Karla Zombro

Danielle Fletcher
• Monday, 17 January, 2022
• 8 min read

Prior to California Calls, Karla worked in a variety of roles at SCOPE where she helped lead their organizing and policy campaigns. Despite election reforms designed to improve turnout in 2020, the gap between white and diverse voters remained significant.


Ramiro Gomez-Galiano knocked on more than a thousand doors in Santa Clarita for the March primary, urging Latinos and other infrequent voters to turn out. That’s something that we all have the power to do,” said the teen, a volunteer with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights based in Los Angeles.

For the recent election, California joined three other states that responded to the pandemic by mailing a ballot to each voter. “Even though California is so ahead of the curve on voting reforms, why is it totally persistent that the overall makeup of the electorate still doesn’t change?” Zombie said.

Advocates place the hurdles in two buckets: disillusionment that one’s vote matters and deeper, structural barriers including inequality and language access. California allows online voter registration, but doesn’t consider the digital divide that disproportionately affects communities of color.

Eligible adults are automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, but many people of color use buses. In Long Beach, registered voter turnout was above 90% within the city’s eastern precincts, in neighborhoods where you can take a gondola cruise passing $3 million dollar homes.

In the north side, occupied by many lower income Black families, turnout was similarly low. While Asians are generally a high-turnout group, those of southeastern background like Filipinos have historically low turnout, Zombie said.

“Even though California is so ahead of the curve on voting reforms, why is it totally persistent that the overall makeup of the electorate still doesn’t change?” The federal Voting Rights Act and California election code require linguistically diverse areas to provide language help to voters.

Its reports continue to show some poll workers don’t know that translated materials exist or where to find them. “Indirectly, I do think that there is some voter suppression,” said Karen Diaz, electoral field manager with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights.

Counties sent mailers updating registered voters on major election changes, voting locations and where to get translation support. It falls on advocates to fill the information gap, as candidates don’t make the effort to contact unlikely voters, Diaz said.

Until we can do this on a mass scale across the state, we’re still going to have huge gaps in voter turnout,” Diaz said. Latinos were less likely to believe it “really matters” who wins the presidential election, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.

“A lot of folks for years didn’t believe that their votes would matter,” said Helen Jones of Dignity and Power Now. Latino and Black organizers recruited thousands to help canvass to tighten the racial turnout gap.

Fresh from November’s election, Jones is spending up to six hours a day texting Georgia voters from Los Angeles. The Million Voters Project is made up of 95 California organizations that “saw how our lack of participation was impacting our ability to actually just make good things happen,” Zombie said.

Next year’s outreach likely will target about 50,000 parolees, many of them people of color, who regained the right to vote when Californians passed Proposition 17 in November. This coverage is made possible through Vote beat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access.

In California, Clatters is hosting the collaboration with the Fresno Bee, the Long Beach Post and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. California's voters are as diverse as its geography, from mountain ranges to valley farmland to forests and beaches.

He ran successful field campaigns for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Karen Bass, State Senator Kevin de León, and former City Council member Martin Ludo, among others. Following high school, Mr. Thirteen worked in Oakland organizing the Black community during the heyday of radical, social movement politics.

He is credited with developing a “Power Analysis” analytical tool in the 1990s, a process to be used by social justice organizations to build a strategy to win a campaign. The tool, which has been used by hundreds of organizations nationally, includes a systematic series of questions, investigative steps, information collection and knowledge of power players.

His areas of expertise include political, strategic and neighborhood organizing, economic justice and budget issues, building community organizations, engaging and shaping the electorate via civic engagement, public policy advocacy, Prop 13, new voter field technology, commercial property tax reform and California ballot initiatives and elections. He has received many honors, including a Charles Banner man Fellowship Award, and was named one of five “Heroes for Hard Times” by Mother Jones magazine.

If he is not at work strategizing, he can be found in the wilderness of the High Sierra’s or watching the popular television show “The Walking Dead”. As Deputy Director, Sabrina Smith oversees program development, staff management, technology, infrastructure, and strategic communications for California Calls.

She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization and stitches the program work together to enable the alliance to mobilize a base of 500,000 new and occasional voters. Sabrina has worked with Anthony Thirteen since 1997, leading alliance building, organizing, voter engagement and regional policy campaigns for AGENDA and SCOPE.

