I am very pleased to share the news that PPIC’s board of directors elected attorney Steven Merksamer, a leading expert in government and administrative law and the initiative and referendum process, chair at our annual meeting yesterday. Steve’s distinguished record of public service and deep knowledge of the forces shaping our state make him an ideal leader for PPIC at this important time. He will take over from acclaimed author and farmer Mas Masumoto, who will remain on the board. On behalf of the board and staff, I want to thank Mas for his extraordinary leadership.
Steve joined PPIC’s board of directors in 2009. He is the senior partner in the Northern California law firm of Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Gross & Leoni, LLP. He served as the chief of staff to Governor George Deukmejian, a position he held from 1982 to 1987. Before that, he was the special assistant attorney general of the State of California, serving as the attorney general’s senior counselor and policy advisor. He has also served as a California deputy attorney general, assistant to the lieutenant governor of California, and assistant to the Speaker of the California State Assembly.
Notably, Steve chaired and directed the transition between the Brown and Deukmejian administrations. He will be an important advisor to me and my colleagues as we seek to provide essential facts and analysis to California’s decision makers during a significant gubernatorial transition.
Steve is currently a member of the board of directors of the California Chamber of Commerce and a trustee of the Stevenson School. He is an honors graduate of Claremont McKenna College, and received his law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.
The other members of the board are myself; Ruben Barrales, president and CEO of GROW Elect; María Blanco, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Services Center at the University of California; Louise Henry Bryson, chair emerita of the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust; A. Marisa Chun, partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP; Chet Hewitt, president & CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation; Phil Isenberg, former chair of the Delta Stewardship Council; Donna Lucas, chief executive officer of Lucas Public Affairs; Mas Masumoto, author and farmer; Leon E. Panetta, chairman of the Panetta Institute for Public Policy; Gerald L. Parsky, chairman of the Aurora Capital Group; Kim Polese, chair of ClearStreet, Inc.; and Gaddi H. Vasquez, senior vice president of government affairs for Edison International and Southern California Edison.