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

Alexandra “Alex” Gallardo-Rooker, Vice Chair

alex@cadem.org

Alexandra "Alex" Gallardo-Rooker's Biography

Born in Mexico City and a graduate of Cypress College, Ms. Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker is an accomplished leader in the political arena at both the national and state level. Her insight into the inter-workings of California’s legislative and political process has proven to be a valuable asset to her colleagues in the Democratic Party and the individuals she represented as the Legislative Advocate in California for the Communication Workers of America (CWA).

Ms. Rooker has a proven track record as a leader. During the past two decades Ms. Rooker has taken on a variety of roles with CWA Local #9400 ranging from Shop Steward to Vice President.

In addition, she was elected to the position of Second Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party in 1997 and currently serves as Acting Chair. Her unfailing commitment to Democratic values and proven leadership skills are among a list of attributes that has made her a valuable member of Democratic National Committee and transition teams for Governor Howard Dean and Tom Torlakson.

As a former recipient of the “Si Se Puede Award For Distinguished Service,” from the Los Angeles Chapter of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Ms. Rooker has routinely demonstrated her commitment to Democratic values through her continuous efforts to fight for a better quality of life for hardworking Californians across the state.

Daraka Larimore-Hall, Vice Chair

daraka@cadem.org

Daraka Larimore-Hall's Biography

Daraka Larimore-Hall grew up in Santa Barbara, where he first got involved in activism as a high school student opposing the first Gulf War. Raised in an activist family, Daraka’s background forged his strong commitment to social justice, and some of his earliest family memories are from anti-Apartheid and nuclear disarmament protests.

Since graduating with honors from the University of Chicago in 1999, Daraka has worked as a political organizer on electoral and issue-based campaigns throughout the United States and Europe. In 2001-2002, he worked as an anti-racism and election organizer in Norway and Sweden.  From 2003 until 2011, he was an activist and officer in UAW Local 2865, the union for Teaching Assistants at the University of California. He is currently finishing a PhD in Sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara.

For the past seven years, Daraka has been chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Barbara County. He has served as Vice President of the Tri-Counties Central Labor Council, and is currently Vice Chair of the California Democratic Party Labor Caucus.

As a Democratic Party activist, Daraka has focused on creating more opportunities for leadership for young people and expanding the Party’s role in local elections and community issues. He strongly believes that electing Democrats is only the start of the Party’s job, and that we must engage in advocacy and organizing that holds elected representatives to our cherished values of equality, peace, freedom and fairness.

 

Jenny Bach, Secretary

secretary@cadem.org

Jenny Bach's Biography

Since an early age, Jenny Bach has dedicated her life to improving her community and serving as a champion for the underrepresented. As a Sacramento native, she proudly served as a District Representative for State Senator Dr. Richard Pan and as a Consultant for the California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. She currently is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at a nonprofit, Golden State Opportunity, that serves to outreach and uplift low-income working Californians with effective anti-poverty tools like the California Earned Income Tax Credit and other public benefits.
 
The child of Vietnamese immigrants, Jenny learned the value of hard work and witnessed firsthand the daily barriers that many Californians face. In college, Jenny served as Vice President of Communications of Sacramento State College Dems. During a non-election year, she made sure that her chapter became one of the largest college chapter clubs in the state. She then went on to become the club’s president and mobilized students during a midterm election. She coordinated with various local campaigns to ensure that there were always eager students canvassing to secure the election of local Democratic candidates. As a result of her hard work and leadership, the chapter was named the California Young Democrats College Chapter of the Year. 
 
After graduating from college, Jenny continued to remain active in her community by serving as Fundraising Chair for the Stonewall Democrats Club of Greater Sacramento and as Vice President of Fundraising of Sacramento County Young Democrats. In both capacities, she proved to be an adept fundraiser and helped increase community engagement. 
 
Jenny has also served as Secretary and as Parliamentarian on the board of the California Young Democrats. In these capacities, she made it her mission to put her grassroots and field expertise to work by improving the government from the bottom up. 
 
Her time as a leader in various local and statewide organizations has taught her that a democratic government only works when the community is educated and engaged.

