CHESS 2019
Speakers & Workshops 2018
Day of Advocacy 2018
2018 Program | PDF


To register of the 2019 CHESS conference on March 10-11, 2019 and for the March 9, 2019, CSSA Plenary meeting, please click the button below.  The 2019 schedule will be posted in February 2019. 

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Speakers & Workshops 2018

Keynote Speaker

Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, has a long history of advocating for students dating back to his days as a student activist at San Diego State in the 1970s. Steve was student body president at San Diego State before serving as chairman of the California State Student Association. He then served as legislative director for CSSA for a two-year term, from 1979-81. Steve was the college campaign coordinator for Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election race in 1978. In 2011, Gov. Brown appointed Steve to serve as a CSU Trustee until his election to the state Senate in 2015. As a Senator, Steve has prioritized student success at our higher education institutions. He was appointed chair of the Senate Select Committee on Student Success, where is examining ways to reduce barriers to graduation and achievement. Steve is the author of legislation that provided a new four-year degree track for CSU students known as the California Promise that was signed by Gov. Brown. He is authoring legislation this year to place a $4 billion capital bond for CSU and UC on the ballot; and a bill to improve data collection to examine student success at every level; and another bill to provide additional financial incentives for students to get them through in four years.

General Session

As the governing board for the largest comprehensive public university system in the country, the CSU Board of Trustees is responsible for oversight of the California State University system by adopting its rules, regulations, and policies. Now, what does that even mean? In this session, you will have the opportunity to connect with members of the board and learn more about the system-wide issues being discussed at the table. With more than 475,000 students in the CSU system, discover why the student voice is necessary for shaping the future of higher education in California and serving as a model for the rest of the nation.




Jeanice Warden
Chief Consultant, Assembly Higher Education Committee

This presentation by a leading higher education policy expert in the Assembly focused on 2018 legislative hot topics, how they impact students, and what can be done to shape the conversation around public higher education in the capitol.

IMG_7976Kathleen Chavira
Assistant Vice Chancellor of Advocacy and State Relations

Starting in 2014, after several years of devastating budget cuts to the CSU, the CSU administration, students, faculty, and staff came together to advocate for renewed investment in the CSU. Born from that was the #standwithCSU campaign, a collaborative, consistent, and innovative advocacy effort aimed at the legislature. This year, the coalition continues to focus on increasing state support for the CSU.  This session was a first-hand from the CSU Office of Advocacy and State Relations about the political landscape in 2018 as well as the critical role of students in advocacy

IMG_7957One helpful tool in all legislative advocacy is concrete data and research. PPIC is a leader in the field of research on issues that include higher education. This presentation gave participants a broader perspective on the issues and trends identified by the work of PPIC. Associates from the institute speak on the work they do, and the future needs for the higher education in California.

Jake Brymner
State & Federal Policy Manager
Campaign for College Opportunity

The Campaign for College Opportunity is a non-profit organization that works to promote college access and student success in California through policy research, communications, and advocacy. The Campaign facilitated a coalition to support undocumented students by calling for a DACA fix and additional resources to serve undocumented students in California higher education. Jake Brymner, State & Federal Policy Manager with The Campaign, shared the coalition’s priorities and how CSU students can get involved to ensure that our colleges and universities remain open to all

IMG_8025Nichole Muñoz-Murillo
Director of State Relations, California State University

IMG_8082Laura Szabo-Kubitz
Associate California Program Director, TICAS

IMG_8037Jennifer Fearing
Lobbyist & President of Fearless Advocacy

IMG_8054Jeanice Warden-Washington
Chief Consultant Higher Education Committee

IMG_8072Cecelia Koger
Sr. Manager of Admin & Finance, Cal State Student Association (CSSA)

Women leaders representing different sectors of California policymaking: the state agency, research organizations, legislators, and lobbyists, shared their perspectives on being advocates in the capitol. The panel discussed the unique challenges they have encountered as women in leadership positions and shared their strategies to achieve success and champion others.

IMG_8128Asha Nettles
Coordinator, ASI Leader & Program Development, CSU Fullerton

This workshop discussed how to build a successful message and how to develop a sustainable campaign that meets a variety of engagement levels and issues. Topics included: identifying and utilizing your allies, pyramid of engagement, and values-based messaging.

