Candidates: Steering Committee Elections

Candidate Profiles for the Steering Committee Elections are below, following the FAQs

Steering Committee Election FAQs

How many votes do I get?

  • You may vote for one candidate each for the roles of Communications Secretary, Young Democratic Socialists (YDS) Coordinator, and Treasurer. You may vote for six candidates for the six at-large seats on the Steering Committee. If someone wins elections for both a named position and an at-large one, they will be given the titled position and the at-large seat will go to the candidate who received the next highest amount of votes.
When are the important dates for the election?
  • Saturday, April 29: Deadline to nominate yourself or someone else.
  • Tuesday, May 2: Deadline to submit a candidate statement if you haven’t already with your nomination.
  • Saturday, May 6: Candidate information will be posted on DSA-LA’s website.
  • Saturday, May 13*: Candidate forum: Ask the candidates your questions! 11am-2pm - Location: United Teachers Los Angeles 3303 Wilshire Blvd #10, Los Angeles, CA 90010  Ballots will be made available to members by email (or by mail if we don’t have your email address).
  • May 19*: Deadline to vote.
  • May 21 @ 7pm: Ballot tallying and announcement of results. Stories Books and Cafe: 1716 West Sunset Boulevard 
    Los Angeles, CA 90026-3225
What will the responsibilities of the steering committee be?
  • The Steering Committee as a whole will administer the affairs of DSA-LA, oversee the implementation of decisions of membership meetings, act on any matter that requires immediate and urgent action, and coordinate both a democratic bylaws revision process over the next six months and an open and fair elections process at the end of that term.
  • The Communication Secretary is responsible for DSA-LA’s communications media, including our email list and website.
  • The Treasurer is responsible for DSA-LA’s finances, accounting for and budgeting our money.
  • The Young Democratic Socialists Coordinator is responsible for collaborating with youth and students to organize YDS chapters on college and high school campuses and to integrate youth into the work of DSA-LA.
  • The steering committee will also select particular members of it to prepare agendas, record meeting minutes, communicate with National DSA, receive concerns and questions from DSA-LA members, and speak on behalf of DSA-LA to media and other organizations. Such responsibilities may rotate or be shared among members of the steering committee.
If you would like additional details, please see these more detailed notes. If you have additional questions, comments, concerns, or if you would like volunteer to help facilitate the election (please!), please email us at dsalaelections@gmail.com.

Thank you all for your participation in this democratic process.

*NOTE: These dates have been pushed back one week from the original announcement.

In order to ensure that each candidate has contributed substantially to DSA-LA, each was required to seek the endorsement of one of DSA-LA's committee co-chairs. 

Each candidate was asked to provide up to 100 words in answer to each question. Most exceeded that number. Their entire responses are available by clicking the "more" link following their first 100 or so words


Candidates for Communications Secretary

Sam Forman

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I have been a leftist/socialist throughout my adult life (thanks Chomsky). I joined the DSA in November and have kept up with both the local LA chapter as well as several around the country. I am actively involved in the healthcare committee, working with Jerry and Kathryna to help train canvassers and to work on messaging for constituents living in areas where canvassing efforts are needed.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I have been a fundraiser for the Human Rights Campaign, ASPCA, the Sierra Club, in addition to many other social/environmental justice causes. For the past 5 years, I have worked for language service providers to help organizations throughout the country connect with interpretation and/or translation needs in whatever field and language their needs dictate. In this time, I have found my voice and believe I have become an effective and successful communicator. I’ve broken down language barriers and maintained a position of patience + persistence in working with all people in order to ensure the appropriate level of interaction. [more]
I have found great success in communicating via email, phone conversations, and in person conversations, seeking to understand individual needs first then relay messages later.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
As communications director, I hope to provide a clear voice for DSA-LA in relaying our objectives and goals both online and in person. I believe I can accurately summarize the initiatives of all committees and in turn, be effective in further recruitment through messaging directed at new members. I would advocate a similar structure to what is currently in place—I think the separate committees all offer important areas for members to get involved and have, so far, been impressed with how effective the goals have been met throughout. There are times where I notice communication that could be tempered as some people become emotionally invested and in turn lose sight of the fact that they need to be speaking to and for all members. [more]
I don’t believe emotional investment in political causes are inherently bad, but the messaging can be lost if conveyed this way. DSA-LA is in a unique position in comparison to most other DSA chapters in that it is in a progressive city within the heavy left-leaning state of California. I would keep many of the current structures in place—really, I don’t think much change is needed beyond that of language and messaging in minor details of how we communicate to each other and the public at large. I think prioritizing healthcare should be the biggest cause for DSA-LA, as socialized medicine is plausible at the state level under a Trump presidency/GOP congress stronghold. That said, I think maintaining the sanctuary city status is also quite significant, because socialists are stronger when they represent all members of their given societies, and solidarity with those who may be marginalized or mistreated by elected officials runs counter to our cause. I am also a strong advocate of holding said elected officials accountable and demanding they listen to their constituents. I believe these goals can be achieved with effective communication, and I’d be glad to lend my experienced knowledge to be of assistance to all committees and the chapter in general as we work towards them.

