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September 11, 2019 Luncheon: Meet California's New Party Chairs

Please join the Sacramento Press Club on Sept. 11 for a conversation with California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks and California Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson.

Jessica Millan Patterson was elected California Republican Party chair on Feb. 24, focused on taking the fight to Democrats and winning California elections, emphasizing her grassroots success, experience as a political strategist, communicator, and fundraising ability. She is the first female and first Latina chairwoman of the California Republican Party.

Rusty Hicks was elected California Democratic Party chair on June 1, after serving as president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. He believes the party's top priority should be grassroots organizing to create people-powered election victories.

Politico’s Jeremy B. White and AP’s Kathleen Ronayne will serve as moderators.

September 9, 2019 Special Event: Andrew E. Stoner Q&A and Book Signing

Randy Shilts was a crusading and pioneering reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle who broke many of the huge stories regarding the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was the author of the acclaimed book, ”And the Band Played On,” and “The Mayor of Castro Street.” He died too young but lives on in a fascinating biography, “The Journalist of Castro Street: The Life of Randy Shilts,” by Andrew E. Stoner, a professor at Sacramento State.

Please come to hear Dr. Stoner talk about his book on Monday, Sept. 9, at 5:30 p.m., at the Sacramento State Downtown center, 304 S Street. Politico's Angela Hart will moderate the discussion.A Q&A and book signing will follow Professor Stoner's presentation. This event is presented by the Sacramento Press Club and Sacramento State. Avid Reader will be selling copies. Press Club members get a discount.

August 28, 2019: Droughts, Tunnels & Clean Water: A Conversation on California Water Policy

Please join the Sacramento Press Club on Aug. 28 for a conversation focused on the future of water in California.

Wade Crowfoot is California Secretary for Natural Resources, appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January 2019.  As a member of the governor’s cabinet, he advises Gov. Newsom on natural resources and environmental issues. He oversees an agency of 19,000 employees charged with protecting and managing the state’s forests and natural land, rivers and waterways, coast and ocean, fish and wildlife, and energy development.

Jennifer Pierre is general manager of the State Water Contractors, overseeing implementing objectives and overall operations. Pierre manages coordination with the California Department of Water Resources regarding statewide water supply management, and the programs, policies and regulations affecting the State Water Project.

Jeffrey Kightlinger is general manager and chief executive officer for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, a state-established cooperative that delivers water to 26 member agencies serving 19 million people in six counties.

Stuart Leavenworth, an editor at the Los Angeles Times, will moderate the panel. He is the Times’ California enterprise editor, and wrote extensively about water as a reporter and editorial page editor for The Sacramento Bee.

May 14, 2019: First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2019 Scholarship Awards
Scholarship Honorees

KCRA anchorwoman Edie Lambert will be interviewing First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the documentary filmmaker and wife of Gov. Gavin Newsom, at the Sacramento Press Club's May luncheon. The Press Club will also present the student recipients of its 2019 scholarships.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom is an award-winning filmmaker, advocate, and founder of the nonprofit organization The Representation Project, which inspires individuals and communities to challenge limiting gender stereotypes and shift norms.

After graduating with honors from Stanford University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Jennifer worked in Africa and Latin America, helping women entrepreneurs create their own socially and environmentally responsible businesses. She then moved to Hollywood to pursue acting and producing.

Dismayed by the way women were represented both in front of and behind the camera, Jennifer decided to rewrite this story and wrote, directed, and produced the award-winning documentary film “Miss Representation.” Released in 2011, the film exposes how the misrepresentation of women in the media contributes to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America, and challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls. In response to the film’s powerful impact, Jennifer launched The Representation Project.

Jennifer’s second film, “The Mask You Live In,” made its world premiere in 2015 and explores how our culture’s narrow definition of masculinity is harming boys, men, and society at large. She is currently wrapping up her third film, “The Great American Lie.”

Jennifer was proudly appointed to be a member of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and also serves on the advisory boards for The Imagine Bus Project, The Common Sense Media Gender Initiative, and Emerge America. She and her husband Governor Gavin Newsom are the proud parents to their four young children and greatest achievements – Montana, Hunter, Brooklynn, and Dutch.

