Board of Directors

Ric Bainter  is an attorney who advises non-profits, international organizations and businesses on matters related to international law and relations. He served as legal counsel to the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and to the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and has been involved in a number of projects to promote democratic governance in Eastern Europe, South Sudan and Vietnam. He has taught classes on international law at the University of California, San Diego and at the University of San Diego School of Law. Bainter received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa and a law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. He previously served as Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause and currently serves on Common Cause’s National Governing Board.

Bill Bloomfield served as president and CEO for Web Service Company for 35 years.  He also served as Senator John McCain's national Director of Volunteers in his presidential run in 2007-2008.  In 2012, Bloomfield was a "No Party Preference" candidate for Congress for the 33rd Congressional District.  He is past president of the Rotary Club of Manhattan Beach and serves on the boards of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, the Orange County High School for the Performing Arts, and three for-profit enterprises.  He is the past Chairman of the Multi-Housing Laundry Association.

Brian Brennan is Vice President for Investor Relations and State and Federal Coalitions at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. He previously worked for several years on political development programs for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Russia. Brian has a PhD in comparative government from the University of Oxford, where he studied electoral accountability in California's special districts, and related degrees from Princeton and Stanford. He grew up in the artichoke fields around Castroville, California.

Autumn Carter is the Executive Director of California Common Sense, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to making government more transparent and promoting civic engagement in California. The organization's government financial and governance research has appeared in major media outlets throughout California and the United States. Autumn began working for California Common Sense when it began at Stanford University in 2010. She later earned a B.A. in Political Science with Concentrations in American Politics and Political Theory. She has conducted academic research regarding public opinion survey methodology, and she specializes in public policy analysis and applying public data. She believes that rich context transforms data into information, thereby imbuing data with true value.

Todd Dipaola is an entrepreneur and philanthropist based in Manhattan Beach, who co-founded Vantage Media. He previously worked as a public interest advocate for the Kirsch Foundation. Dipaola founded the first Democracy Matters chapter in California and interned with California Common Cause in college. He graduated as a Regents Scholar from University of California, Berkeley in Molecular and Cell Biology with a minor from the Goldman School of Public Policy.

Rod Diridon, Jr. is the City Clerk and Auditor for the City of Santa Clara. He was first elected City Clerk in 2004, appointed to the additional role of City Auditor in 2007, and prior to that served two terms on the Santa Clara City Council. Throughout his career, Diridon has been a champion for campaign finance reform, government transparency and community engagement programs. He also serves as the Chair of the California Ethics and Democracy Project, an award-winning non-profit effort to engage the City Clerk profession as advocates for good government programs. Prior to his tenure as City Clerk, Diridon had various careers as a political campaign consultant, high-tech global program manager and general manager of a regional car-sharing start-up.

Efrain Escobedo is the vice president in charge of civic engagement, multisector collaboration and public policy at California Community Foundation, responsible for promoting collaboration and advocacy efforts across the nonprofit, public and private sectors to address community problems. Escobedo is recognized nationally and locally as an active leader and expert in Latino civic engagement and elections policy. He has worked extensively with academia, civic and community organizations, as well as with elected officials in developing research, strategies and program to increase voter participation. Prior to joining CCF, Escobedo was the manager of governmental and legislative affairs for the Registrar of Voters in Los Angeles County, the largest election jurisdiction in the nation with more than 4.5 million registered voters.

Norman Kline (Board Vice Chair) is the CEO and founder of LibraryWorld, Inc., a leading Web services company. He is also currently serving on the San Jose Planning Commission, Chair of the Valley Medical Center Foundation, Board Member on the Silicon Valley Leadership Group Foundation, Board member on the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, formerly Mayor of the City of Saratoga and Chair of the City of Santa Clara Planning Commission. Before establishing his own company, Kline had technical and management positions at Apple Computer, Inc. and Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation.