Kelsey Goldberg

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I joined DSA-LA, like many in our chapter, after the election. I was thrilled to find an organization that was actually doing work, and even more honored when I was asked to co-chair the Agit-Prop committee. I am constantly in awe of the amazing work my committee members are doing and the success of our campaigns thus far. It’s been truly remarkable to watch the 30 for 30 campaign take off. As a member of the May Day working group and as Agit-Prop co-chair that campaign has demonstrated the power that Agit-Prop has in helping other committees reach their goals! [more]
As a member of the Socialist Feminist committee and the Women’s Healthcare working group I’ve been bowled over (see what I did there) by the support the chapter has given our ACCESS fundraiser. I’m also a member of the Precariat Subcommittee as well as the Labor and Politics committees. My involvement with a range of committees grants me a comprehensive view of the work our chapter is doing, which will allow me to best represent our chapter as communications chair. Being an advocate for all of our chapter’s goals and helping to spread DSA-LA’s message and work is something I’m already very dedicated to, and I’d be honored to continue that work in a more formal capacity.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I come from the not-for-profit theatre world which has equipped me with a lot of the skills needed to be an effective Communications Chair. Shocking as it may be audiences are not tripping over themselves for tickets to the latest indie theatre show, and I spent the years immediately after graduating college, communicating the importance of supporting Toronto’s independent theatre scene to great success. Since moving back to Los Angeles I started my own digital media company, where I’m responsible for all external outreach and messaging. As well, I’m currently running the social media for the Documentary “Girl Unbound: The War To Be Her” about a Pakistani woman whose father let her dress like a boy so she could play sports under Taliban rule. [more]
With all of these experiences the success of the ventures live and die on whether people know about us, and whether we are able to effectively communicate our goals and values. DSA-LA is an important institution and our members are doing amazing work. Ensuring that the hard work, successes, and core values of this organization are known by circles outside of our core membership is crucial, and I believe I have the skills to help build on the amazing work of our current communications chair.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
As a member of the Steering Committee I’d be dedicated to ensuring that the new bylaws reflect our chapter, which has grown immensely since November. Membership engagement, transparency, and a democratic process are aspects of the chapter that not only attracted me, but sets us apart from more establishment organizations and parties. I’d be dedicated to making sure that all changes that are made to the bylaws are done so with the support of our membership and that there is adequate understanding of what the current bylaws are, what changes we are proposing, and what those changes might mean before any votes take place. [more]
In terms of political issues we should prioritize I think the work of the Sanctuary city working group is immensely important and that it is crucial that we continue to foster our relationships with our coalition partners. The fight for guaranteed healthcare for all in California is a wonderful opportunity for DSA-LA to demonstrate the power we have to educate, canvass, and turn out people in support of a cause. Our country seems to be on the brink of war, yet again, and I think DSA-LA has the potential to help build an effective anti-war movement. One of the things I love about DSA is that it allows for people to get involved in issues that are important to them, and to do that work through committees and working groups. Ultimately I think it is the job of the communications chair, as well as the steering committee at large to represent all our committee’s interests equally and to be a public advocate for the goals of all our members. I take that responsibility very seriously and would be dedicated to ensuring that all issues are represented with the same passion and accuracy that I would want for my go-to issues.

Candidates for Treasurer

Graham McNeill

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
My active involvement in DSA-LA over the past three years has enabled me gain a great deal of useful experiences with socialist organizing in LA that I can continue to draw on. During my time in DSA, I’ve been extremely fortunate to have worked under the tutelage of Carol Newton, who has taught me so much. I think that the many hours I’ve logged in DSA-LA and all the guidance I’ve received from Carol and others these past few years has given me a really good understanding of what the LA chapter has been and where it needs to go.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
As a member of DSA-LA, I’ve spent the past few years working in coalition with many other left organizations, and I think I have a pretty good grasp of the activist landscape in the city. I was at one point a dual member of DSA and the Socialist Party, and I have good relationships with individuals from various other socialist groupings in Los Angeles. I’ve also spent many years studying socialism and the history of radical social movements as a graduate student.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
I hope to strengthen DSA-LA’s relationship with the broader LA working class in order to build a more powerful Left in the city. I think that right now it is crucial that we focus on developing the intellectual and organizing capacities of our new members. I also want DSA-LA to chart its own path and avoid becoming a mere junior partner to more established progressive organizations. I believe that DSA is uniquely well-placed to bring various struggles together into a unified vision of a better world, and I want to do everything I can to contribute to that project!