April 18: Secrets of Opposition Research

No serious campaign can get by without a serious opposition research element, and so we’ve brought together some of the best opposition researchers in the business to help explain what they do and why. Maybe they’ll share a few tricks of the trade. Come on by, have a little lunch and hear what they have to say.

Joseph Rodota has worked at the highest levels of federal, state, and local politics for more than 30 years. He served as a writer and communications manager in the Reagan White House and as a top campaign and government aide to California Govs. Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger. In October 2008, as part of a team of bipartisan political consultants who managed the campaign against Proposition 8, Rodota ran the rapid-response “war room.” He is the CEO of Forward Observer, a research and strategy firm based in Sacramento. Rodota's book The Watergate: Inside America's Most Infamous Address, was published in 2018 by William Morrow. He also is the author of Chessman, a play about the final days of Caryl Chessman, the “Red Light Bandit,” as seen through the eyes of Gov. Pat Brown and his family. 

Liz Mair is the owner, founder and president of Mair Strategies LLC, a boutique opposition research and strategic communications firm with a lengthy history of work in California politics and policy. Mair advised former Hewlett-Packard CEO and US Senate candidate Carly Fiorina on communications  She has also advised on several California ballot initiatives, as well as numerous legislative and regulatory efforts. A rival operative once described Mair as “hit[ting] harder than a truck” where her use of opposition research is concerned. A frequent TV news commentator on politics and policy and a social media presence in her own right, Mair was named one of Campaigns & Elections’ INFLUENCERS 50 in the field of communications in 2013. She regularly features as a guest on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and Real Time with Bill Maher. 
Mike Rice, partner at Oakland-based VR Research, has spent his entire career in public records and opposition research. Prior to co-founding VR Research in 1995, Mike worked as the research director for the California Democratic Party and on political campaigns throughout the nation as a research Associate at the Research Group. Mike has conducted trainings and written about opposition research (contributor, Handbook of Political Marketing, Sage Publications) and how to use open records law to the requestor’s advantage (contributor, America, the Owner’s Manual, Sage Publications.)

The panel will be moderated by Anita Chabria of The Los Angeles Times and Jeremy White of POLITICO.

March 26, 2018: A Conversation With California's New Constitutional Officers

Last November, California made history by electing its first woman lieutenant governor. She is joined by two other women holding constitutional offices: state treasurer and state controller. The three women are bringing fresh perspectives to California government, shaping state policies on education, housing, and the environment. Together for the first time since their election, these three leaders will discuss their backgrounds, priorities, and what they have in store for the next four years – and beyond.

Eleni Kounalakis was sworn in as the 50th lieutenant governor of California by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 7th, 2019. She is the first woman elected lieutenant governor of California. From 2010 to 2013, Kounalakis served as President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. Kounalakis was the first Greek-American woman – and at age 43, one of America’s youngest – to serve as U.S. Ambassador. Prior to her public service, Kounalakis was president of AKT Development, where she worked for 18 years. Passionate about early childhood development, Kounalakis served as a member of California’s First 5 Commission and the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Autism.

Betty T. Yee was elected state controller in November 2014, following two terms of service on the California Board of Equalization. Reelected for a second term as controller in 2018, Ms. Yee is only the tenth woman in California history to be elected to statewide office. As the state’s chief fiscal officer, Ms. Yee chairs the Franchise Tax Board and serves as a member of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards. Ms. Yee previously served as chief deputy director for budget with the California Department of Finance.

Fiona Ma was elected California’s 34th state treasurer in November. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant elected to the position. She moved up to the post after serving as a member of the California Board of Equalization from 2015 until January 2019.She was selected as chairperson of the Board of Equalization in 2016, ordered three external audits of the agency, and helped lead the biggest reforms for accountability and efficiency in that agency’s history. She was a member of the Legislature from 2006-2012, serving as Speaker pro Tempore. From 2002-2006, Fiona served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She first became involved in public service in 1994 when she was elected president of the Asian Business Association.

March 22, 2019: Meet the Press

February 13, 2019: Meet Some of California’s Newest Legislators

The Sacramento Press Club welcomes a panel representing the next generation of California lawmakers. Whether they flipped their districts or won safe seats, all are launching their first terms in the Legislature. Meet these new members and hear their plans for priority issues including health care, housing, the environment, and the economy.

