Emerge California Announces New Executive Director and Director of Development

  • Mar 20, 2019
  • Emerge California
  • Emerge CA


Emerge California Announces New Executive Director and Director of Development

San Francisco – Emerge California, California’s premier training program for progressive Democratic women who want to run for office, kicked off the Class of 2019 Training Program by welcoming two new staff to the organization.

The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Melanie V. Ramil as the new Executive Director of Emerge California. Emerge California also welcomed Sierra DeSalvia to the organization on February 1 as its new Northern California Program Director and first ever Director of Development.

“Emerge California is at an exciting moment of growth. We’ve seen a surge in applications for our five-month training program and have been able to expand into the Central Valley, in addition to training cohorts in northern and southern California,” said Board Chair Janice Rocco. “Emerge California is confident that Melanie’s dynamic and effective leadership, combined with Sierra’s experience in stakeholder engagement and fundraising, will continue to move Emerge California forward as an influential force in changing the face of power and politics in California.”

Melanie brings over 13 years of political and government experience with progressive candidates, initiatives and public policy to Emerge California. She has a proven track record of success and is deeply committed to ensuring that institutions embrace and reflect the diversity of the constituencies they serve. She comes to Emerge California from the Bureau of Cannabis Control, where she was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to serve as Deputy Chief. Prior to that, she served as Deputy State Director for United States Senator Kamala D. Harris and as Chief of Community Programs for Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, where she established a national program that increased procurement from California’s women, minority, disabled veteran and LGBTQ+ owned businesses and encouraged diversity on insurer governing boards. In the political arena, Melanie has led and won multiple statewide campaigns, including for United States Senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris, helping Harris to secure the California Democratic Party endorsement by an unprecedented 78% of the vote during her 2016 U.S. Senate campaign. Melanie is a UC Berkeley alum and proud daughter of Filipino immigrants.

Sierra has dedicated her career to creating pathways to access that break down interpersonal and political barriers, with a background rooted in mediation, negotiation, stakeholder engagement, and professional development training. Most recently, Sierra has focused on promoting women in leadership, fundraising for nonprofits, and improving local policy. At a private recruiting firm, she stewarded hundreds of applicants and focused on placing women in high-level leadership positions nationally. At SPUR, an urban planning policy think tank, Sierra led the strategic direction of over 100 fundraising events per year and supported the policy team by designing and facilitating regional community engagement initiatives. In her home state of New York, Sierra focused on families and racial equity and, in Baltimore, designed and implemented programs for the State’s Attorney’s Office, police department, Baltimore Housing Authority Section 8, department of social services, correctional facilities, and public schools. Sierra holds multiple training and alternative dispute resolution certifications and was ranked one of the top mediators in the state of Maryland. She is driven by the need to create a government that represents women and families from all walks of life.

Click here for full biographies of Melanie, Sierra and the Emerge California staff.



Emerge California is a statewide organization committed to training Democratic women to run for office, using a unique five-month, cohort-based training program. Since Emerge California’s founding, the organization has trained more than 500 women to run for office. Alumnae include Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Board of Equalization Member Malia Cohen, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon and San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. Of our graduates, 50% have already run for or been appointed to office, and with a nearly 70% win rate. Over 50% of Emerge California alumnae are women of color. To learn more about Emerge California, please visit www.emergeca.org.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  |  March 20, 2019

Contact: (510) 986-0445