Ethan McQuerrey

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
The morning after the election I was fighting back tears as I got my daughter ready for school. I had the news on and my daughter was so very scared. She asked me “Daddy, what do we do now?”
I was only able to get out two words, “We fight.”
I joined the DSA that 1st day after the election. I was at the first general meeting after the election of 40 people.
I have served on both the Political and Agitprop committees.
I have worked the phone banks for the May 1st Rally.
I have written the Angela Davis Script for the 30 for 30 campaign. [more]

I worked on the electoral committee during the past elections.
I’ve done a bunch of art for merchandise for DSA-LA.
I took the organizer’s training and I have been promoting DSA to all those that will listen.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I am a “red diaper baby.” My father was Brian McQuerrey president of a SDS chapter in the 60s then an active member of the Communist Labor Party after that. My mother is Marilyn Hunter. She was also a SDS member, CLP member and Treasurer for the United Workers Alliance in Baltimore, MD. In the 80s I became politically active as part of the DIY American Punk Rock movement. In ’88 I worked for the Rainbow Coalition to elect Jesse Jackson for President in Maryland. Jesse won the state in the primaries. In the 90’s I was an active member of the Labor Party and an Union Steward for IATSE.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
I feel that this first 6 months of setting up the bylaws for DSA-LA is very important to insure the constant growth and political effectiveness our organization. I would like to see DSA-LA set up the ground work for financially autonomy from National. I would also like to see the formation of an official DSA-LA platform that could be used for recruiting and fundraising. This platform should be easily edited by the membership and should be edited (or confirmed) at least once a year. The same easy ability to edit the by-laws by the general membership should also be put in place. [more]
This is to ensure that the organization cannot become just a political tool for the steering committee. The steering committee should always be there to serve and build the membership, not vise versa. I think there should be a consistent and regular schedules and places for committee meetings and a monthly general gathering to fundraise, welcome new members and share ideas between all members. With the growing numbers I would push for more direct community outreach. Things like park cleaning, school painting and other community outreach, that people could see in action, could help build our membership and build stronger bonds with those same communities. Not to mention this could be a extremely useful tool in our fund raising campaigns. Once the financials are in place this should allow us to approach all types of other funding sources than just membership dues. Hopefully with our financial autonomy and renewed fundraising campaigns we could eventually begin raise enough to begin to have a storefront of host our own committees, recruit new members and even (hope, hope) to have paid positions in our future. This is because people should be paid for their labor. Thank you all for your time and efforts in this fight for social justice and equality for all! Your comrade, Ethan McQuerrey

Candidates for YDS Coordinator

Tal Levy

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
In the Politics Committee, I am responsible for taking detailed meeting minutes, manage Slack, participated in the Process Working Group to propose a formal Committee structure, and contributed heavily to Committee endorsements of pro-union LAUSD candidates. In the Membership Committee, I write code to automatically clean and centralize member lists. Through this work, I’ve thought about how to organize information and ideas, from minutes to data to endorsement talking points. Given the size and growth of our chapter, organized information sharing will be necessary to give individual members the knowledge and tools to be actively engaged. Similarly, sharing chapter resources and actions will help the diverse YDS chapters in L.A. organize internally and engage with the local political landscape.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I grew up a Seattle progressive: comfortable with if unfulfilled by Democratic incrementalism. In 2015–16, I became disillusioned with the party trends and looked for ways to actively push politics left. I found in DSA an exciting opportunity to create meaningful political change. Beyond DSA, I am a software engineer focusing on processing, organizing, and presenting data—skills I’ve used in volunteer work. At USC, I was a member of Los Angeles Community Impact, a student organization providing pro-bono consulting to help nonprofits run effectively and efficiently. I served as VP of Technology on LACI board where I built software to facilitate the internal application process and improve internal information sharing. [more]
Recently, I built a (not yet live) website pro-bono for ACHSA, an non-profit advocacy organization in LA.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
I believe the incoming Committee must focus on instituting systems to expand and make more efficient the work that the chapter is doing. I would like to focus on processes to empower members to increase their involvement, to enable members to share theory, actions and political analyses, and prepare future leadership to manage chapter growth. For DSA-LA to become a prominent force, it must be structured to encourage expansion and scale elegantly while retaining flexibility to meet the challenges today’s political climate brings. DSA’s growth includes making available political resources to students at a critical time in developing personal ideologies. [more]
Collaboration with student chapters will be especially powerful in influencing colleges, which wield significant capital. I want to ensure that how DSA interacts with our YDS chapters is flexible and engaging.

Promise Li

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I have been a core organizer for DSA-LA’s Sanctuary City Working Group, participating in and organizing the Eric Garcetti action in March and helping to plan agendas and other logistical work. I also regularly serve as a point contact to other immigrant rights groups and their actions, and help coordinate DSA members for rallies and actions. I have been also reaching out to other DSA chapters and national leaders to discuss LA’s sanctuary and immigrant rights work. Additionally, I’m in the process of starting a Religion Committee in the chapter, in dialogue with national DSA leaders and also local members.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I have worked as an editor in the webzine of another democratic socialist organization Solidarity, and my experience there helped to give me an early education of the histories and theories of American socialism, which I believe is vital in moving forward as a young socialist. I have also worked, on several occasions, with housing-related community work outside of DSA. I have assisted Inner City Law Center and Bet Tzedek years ago in providing legal services to low-income or homeless populations near Skid Row, and most recently, I’ve been involved in activism around neighborhood oil drilling in South LA communities.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
It is my goal to ensure that the newly elected steering committee can lead DSA-LA and its internal affairs in a democratic and transparent manner, and through a thorough revision of the by-laws, be able to adapt DSA-LA to its new membership and protect its members, both internally and externally. Also, I wish to get DSA-LA more directly involved in worker-related issues in the city, and also further connect DSA-LA with other state chapters. I hope that my participation in the steering committee, as a person of color, can help inspire others like me to join us in our work to create a better, more equitable future for all.