Alexei Koseff, who covers the Capitol for the San Francisco Chronicle, will moderate the panel.

Sen. Andreas Borgeas, a Republican, represents the Senate’s 8th District, which includes all or part of eight counties from Sacramento to Death Valley. His district is larger than 10 U.S. states. Before his election to the Senate in November, Borgeas served as a Fresno County supervisor. He is also a professor of international law at the San Joaquin College of Law. Borgeas is a graduate of Georgetown Law School and a Fulbright Scholar. He is vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris represents coastal Orange County in the 74th Assembly District. She grew up in San Diego with her stepfather, a union machinist, and her mom, a homemaker who worked odd jobs to help make ends meet. She attended local public schools and earned degrees in economics and English at Yale University. Petrie-Norris worked in finance and marketing for 20 years. She lived in Washington D.C., South Africa and London before returning to Southern California five years ago. Petrie-Norris, a Democrat, chairs the Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee.

Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, a Democrat, represents Berkeley, Richmond and other East Bay cities in Assembly District 15. She was born in a small town in rural California and grew up in a trailer, raised by working class parents. Wicks attended public school, then enrolled at her local community college before transferring to and graduating from a four-year university. Wicks started her career as a community organizer, working with Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and the United Food and Commercial Workers, before joining President Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns. Wicks served in Obama’s Office of Public Engagement to help pass the Affordable Care Act, and was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where she advocated for economic security for women and families. She is a member of the Assembly Rules Committee and four other committees.

December 18, 2018: Jerry Brown - The Exit Interview

Join the Sacramento Press Club for a conversation with Governor Jerry Brown as he reflects on five decades of public service, the state of our nation’s political discourse, and the future of the Golden State. Brown will be in conversation with journalist and author Miriam Pawel, and Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton.

Pawel’s most recent book is The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation. Skelton has covered California government and politics for more than 50 years, spanning both of Brown’s tenures in the governor’s office.

The event will begin early with a silent auction of memorabilia from Brown’s life in California politics spanning the last half century.

November 19, 2018: Post-Election Breakdown

It’s a Sacramento Press Club tradition and the hottest ticket in town: We welcome Mark DiCamillo of the UC Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies and Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California to discuss the results of the midterm elections. In addition to the outcome of key House races in California and across the country, DiCamillo and Baldassare will break down California voters’ choices on the slate of hot-button ballot initiatives, from a repeal of the 2017 gas tax increase to rent control, daylight savings time and space for farm animals. What about the "blue wave"? Did President Trump’s policies play a role in California’s contested races? Join the Sacramento Press Club on Nov. 19 as DiCamillo and Baldassare share their insights.

Mark Baldassare is president and chief executive officer of the Public Policy Institute of California. He is a leading expert on public opinion and survey methodology and directs the PPIC Statewide Survey. Baldassare is an authority on elections, voter behavior and political and fiscal reform. He has authored 10 books and many studies on these topics. Before joining PPIC, he was a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of California, Irvine.

Mark DiCamillo is director of the University of California, Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies Poll. Previously, he was senior vice president of Field Research Corporation and director of The Field Poll, a non-partisan, media-sponsored survey of California public opinion established in 1947 by polling pioneer Mervin Field. He has more than 35 years’ experience in the design and implementation of large-scale quantitative surveys, with particular emphasis on studies conducted within the state of California.

October 8, 2018: Gas tax repeal initiative debate

Proposition 6 on the November ballot would repeal the 2017 gas tax increases that are expected to bring in $54 billion dollars in the next decade to fix roads, bridges, and freeways. But it’s about more than taxes and traffic jams. Fighting taxes is a standard platform for Republicans, and they are backing the campaign as a wedge issue to drive their voters to the polls. The Democrats see Prop 6 as a desperate attempt by the Republicans to stay relevant. Gov. Jerry Brown has said it’s a “flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies” that jeopardizes the safety of millions of Californians.

Join the Sacramento Press Club at its next luncheon, on October 8, for a debate between the leading proponent and opponent of Proposition 6.

