Jenya Cassidy, Coalition Director
Jenya stands for equity, dignity and organizing for power so more Californians can have a voice in public policy and at work. On nights and weekends, she plays a role in a housing rights organization and helps her kids with homework and afterschool activities. She enjoys reading, going to plays and musicals, listening to podcasts while cleaning, and joining picket lines wherever workers are on strike. Jenya lives in Alameda with her three children and is focused on building statewide legislative and education campaigns, building alliances with diverse Coalition organizations, keeping connected to national work-family policy, and the day to day running of Coalition work.
Katie Waters-Smith, Political Organizing Director
Katie leads district level political organizing and works with staff and members to build and strengthen our statewide network of paid leave leaders. Katie’s experiences supporting new parents as a lactation consultant inspired her to become a paid family leave advocate. The parents she worked with had to spend precious time during the first days of their baby’s life navigating an often confusing, complex paid family leave system.
Katie's goal in working with the Coalition is to help build a grassroots movement for paid leave that brings together people and organizations from all over the state. She has already seen paid family leave protections expanded in her time in working with BreastfeedLA and volunteering with the Coalition, and has learned that when we organize together we have much more political power than we are often led to believe. She lives in Los Angeles, and when not organizing, can often be found trying out a new recipe or home food preservation project.
Melisa Acoba, Director of Education & Outreach
Melisa is responsible for overseeing the Coalition's trainings on Paid Family Leave and leading a community of practice to ensure equitable access to paid leave and related protections for all workers. As a caregiver, Melisa possesses a deep understanding of the challenges to economic security faced by families, which can have long-term and far-reaching impacts. She is passionate about bridging public health, social justice, and community engagement in advocating for policies that promote health in multiple contexts. Based in Los Angeles, Melisa loves traveling, photography, and is usually found knitting or sharing baked treats.