Candidates for At-Large Member

In addition to the candidates listed below, all candidates listed above except Graham McNeill are also running to be at-large members of the steering committee.

Josh Androsky

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I joined the DSA right after the election, and have since undertaken efforts to organize a 100+ person production collective as co-chair of the Agit Prop committee. I’ve overseen and produced the 30in30 video series, mobilized a huge crowd for the Garcetti sanctuary action, and used my contacts in local politics to figure out exactly where and how to disrupt Garcetti’s victory speech.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I was a field manager for LGBT canvassing efforts in the wake of CA’s disastrous Prop 8. Our efforts eventually helped lead to the passing of the Matthew Shepard Act. In my capacity as a TV and live comedy producer, I’ve learned how to organize and mobilize large groups of people all working toward a common goal. I’ve lived in Los Angeles my entire life, and have multiple connections across all industries and am able to use these connections to help further our goals. The time is now to make the left funny and engaging and relevant, and I know that I’m uniquely qualified to help us do that. [more]
I snuck socialist messaging into episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, and I wrote class-conscious comedy for everything from Billy on the Street to VICE.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
In my opinion, the most important thing about our chapter is its radical streak. I’m proud to say that our active defiance of the neoliberal order in this city has in short time won us the respect of numerous coalition partners. As a Steering Committee member, I will continue all the work I’ve done as an executive committee member, by coming up with new and creative ways to get our message out, recruit new comrades, mobilize, and form lasting coalitions to ensure the DSA is in a position to help create a truly inclusive Los Angeles.

Leann Bowen

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I’ve been a member of DSA since early January 2017. I’m a member of the Agit-Prop committee and the New Member committee. Since joining both, I have been the leader of the New Membership Meet and Greet Sub Group. Here, I led a group of about 10 Membership committee members in organizing Meet and Greet Orientations for new DSA members. We started a test run of our Meet and Greets and are moving onto phase 2 which is an expanded city wide cluster of social events to integrate new members into the DSA in an informal atmosphere. On the Agit-Prop committee, I wrote and edited two of the 30 for 30 May Day videos. [more]
I was also project coordinator for the Fiverr meme and video parodies we rolled out in the month of April.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I’m a TV writer and director. Working as a writer for television, I collaborate daily with other writers to create a television script. This process is one that requires diplomacy, listening skills, creativity and above all else positivity. I was a director for two major online comedy websites, Funny or Die and CollegeHumor, where I managed large crews. This is another position that requires patience, collaboration and strong leadership. As for life experience, I’m a life-long socialist. My father was a Black Panther and my mother was a member of NCRCLP, a Filipino Marxist organization in Los Angeles. Growing up in this household, I was often audience to many meetings, actions and discussions where I picked up listening skills and witnessed positive political discourse.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
One of the most important things I would like to see among DSA-LA is a retention of active and engaged members. I think one of the factors to accomplish this is to infuse our membership with a clear understanding of our political vision and that commitment to justice is a life-long commitment. We have a lot of good movement in each of our committees, however communication and organization could be improved and I recognize that the Steering Committee and upcoming elections are the first step toward achieving that. I would also like to improve solidarity within the DSA. [more]
We are a multi-tendency and intersectional organization and we truly stand on the shoulders of activists and revolutionaries from marginalized communities. I would like members of the DSA to feel that power in solidarity while appreciating the work that have come before us and use it to inspire us.

Scott Carpenter

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I attended my first DSA meeting on January 8. Since then, I’ve participated in a variety of committees and projects and gained a unique perspective on our work and how it can be improved. Fellow DSAers have seen me:
  • Pitching, writing, and designing in the Agit-Prop Committee
  • Aggregating resources for the Politics Committee’s Political Education working group
  • Phone-banking with the Labor Committee
  • Assisting as a social media and Slack admin
  • Participating in the Adam Schiff and Jimmy “Two Trees” Gomez actions
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
Before DSA, I had never been politically active—and I didn’t identify as a socialist until after my first two or three meetings. I can’t offer DSA-LA the organizational experience or political knowledge that others can. What I can bring is a fresh perspective. I can ask myself, as someone new to socialism and activism, “What questions or doubts did I have?” “What messages did I find convincing or relatable?” “What did I find difficult or off-putting?” I want to bring more people like me (socialists who don’t know they’re socialists) into the DSA.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
The current DSA-LA structure prohibits growth and solidarity. I suggest we:
  • Divide DSA-LA into “neighborhood branches” that operate within DSA-LA and its committees, and allow for greater localized focus, inclusion, and solidarity
  • Structure committees to encourage prioritization, delegation, and specialization
In terms of elections, I suggest:
  • Single transferable/ranked choice voting
  • Diversity requirements for executive and committee positions
  • Process for filling vacated positions
My number one issue will be diversity. When racial or gender representation within our membership falls below a certain percentage, all committees should prioritize projects that show solidarity with those underrepresented groups.