Carl DeMaio is a political talk show host on NewsRadio 600 in San Diego, a Republican, and a former member of the San Diego City Council. He started his first company at age 23 to help financially troubled government entities cut costs and improve performance. His business success turned into a lifelong crusade to improve performance, transparency, efficiency and accountability. He even turned down 22 percent of his own salary while on the city council.

Matt Cate is founder and president of Cate Consulting, a firm that specializes in local government and public safety. He served as executive director of the California State Association of Counties for five years, where he championed transportation infrastructure. Before Cate served as secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, he was inspector general of the department, and a deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice.

September 11, 2018: Superintendent of public instruction debate

With education once again topping the polls as the issue most important to California voters, the battle to be next California’s superintendent of public instruction has become one of the most-watched (and expensive) races on this November's ballot. The two candidates, both Democrats, have clashed on issues such as charter schools, teacher pay and school funding.

The superintendent of public instruction sets the tone for state educational policy. They are responsible for enforcing education law and regulations, and for continuing to reform and improve public elementary school programs, secondary school programs, adult education, some preschool programs, and child care programs.

Join the Sacramento Press Club on Sept. 11 for a dinner debate between candidates moderated by Dave Lesher, editor of CalMatters. A panel of journalists, including Katie Orr of KQED, will be asking questions of the candidates.

Marshall Tuck, the top vote-getter in the June election, was most recently educator-in-residence at the New Teacher Center (NTC), a nonprofit organization working with school districts to help develop and retain effective teachers and principals. Prior to that, Tuck was the founding CEO of the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a collaboration between the mayor's office and Los Angeles Unified School District that operates 18 struggling elementary, middle and high schools serving 15,000 students. Before joining the Partnership, Tuck was the president of the nonprofit Green Dot Public Schools, where he helped create 10 new public charter high schools in some of Los Angeles' poorest neighborhoods. In 2014, Tuck, a Democrat, ran against the incumbent state superintendent, Tom Torlakson, forcing him into a run-off before narrowly losing.

Tony Thurmond (D-Richmond) represents the15th Assembly District, which encompasses the northern East Bay. Before being elected to the California Assembly in 2014, Thurmond was a member of the West Contra Costa School Board from 2008 to 2012 and the Richmond City Council from 2005 to 2008. Thurmond was the council liaison to the West Contra Costa County Unified School District and the West Contra Costa County Education Fund. He also served as council liaison to Richmond's Youth Commission and Workforce Investment Board. He was a member of the Family and Children's Trust Committee of Contra Costa County.

August 23, 2018: Jeff Bridges joins the Sacramento Press Club for a panel discussion on child hunger

The Sacramento Press Club welcomes Academy Award-winning actor, musician, photographer and philanthropist Jeff Bridges in his role as spokesman for No Kid Hungry, a nonprofit organization focused on ending child hunger in the United States. Bridges and Sen. Richard Pan be part of a panel discussion on child hunger moderated by KCRA-TV anchor Edie Lambert.

In California, nearly 21 percent of children under the age of 18 live in households where they don’t regularly have enough to eat. Across the country, 13 million children are facing the same difficulties. No Kid Hungry supports federal programs that help schools serve breakfast, lunch and summer meals to kids in need. The organization also teaches parents and caregivers how to buy and prepare healthy, affordable meals, and works with elected officials and government agencies to strengthen and improve programs. No Kid Hungry is working to protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps 20 million kids a year and is at risk in the House of Representatives’ version of the 2018 farm bill. At the state level, NKH supports expansion of Medicaid and other policies that address childhood hunger.

Bridges has worked as an anti-hunger activist and advocate for 30 years, and has served as national spokesman for the No Kid Hungry campaign since 2010. One of Hollywood’s most successful actors and a seven-time Academy Award nominee, he won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role as Bad Blake in the film Crazy Heart. Most recently, he received a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as a retiring Texas Ranger in Hell or High Water

Pan, a pediatrician and former UC Davis educator, represents the Sacramento area in the California Senate. He chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. Before his election to the Senate, Pan co-founded and served as chair of Healthy Kids Healthy Future. This summer, he worked with a growing coalition in the Sacramento region called "Million Meals This Summer" to ensure no child goes hungry when school is not in session.

