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About Ada

Ada Briceño has dedicated her career to building grassroots organizations among working families, uplifting marginalized voices, and bringing together diverse communities into powerful progressive coalitions. In addition to union organizing and political work, she has led social justice campaigns including for immigrant rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice. She was named one of Orange County’s “100 Most Influential” by the Orange County Register in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2014. 

Ada Briceño immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua at age 7. Her family fled a hostile dictatorship. She settled in Orange County, California when she was 18, and began working as a hotel front desk clerk after high school. It was her first union job, and it provided her first pair of glasses and her best meal of the day. 

Ada rose quickly to union leadership, and at age 26, she became the first Latina President of her union at a time when anti-immigrant, anti-worker sentiment thrived in Orange County. Her experience in this struggle shaped her decision to spearhead a historic campaign to change the political environment of Orange County.

Today, Ada serves as Co-President of UNITE-HERE Local 11, representing over 32,000 hotel workers in Los Angeles County, Orange County and Arizona. She is a National Steering Committee Member for the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer. She has been an instrumental part of living wage efforts and a vocal supporter of Medicare for All. Ada is County Commissioner serving on the OC Human Relations commission.

In 2023, UNITE-HERE Local 11 led the largest hotel strike in U.S. history. Room attendants and dishwashers are leading the way in ensuring that the tourism industry pays enough for their workers to live in the communities they have built. 

In cities across Southern California, Ada and Local 11 are driving groundbreaking policy campaigns to improve the lives of working people. They won historic living wages for tens of thousands of tourism workers in the region, including the City of West Hollywood, which now has the highest citywide minimum wage in the country at $19.08 per hour. In 2024, she helped pass Measure RW, increasing the minimum wage in Long Beach to $23 per hour, with plans to increase it to $29.50 per hour by 2028.

Southern California had been a policy laboratory in creating laws to protect housekeepers from sexual assault and human trafficking, including a housekeeper protection law recently passed in Irvine requiring hotels to provide workers with panic buttons to keep room attendants safe. Local 11 was a founding member of the United to House LA Coalition, and went on to collect tens of thousands of signatures to create an affordable housing fund. 

During the COVID pandemic, when up to 90% of hospitality workers lost their jobs, Ada was instrumental in passing state legislation sponsored by Local 11 to ensure a right for these workers to return to their jobs when the pandemic ended, saving the jobs of hundreds of thousands workers.  Each of these legislative victories has become a model for Democratic state and local government leaders around the country in their efforts to make the American economy work for everyone.

In the 2020 Presidential election, in the face of a pandemic that shut down many in-person political programs, UNITE HERE Local 11 earned national recognition as the only major union to launch a full canvassing operation. In Arizona, workers safely knocked on roughly 800,000 doors. These efforts helped turn Arizona blue for the first time in more than seven decades, boosted Joe Biden’s margin of victory, and flipped a U.S. Senate seat. UNITE HERE Local 11 has continued these efforts, sending 120 members to the Georgia runoffs.

In 2020, Ada was elected a Democratic National Committee Member representing California. As a DNC member, Ada has strengthened an inclusive and accessible national organization, especially for under-represented voices including immigrants, working women and men, and communities of color. During her first DNC meeting, Ada introduced and passed a landmark resolution condemning misogyny and demanding equity for women.

Ada is active with the California Democratic Party, having served as Lead Co-Chair of the Finance Committee and as Lead Chair on the Ad Hoc Committee on Committee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She currently serves as an Executive Board delegate.

Ada was elected Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County in January 2019, and she is the first immigrant to hold that role.

Under Ada’s Leadership in Orange County:

  • Voter Registration: The county has over 70,000 more Democrats since 2019.
  • Blue Wave 2020: Democrats flip 20 seats from red to blue in 2020 and secure an historic plurality of school board seats in the county. 
  • Blue Wave 2022: Orange County Democrats flipped 22 seats and made history by turning the majority of the Board of Supervisors Blue.
  • Funding to Win: Fundraising expanded with more call time and partnerships, to ultimately maintain the largest staff in the organization’s history and expand operations in the midst of a global pandemic.

Ada’s approach is driven by inclusivity, to give rise to the best ideas in any group: “At the core of my leadership is identifying, recruiting, and training leaders to expand our capacity. That’s how we win more for social justice and Democratic values.”

During her 32 years of work in the union, the importance of leadership development has been ingrained in her values. She believes that leaders must be developed at every stage of a campaign. Strengthening their innate abilities and teaching them new skills will bring success by uplifting marginalized voices in the community. Ada brings this same philosophy of leadership to every space where she leads: the Democratic Party, non-profit organizations, commissions, and unions.

Ada is a graduate of Cornell University’s National Labor Leadership Initiative, and she is trained in organizational transformation that creates continual growth. She is experienced in breaking stagnation to build up leaders for long-lasting, systemic change. 

