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New Leaders Council

NLCSV Advisory Board

Honorable Ash Kalra - Honorary Advisory Board Chair

In November 2016, Ash Kalra was elected to represent the 27th Assembly District, which encompasses downtown San Jose, East San Jose, Evergreen and parts of South San Jose. He is the first Indian American elected to the State Legislature.  Ash was appointed Chair of the Aging and Long Term Care Committee and also sits on the Education, Judiciary, Labor and Employment & Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committees.

Ash is a passionate advocate for environmental protection and has been recognized as a leader on issues surrounding sustainability and conservation. While serving as Chair of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), he led the organization to create action plans and set state goals to ensure we are addressing issues like air quality, climate change and pollution. He has been a champion for preserving open spaces and protecting our surrounding habitat, while also being voice for public safety, better schools, improved public transportation and a healthier environment.

He has also worked to bring economic incentives to the area, gave a strong voice to extend BART into Silicon Valley, and sat on numerous boards and commissions, including chairing the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority (VTA) in 2014 and San José City Council Transportation & Environment Committee, and has received a number of awards for his leadership and work. Among the many non-profit boards that he has served include the Santa Clara County Bar Association, the Asian Law Alliance, Somos Mayfair, and the South Asian Bar Association. Previously, he taught at San Jose State University and at high schools in Washington D.C., and was a law professor at Lincoln Law School of San Jose.

Prior serving on the State Assembly, Ash represented South San Jose on the San Jose City Council, where he was the first Indian American to be elected to City Council. During his time serving as a councilmember, he provided a voice on a number of issue areas, including improved schools and transportation options, and a cleaner environment as well as providing the tools for effective public safety. Notably, he has fought to maintain funding in the face of cuts to public safety, specifically to restore the San Jose Police Department’s burglary unit and the Violent Crimes Enforcement Team.

Ash previously spent 11 years as an attorney in the Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has a degree in communications and has a law degree from Georgetown University.

Ash lives in Hayes, the same San Jose neighborhood where he grew up.

Kalen Gallagher - Co-Founder

Kalen grew up in San Jose and is a proud graduate of Westmont High School. At WHS, Kalen was active in student government, athletics, and served as the President of the Key Club, a national community service organization. After high school, Kalen attended UC Davis and quickly became involved in student government serving the Associated Students of UC Davis as a Senator, Vice-President, and finally as President. As ASUCD President, Kalen worked on a wide range of issues on behalf of the UC Davis student body including fighting to keep UC, CSU, and Community College tuition low and increasing the funding for student recruitment and retention from low-income communities. Driven by his passion for service, Kalen attended law school at the UC Davis School of Law. Again, Kalen continued his active involvement in campus life and student advocacy.

Since returning home to San Jose from law school, Kalen has been very active in our community. Kalen co-founded and served as Co-Director of of New Leaders Council - Silicon Valley, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that annually identifies and trains 15-20 civic-minded, young professionals with the tools to make positive change in our community. Most recently, Kalen launched Code for San Jose, a local brigade of Code for America. Code for San Jose's mission is to help make San Jose the world-leader in open government, transparency, and civic innovation.

In 2012, Kalen was elected to the Campbell Union High School District receiving 31,725 votes from San Jose, Campbell, and parts of Los Gatos, Saratoga, Santa Clara, and Monte Sereno. He ran on implementing programs to solve CUHSD's 16% dropout rate, raising achievement scores that ranked us among the lowest similar schools in California, aggressively updating classrooms with technology, and eliminating the achievement/opportunity gap. Since being elected the district has made big strides in all of these areas and more. He was reelected in 2016.

Alex Shoor - Class of 2013

Alex Shoor's career is driven by two interconnected goals: make Silicon Valley communities more equitable, affordable and sustainable, as well as make government as responsive, cost-efficient and innovative as possible.  Currently, Alex is a Senior Manager at Katz & Associates, a communications and public engagement consulting firm. He works on-site for his firm's client, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

Previously, Alex served as the Director of Government Affairs for Bay Area nonprofit Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY). Before that, he spent over three years as a Policy Aide for Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager covering land use, development, transportation, sustainability, energy, public safety, government operations and community engagement. In the communications field, he served as an Assistant Press Secretary for the New York City Public Advocate, Account Executive for Fenton Communications, Account Manager for Consensus Inc. and the Southern Media Strategist for GLAAD. Alex has also worked as a political staffer on campaigns and Capitol Hill.

Alex was raised in Silicon Valley and came home after a dozen years away. He is Vice-Chair of San Jose's Housing and Community Development Commission and is active in his neighborhood association. He was part of NLC SV’s 2013 cohort. He is also the co-founder of the grassroots advocacy organization Catalyze SV (

Alex studied Political Science and African American Studies while earning a BA from Vanderbilt University and holds a Master of Public Administration from USC. Alex lives on The Alameda in San Jose with his wife Kristen.

Paul Escobar - Class of 2016 

Paul is the Director of Policy & Education Programs at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. He focuses on autonomous technology and computer science education policy. He is also the Vice President of the Bay Area Municipal Elections Committee (BAYMEC), a four-county lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) political action committee (PAC) that has been advocating for LGBTQ rights since 1984.  Paul worked as Mayor Sam Liccardo’s Deputy Field Director in 2014, and has volunteered on local and federal campaigns. Paul believes strongly in the power and importance of civic engagement.  Paul has a Bachelor of Arts  in French and Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and a Master of Theological Studies, with a focus on philosophy of religion and science, from Harvard Divinity School.

Iván Montes - Class of 2016 

Iván serves as the Coordinator of English Learner Programs and Services at Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD) in East San José. In this capacity, he designs the impact models for ARUSD’s English learners in 25 schools, impacting students in grades TK through 8. Iván is passionate about education and ensuring that all students receive access to an education that humanizes them and provides them with the tools to navigate our society and have options.  Driven by his passion for cross-cultural exchanges, he spent time in classrooms throughout Egypt, Yemen, México and Bahrain and as a Fulbright Fellow, served as a teaching assistant to undergraduate students at the University of Bahrain’s Center for American Studies. Iván has experience serving English learners at both education nonprofits and public school districts as a teacher and administrator in Florida and California. He completed his formal schooling at the American University in Cairo and the University of California Santa Barbara and is currently pursuing his Ed.D. at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education.




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