. Deepthi is also the founder of Thicket Labs, a design lab and research consultancy. Deepthi was born in England, raised in Silicon Valley, has lived in Paris and New York, and her family is from Sri Lanka. She is a recent transplant to Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and enjoys balcony gardening.

LisaMarie Betancourt

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Development and Member Engagement Associate

LisaMarie received a B.A. in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Social Justice and Sustainability, which led her to explore the world of public policy and progressivism. After five years of civic engagement in the Bay Area, LisaMarie came back to her roots in the Inland Empire and quickly got involved in direct actions and mutual aid. She joined Courage after managing a city council race in her hometown of Corona. LisaMarie aims to build community with likeminded progressives and expand educational tools necessary to sustain the movement in her area. LisaMarie credits her intersectional feminist lens to being raised by a matriarchal family unit in a multi-generational household. Count on her to paint portraits of your pet over Facetime and to have seen every horror film in the genre.

Boards of Directors

Courage California (501 c4)

Aimee Allison

Mike Lux

Pablo Rodriguez

Sal Rosselli

Courage California Institute (501 c3)

Lisa Garcia Bedolla

Christine Ellice

Lindsay Gardner
Chair

Rick Jacobs
Emeritus Chair

Jidan Terry-Koon

Doug Moore

Gillian Morshedi
Treasurer

Nick Roxborough
Secretary

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 irene@couragecampaign.org. For inquiries related to Equality on Trial content, contact Scottie Thomaston via scottie@couragecampaign.org. 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.

Affiliations
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.

Partners
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.

Members
A “member” of Courage California is defined as any person who has participated in at least one digital action with Courage California. Members are generally contacted by Courage California based on their expression of interest in specific issues or categories. We carefully guard our members’ information and do not sell or use any data for commercial purposes. For more information, see our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

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.