Francisco Cendejas

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I went to my first DSA event in 2013, having a drink with a few others at La Cita bar. A decent enough start—the Obama years were tough times for Left organizing. I came back around after the election, like so many others, because I realized that my day-job work as a union organizer was not enough, not for this moment. I’ve contributed to several committees, most consistently Politics & Labor, and was part of an awesome collective that organized our May Day work.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
At 33, I’ve been a Socialist longer than not. I’ve been doing Left and organizing work in LA for over a decade, and intend to keep connecting dots between DSA and the various pieces of movement work that I’m an ally to or have been a part of. My past proudest organizing moments so far have, of course, included labor strikes of unionized workers—I’m happy to now add our May Day work to this list. Most of all, it’s important for folks who have been around Left work for a while to develop new organizers from DSA-LA’s membership. [more]
Recall that basic tenet of movement-building—organize yourself out of a job. In my day job I’m an organizer with United Teachers Los Angeles. I’m presently also on the board of an tenant’s rights org in South LA, and have served on a few other boards before.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
Much of DSA-LA’s recent energy and activism comes from its welcoming, open ethos. New members have joined, and been not just allowed, but encouraged to run with their ideas and their projects. The Steering Committee must do everything it can to preserve this spontaneity while also building organizational structure around it—an essential requirement to being a sustainable org, viable for the long-term. Let’s think a couple of years ahead, now. Implementable in the short-term, the Steering Committee ought to ensure that the chapter’s various projects don’t silo, and that we intentionally reach into our membership and bring them into our work. [more]
Organizing isn’t opt-in emails—we must proactively contact our membership, one-on-one where we can, and ask them to be a part of specific projects and committee work. Like any membership-based org, our members are our most important source of strength, and who we are must govern what our org can be. If DSA-LA is the largest group of organized entertainment industry gig workers in LA, for example, then let’s act like it.

Jose Cordova

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?

Back in 2013 I was one of a few people involved in organizing the Eco Socialist Conference. This was an important moment in the Los Angeles left, as it allowed for many organizations to work together (for the first time in a long time) and discuss an important issue. The conference was a success, and lots of new bridges were built because of it, and that is something I hope to continue within DSA LA, and Los Angeles in general. I have several years of experience and connections with different leftist orgs in LA, which I hope can be used in our organizing.

What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?

I have been a member of the International Socialist Organization, LA branch, and was a member of their steering committee. Was also a member of the Socialist Party USA Los Angeles local’s Executive committee as Co-Chair, served as a Delegate for the 2015 SPUSA Convention, and also served as a member of the SPUSA’s National Committee. All of this has helped form my political organizational experience (what to do and what not to do…) and has thrown me into political spheres/issues/conflicts, some of which may have been difficult to deal with, but resolutions and common ground were found through transparent discussions and collaboration. [more]

This is an important practice that I believe needs to be brought into our DSA LA branch.

What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?

One of the first things I would like to bring up is absolute transparency of the organization. I believe all members should have a say in all aspects of the administrative, logistical, economical, and political discussions and parts of the local. In order to do this, we need a centralized way to communicate to the membership clearly and effectively. For any changes to be made of the LA chapter, I believe that we need to begin by reaching out to the membership and discuss what changes need to be done, with enough time and clarity for everyone to have a say or make proposals. [more]

If we are a democratic socialist organization, we need to involve the membership in making such decisions and encourage participation from all. As for the Local Bylaws, I believe the current bylaws need be publicly displayed for not only our membership, but for our periphery as well, and discussed in a branch wide meeting. At such a meeting, the membership of the branch can then have input on what may need to be changed. This would help the local members understand the current bylaws, and for changes to be brought about in a much more democratic manner and to repeat, encourage participation. What is most important to me is to have the DSA Los Angeles local to continue the work it is currently doing, to have it function in a more efficient manner organizationally, but most importantly, for its membership and all of its contacts to be encouraged in active participation of democracy and to build and move the local together.