Steve Levin is a Communications Director at the California Charter Schools Association. Previously, Steve served as a Vice President at two Los Angeles-based public affairs firms, where he developed and implemented comprehensive strategic communications campaigns for a variety of corporate, nonprofit and governmental clients. An attorney by training, Steve also worked at a political and election law firm in San Francisco, and with the Center for Governmental Studies, a think tank and governmental watchdog, where he researched and wrote extensively about campaign finance law and public financing of elections.

Drew Liebert is one of the California Legislature's most senior attorneys, having worked over 25 years in both Houses of the State Legislature. He has been the Chief Counsel to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for over 17 years, where he and his staff counsel review and advise state legislators about virtually all areas of the state's civil justice system. Mr. Liebert is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Berkeley, a recipient of a Masters in Public Policy from the Claremont Graduate School, a CORO Foundation Fellow in Public Affairs, and a graduate of UC Berkeley Law School. He is a frequent lecturer across the state on California'a political system and the Legislature's inner workings. In addition to his work in the Legislature, Mr. Liebert has served as an adjunct professor at both the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento and at the University of California. He is also a frequent guest lecturer at the Panetta Institute of Public Policy, and he recently was awarded a California Lawyer of the Year Award. In his role as chief counsel to the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Liebert works at the epicenter of many of the most important pieces of legislation debated and enacted by California policy-makers.

Mindy Romero is the founder and director of the California Civic Engagement Project (CCEP) at the UC Davis Center for Regional Change. Romero is a political sociologist and holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Davis.  Her scholarly work focuses on the intersection of political behavior and race/ethnicity/age.   Romero has been invited to speak about civic engagement and political rights in numerous venues, and has recently provided testimony to the National Commission on Voting Rights and the California Legislature.  Her research has been cited in numerous major news outlets, including the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Politico and the Huffington Post.  A native of California’s Central Valley, Romero is also active in community leadership.  She currently serves as President of the Board of Mutual Housing California, and is a member of the Social Service Commission for the City of Davis.  

Jonathan Stein (Board Chair) is a civil rights attorney with the ACLU of California, focusing on voting rights under the auspices of the California Voting Rights Project. Stein focuses heavily on the National Voter Registration Act and districting and redistricting law under the federal and California Voting Rights Acts. While receiving dual graduate degrees from Berkeley Law School and the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, Stein served as the UC Student Regent, representing the 230,000 students of the University of California on the UC’s governing board. In that role, he helped lead a student voter registration drive that registered over 51,000 students to vote prior to the 2012 election. Stein was previously the president of the UC Berkeley student chapter of Common Cause and, before graduate school, a blogger, reporter, and campaign correspondent for Mother Jones magazine.

Kathleen Thurmond brings more than 20 years of executive experience in corporate and non-profit management. Leveraging a collaborative leadership style, she functions with a sense of urgency and a passion and commitment for supporting women and girls to find their leadership voice, a powerful voice that unfolds through conversation and emerges with a new understanding and compelling solutions.  She is interested in public policy with the goal to facilitate change at a systemic level that will bring greater equality for women and girls.  Currently Ms. Thurmond serves as Past-President of the Board of NAWBO-SFBA (National Association of Women Business Owners, San Francisco, an Executive Board Member on the Board of California Common Cause, and on the Board of Girls Inc. She is a business consultant who previously spent 12 years as the CEO of a uniform rental company in Southern California and 15 years in non-profit management.  Thurmond holds a graduate certificate in Environmental Business from Presidio Graduate School, an MBA from the University of Southern California, an MSW from Washington University, and a BA from Southern Methodist University. She also is a licensed clinical social worker.

Zabrae Valentine is the immediate past executive director of the California Forward Action Fund and deputy director of the Action Fund’s sister organization, California Forward. Prior to joining California Forward, Zabrae directed The Commonwealth Club of California's Voices of Reform Project, which promoted civic discussion of issues related to California governance and promoted bipartisan recommendations for improving government accountability and performance. Prior to that Zabrae served as a senior program officer for the National Democratic Institute in Malawi supporting legislative and policy analysis and budget monitoring, and as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Tom Daschle in Washington, D.C.

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