Ada has served in the following roles:

  • Current member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee
  • Former Chair of Orange County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), uniting faith and political advocacy to expand rights for workers and immigrants.  
  • Steering Committee member of the OC Women’s March, with over 20,000 attendees
  • Former Board Member of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties
  • Founder and former Chair of Orange County Communities for Responsible Development, serving for 15 years


Dolores Huerta
Labor Leader & Civil Rights Activist

Yvonne Wheeler
Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, President

Betty Yee
CADEM, Vice Chair
David Campos
CADEM, Vice Chair
Diana Love
CADEM, Secretary
Malia Cohen
California Controller
Ricardo Lara
California Insurance Commissioner
Fiona Ma
California State Treasurer
Carolyn Fowler
CADEM Controller & DNC Member
Rob Bonta
Attorney General of California
Tony Thurmond
Superintendent of Public Education
Lou Correa
Congressman, District 46
Robert Garcia
Congressman, District 42
Maria Elena Durazo
California State Senator, District 26
Lena Gonzalez
California State Senator, District 33
Josh Newman
California State Senator, District 29
Avelino Valencia
California State Assemblymember, District 68

Agi Kessler
CADEM Resolutions Committee, Chair

Andrew Lachman
CADEM Resolutions Committee, Member

Valeria Hernandez
CADEM Rules Committee, Co-Chair

Izeah Chairez
CADEM Rules Committee, Vice Chair 

Laurence Zakson
CADEM Rules Committee, Vice Chair
Amy Wiwuga Kazanegras
CADEM Legislation Committee, Vice Chair
Michael Contreras
CADEM Legislation Committee, Vice Chair
Heidi Martinez
CADEM Legislation Committee, Vice Chair
Joy Sterling
CADEM Legislation Committee, Member
Jane Wishon
CADEM Credentials Committee, Interim Co-Chair
Lynette Henley
CADEM Credentials Committee, Member
Sara Roos
CADEM Credentials Committee, Member
Keith Umemoto
CADEM Credentials Committee, Member
Marisol Rubio
CADEM JEDI Committee, Vice Chair
Astrid Zuniga

CADEM Labor Caucus, Chair

Anita Narayana
CADEM Women’s Caucus, Member

Chef Basil
CADEM Veteran’s Caucus, Chair

Hene Kelly

CADEM Regional Director, Region 7

Humberto Gomez
CADEM Regional Director, Region 10 

Maha Rizvi
CADEM Regional Director, Region 12

Henry Montalvo

CADEM Regional Director, Region 13

Larry Gross

CADEM Regional Director, Region 14

Primo Castro

CADEM Regional Director, Region 15

Franbert Calderon

CADEM Regional Director, Region 17

Luis Aleman
CADEM Regional Director, Region 19

Cory Allen

CADEM Regional Director, Region 20

Deborah Cunningham-Skurnik
CADEM Regional Director, Region 21
Michelle Krug

CADEM Regional Director, Region 22

Libby Frolichman
Democratic Party of Orange County, West Vice Chair

Lauren Johnson Norris
Democratic Party of Orange County, Southern Vice Chair

Florice Hoffman
Democratic Party of Orange County, Treasurer

Alan Fenning
Democratic Party of Orange County, Parliamentarian

Mark Ramos

Los Angeles Democratic Party, Chair

Mark Gonzalez
Los Angeles Democratic Party, Chair Emeritus

Kristin Washington
San Bernardino County, Chair
Becca Taylor
San Diego County, Chair

Manuel Zapata
San Joaquin County, Chair

Shannon Ross
San Pedro Democratic Club, President
Alice Rogers
Siskiyou County, Chair

Steven Auclair
Ventura Democrats, Chair

Pat Johnstone
Marin Democratic Party, Chair

Omar Torres
City Councilmember, City of San Jose District 3

Caroline Torosis
City Councilmember, City of Santa Monica

John Erickson
West Hollywood City Council, Councilmember

Kevin Hayakawa
Rowland Unified School District Trustee
Nichelle Henderson

Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, President

Gracie Torres

Western Municipal Water District

William Monroe
Communications Chair of Butte County

Asif Mahmood
Former Candidate for Congress

Derek Devermont
DNC Member
Sandra Lowe
DNC Member
Susie Shannon
DNC Member
Steven Alari
Former DNC Member
Veronica Chavez
Organizer, UNITE HERE Local 11
Eddie Thomas
Yousuf Bhaghani
Lisa Andres
Syeda Rizvi
Michael Soto
Analisa Swan
Deana Igelsrud
Dorothy Reik
Steve Pierson
Susan Sheu
Julie Waters
Devon Gray
Peter Gallotta
Loraine Lundquist
Susan Pfeifer
Cara Robins
Martin Rawlings Fein
Jennifer Esteen
Chelsea Bonini
M. Ahmanise Sanati Morgan
Laura Oatman
Clark Lee
Patrice McKenzie
Ana Gonzalez
Bill James
Glenn Glazer
Patricia Sabo
Paul Cohen
Shanna Ingalsbee
Peter Kreysa
Nicole Fernandez
Rhodesia Ransom
Darshana Patel
National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW)
UFCW 324

*Titles for identification purposes only.

