Staff Bios

District Staff

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. 

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.

Laurel Gazza
 
Laurel is a native of Santa Cruz and has spent most of her life living in District 17. She formerly worked for many years at the County of Santa Cruz, in the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors office, as well as the Workforce Development Board. She also was the founding board clerk for the initial launch of Monterey Bay Community Power and has extensive board meeting operations experience. She enjoys the beaches and beauty of the Central Coast.

Laura Suddes

Laura Suddes serves as Senator Laird’s district intern, working out of the Monterey office. She focuses on freshwater and marine issues and has recently graduated from San Francisco State University with degrees in hydrology and oceanography. She aims to spend her career helping lawmakers and the public understand scientific knowledge and research. Laura has only lived in District 17 since 2020; she grew up in southwest and central Florida and spent 10 years living in San Francisco before moving down to sunny Santa Cruz. She loves being outside in the sun and has spent a lot of time traveling the beautiful California coast by car and by boat.

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. 

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. 

Tiffany P.

Tiffany P. is the Office Manager in Senator Laird's capitol office. She graduated from Sierra College in 2005 with an A.A. in Liberal Arts and Education. Tiffany worked with the Department of Homeland Security for nine years before moving out of the country to study abroad. She returned back to the United States after six years aboard. She enjoys family trips throughout the state of California with her husband, son, and dog.