Lambert anchors the 5, 6:30 and 11 p.m. newscasts on KCRA-TV in Sacramento. Highlights of her career include interviews with former President Barack Obama and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Her work has aired on NBC stations around the nation, and it has earned her two Emmy Awards and seven Emmy nominations. Lambert holds a degree in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara. As a former SPC board member, she lead the scholarship committee for seven years.

August 8, 2018: Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon

The Sacramento Press Club welcomes Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D) for a bicameral discussion about the Legislature’s agenda with Los Angeles Times Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers on Aug. 8.

The Legislature’s to-do list when it returns in August for the final month of the 2018 session is as long as the temperatures are hot in Sacramento. Will it overhaul the state’s bail system, set new renewable energy mandates, or enact net neutrality rules following the Trump administration’s withdrawal of national regulations? Will it find a way for cannabis businesses to use bank accounts instead of dealing only in cash? Can it pass bills in response to the #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough movements to end forced arbitration of sexual harassment complaints and nondisclosure agreements in misconduct settlements? Will it defy the Trump administration and allow taxpayers to get around new federal limits on state and local tax deductions? Join the discussion about the leaders’ priorities.

Atkins was sworn in as the Senate President Pro Tempore in March, making her the first woman and first openly LGBT person to hold the office. She represents the 29th Senate District in San Diego. Atkins previously served as a member of the Assembly and the Assembly Speaker, where she oversaw passage of a $7.5 billion water bond and creation of the state earned income tax credit. Since moving to the Senate, Atkins has championed funding for affordable housing and new policies to address sexual misconduct in the Legislature. Before joining the Legislature, Atkins was a city council member and interim mayor of San Diego, and director of clinic services at Womancare Health Center.

Rendon was sworn-in as the 70th Speaker of the California State Assembly on March 7, 2016. He represents the 63rd Assembly District, which includes nine cities in Southeast Los Angeles County. Highlights of his tenure include passage of a $52 billion transportation funding plan, extension of California’s cap-and-trade program, and legislation to address the affordable housing crisis. He’s led expansion of the earned income tax credit and child care eligibility, record investment in education, and changes to the Board of Equalization and University of California. Before he was an Assembly member, Rendon was an educator, non-profit executive director and environmental activist.

Myers joined the Los Angeles Times as Sacramento bureau chief in 2015 after more than two decades in radio and television news, much of that as an award-winning reporter covering statehouse policy and politics. During a decade of work for San Francisco's NPR affiliate, he launched one of Sacramento's original politics blogs and California’s first politics podcast. He also served as the moderator of gubernatorial debates in 2014 and 2010. Myers is often cited by state and national news organizations as one of Sacramento's top journalists.

July 10, 2018: Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs is the city's first African-American mayor, and at 27, he is the youngest mayor in America to serve a city of Stockton's size. He is grabbing headlines for his proposals to launch a pilot universal income program for Stockton residents, and to offer $1,000 stipends and intervention for residents most likely to be violent criminals. He has also inspired a recall petition.
Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez recently said of Stubbs: "There's a difference between a vision and a hallucination, and time will tell with Tubbs. But I like the young man's mix of rebelliousness, impatience and willingness to take risks."

Tubbs is a Stockton native who has bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University. He served as a city council member for four years before being elected mayor in November 2016. Stubbs will share his vision for his hometown in a conversation with CALmatters Senior Editor Dan Morain at the Sacramento Press Club on July 10.

Morain was The Sacramento Bee’s editorial page editor from 2013 to 2018, and a columnist and editorial writer at The Bee from 2010 to 2013. Morain spent 27 years at the Los Angeles Times, covering the California Supreme Court when Rose Bird was chief justice, the Legislature when Willie Brown was speaker and the Governor’s Office during Gray Davis’ tenure. His final assignment for The Times was to be part of the team that covered the 2008 presidential campaign. He spent nine months working in public relations for Consumer Attorneys of California, before joining The Bee’s editorial board.

June 7, 2018: Post-Primary Breakdown:  What Do the Results Mean for November?

The Sacramento Press Club will host a post-primary breakdown with Darry Sragow of Target Book, Paul Mitchell from Political Data Inc., Democratic consultant Katie Merrill and Republican consultant Jennifer Jacobs. Going beyond who won and who lost, our panelists will discuss trends, demographics and what the outcome means for the November general election.