Ashley Lauren Joseph, MSEd
Sr. Coordinator of Student Engagement & Outreach, Cal State LA

Failure is the ultimate stepping stone to success. Student advocates often see this first hand. This session will explore how student advocates succeed following a failed attempt in the process of advocating for constituents and coping mechanisms in getting the momentum back. Students will hear about first-hand experiences on how failures can be the stepping stones to true success and their student government. Students will also discuss and develop strategies to enhance their current leadership experience within student government. They will also learn techniques to encourage fellow advocates in their respective governments. Being a student advocate is about these two chains and wearing them humbly, failure and success.

IMG_8143Maria Alvarez
Executive Director
Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Western Regional Office

21 of the 23 of the California State University campuses are Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). This workshop explored the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities’ (HACU’s) policy work on behalf of HSIs and Latino students at the federal and state levels. This includes work on the federal DREAM Act and increased higher education funding for Latino and other underrepresented students in California.

IMG_8253Alana Lim
Chair, CSSA

IMG_8263Aaron Castaneda
Vice President of Finance, CSSA

IMG_8265Marcos Montes
Vice President of Legislative Affairs, CSSA

IMG_8260Michael Pratt
Vice President of University Affairs, CSSA

IMG_8267Maggie White
President, CSSA

Are you interested in shaping CSU policy or advocating for CSU students? During this presentation and panel participents heared more information about leadership opportunities and deadlines for the 2018/2019 year. The panel of student leaders shared more about the CSSA executive officer, special officer, systemwide committee positions.

IMG_8185Sarah Couch
Legislative Assistant, Senator Patricia Bates
Tyler Aguilar
University of California Office of the President
Tiffaney Boyd
Fellow, Assemblymember Jesse M. Unruh

In this panel discussion, participents recieved the inside scoop about advocacy from CSSA alumni who work in and around the capitol community and about how they went from CSSA to staff in the Capitol. Learn best practices about lobby visits, including how to answer tough questions, make the best case for your students, and leave a positive impression.

IMG_8249Anthony Chavez
External Relations Manager
The Education Trust – West

A Data Equity Walk is an interactive experience, developed by The Education Trust—West, where participants examine education data points and engage in an action-focused dialogue about educational equity. Participants will individually explore data that shows education outcomes and exposes opportunity gaps between groups of students before collectively discussing implications and identifying solutions to address disparities and improve outcomes.

IMG_8156David O’Brien
Director of Government Affairs
California Student Aid Commission
Melissa Bardo
Executive Fellow
California Student Aid Commission

More than 50% of CSU students receive some form of financial aid. As the cost of college rises,
even more students will rely on grants and loans to finance their higher education. This workshop
will discuss the financial aid landscape, and the work that the California Student Aid Commission is
doing to both distribute, protect, and grow financial aid.

IMG_8002Jared Giarrusso
Assistant Director of Government Relation, CSSA

CHESS gives you the opportunity to have a broader and deeper understanding of advocacy, the legislature, and issues affecting higher education. This workshop will help you apply all of your knowledge and teach you helpful tactics to have a successful lobby visit. You will also have the opportunity to work in smaller groups to conduct mock lobby visits where you will be able to employ your knowledge and tactics in different advocacy scenarios.

IMG_8082Laura Szabo-Kubitz
Associate California Program Director, TICAS

The majority of CSU students receive some form of financial aid. As the cost of college rises, even more, students will rely on grants and loans to finance their higher education. This workshop will discuss the impact of the California state budget and the status of the Cal Grant program, as well as other components of the state financial aid landscape for 2018.

IMG_8303Rebecca Fein
California Statewide Program Manager
Active Minds

Students are uniquely positioned to advocate for mental health prevention and early intervention efforts both on campus, and at the county and state level. Participants joined a conversation about how you can create lasting change on campus and in your community.

IMG_8322Rachel Sumekh
Founder and CEO
Swipe Out Hunger

How can an idea go from grassroots to policy change? How can campus administration go from adversary to partner? Participants heared how one movement to end hunger on campus began with a group of friends breaking the rules and sharing their meal swipes and grew into a university integrated program that in 2017 was used to craft a multimillion dollar piece of California legislation. This session was led by Rachel Sumekh, founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger who has been recognized on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and scaled SOH onto over 37 universities and colleges.

Advocacy Day 2018

California State Capitol, Sacramento, CA
March 12, 2018

The conference culminates on Monday, March 12, 2018, when CSU campus delegations participate in CSU Student Advocacy Day. This final conference component provides students the experience of transferring their knowledge and skills into action through lobby visits at the State Capitol.  The day began with a leadership breakfast and Rally on the steps of the capital to bring attention to CSU student basic needs.