Dan Weitzman, Controller

controller@cadem.org

Dan Weitzman's Biography

Dan Weitzman has been an activist for the California Democratic Party since his days as an undergraduate at California State University Sacramento, of which he is a proud alumnus.  For the past twenty-seven years, his energy and enthusiasm have been focused on political fundraising, event planning and neighborhood activism.  For sixteen years until Dan served as Finance Director for the Assembly Democrats. He also has been a key fundraiser and advisor to the Former Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg throughout is 14 years in the legislature. He works for Senate President pro-Tempore Kevin De León and as the Principal of Daniel C. Weitzman Consulting, where Dan specializes in raising funds to help elect Democrats across the state.
        On the local level, Weitzman recently served as the Finance Chair for the Darrell Steinberg for Mayor of Sacramento 2016 Campaign.  In June the campaign helped the now Mayor-elect win a June primary with the necessary vote threshold to avoid a General election in November. Dan has also been instrumental in assisting former Assembly Speakers with their fundraising and political leadership efforts. Speakers Emeriti Toni Atkins, John A. Pérez, Karen Bass, Fabian Núñez and Robert Hertzberg as well as Former Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer and numerous other elected officials in the California State Legislature. In the past, Dan served as a Regional Director of the California Democratic Party for 10 years (CDP) and was the youngest ever elected to that office. He currently serves as a Co-chair of the CDP Finance Committee and has held that post since 2005.
    Weitzman is a seasoned veteran of California State Politics, participating in more than three dozen political campaigns ranging from the 1988 Dukakis for President and the 1990 Feinstein for Governor Efforts to the successful Mike Machado “Beat the Recall” campaign in 1995.  Most recently Dan celebrated the victories of Al Muratsuchi for Assembly District 66, Sabrina Cervantes for Assembly District 60 as well as Steven Bradford for Senate District 35. He has raised funds for the successful campaigns of Miguel Santiago for Assembly District 53, Mike Gatto for Assembly District 43, Jimmy Gomez for Assembly District 51, Ricardo Lara for the 33rd Senate District and Bob Hertzberg for the 18th Senate District in addition to several state primary and general elections.  Dan has also fundraised for numerous special elections including the campaigns of Steven Bradford for the 51st Assembly District in 2009 and Ted Lieu for 28th Senate District in 2011.  
Even though Dan Weitzman has an excellent track record of re-electing state legislators, he has always remained dedicated to helping elect exemplary Democrats, which is why he has played a key role in raising funds for the 2012 campaigns of Raul Bocanegra and Anthony Rendon for Assembly.  Throughout the years, Dan has also made ballot measure campaigns a priority by acting as an integral part of the 2008 Term Limits Reform Act, Proposition 63 and Proposition 77 and in November of 2016 Weitzman helped with the passage of Prop. 58-The LEARN Ballot Measure.  Dan has been listed by Campaigns and Elections Magazine as one of the “Top 50 people in California Politics.” Capitol Weekly has listed Dan to their Top 100 list of California’s most influential political players for multiple years and he continues to be a very well-known and sought after consultant.
Aside from his career in politics, Dan has been a tireless volunteer for political and community organizations.  While at CSU Sacramento, Dan was a founding member of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity where he held several elected positions, including President. He also was the founding President of the Sacramento State Young Democrats from 1989 to 1991, and served as President of the Northern Section of the California Young Democrats (CYD) from 1991 to 1993.  Additionally, Dan acted as CYD’s National Committeeman from 1993 to 1994 and State Treasurer for two terms from 1995 to 1997.  He also served as a National Convention Delegate for the Young Democrats of America three times. Weitzman continues to dedicate his free time to encourage high school and college students to be involved with public service.  In fall 2015, he was inducted into the CYD Hall of Fame and has been honored many times by Young Democrats organizations across the state.
    In addition to inspiring youth activism, Dan is involved in several other political organizations. He is currently the Fundraising Chair for the Sacramento County Democratic Party and is also on the Executive Committee of the Harry S. Truman Democratic Club. Dan was also a founding member of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Greater Sacramento, and is proud that he and his wife were the first
”Openly-straight “couple to join this club. For his many years of dedication and commitment, Dan has received many awards including Honorable Mention for the John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for Outstanding Public Service.
For years, Dan has been active in a myriad of local community organizations in Sacramento.  He has served as Board Member, Vice President and President of the Tahoe Park Neighborhood Association (TPNA). Notably from his time with TPNA, Dan organized the District 6 Neighborhood Leaders Coalition which held a Mayoral Forum that connected mayoral candidates with local neighbors in South Sacramento.  He was appointed by then-Sacramento Council Members Steinberg and Jones to sit on the Sacramento Campaign Finance Reform Commission. He served on the Planning and Fundraising Committee for Temple B’nai Israel special celebration of service.  In addition, Dan has been on the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Theatre Company, a committee member of the Annual Gritts-Off fundraiser in support of the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank and has volunteered for many years as a Christmas day delivery driver for Meals on Wheels.
    Away from work and politics, Dan is an avid reader, mainly focusing on works that encompass spiritual writers, political history or biographies of great and interesting people.  On the side, Dan enjoys coaching his son’s youth basketball team, playing golf and visiting with his family in Southern California, especially his five nieces.  Weitzman is married to Randi Weitzman, a Vice-President of Robert Half International, and together, the couple has two children: ten year-old, Maximilian Jacob Weitzman, and six year-old, Matilda Rose Weitzman.