Contacts of CARA Convention 2021 Workshop Presenters

CARA 2021 Convention Workshop Presenters and Contact Information

Recordings of all the workshop presenters and their slide shows and fact sheets are on the CARA website at

Guaranteed Health Care for All 

Learn about upcoming opportunities to move guaranteed health care for all Californians forward – with improved benefits, choice of providers, at less cost to you, employers, unions and the public sector. Focus will be on current efforts to get the governor to lead the way for single payer, the Healthy CA Commission, and the next steps for AB 1400 – CALCare in the next legislative session. 

Pilar Schiavo, Healthy California Now (  Pilar is the Organizer for the Healthy CA Now organization fighting to win Guaranteed health Care for all in California.  Prior to her work at Healthy CA Now, Pilar worked for the CA Nurses Association for over 13 years, most recently as a special projects coordinator.  She has years of experience working for labor unions, the SF Labor council, and as a staff to Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.                                                                                                                        

Jenni Chang, CARA, Communications Director/LA Organizer ( – Jenni has been CARA’s LA County organizer for the last 4 years.  This past year, she  also became CARA’s Communications Director, and oversees our website, social media, and other outreach.  Jenni also currently serves on the national board of Healthcare-NOW. She is a long time single payer advocate, and works with many organizations in the LA area and statewide to build strategies to win single payer.

Kathryn Donahue, CARA V.P./Moderator    

Affordable Housing for All 

Housing has become one of the key issues facing California as our state becomes less and less affordable for working families, students, seniors and people with disabilities.  Our panel of experts will talk about efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing and protect existing affordable housing, and prevent homelessness.  We will also share information about current and future campaigns to provide protections to tenants so that they can stay housed and avoid eviction, find appropriate and affordable units, etc. 

Renter’s Rights & Protections:  Francisco Duenas, Housing CA Now (

Mr. Duenas is currently the director of Housing CA Now, working to build a statewide network of tenant and housing organizations and activists.  He has years of experience working on housing justice campaigns, and with a special emphasis working with the Latino and LGBT communities.

Home Owner Associations:  Marjorie Murray, CCHOAL (

Marjorie is the founder and president of the Center for California Homeowner Association Law which provides counseling and advocacy for homeowners living in common interest developments run by Homeowner Associations.  She has been a long time member of CARA and advises CARA’s Legislative Committee on homeowner and other housing issues.

Homelessness and Seniors:  Janny Castillo, St. Mary’s Center (

Ms. Castillo is the Hope and Justice Coordinator at St. Mary’s Center, a homeless support and service center in Oakland.  Janny also serves as a resident commissioner on the Oakland Housing Authority with a focus to protect and preserve affordable housing in Oakland.

Hene Kelly, CARA V.P./Moderato

Long Term Supports and Services (LTSS) for All 

One of CARA’s priorities is winning a long-term support and services for ALL Californians – not just those eligible for Medicaid.  Our goal is to advance a plan that would provide and fund a universal benefit as well as supporting the family care givers who choose to provide care. We will discuss various opportunities to create a benefit, either as a stand-alone benefit or as part of a guaranteed health care program.

Lindsay Imai Hong, Hand in Hand (

Lindsay is the California Director of Hand in Hand, a domestic worker organization which focuses on improving the working conditions of domestic workers.  She also staffs the Long term supports and services for all – grassroots coalition, working to achieve a universal LTSS benefit.

Amanda Ream, United Domestic Workers (

Amanda is the Research Director at UDW – AFSCME which represents 80,000 In Home Supportive Service Workers in California.  Amanda brings years of strategic planning and worker organizing to the fight to win home care benefits for all, and better wages and benefits to the workers providing home care.

Ramon Castellblanch, CARA V.P./Moderator

Cynthia Lopez, CARA Staff

Social Security for All

For the first time in many years, we have an opportunity to improve and expand Social Security benefits by changing the formula for computing COLAs, raising the benefits, eliminating barriers for applying for benefits, Scrapping the Cap to keep the program funded, and repealing the WEP/GPO. Learn about legislative and other advocacy efforts and how we can help move these efforts forward.

Rich Fiesta, Alliance for Retired Americans (

Richard Fiesta is the Executive Director at the Alliance for Retired Americans, a national grassroots advocacy organization with 4.4 million members nationwide that works to protect the health and economic security of retirees and older Americans. An expert in retirement security issues, including Social Security, Medicare, pensions and health care. Mr. Fiesta has been the Executive Director of the Alliance since 2013, and first joined the Alliance as its Director of Government and Political Affairs in 2001. 

Bonnie Cediel, Social Security Fairness (

Bonnie is the Founder and Director of Social Security Fairness, and organization dedicated to the repeal of the Government Pension Offset (GPO)/ and the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP).  She has been a key part of a national effort with the ARA to develop legislation to repeal these provisions.

Tom Rankin, CARA V.P./Moderator

Climate Justice for All

There is no question that climate change is impacting our lives every day. The increased number of extreme heat events, power outages and wildfires threatens our health and the health of our families and communities – as well as our planet.  Leaders from two California Climate Justice organizations will talk about their work and how CARA can get involved.

Bob Yunke, Elders Climate Action (

Bob is a Board member of the Elders Climate Action, working to engage older folks on climate justice issues. Prior to his work at Elders Climate Action, Bob created the Air Program at Environmental Defense Fund during the 1980s, played a major role in enacting parts of the Clean Air Act in 1990, represented state and local governments, EDF, NRDC and Sierra Club in litigation involving implementation of the CAA, and litigation related to the air pollution impacts of highways, metropolitan transportation plans, and energy projects. 

Davis Harper, The Climate Center (

Davis is the Central Valley Organizer for the Climate Center, a statewide organization working to reduce carbon emissions and create a Climate Safe California.  Davis has a background in journalism, with experience on the environment and local government beats. In his work with Rise Stockton – a coalition of nonprofits and the City of Stockton – Davis served as the technical writer for the Sustainable Neighborhood Plan, a framework for shifting to sustainable development practices in Stockton, with an emphasis on planning in historically lower-income communities. 

Margaret Shelleda, CARA. V.P/ Moderator

Nursing Home Reform

CARA has been working in coalition with other nursing home reform advocates for years to try and improve patient care, working conditions, infection control, etc.  The pandemic shined a light on the inadequacies at nursing homes, where many people died from Covid-19.  We have an opportunity and a more open ear by legislators to consider some big improvements at nursing homes including more transparency and accountability of the ownership entities for these homes.  

Elizabeth Halifax, UCSF School of Nursing (

Elizabeth is an Assistant Professor at the UCSF School of Nursing. She has focused on health care for older adults and includes leadership positions in hospital administration in the UK, nursing homes in the USA, working as a Research Specialist at UCSF and teaching graduate and pre-licensure nursing students at California State University. She is a Registered Nurs and currently, is Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Physiological Nursing, UCSF and lecturer in the California State University system. She also consults for legal cases regarding staffing in skilled nursing facilities and for ombudsman training

Tony Chicotel , CA Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (

Tony is a staff attorney at the CA Advocates for nursing home reform, the leading advocacy organization working to improve conditions in nursing homes and advocate for the rights of nursing home residents and their families.  Tony has been involved in writing legislation to reform our nursing homes in California, and is one of our go-to advisers on nursing home issues.

Michael Lyon, CARA V.P./Moderator and Staff