Emerge California Staff


Ellie Schafer, Interim Executive Director

The Honorable Ellie Schafer served as a Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Director of the White House Visitors Office in Washington, DC from 2009 to 2017.

With an undergraduate degree in communications from the University of Denver and additional classes at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in television production and film development tucked in her portfolio, Schafer settled in San Francisco in 1995 and founded Schafer Campaigns. As head of the eponymous firm, Schafer sharpened her skills in field organizing and media relations and gained a reputation as a go-to consultant for dozens of races, ballot measures and legislative projects.  Most importantly, however, she established a documented record of success in helping shape public opinion toward individuals and institutions.

Schafer’s career took a new direction in the late 1990s when she focused on advance and logistical work for political campaigns, foundations, national and world leaders. Among them: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Heinz Family Philanthropies, The California Endowment, John Kerry for President, Former President Bill Clinton and Former Vice Presidential Couple Tipper and Al Gore.

In 2006, she accompanied (then) U.S. Senator Barack Obama on a tour promoting his book, “The Audacity of Hope.’’ A year later, when Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States, Schafer was on his team from day one, and was tapped to serve the 44th President of the United States at the White House.

Schafer helped transform how guests perceive and experience 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From private VIP visits, to the sprawling Easter Egg Roll, which draws 35,000 children and parents to the South Lawn, Schafer managed more than 1,500 events during her tenure, which resulted in more than 4.5 million guests visiting. More importantly, she restored the White House as a place that is fascinating, educational, and fun to visit. Schafer managed a staff of eight and more than 1,000 volunteers. Besides the well-known Easter Egg Roll, National Tree Lighting Ceremony and Garden Tours, she handled Holiday Open Houses, the White House tour program for all members of Congress, and State Arrival Ceremonies for world leaders from Pope Francis and the Holy See to such nations as India, Mexico, and France. She also played a key role in July 4th festivities, Halloween trick-or-treating at the White House and other large events.

But it is Schafer’s strategic role that transformed how the public interacts with and views the White House. She streamlined the White House Tour System (logistics, security checks and communications) to make it more efficient, expeditious, and friendly without sacrificing security. For example, she instituted programs such as the Monthly Member Pass for Members of Congress and developed a Boarding Pass for visits to the White House. She has consulted with Buckingham Palace and the FBI to make their tour programs more open and accessible to the public.  She also worked closely with the United States Secret Service to ensure that increased access never jeopardized the safety and security of the First Family or their guests.

Among many honors, in 2013 Schafer was selected to the inaugural class of President Obama’s Leadership Academy and was enlisted as a mentor for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Mentoring and Leadership program.

In 2014, Schafer was profiled in Capitol File Magazine’s, “Women Who Wow.”  In 2010, and again in 2016, Out Magazine named Schafer as “One of the ‘100 Most Influential Men and Women’ who inspired, shaped and changed the world.”  She has been a keynote speaker at the University of Denver, the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics, and the Conference of World Affairs.

Lindsay Bubar, Southern California Program Director

Lindsay Bubar is a Los Angeles-based political consultant who is best known for her work recruiting, training and advising women and progressive candidates as they run for office.

Lindsay has worked with a broad range of clients, including Sandra Fluke for State Senate, Wendy Greuel for Mayor, Congressmember Henry Waxman, Carolyn Ramsay for Los Angeles City Council and Alex Padilla for Secretary of State.

Working to ensure we have full gender equality in politics, Lindsay has been on the Board of the National Women’s Political Caucus, LA Westside for more than five years, helping to elect pro-choice women throughout Los Angeles County. Lindsay is also on the Advisory Board of Running Start, an organization dedicated to bringing young women into politics.

Lindsay serves as a Political Partner for the Truman National Security Project and previously served as a Board Member of the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters. She is the former Political Director of the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats, was named one of California Forward’s Forward Thinkers, and previously worked for the California League of Conservation Voters and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Lindsay was raised in the San Fernando Valley and graduated from the University of Southern California with degrees in Psychology, Business and Advertising. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, David Graham-Caso.

Lindsay can be reached via email at


Sierra DeSalvia, Director of Development and Northern California Program Director

I’ve dedicated my career to creating pathways to access that break down interpersonal and political barriers. I started out working in mediation, negotiation, and stakeholder engagement in New York and Baltimore.

In California, I’ve focused my efforts on promoting women in leadership, fundraising for nonprofits and improving local policy. At a private recruiting firm, I supported hundreds of applicants and focused on placing women in high-level leadership positions nationally. At SPUR, an urban planning policy think tank, I led the strategic direction of over 100 fundraising events per year and supported the policy team by designing and facilitating regional community engagement initiatives.

I believe better leaders and better policies can alleviate community conflict and root causes of inequity. Now, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to serve this organization as it cultivates and supports the next generation of diverse female leaders. I believe that this amazing network of brilliant, inspiring Emerge California Alumnae is crucial to creating and implementing the change necessary for a better society.

Sierra can be reached via email at