Darry Sragow is a veteran Democratic political strategist and attorney. He served as chief campaign advisor for the Assembly Democratic Caucus, and as campaign manager for five statewide races in California, three for governor and two for the U.S. Senate. Sragow has also managed a number of school and community college bond campaigns. He is currently senior counsel with the international law firm Dentons and teaches undergraduate political science at the University of Southern California. Darry previously directed the USC/Los Angeles Times poll.

Paul Mitchell is the owner of Redistricting Partners, and Vice President of Political Data Inc.—nationally recognized bipartisan industry leaders in their respective fields. He has been involved in campaigns from San Diego to Marin, California to North Carolina, and has worked with statewide organizations on legislative and congressional redistricting. He also works with local agencies on voting rights issues and implementation of the California Voting Rights Act. Through Political Data, he helps campaigns with data to contact registered voters, model voter behavior, target their constituencies and get out the vote. Mitchell also works with academic institutions, the Public Policy Institute of California and other nonprofit groups.

Katie Merrill is a principal at national direct mail and campaign consulting firm Baughman Merrill. She began her career as a field operative for Barbara Boxer’s first U.S. Senate campaign and has become one of the leading female and LGBT campaign managers and consultants in the country. Merrill has advised Democratic campaigns for president, governor, U.S. Senate, House of Representatives, and the Legislature. She has also worked on statewide ballot measures and advised corporations, trade associations and nonprofit groups. She is on the National Advisory Council for the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and lectures in the political science department.

Jennifer Jacobs is owner of Sunshine Strategy, a firm specializing in public relations, media and public affairs, crisis communications and event planning. Her clients have included governors, state constitutional officers, legislators, mayors, and city council members. She has also served national, state and local political organizations. Jacobs was a chief of staff in the Legislature, and was a key manager for Republican leadership throughout the state, with a focus on the Central Valley and San Diego. Jacobs also trains corporate and government leaders in media relations and crisis communications.

May 22, 2018: NPR Correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, 2018 Scholarship Awards

The Sacramento Press Club welcomes back National Public Radio international correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson as our guest speaker at the club’s annual scholarships awards luncheon on May 22.

Nelson, based in Berlin, will share some of her experiences covering central Europe and the Middle East for NPR since 2006. Before she joined NPR, Nelson was a reporter for the Orange County Register based in Sacramento and a member of the Sacramento Press Club.

After opening the NPR Kabul bureau in 2006, Nelson reported from Afghanistan for more than three years, winning a Peabody Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, and several other awards for her coverage of the Middle East and Afghanistan. Most recently, Nelson won the 2017 Excellence in International Reporting Award from the International Center for Journalists. Her reports are heard on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and other NPR programming.

During her 20 years as a newspaper reporter, Nelson also worked as Knight Ridder’s Middle East bureau chief, as a reporter on extended assignment for the Los Angeles Times in Iran and Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and as editor on a team at Newsday that won a Pulitzer Prize.

Nelson is one of seven honorees for whom the Sacramento Press Club’s 2018 scholarships are named.  At the luncheon, the SPC will award a total of $34,000 in scholarships to seven college or graduate students who show promise in joining the next generation of journalists.

Join the SPC on May 22 to help us congratulate our 2018 scholarship winners and to welcome Nelson to Sacramento.

April 17, 2018: Lieutenant governor candidates face off in debate

The role of California’s lieutenant governor may seem mostly ceremonial, but it’s enough to entice plenty of people to want the office. The lieutenant governor helps shape education, environment, and economic policy on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees, the State Lands Commission, Ocean Protection Council, and Commission for Economic Development. The state’s second-highest ranking elected official can break a tie in the state Senate. And let’s not forget the role of acting governor when the governor leaves the state. 


Join the Sacramento Press Club April 17 for a debate between candidates for lieutenant governor who on the June statewide primary ballot. UC Davis spokeswoman and journalist Pamela Wu will moderate the debate, with a panel of journalist asking questions of the candidates.

