Staff contacts

Kelsey Martinez Combellick, Chief of Staff

[email protected]
Operations, Communications, Press/Media, Outreach

In addition to operations, Kelsey leads communication and outreach strategy, including media relations and digital communications. Prior experience includes nonprofit consulting, leading integrated marketing and communications strategy for health and hospitals, serving as a public information officer and brand manager for a regional trauma center in Orange County and more than 10 years in corporate communications and publicity in the television industry.  Born and raised in the Bay Area, she earned a Master in Public Administration from California State University Long Beach.  

Kris Zanardi, Policy Director

[email protected]
Budget, Finance, Land Use, Transportation

Kris works on budget/finance, transportation, intergovernmental relations, and land use/planning. Previously she worked at the City of San Jose, focused on the City’s budget, and for over twenty years at the state level working on public policy and budget matters in various capacities for the California State Legislature. Kris has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Danielle Christian, Deputy Policy Director

[email protected]
Health & Hospitals, Public Health, Environment, Habitat Agency

Danielle staffs Supervisor Simitian on the Health and Hospital Committee, and related policy areas, and environmental issues including sustainability, energy and the Habitat Agency. She has worked for the County of Santa Clara for twenty-nine years in various roles, most recently as the County’s Legislative Manager. Growing up in a military family, she lived in eight different cities in three states before settling in San Jose. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University. 

Katherine Alexand​er

[email protected]
Housing/Homelessness, Immigration, Behavioral Health, Domestic Violence

Katherine staffs Supervisor Simitian on policy areas including housing, immigration, behavioral health, domestic violence, and housing and homelessness. Born and raised in North County, she previously worked in immigration law and has experience teaching and working with students of varying ages on subjects ranging from Literature to English as a Second Language. She holds an MA in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and a BA in Political Science with a minor in Spanish from Clark University in Worcester, MA.

Julie Del Fava

[email protected]
Office Manager, Accounting, Arts and LGBTQ+

Julie keeps the flow of office operations running smoothly by managing our accounting, procurement, supply requisitions and constituent communications.  She is the lead for recurring public facing constituent events and also covers Arts and LGBTQ+ policy areas.  

Peter Estaniel

[email protected]
Seniors, Social Services, Veterans, CEPA, and Business/Tech, and Outreach

Peter supports outreach and communications, and staffs Supervisor Simitian on policy areas including business/tech, seniors, veterans, social services, CEPA, and the Department of Environmental Health. Previously, he worked in sales and marketing in the local craft beer industry. Prior to that, he worked as a graphic designer and email marketer for an international IT company. Raised in San Jose, Peter has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Graphic Design from San Jose State University.

Kilian Mallon

[email protected]  
Meeting Requests, Election Administration, Federal Affairs Advocacy, Labor, Outreach

Kilian serves as Supervisor Simitian’s scheduler and policy advisor on election administration, voting rights, federal affairs advocacy, and labor.  Previously, he was a lecturer and postdoctoral fellow in Humanities & Sciences at Stanford University. He has a BA and MA from University College Dublin, Ireland and a PhD in Ancient History and Archaeology (Classics) from Stanford University.

Brian Pascal

[email protected]   
Public Safety/Justice, Technology, Privacy, Election Security, Custody Health

Brian is Supervisor Simitian’s policy advisor on public safety, criminal justice, surveillance, data privacy and security, and science and technology. He has worked in a variety of fields at the intersection of technology, law, and policy as an academic, a consultant, and an attorney. Brian received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School, his undergraduate degree in physics from Duke University, and in between he studied science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a non-residential fellow at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.

Khalida Sarwari

[email protected]   
Press/Media, Outreach, Children & Youth, Education, Faith Communities, Libraries

Khalida is a member of the communications and outreach team. In addition to being a press aide, she staffs Supervisor Simitian on policy areas including child and youth welfare and education, and serves as a liaison to the faith community. Raised in the East Bay, she spent the first 11 years of her career working as a journalist for several outlets in the Bay Area, including The Mercury News, reporting on a range of subjects, including business, education, and local and state politics, before making a transition to public relations in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Saint Mary’s College of California.

Jennifer Thrift

[email protected]   
Press/Media, Social Media, Outreach, Nonprofits, Parks, Sponsorships

Jennifer is a member of the communications and outreach team with a focus on press and social media.  In addition to serving as Supervisor Simitian's press aide, she staffs policy areas including parks and nonprofits. Prior to this role, Jennifer spent 12 years working in healthcare communications and media relations in the Bay Area. She has a bachelor's degree from Northern Arizona University.