California Legislative LGBT Caucus Holds 2016 Pride Ceremony Honoring Outstanding LGBT Californians

Contact: 
Chelsea Lee, chelsea.lee@asm.ca.gov, (916) 319-2013
August 08, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus held its annual Pride Ceremony on August 08, 2016, during Assembly Floor Session, in commemoration of six LGBT Californians.

This year’s Ceremony theme, “Honoring the Past, Securing the Future,” highlighted the formation and history of the Caucus, in addition to honoring members from the public for their contributions to advancing full equality and justice for the LGBT community. During the Ceremony, each honoree was presented with a resolution commemorating their achievements.

“Today, we celebrate our history as a Caucus, in addition to the accomplishments of those who have helped shape LGBT history – acknowledging those who have advocated for us, brought attention to our issues in the press, and those individuals and groups who have been by our side from the very beginning," said Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair of the Caucus. "It is through their endeavors that California has made history on LGBT issues, serving as an inspiration to the rest of our country.”

This year’s honorees include:

·         Eric Astacaan, Principal Consultant (2002-2015), CA Legislative LGBT Caucus

·         Hon. Christine Kehoe, Executive Director, California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative,                                         Commissioner, California Transportation Commission

·         Hon. John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency

·         Hon. Mark Leno, California State Senator, 11th District

·         Ken McNeely, President, AT&T California

·         Karen Ocamb, award-winning, veteran LGBT News Reporter

The individual biographies of today’s honorees are found below:

ERIC ASTACAAN, PRINCIPAL CONSULTANT (2002-2015), CA LEGISLATIVE LGBT CAUCUS

Eric Joseph Astacaan currently works as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines. Prior to joining the airline industry, Eric worked for over 20 years in legislative advocacy and politics. From 2002 to 2015, he served as a Special Assistant to Assembly Speakers Toni G. Atkins, John A. Pérez, Karen Bass, Fabian Núñez, and Herb Wesson, working on policy issues such as aging and long-term care, arts, entertainment, sports, tourism, banking and finance, and issues affecting the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community and the Asian Pacific Islander population. Eric also served as the first consultant to the California Legislative LGBT Caucus.

Previously, Eric was the Legislative Director for CAPE, the California Alliance for Pride and Equality (now known as Equality California), the statewide nonprofit LGBT civil rights advocacy organization. Prior to CAPE, he worked as a community health educator for the Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention (APAIT) Team in Los Angeles, as a public policy associate at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and as a legislative advocate for LIFE Lobby.

He and his spouse, Michael Butler, have been together for nearly 18 years. They reside along with their three sons in Sacramento.

CHRISTINE KEHOE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CALIFORNIA PLUG-IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE COLLABORATIVE, COMMISIONER, CAILFORNIA TRANSPORATION COMMISSION

Christine Kehoe was appointed to the California Transportation Commission in 2016 by Speaker Emeritus Toni G. Atkins. Christine also serves as Executive Director for the Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative (PEVC), where she has been since January 2013. Previously, Christine served in elected office for 19 years, including four years in the California State Assembly and eight years in the State Senate. During her 12 years in the Legislature, she distinguished herself with a strong legislative record and her ability to build consensus among her colleagues.

As a member of the Legislature, Christine’s legislation consistently focused on expanding and strengthening California policy for renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels and vehicles, resource protection, and water quality and conservation. She served as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications and she also chaired the Senate Committee on Appropriations for four years, in addition to being a member on several other committees. As a founding member of the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus, Christine served as its Chair from 2011-2012.

She lives in San Diego with her spouse, Julie Warren.

JOHN LAIRD, SECRETARY, CALIFORNIA NATURAL RESOURCES AGENCY

John Laird has served as Secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency since 2011. A long-time resident of Santa Cruz, Secretary Laird has spent nearly 40 years in public service at the state and local level, including 23 years as an elected official. While serving the maximum three terms in the Assembly, John authored 82 bills that were signed into law. These bills established the landmark Sierra Nevada Conservancy, restored community college health services, expanded and clarified state civil rights protections, reformed the state mandates system, and significantly expanded water conservation.

As California’s Secretary of Natural Resources, John has prioritized climate change adaptation, water conservation and supply reliability, enhanced relationships with tribal governments, State Parks access, farmland conservation, and oceans sustainability. He provides administrative oversight to 30 departments, commissions, councils, museums, boards and conservancies – and is a sitting member of 16 conservancies, councils, boards and commissions within the purview of the Agency.

MARK LENO, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR, 11th DISTRICT

Mark Leno was elected to the California Senate in 2008. He currently represents the 11th Senate District of California, which includes San Francisco, Broadmoor, Colma, Daly City and portions of South San Francisco. Senator Leno chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.

From 2002-2008, Senator Leno served in the California State Assembly, representing the 13th District, which encompasses the eastern portion of San Francisco. Prior to his election to the Assembly, he served for four and a half years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. 

During his tenure in the Legislature, Senator Leno has fought for better schools, access to higher education, foster youth, a cleaner and sustainable environment, single-payer universal health care, improved transportation, renewable energy, and equal rights for all Californians.

A native of Wisconsin, Senator Leno attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, followed by the American College of Jerusalem, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree. Senator Leno is the owner of Budget Signs, Inc., a business he founded in 1978 and operated with his life partner, Douglas Jackson. Together, the two entrepreneurs steadily grew their sign business until Jackson passed away from complications relating to HIV/AIDS in 1990. This deep loss would not deter Leno. Instead, he redoubled his efforts in community service.

KEN MCNEELY, PRESIDENT, AT&T CALIFORNIA

Ken McNeely serves as President of AT&T California. In this role, Ken oversees all AT&T government affairs, public policy, philanthropic, and social engagement initiatives in the State of California. Ken leads AT&T's workforce in the State—more than 33,000 current California employees and close to 50,000 retirees.

Ken is the longest-serving AT&T President of California. He was appointed to his current position in November 2005, following the close of the historic merger between SBC Communications Inc. and AT&T Corporation.

As an officer for AT&T, Ken serves on the Officer Advisory Board for LEAGUE – AT&T’s LGBT and allied Employee Resource Group. Established in 1987, LEAGUE at AT&T is the oldest LGBT employee resource group in the nation. Ken additionally serves as a board member for the California Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Bay Area Council, and the CSU (California State University) Foundation Board of Governors.

Ken earned his B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Howard University School of Law. Ken lives in San Francisco with his husband and their two children.

KAREN OCAMB, AWARD-WINNING, VETERAN LGBT NEWS REPORTER

Karen Ocamb is an award-winning veteran LGBT journalist with more than 40 years of experience. She ended her 10-year career at CBS Network News as the producer of their 1984 Olympics coverage in Los Angeles. After she left CBS News, Karen volunteered for the West Hollywood cityhood movement while studying theatre and later joined a Hollywood public relations firm.

Karen started her career for the LGBT press in the late 1980s after more than 100 friends died from AIDS. She has interviewed scores of celebrities, business, and political figures -- including Bill and Hillary Clinton – and has covered most of the important LGBT events, including Sheila Kuehl’s historic election in 1994, the creation of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, and the elections of John A. Pérez and Toni G. Atkins to be Speakers of the California State Assembly.

Karen continues to cover politics in California and nationwide, as well as the progressive legislation sponsored by Equality California.

Karen lives in West Hollywood with her two rescue dogs, Pepper and DeeJ.