Read more about Sabrina In 2005, she directed the West Side regional field program for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s campaign. Sabrina lives with three notoriously scary cats in Los Angeles and has a fascinating collection of art, books, vinyl records and vintage knick-knacks.

Since 1999, prior to becoming a full-time staffer for California Calls, Karla worked in a variety of roles at SCOPE (Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education) where she played a key role in recruiting and developing SCOPE’s membership base and community leadership as well as helping develop and win key policy campaigns. In this role, Karla developed a curriculum on Civic Engagement organizing for community groups which has been used all over the country and still forms the core of California Calls’ training program.

Her greatest inspiration in life is her twin sister, Camille, who she considers to be her best friend and an example of the woman she hopes to be one day. Veronica Carriages is the Policy and Campaign Development Director of California Calls, a powerful alliance of 31 grassroots community-based organizations in 12 counties around the state.

She spearheads and coordinates policy analysis and coalition-building for California Calls, including the current campaign to significantly increase funding for public schools, community colleges and local services by closing corporate tax loopholes. She leads expansion into new regions of the state, shapes policy analysis, and coalition building with key statewide allies.

Veronica currently serves on the Board of Directors for the California Budget & Policy Center and Human Impact Partners. She also previously was a consultant with Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE) and the ALBERT PAC (predecessor to California Calls Action Fund).

Michele serves as a Senior Advisor to California Calls, assisting with strategy, policy and fundraising development. As Liberty Hill’s Executive Director from 1989 to 1997, she helped create new grant programs addressing poverty, racial justice and environmental health.

Liberty Hill is now considered one of the most innovative public foundations in the country for its grant making, leadership training and alliance-building programs. Read more about Michelle also serves on the Board of Directors of Venice Community Housing and the steering committee of GREEN LA.

Michele has served as a Senior Fellow in the UCLA School of Public Affairs since 2007, where she earned her Master of Arts in Urban Planning in 1989. Victor is a Strategic Communications Coordinator at California Calls where he leverages new media, storytelling and technology to help bridge online and offline engagement.

In 2011, Kevin helped found “4e”, an organization focused on developing and strengthening communities through education, empowerment, civic engagement and entrepreneurship. Kevin loves to travel, enjoys the outdoors, mountain hikes, beach trips and star gazing.

He is a member of the Secretary of State’s VIA Task Force as well as the Voters Choice Los Angeles Steering Committee. James is also a licensed attorney in the states of New Jersey and New York and a proud alum of Rutgers Law School.

In addition, James was the Founding Director of the Friendship Development Corporation, where he led the effort to create an outreach center that provides food, clothing, and other services to thousands of low-income families in the Baltimore metropolitan area. For the past 15 years, Marion has worked in a variety of social justice and labor organizations in the Bay Area, New York, and Los Angeles including: the Center for Young Women’s Development (San Francisco) DRUM: Denis Rising UP and Moving (NYC), and UNITE HERE Local 11 (LA).

Marion received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a focus on Middle Eastern and Muslim communities from San Francisco State University and a Masters in Social Work, specializing in community organizing, from the Hunter College School of Social Work in New York. Prior to joining California Calls, Gloria organized with residents in the Eastside of Los Angeles fighting the pressures of gentrification by advocating for community-led equitable planning.

After attending Occidental College, Melinda worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with a non-profit organization that treats the victims of indirect violence utilizing art therapy in unique and healing ways. She was then recruited by Warner Bros. as a Senior Financial Analyst to modernize and upgrade the international computer leasing program.

She was recognized for her participation in developing a successful financial system for the beleaguered lease payment program at Warner Bros. Read more about Melinda In continuing with a pioneering spirit, Melinda has been constantly inspired by the work of California Calls, particularly during their victorious battle to pass Proposition 30 with amazing strategic diligence.

Her son is a 2013 Posse Scholar (a renowned program which promotes college success and youth leadership), and her daughter is an avid athlete. She also provides lead logistical support to all of California Calls statewide and regional meetings, sometimes involving hundreds of people from across the state.

Before coming to SCOPE and California Calls, La Shawn worked for SEU Local 434B Home care Workers union as an organizer to help with membership recruitment. The Coordinating Committee meets once per quarter and oversees the Alliance’s goals, program plans, activities and budget.

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