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Caliph Assagai serves as CDF-CA’s chief political strategist and spokesperson in the state Capitol, responsible for overseeing a policy agenda that includes legislation to reform juvenile solitary confinement policy, increase educational access, and reduce child poverty, among other critical issues facing children in the state.
Assagai brings to the position over a decade of advocacy experience and expertise in a diverse range of policy issue areas. Before forming Public Interest Advocacy, Assagai served as the Legislation and Public Policy Director at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) California, where he developed and oversaw NAMI California’s Advocacy Department. Additionally, Assagai served as Advocacy Manager at Ubuntu Green, a non-profit organization focused on environmental justice, land use, and sustainable development, where he gained an intimate understanding of policy making at the local level. Assagai worked closely with community organizations, members of the Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, as well as City and County staff, on a variety of transportation and land use projects in furtherance of residents’ goals.
Assagai is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law’s Class of 2012, where he specialized in Public Interest Law and Policy and Critical Race Studies with a research emphasis on juvenile justice policy. During law school, Assagai gained legal experience through providing direct services to low-income individuals at Legal Services of Northern California on land use and housing issues; assisting with the representation of indigent defendants at the Los Angeles County Public Defenders Office; and assisting with legal research for the impact ligation project at Public Counsel Law Center.