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Ada Briceño was elected Chair of the Democratic Party in January 2019. Under her tenure, the Party accomplished:

    • Electoral Gains
      • Now 80,000 more Democrats than Republicans in Orange County;
      • Several districts flipped to Democratic pluralities in voter registration, including the cities of Aliso Viejo, Costa Mesa, Cypress, and Westminster;
      • Democrats flipped 20 local seats from red to blue, 2 Senate seats, 2 city council majorities, and earned 3 new supermajorities on city councils in 2020 alone;
      • Democrats flipped 25 local seats from red to blue, 1 senate seat, expanded city council majorities, and defended key Congressional seats in 2022 alone;
      • DPOC continued its years of growth in candidate recruitment to run its latest largest slate of candidates in recent history at 128 endorsed candidates and ballot measures in 2022;
      • For the first time in history, Democrats will hold more school board seats in Orange County than Republicans or independents;
      • DPOC launched radio ads, text banking, paid text, and digital advertising;
      • In-language outreach included Spanish-language phone banks, texts, ballot parties, voter guides, radio ads, digital, video, and email; and Vietnamese-language voter guides, email and print advertising
      • DPOC focused CADEM to invest two Coordinated Campaign offices in Orange County;
      • Democrats picked up seats in cities where there has never been a Democrat elected, including Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Fountain Valley, and San Clemente
    • More Diverse Representation
      • DPOC endorsed 8 Black candidates, 15 AAPI candidates, 20 Latinx candidates, 13 Millennial/Gen Z candidates, 4 LGBT candidates, 2 Middle Eastern candidates, and 42 women;
      • Democratic Black elected officials jumped from 2 to 5, including Tustin Councilmember Letitia Clark, Aliso Viejo Councilmember Richard Hurt, Rancho Santiago Community College District Trustee David Crockett, Fullerton Joint USD Trustee Dr. Vicki Calhoun, and La Palma City Council member Marshall Goodman;
      • Vicente Sarmiento is the first Bolivian-American elected Mayor of a major US city and first Latino on the Board of Supervisors in 16 years;
      • Thai Viet Phan is the first Vietnamese-American elected to the Santa Ana City Council;
      • Dave Min is the first Democratic Korean-American to represent Orange County in Sacramento;
      • For the first time in its history, Costa Mesa will have a Latinx-majority city council
      • Helped elect 9 new young Democrats (under 35 years old) to elected offices in 2022
    • Strengthened Fundraising;
      • DPOC exceeded fundraising expectations, preserving staff and expanding operations;
      • In 2019, DPOC’s annual operating budget grew by 35%; 2019 Truman Awards served nearly 1,000 attendees and event net income increased 43%;
      • Despite the pandemic, DPOC transitioned to a virtual Truman Awards and raised more than twice the initial fundraising target;
      • Transitioned to a lower-cost fundraising platform, and expanded call time and email fundraising;
      • Expanded donor network with wider partnerships including CADEM, Westside Dems HQ, and Congressional candidates throughout California;
    • Strengthened Community Relationships
      • Convened roundtables for Democratic elected officials and endorsed candidates;
      • Chartered seven new Democratic Clubs;
  • Created new space for young women and women of color in “Harnessing the Power of Women” events, and new space for Black leaders in “OC Black Leaders” events;
    • Affirmed Black Lives Matter with Town Halls centering Black voices, endorsement changes, and the development of a new Democratic Club uplifting the Black community;
  • Strengthened Data & Field Training
    • Transitioned data system to PDI and moved all clubs and local candidates to PDI with training and support;
    • Created virtual office hours “Field Fridays”;
  • Expanded Direct Action
    • Launched “OC Democrats for Direct Action” campaign to mobilize Democrats on policy issues in Orange County;
    • Expanded DPOC’s public leadership on issues such as COVID-19 response, ethics issues on the OC Board of Supervisors, and racial justice and equity.

Goals for 2021 - 2022

  • Expand the new Democratic majority on the OC Board of Supervisors;
  • Recruit Democrats to run in every seat up and down the ballot; flip Local, County and State seats, take back CA-40 and CA-45;
  • Expand fundraising across all platforms;
  • Build more support and development for staff and party leaders to increase organizational capacity;
  • Expand candidate training and recruitment programs;
  • Expand depth and breadth of community outreach, particularly with Orange County’s diverse immigrant communities;
  • Continue to grow the Democratic Party’s stature in national, state and local spaces;
  • Continue to listen to the community to identify needs as they arise, and foster a collaborative team culture to rapidly address issues.

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