As our nation grapples with a global health emergency, our democracy and elections remain uncertain. Concerns regarding voter turnout, physical distancing, and the resurgence of the virus are moving state leaders to an all-mail voting system. However, all-mail voting threatens participation amongst historically marginalized communities such as people of color, low-income voters, and voters with housing insecurity. Although states and counties are making decisions now, what can philanthropy do to ensure equity is at the center of our civic participation in 2020 and beyond? How will these shifts limit voting options and transform our long-term voter participation? Join us to learn about the proposed changes and how California and community organizations are beginning to prepare.
Cathy Cha is president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Under her leadership, the Fund is exploring innovative approaches to advancing equality and justice so every person has opportunities to thrive and to live life with dignity and hope.
Cathy’s work is driven by a career-long commitment to improving the lives of aspiring communities facing discrimination and poverty. Her collaboration-focused approach with funders, movements, nonprofits, and the government has helped spark wide-ranging social impact, including California’s rise to the top among states in advancing pro-immigrant policies.
Today, the Haas, Jr. Fund is broadening its commitment to helping people achieve their dreams by advancing immigrant rights and LGBT equality, promoting a fair and representative democracy, and ensuring that college is affordable for low-income students and families. Cathy was named one of the Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business by the San Francisco Business Times in 2019.
Alex Padilla is the California Secretary of State. He is focused on modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights. He sponsored legislation in 2015 to establish vote centers, expand early voting, and implement same-day conditional voter registration through the Voter’s Choice Act. In 2018, he launched the California Motor Voter program, which automatically registers eligible Californians to vote when they obtain or renew their state ID or driver’s license. The program registered one million new voters in its first year alone.
Secretary Padilla oversaw the state’s historic General Election in 2018 where 64.5 percent of registered voters cast a ballot. This represented the highest turnout for a Gubernatorial Election since 1982. In February of 2020, California reached a record of more than 20.6 million registered voters.
Previously, he served two terms in the San Fernando Valley in the California State Senate and represented the east San Fernando Valley on the Los Angeles City Council. He grew up in the San Fernando Valley, attended local public schools, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering.
James Woodson is currently the Policy and Strategic Projects Manager at California Calls Education Fund. He manages California Calls’ work around the 2020 census, redistricting, and the Voters Choice Act. He is a member of the Secretary of State’s VCA Task Force as well as the Voters Choice Los Angeles Steering Committee. He is also on the leadership team of the Black Census and Redistricting Hub. James began at California Calls in 2016 on the African American Civic Engagement Project, coordinating civic engagement programs and providing support and assistance to the founding cohort. Previously, James served as the Director of Programs for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, NJ and in a variety of capacities within the Democratic National Committee, the NJ Democratic State Committee, Obama For America, and the NJ Health Care for America Now campaign. James is also a licensed attorney in the states of New Jersey and New York and a proud alum of Rutgers Law School. He served as co-Counsel for the New Jersey Congressional Redistricting Commission in 2011 and 2012. In addition, James was the Founding Director of the Friendship Development Corporation, where he led the effort to create an outreach center that provides food, clothing, and other services to thousands of low-income families in the Baltimore metropolitan area. He currently resides in the Los Angeles area.
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