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

Shaw Ramey-Wright

Shaw Ramey-Wright grew up in Santa Cruz and attended the University of California, Davis where he studied Sociology and Psychology. Some of his prior professional history includes the roles of Legislative Director for the associated students of UC Davis, Research Assistant at the National Center for PTSD with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, Campaign Manager for Santa Cruz County Measure G, and Clinical Study Assistant with MAPS – a nonprofit working on FDA-approved clinical trials for PTSD. Shaw is honored to serve the Office of Senator Laird as District Representative in Santa Cruz County, where he gets to do some of his favorite things – listening to others, helping them with whatever issues they are facing, and engaging with his local community. He looks forward to working with you

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. 

Eric Henderson

Eric Henderson is a district intern working in Senator Laird’s Monterey Office. He brings significant experience in criminal justice reform and higher education to his role supporting SD-17 constituents

Capitol Staff

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 Senior Legislative Aide 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 and serves as Vice President of the Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Association (APICA).

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.

Lesley Brizuela

Lesley Beltran Brizuela serves as Senator Laird's Senate Fellow. She is a proud transfer student and attended De Anza Community College before becoming a 2020 graduate of the University of California, Davis, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Political Science- Public service and minored in History. She served as a youth mentor with the Alameda County Office of Education in partnership with Project EAT. She earned a certificate of recognition from Assemblymember Bill Quirk for her research and work to institute water refill stations at her Title I high school in 2013. Throughout her 7 years with Project EAT, she hosted youth summits, built gardens and community farms in disadvantaged communities and food deserts, worked in collaboration with Kaiser Permanente hospitals, and helped extend healthy student initiatives for K-12 schools in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. She also completed an internship in the Senate with the UC Center Sacramento and received a certificate of achievement for her research on women's issues. In her free time, she serves as an elected board member of the California Latino Capitol Association Foundation as the Fellows Representative. 

Francisco Quintana

Francisco works as a communications staffer and office assistant Senator John Laird’s Capitol office. Francisco is a UC Davis graduate and a Solano County native with a background in legislative affairs, broadcast journalism, and political science research.