Robert (Gabe) Gabrielsky

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I have been in and out of DSA since its founding in 1982, largely depending on my personal evaluation of its political relevance at any particular moment. After having let my dues lapse a couple of years ago, I rejoined again in December of 2016. Since the recent growth spurt of the Los Angeles Local of DSA I have attended meetings of the Climate Justice Committee, the Labor Committee, LGBTQ Committee, the Membership Committee and the Politics Committee. Probably the most significant and active logistical and organizational work I have contributed to within the Los Angeles Local of DSA has been through the Labor Committee [more]
where because of my long experience as a rank and file activist and occasional local officer in various unions I believe I have been able to make useful and valuable suggestions regarding the road forward for both the Los Angeles Local of DSA and the DSA national organization in its relationship to organized labor, particularly with how to implement a rank and file strategy for both the Local and the national organization. In particular, after May Day efforts will undoubtedly be made to lay the ground work for a Workers Center of contingent and gig workers and perhaps for a local Trouble Makers School.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I have been an active socialist since 1964 when I first joined the now defunct Socialist Party–Social Democratic Federation. Since then I have been a member of various socialist organizations including the American Socialist Organizing Committee, the Philadelphia Socialist Club, the Independent Socialist Clubs of America, the International Socialists and the New America Movement. In addition to being a member of DSA I am also currently jointly a member of both the Socialist Party, USA and Solidarity. I am currently the Treasurer of the Los Angeles Local of the Socialist Party, USA and the Branch Organizer of the Los Angeles Branch of Solidarity. [more]
In the past had been a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Peace Union (SPU) and Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). I was the Branch Organizer of the Washington, D.C. Branch of the Independent Socialist Clubs of America and subsequent to that of the Central New Jersey Branch of the International Socialists. I am currently a registered Green and I ran for office three times on the Green Party ticket, twice for the New Jersey State Legislature and once for Congress. In 1987 I led two workshops at the First National Green Gathering, one on nonviolence and another on the various independent human rights, labor and peace organizations in then Communist eastern and central Europe. At various times I have been a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the United Office and Professional Workers Union, the International Union of Electrical Wokers (IUE), the United Steel Workers, the United Automobile Workers (UAW), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA), several independent unions and most recently UNITE-HERE. I once served as Financial Secretary–Treasurer of Local 416 of the IUE and I was a shop steward in Local 54 of UNITE HERE. I have taught classes in American labor history, the history of American socialism and the history of world socialism at the Los Angeles Local of the Socialist Party, USA. I have also taught American labor history at the college level. In 2000 I participated in panels at both the Labor Notes Conference and the Left Forum on the Green Party campaign and independent politics.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
In my opinion, no organization can be truly democratic unless every member has the capacity to communicate with every other member. I believe that the most important thing that the Steering Committee could accomplish is to create some mechanism, such as an unmoderated members only listserv in which every members could communicate directly with every other member. I am not particularly wedded to a listserv to accomplish this goal, but I believe that for true democracy to exist there must be some mechanism whereby each member can communicate with every other member. Basically, I believe that the existing bylaws are sound and are well adapted to a membership of various sizes. [more]
That said, of course they could use some tweaking. In particular there needs to be greater oversight of the treasury. For one thing, requiring the signature of two officers for every check is, I think important, and perhaps the establishment of an independent Board of Trustees to oversee the work of the Treasurer. A clause requiring the democratic election of committee chairs would be useful as would a clause guaranteeing the right of every member to communicate with every other member along with some mechanism to facilitate that. Also, the availability of Local Executive Committee minutes to the entire membership should be guaranteed in the by laws. The most important thing for the Los Angeles Local of DSA and for that matter, the national organization is to continue to grow as large and as rapidly as possible to put democratic socialism on the national agenda as a real possibility. As a democratic socialist organization DSA should strive to recruit the whole spectrum of democratic socialists to the organization from anarcho-syndicalists and revolutionary democratic socialists on the left to Democratic Party reformers, religious socialists and advocates of intentional communities on the right. I would also advocate that all the various tendencies put forward written tasks and perspectives documents of their own that can be voted on by the membership of the Local so that we could get a real sense of the strength of each of the various tendencies within the organization as a whole. As an advocate of independent political action and a rank and file strategy in the labor movement I would work to strengthen those tendencies while recognizing that these are at present minority views within the organization and respecting the rights of the majority.

Eric Gardner

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
Since joining DSA at the start of 2017, I’ve been heavily involved with the work of the Sanctuary City Working Group. As socialists in Los Angeles, it is crucial that our organization take up the fight against the criminalization of immigrant workers. Within this group I have produced a variety of graphics, helped to develop a theoretical analysis to guide future actions, acted as a spokesperson at rallies and teach-ins, acted as a liaison to other organizations and to police, and helped out with the day-to-day logistics over a very busy couple of months.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I’ve been organizing with anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-immigrant groups in Los Angeles throughout the last decade. During the Bush II years I helped to run the UCLA chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, a radical student group which had chapters on dozens of campuses around the country at the time. When the recession hit, I participated in the coalition at UCLA that was fighting against austerity and cut-backs in education. More recently, I was involved in a successful campaign to defend a veteran community organizer and co-founder of the Brown Berets from trumped-up and politically-motivated charges. [more]
In addition to my organizing experience, I have experience in graphic design, photography, and web development and am always looking for ways to apply these skills to the struggle.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
If elected to help lead DSA-LA in this critical time, I would prioritize three things. First, I think that we need to build a more structured and accountable organization than has existed here previously. The current leadership has started this process, but after the elections the new Steering Committee will need to ensure that we’re building an organization that’s around for the long haul. Second, I think that political education is critical. Many people in various committees are doing great work, so we need to ensure that the lessons they are learning can be shared with the rest of the chapter. [more]
We should also begin collectively developing political strategy that is informed by both on-the-ground organizing and the history and theory from radical movements. Finally, I believe that we need to develop a culture of anti-oppression within our chapter so that we can build an inclusive and sustainable movement. Racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and other similar forms of oppression are part of the DNA of American society today. Even those of us who wish to bring about a radical change in this society are nevertheless products of those same forces; no one is perfect. If DSA-LA can create a culture of anti-oppression through study, training, and accountability, our group will be better-equipped for the struggles ahead.

