U.S. Sen.-elect Kamala Harris has chosen Julie Chavez Rodriguez to serve as her state director overseeing operations across California.
Rodriguez, who is the granddaughter of labor icon Cesar Chavez, worked in the Obama administration as principal deputy director of public engagement, senior policy advisor and special assistant to President Barack Obama. At the White House, she worked to engage with immigration, Latino, Muslim, veterans, youth, LGBT, labor and other groups.
Harris praised Rodriguez’s leadership at the Cesar Chavez Foundation and her organizing of groups and communities in support of Obama’s agenda.
“Julie brings an incredible depth of experience and skills that will be invaluable assets for California families,” she said in a statement. “In this moment so many of our communities feel threatened and uncertain about the future, I’m proud that Julie will help me empower and protect California's families and give voice to our vulnerable communities.”
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Harris, in her successful campaign over Rep. Loretta Sanchez, campaigned heavily in Latino communities, and, with the support of the likes of Dolores Huerta, who with Cesar Chavez co-founded the United Farm Workers of America, pledged to pass an immigration overhaul and press for full immigrant integration. Since the election of Donald Trump as president, Harris has promised to lead the fight against the Republican on immigration.
In her statement, Harris credited Rodriguez with being a leader in developing and organizing support for Obama's immigration reform efforts and the deferred action for childhood arrivals policy. A graduate of UC Berkeley and native of the Central Valley, Rodriguez previously worked in the Department of Interior under Secretary Ken Salazar.