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About

Courage California envisions a progressive, equitable, and representative California, powered by our people. We believe that California must be a beacon of progress. 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. 

Our mission is to unite and equip Californians to hold leaders accountable and take courageous action for change. 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.

Mission

Unite and equip Californians to hold leaders accountable and take courageous action for change.

Vision

A progressive, equitable, and representative California, powered by our people.

Staff

Alyssa Leiva

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Regional Organizer: Valley Families United

Alyssa Leiva is a second-generation Mexican-American born & raised in the Central Valley in Stockton, California. She is a first-generation college undergrad studying Sociology and has been an active Organizer within San Joaquin County for over 5 years. She is passionate about creating better environments for working-class families to have a better quality of life. Her accomplishments include helping establish the food pantry at her community college, and serving as an advocate on boards and commissions to fight against racial injustice. Alyssa is a board member for Stockton Stands 501c4 for youth development in Stockton.

Her why for her work is grounded in a simple message, “When we work on bridging equity for marginalized communities, our struggles as the working class are all interdependent. When we do the work to build strong communities, we do the work to heal our communities.” Alyssa is honored to be serving the greater Central Valley in this role and is excited to empower, educate, and hold people in power accountable to bring Justice to historical unmet needs.

Mario Vasquez Zuniga

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Communications Director: Valley Families United

Mario Vasquez Zuniga is the founder and CEO of collective., a digital communications and design agency. Through collective., Mario serves as the Communications Director for Valley Families Unite, a congressional accountability campaign for Courage California. 

Mario is a dynamic bilingual communications professional with over 8 years of experience. He is a strategist with a track record of creating infrastructures that build capacity and developing, managing and executing successful high-stakes public affairs and digital campaigns. As a result, Mario has worked closely with elected officials, presidential candidates, influencers, and celebrities. Through his work on political, public awareness, and policy campaigns, Mario has gained broad experience across industries in corporate, nonprofit, and advocacy sectors. 

Mario is a first-generation immigrant and college graduate. He is based in Sacramento, CA, he obtained this BA from San Francisco State University in Communication Studies and Race and Resistance Studies. Mario has been recognized as a Next Generation LGBTQ Leader and was named a Capitol Weekly 30 under 30 Rising Star. Mario sits on LGBTQ+ Victory Campaign Board and he co-owns a flower shop in Southern California with his parents.

Marvin Andrade

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Regional Organizer: Valley Families United

Having graduated from UC San Diego with a focus in political science and international relations, Marvin, began organizing for US House candidates during the pivotal 2018 elections in Orange County, marking its historic shift from red to blue for the first time in 40 years. Now, with Courage California, Marvin is working to further progressive ideals by advocating for a better economy for working families in the Inland Empire.

Through community organizing, Marvin has significantly contributed to the campaigns of diverse candidates, aiding in the election of one of the first single-mother congress members in 2018 and the state’s youngest federal congresswoman in 2020. Marvin likes playing Civilization, city-building simulators, and D&D in his free time.

Jennifer Job, Ph.D.

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Strategic Digital Advisor

Jennifer Job, Ph.D. is a former teacher and teacher educator with a focus in qualitative research and curriculum design. She began her career in public advocacy in 2012 working for MoveOn.org, and then became a digital strategist for Steven Biel Strategies. For the past decade, she has written advocacy and fundraising emails that have built lists by tens of thousands of people and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. She also produces social media ads and uses her curriculum background to run trainings for various organizations. She recently started her own firm, BreakGlass Strategies.

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.

Lindsay West

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Operations Director

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. 

Angela Chavez

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Communications & Public Affairs Director

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.

Isidra Chávez

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Communications Manager

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.

Boards of Directors

Courage California (501 c4)

Shay Franco-Clausen
Chair

Sal Rosselli
Secretary/Treasurer

Angie Jean-Marie

Michael Lighty

Gillian Morshedi

Pablo Rodriguez

Lauren Windsor

Joann Lo

Bulmaro Vicente

Jay Chotirmal

Courage California Institute (501 c3)

Gillian Morshedi
Chair

Lisa Garcia Bedolla

Lindsay Gardner

Michael Lighty

Joann Lo

Bulmaro Vicente

Jay Chotirmal

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.

Coalitions

California Green New Deal

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.

The Dream Alliance

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.

California Working Families Party

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 CA Now

Healthy California Now is a statewide coalition of organizations and activists dedicated to establishing a single-payer, Medicare For All system in California.

Valley Families Unite

Valley Families Unite represents a shared vision of economic prosperity for working families and accountable leadership in California. With the collective strength of Courage California, Inland Empire United, Communities for a New California Action Fund, and Lower Costs California, we are eager to hold our elected officials accountable for fighting for the economic well-being of California families.

Lower Costs California

Lower Costs California is a coalition of a group of concerned citizens who are holding their elected leaders accountable to make the costs of living fair and affordable a reality for everyday Californians.

ProgressNow

ProgressNow works with state partners to promote progressive ideas and causes through earned media strategies and cutting-edge new media.

Equality on Trial

Equality on Trial (EOT formerly Prop 8 Trial Tracker) was a project of Courage California Institute. It was established to cover the 2009 Perry v. Brown trial 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 covered ongoing legal issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community, including state and federal marriage equality cases, challenges to the so-called federal Defense of Marriage Act, and more. 

Equality on Trial was sunsetted by Courage California Institute in August of 2023. 

Equality on Trial, sponsored and funded by Courage California Institute, was managed by Scottie Thomaston, an activist and writer based in 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.

Work With Us

We're always looking to build our team to reflect the diversity and talent of California!

Communications Fellow

Are you passionate about social justice and communications, AND comfortable in the digital world? Do you want to learn how to use strategic communications to advocate for progressive change in … Continued

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