Kathryna Hancock

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
My main work has been within the socialist feminist and healthcare committees. Within these groups I have organized multiple things pertaining to reproductive justice. I have coordinated a group training for our members to volunteer with ACCESS, a group that offers practical support to women seeking abortions, and I have started a reproductive justice working group where I’m working on getting DSA into a statewide coalition for these issues. In addition I have recently become a chair with the national socialist feminist working group, where I will also be serving on a working group to develop a national sexual harrasment policy for DSA. [more]
In healthcare I have helped organize calls and canvassing efforts, as well as helped to facilitate our relationship with the healthy CA coalition.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I am very interested in peer support and have experience facilitating support groups, and I’m hoping to start building similar structures in DSA. I think mental health is incredibly important to organizing (and life of course) and we should be thinking about the intersection of politics and mental health more than we currently are. In addition, my career as a freelance worker has taught me a lot about effective communication and organization.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
I would like to see DSA-LA move forward as a socialist feminist organization. I’m interested in making sure there are clear policies and practices that protect and lift up marginalized voices. I would also like to see us structured in a way that emphasizes long term work over chasing fires. Currently the committee structure allows us to do a lot of specialized and important work, but I would like to see more communication, fluidity and transparency between committees so that we can mobilize even more people across all committees. I am interested in building grass roots solidarity in our community outside of the Democratic Party, with the ultimate long term goal of engaging in third party politics.

Maikiko James

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
Like many, I joined DSA in December 2016 after pulling myself out of the post-election mire. I was shortly thereafter asked to Co-Chair the Racial Justice Committee with Bryan Newton, and have held that position since. I’m also a member of the Socialist Feminist Committee, the Sanctuary City Working Group, and attend Politics Committee meetings when available. I am a member of the DSA-LA Bowling Team Women Strike, which bowls for ACCESS Women’s Health Justice and the National Network of Abortion Funds on May 7. I am additionally supporting the start of the Socialist Feminist/Racial Justice Reading Group, which I encourage everyone to join.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
For 17 years, I have worked in not-for-profit management and programming, in issues ranging from immigrant rights, legal protections for domestic violence and trafficking survivors, youth arts and leadership, and currently advocacy for women media creators. I have worked to create strategic plans for multiple organizations, including the crafting of bylaws and impact evaluation. Prior to that I was in high school, organizing against rapid gentrification in San Francisco’s Mission District (woefully unsuccessfully, but the efforts are ongoing!). In my nightly hours, I am a writer and performer, and believe that empathy is a muscle finely toned through these crafts. [more]
In my opinion, empathy is what’s critically needed to build a society in which we all thrive.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
I joined DSA-LA with some reluctance, as I’ve understood historical socialist entities in our country to be fairly hegemonic: white, male, educated, middle class. Walking into my first chapter meeting, my understanding was not contradicted, and I still wasn’t sure it was the place for me. Over the last few months, all the members I’ve gotten to know have been nothing but encouraging about evolving the chapter demographics, and holistically, the leadership thus far has been very dedicated to it. While we may not yet be as representative as is needed to reflect Los Angeles and the society we aim to live in, the impetus to move forward in this is here. [more]
If I am elected to the Steering Committee, I will prioritize integration of all underrrepresented groups throughout chapter activity, as well as building alliances, relationships, and solidarity with other organizing efforts, especially those focused on women, people of color, LGBTQ, and working class communities.

Anne Orchier

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
Since joining DSA-LA in November, I’ve worked to define political goals and positions for our organization that connect the work being done across committees, and provide historical context for new members. I’ve also made sure that these political goals and positions keep us aligned with key coalition partners, while setting our organization apart by situating them within an explicitly socialist framework. As a member of the Housing and Homelessness Committee, I led the independent analysis of Measure S and contributed to our group’s written statement, and have helped form a number of partnerships with affordable housing, tenants’ rights, and anti-gentrification organizations. [more]
As part of the Sanctuary City Working Group, I presented at the recent UCLA teach-in on the relationship between gentrification and the profit motives of displacement. I’ve also worked with the Socialist Feminist Committee on member education, and led a presentation on “Fighting White Supremacy” at the Soc-Fem new member meeting in February.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
My experience working with a number of national and international socialist organizations over the last decade has given me a good sense of what kinds of structures and processes support different political goals. It also prepared me to navigate the political landscape of LA’s Left and develop strong working relationships with leaders of other socialist organizations in our city, such as the PSL and SPUSA. Since moving to LA, most of the work that I’ve done outside of DSA has been with the Los Angeles Tenants Union and its coalition partners, including Union de Vecinos and Defend Boyle Heights, which has helped me learn how to bring a socialist perspective to organizing work without explicitly socialist politics and form strong alliances around shared goals.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
Right now, we have an incredible opportunity to rebuild the Left in the United States, and I believe that DSA-LA is capable of shaping that process significantly. We have an influx of new members energized around democratic socialism, so now it’s critical to define a structure and strong foundation for our organization that will help train them as lifelong organizers. The fact that we don’t demand that members embrace a single party line or have a specific level of experience to join has been a real advantage in terms of growing our numbers and building momentum. Without well-articulated goals and processes that are understood by all members, we risk alienating and confusing new organizers and burning out more experienced ones. [more]
As a multitendency organization, we also need a greater degree of flexibility to organize and respond quickly in this chaotic political moment. Having a defined framework and guidelines will ensure that we aren’t losing energy to constantly reinventing the wheel and that our work doesn’t become shapeless, even as our specific goals and tactics shift.