Jeffrey Bleich is a Democrat and a partner in the public policy and regulation practice at the law firm Dentons. He served briefly as special counsel to President Barack Obama in 2009 before he became U.S. Ambassador to Australia from 2009 to 2013. He is chair of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

Ed Hernandez is a Democrat and a state senator representing the 22nd District in the San Gabriel Valley. He also served in the Assembly for four years. Hernandez is a practicing optometrist, and previously served as president of the California Board of Optometry. He is chair of the Senate Health Committee.

Eleni Kounalakis is a Democrat and former president of housing development company AKT Development. She served as U.S. ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013. As a party activist, Kounalakis has worked on campaigns for candidates and initiatives starting with the 1992 U.S. Senate race. She is chair of the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment.

Gayle McLaughlin is an independent candidate. She is the former two-term elected mayor and councilmember of Richmond, CA (2005-2017) and a co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance.

Lydia Ortega is a Republican and professor of economics at San Jose State University, where she chaired the economics department for almost 15 years. At SJSU, she has also served as chair of the University Council of Chairs and Directors and the President’s Commission on Diversity, as well as other strategic planning and search committees.

March 21, 2018: Attorney General Debate

Public safety and law enforcement. Immigration and California’s sanctuary state status. Environmental protection. Consumer protection. California’s response to Trump Administration policies. These are just some of the issues on the docket for the next California attorney general. Join the Sacramento Press Club Wednesday, March 21 for a debate between candidates who will appear on the June statewide primary ballot. UC Davis spokeswoman and journalist Pamela Wu will moderate the debate, with a panel of journalists asking questions of the candidates. 

Steven Bailey is a Republican and former elected Superior Court judge in El Dorado County, where he was mainly assigned to criminal, civil, probate, and juvenile delinquency cases. In his private practice, he handled criminal and administrative law for 19 years. Bailey is also a former director of legislation for the California Department of Social Services and staffer in the Assembly and Senate.

(Invited) Xavier Becerra is a Democrat and current California Attorney General. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appointed him in 2017 to fill the term vacated by U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D). He served as a member of Congress for more than 20 years, and was a California Assembly member for two years. Becerra also worked as a deputy attorney general under former California AG John Van de Kamp.

Eric Early is a Republican and an attorney with Early, Sullivan, Wright, Gizer & McRae LLP in Los Angeles. He regularly litigates complex business matters involving the entertainment and real estate industries. Before attending law school, Early worked in the film industry as a director, producer and writer.   

Dave Jones is a Democrat and current California Insurance Commissioner. Before his election to statewide office, Jones served as a member of the California Assembly and the Sacramento City Council. Jones was a special assistant to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno (D), and previously worked as a legal aid attorney.

Februrary 20, 2018: Rep. Adam Schiff

As the top Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D) is a vocal critic of President Donald Trump (R) and a key leader of the Democrats’ push for a congressional investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election. In a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Schiff faulted House Republicans for flouting investigative best practices and undermining Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

“These attacks are a clear effort to lay the groundwork for a rejection of Mr. Mueller’s findings,” Schiff said. “They do lasting damage to the institutions of our democracy.”

A former federal prosecutor and state senator, Schiff is also focused on public safety, job creation, the environment, and mass transit. He co-founded the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Caucus for Freedom of the Press in 2006. The caucus aims to advance press freedom by creating a forum to combat and condemn media censorship and the persecution of journalists around the world.

Schiff is serving his ninth term representing the 28th Congressional District, which stretches from West Hollywood to Pasadena, and from Echo Park to Angeles National Forest.  He is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

January 8, 2018: Co-Founder Joseph Sanberg

Joseph Sanberg is a politically active Los Angeles investor and entrepreneur. He co-founded, a financial services firm that offers socially responsible mutual funds and interest-bearing checking accounts with optional fees to promote middle-class investment and financial security. He also started the Golden State Opportunity Foundation in 2015 to promote a new state-level earned income tax credit for low-income people. Through the foundation, the CalEITC4me program has taken on statewide outreach to help families eligible for the credit claim their part of the $2 billion available. Testing his political reach, Sanberg launched a digital ad campaign in September promoting CalEITC4me and announced plans to start a federal political action committee to support candidates aligned with his priorities. Will he run for U.S. Senate or other elected office in California?

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