Staff Bios

District Staff

Angela Chesnut

Angela Chesnut spent the last four years as Chief of Staff for Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold in the 1st Supervisorial District from 2016 to 2020.  Before that she led various capitol campaigns for local nonprofit organizations in Santa Cruz County and Silicon Valley supporting the arts, STEM education, ocean conservancy and healthcare for children in addition to fundraising for the Obama, HRC and Biden/Harris presidential campaigns as a bundler and on the advance team for the DNC conventions in 2008, 2012 and 2016. Angela ran the Fraud Investigations Team at eBay Inc. in 1999 and brought online mediation and dispute resolution to the online auction company.  Angela Chesnut moved to CA in 1999 after 9 years with the Department of Justice a Special Agent in Washington, DC where she served on FBI’s Joint Terrorist Task Force, DEA’s Violent Gang Task Force and focused on human trafficking cases on INS’ Anti-Smuggling Unit.  She received her MA in International Studies and Sociology at the American University and her BA from Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

Kate Daniels

Kate Daniels serves as Senator Laird’s Policy Advisor for the Monterey District, with a specific focus on issues related to the water supply, homelessness, and the Big Sur coast. She also serves on the Monterey County Planning Commission, the Boards of Trustees for Gathering for Women, the Monterey College of Law, the Democratic Women of Monterey County, and on the Leadership Council of the Community Foundation for Monterey County's Women’s Fund.

Kara Woodruff

Kara Woodruff is a thirty-year+ resident of San Luis Obispo and a business graduate of Cal Poly SLO. She is an attorney, financial planner, and mom. She received a joint JD/MA degree in law and public policy from Duke University. As a former project director for national non-profits, Kara negotiated and raised funds for the conservation of over 100,000 acres in SLO County, including Hearst Ranch and in the Carrizo Plain. She is a member of the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel and an author of the panel’s Strategic Vision

Clint Weirick

Clint Weirick was born and raised in Grover Beach in San Luis Obispo County where he is proud to continue serving his community on the Senator's District team. He brings to the team his years of extensive community involvement in many civic, educational, business, and nonprofit organizations while graduating from many highly respected local programs such as Leadership San Luis Obispo Class 26, Leadership South County Class 1, and Leadership North County Class 1.

Justin Tran

A District 17 native, Justin grew up in South Santa Clara County and graduated from Christopher High School. Prior to joining Team Laird, Justin served as a Constituent Affairs Representative for Governor Gavin Newsom. Before his work for the administration, he was a Government Relations Coordinator for a Silicon Valley-based non-profit advocacy group as well as an intern in the office of Congressman Ro Khanna. Justin graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Global Studies with a concentration in economic and social development. 

Brian Hu

Brian Hu serves as Senator Laird’s Executive Assistant in the Santa Cruz District Office. He attended Haverford College, where he studied Political Science and Anthropology. After working as a legislative intern for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Representative Linda Sánchez, Brian is eager to assist the enthusiastic members of the 17th Senate District.

Jonathan Engleman 

Jonathan Engleman currently serves as Senator Laird’s District Representative for Santa Cruz County. He was born and raised in next door Santa Clara County before attending the University of Arizona where he studied Urban and Regional Development. He went on to receive his Master’s Degree in Public Policy with a Certificate in Community Development from DePaul University in Chicago. Prior to his role with Senator Laird, he spent three years working for the City of Chicago in various roles within the Department of Housing, and the Office of Budget and Management.

Sergio Zarate

Sergio Zarate works as the Office Assistant in Senator’s Laird Santa Cruz District Office. Sergio is a graduate of California State University, Sacramento with a B.A in Political Science and an interest in California Politics. In his spare time he enjoys listening to his 5000 album and counting music collection.

Dara Sheinbaum 

Dara Sheinbaum is a district intern working for Senator Laird’s Santa Cruz Office. They are a Santa Cruz local and undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz studying Feminist Studies and Sociology. 

Jennifer Short

Jenn Short came in to the Capitol in 2002 and served as scheduler for both Assemblymember/Senator Lois Wolk and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson.  She came from a background in catering/event planning which has served her well as a scheduling magician.

Richard Stapler

Richard Stapler is State Sen. John Laird’s Chief of Staff. Stapler brings over 20 years of experience in public affairs and public policy in California. This is Stapler’s second turn working for Sen. Laird, having served as a Deputy Secretary  at the California Natural Resources Agency. Just prior to joining Sen. Laird’s office, he helmed public affairs for the California Dental Association. In addition, he has worked for three Speakers’ of the State Assembly, the State Prison Healthcare Receivership, numerous statewide ballot initiatives, and other public affairs efforts. A graduate of CSU, Sacramento, Stapler also currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Sacramento Zoo.

Michelle Reyes

Michelle Reyes has a distinguished background in public policy, media relations, public affairs, and public service. She is an avid runner who has completed numerous marathons including the Boston Marathon, a proud UCLA Bruin, and enjoys taking her rescue dog, Zeke, on new adventures.

Samantha Samuelsen

Samantha Samuelsen is Senator Laird’s Policy Analyst and Communications Aide. She is a Bay Area native who began her work in policy as an intern in the California State Assembly. She is a proud Aggie as a graduate of University of California, Davis with a B.A in Political Science and a B.A in Gender & Women’s Studies. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and skiing.

Dante Golden

Dante Golden is a Solano County native, and holds a B.A in Political Science from the University of California, Davis. Before joining Senator Laird’s team as a Legislative Aide, he was most recently a Senate Fellow in the office of Senator Scott D. Wiener. 

Quincy Stivers

Quincy Stivers is a Senate Fellow in the office of Senator Laird. She is a Sacramento native, and holds a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. She enjoys running and playing soccer in her free time, and currently serves on the Board of the Environmental Council of Sacramento.