Staff Bios

District Staff

San Luis Obispo Office

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. She currently serves as Senator Laird's District Director.

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 as a Councilmember and on the Senator's team as Senior District Representative. 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.


Monterey Office

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 received a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA from Columbia University. 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. Kate was previously Chief of Staff for Monterey County Supervisor Mary Adams. 

Justin Tran

A District 17 native, Justin grew up in South Santa Clara County. Prior to joining Team Laird as Press Secretary & Deputy District Director, he served as a Constituent Affairs Representative for Governor Gavin Newsom. Before his work for the administration, he was a Government Relations Coordinator at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, as well as an intern for Congressman Ro Khanna. Justin graduated from Sonoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies.

Isabel Meza

Isabel grew up in South Monterey County, and is a political science graduate from UCSD with an emphasis in public law. She also holds a minor in law and society. Isabel currently serves as the District Representative for Monterey County. Previously, she gained experience working as a Field Representative for Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, and served as an intern for Asm. Wendy Carrillo. Additionally, she has actively contributed as a member of the Measure S committee for the City of Soledad. Outside of work, Isabel enjoys running, hiking, and being in nature.


Santa Cruz Office

Eileen Cross

A lifelong Californian, Eileen Cross has worked in community and government affairs on the Central Coast for the past three decades, working in both Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. As the Community Affairs Director for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Eileen was heavily involved in tourism, local business, and conservation advocacy and served on several boards and commissions. She was also the Carmel River Project Manager for the Big Sur Land Trust, where she had the pleasure of working with then Assemblymember Laird to preserve open spaces. Most recently, Eileen worked in community relations/communications for the City of Santa Cruz Water Department where she aspired to make technical information engaging for the public. She is a proud CSUF Bulldog, where she graduated with a multi-subject teaching credential. She and her husband and two rescue mutts live in Corralitos.

Laura Suddes

Laura Suddes serves as Senator Laird’s District Representative/Policy Advisor, working out of the Santa Cruz office. She focuses on freshwater and marine issues and graduated from San Francisco State University with a BS and Master's degree in hydrology and oceanography. She aims to spend her career helping lawmakers and the public understand scientific knowledge and research. Laura has 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.

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.



Capitol Staff

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. She currently serves as the Senator's Legislative Director. 

Tammy Trinh

Tammy is the Policy Analyst in Senator Laird’s office. She most recently worked as a Policy Consultant for Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg. Prior to joining the Legislature, she served as Assistant Deputy Legislative Affairs Secretary for Governor Gavin Newsom, where she first started as a Legislative Research Assistant. Prior to that, she was a Legislative & Press Aide for then-Lieutenant Governor Newsom. She began her legislative career as a fellow for the American Lung Association and Environment California through the Loveridge Fellowship.

Quincy Stivers

Quincy Stivers is a Legislative Aide 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. 

Maunee Cadena

Maunee Cadena is an Office Assistant for Senator Laird's office in Sacramento. She is excited to gain experience in public service by helping the people of the 17th Senate District. 

Kimberly Goncalves

Kim Goncalves serves as the Scheduler in the Office of Senator John Laird. She was previously the Senator's scheduler during his tenure as Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency, where she held various positions since 2008. 

Paige Szabadi

Paige Szabadi is a California Senate Fellow in the Office of Senator Laird. She is originally from Coarsegold and a proud Aggie, holding a dual B.A. in Political Science-Public Service and Communication from the University of California, Davis.