Alexandra Thompson

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I’ve been formally involved with the DSA since 2016 in LA, but have been involved with DSA members and events since 2009 in Philadelphia. I was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter, and convinced 76 individuals to vote for him in the 2016 primaries. I’ve been most involved with the DSA health committee, and I am passionate about health care reform. I worked with Jerry and the other leaders to present SB562 (CA Single Payer Bill) to all DSA LA members. I also participated in the Nurses’ Union meeting, and canvassed and obtained signatures in support for the SB562 bill.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I am the co-founder and CEO of Allele Genomics, and our mission is to democratize science and empower lower-to-middle class individuals to take control of their health using genomics. I also host an educational vlog called DNA Campaign. I’ve volunteered for several organizations, and expanded my college organization from six members to almost 300 members. Growing up, I experienced the economic divide in our country first-hand, as my grandfather was in the 1%, and my parents were struggling artists with health problems. Trickle-down economics never works, and there are deep-seated issues in this country that need to be addressed.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
As a DSA Steering Committee member, two major initiatives I would support are increasing member engagement and solidarity, and improving strategic focus. As our group continues to grow, regular meetings should be held quarterly instead of annually to keep members active and informed. I’ve heard from other members that it can be difficult to get to know people and become fully integrated. We need and will benefit from a stronger sense of community, of solidarity with each other. Thinking strategically and focusing on issues that benefit the largest percentage of people, like healthcare, will help us make the biggest impact.

Adam Ultraberg (née Goldberg)

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I’m the chair of the Religion and Faith Outreach working group. It’s a small group that I seek to expand, because it exists as a combination of politics and membership. Almost all historical movements have been about Faith: in our case, it’s a Faith in a better future. At rallies, I find myself holding a megaphone and exhorting strangers to join us. I hope to serve similarly in the working group (sans megaphone, hopefully.)
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
I am a small business owner, having kept Agent Web Development afloat for four years this November. I have been able to grow Agent due to staff input. That’s the steering committee’s goal, right? Also, as petite bourgeois, I have a lot of time during weekdays to attend events and empower members. Beyond that, I’ve volunteered for several presidential campaigns (including, unfortunately, Edwards ’08). am an international children’s Playwright with YouthPLAYS, and am currently selling a TV show. I’m like an unbritish Rob Delaney.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
The steering committee is setting the ground rules with which we will transform California and the nation. There’s nothing else. We need to push forward a vision of an egalitarian world, to model a fair system that so many of our brothers and sisters have died for and continue to die for. That means growing our prodigious membership even further. We aren’t a club or a party; we’re the spearhead of a movement; we need a representative system that can react quickly to a fascist executive branch.

Willetta (Willie) Waisath

What experience in DSA would make you a good Steering Committee member?
Since joining in November 2016, I’ve attended events organized by the Racial Justice and Feminist Socialist Committees, and I’ve served as the Co-chair of the Politics Committee since February 2017. In this role I initiated and led a collaborative process to shape the creation of working groups and the decision-making process within the Politics Committee—efforts which ultimately lead to the creation of working groups around Direct Mobilization, Electoral Politics, and Political Education. I’ve undertaken this work to engage new members in meaningful projects and work that allows them to contribute to the organization and connect other members.
What other experience would make you a good Steering Committee member?
In a professional capacity, I’ve been active in a range of projects focused on community education and capacity-building with a rights-oriented approach to social services, including; developing and implementing peer-support for parents involved with the justice system, reproductive health education and access to care through Title X, and community-based participatory research focused on early childhood development care in El Monte. Currently, my professional work focuses on comparative analysis of social and economic policy with a focus on international labor rights, and I’ve been active as a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for over two years.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Steering Committee member?
I think DSA-LA can have impact by working in solidarity with well-established groups in Los Angeles, and connecting our growing membership with ongoing struggles in the area while elevating an anti-capitalist analysis of contemporary political questions. If elected, I would work with other members to develop a membership survey to assess opportunities, skills, and preferences of the larger membership, and use findings to inform recommendations around chapter structure. I would be honored to continue our work on issues relevant at the local and national level, such as equity in education, workers’ and immigrants’ rights, and access to healthcare and housing.