NxtGov is conducting elections for our Executive Team positions! Get to know the individuals interested in leading NxtGov. The online ballot is now available for our subscribed members and you can now RSVP for the election event on November 9th!

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Voting Rules
  1. You must be a subscribed member of NxtGov to vote
  2. Online votes count for 1 point
  3. In person votes at the election event count for 10 points
  4. You can only vote for one candidate per position
  5. You can only vote once


Meet the Candidates


Deputy Director

This position has overall strategic and operational responsibility for all programs. In addition, the individual in this position also manages a group of Program Directors and work with the board of directors to keep them abreast of programmatic changes.

Danielle Metzinger

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

NxtGov is in an exciting stage of development and we now have many opportunities (both from within and outside of the organization) to refine ourselves and be even more effective in advancing our important mission. My vision for the Deputy Director position is to ensure NxtGov continues its already rapid growth in a sustainable and aligned way. I will do this by collaborating with the Executive Team to set effective strategies and goals (in both the long and short terms) and put measures in place to ensure all NxtGov activities are in alignment with our values and organizational priorities. As a current graduate student (pursuing MS in Organizational Development at USF) I personally value continuous learning and improvement and commit to being open to implementing enhancements to our organization and program processes. I look forward to getting to know, and showing support for, each of the Program Directors' vision for their area and working to remove any barriers to achieving program goals. Program Directors can expect participatory leadership and a supportive, inclusive environment among the Executive Team as we work together to achieve the organization's goals and grow together as a team. It will be a great privilege to provide leadership in this thrilling time in NxtGov's journey!

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

Since NxtGov was established in February 2017, I've demonstrated a strong commitment and passion for NxtGov's work by helping to lay the groundwork for NxtGov's programs and organizational priorities. Last year I had the privilege to establish the NxtGov Ambassador Program and lead the organization's first Executive Strategic Planning Retreat. I continue to represent NxtGov in cross-organizational partnerships and participate in panel discussions and presentations introducing NxtGov to public service leaders and partners. In addition, I currently administer the NxtGov Ambassador Program, assist with communications to members, regularly participate in NxtGov events, and work to grow the organization. Even outside of my work for the organization itself, I demonstrate NxtGov's values in my state career as in my roles I have served civil service employees in enhancing collaboration, employee engagement, and learning in state service.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I can hardly wait to see how this organization will grow and thrive in the coming year as our newly elected Executive Team members build upon the foundation we've laid over the past year and a half. I'm more committed to NxtGov than ever and look forward to advancing our mission and supporting the organization's leaders as our unique network makes a real difference for public service and the community around us.

Director of External Communications and Digital

This position is responsible for managing all communications plan activities and building external relationships with the organization’s constituencies, including funders, media, and social media strategies and messaging.

Carlos Aguilera

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

Create a stronger media presence for the org. Develop regular communication for active and nonactive members. Update of events regularly for members to engage.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

I enjoy working in teams to develop coordinated strategies to help individuals get into state service. I am also open to meeting people one on one and have done this on several occasions as Director of Recruitment.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I am currently an Analyst at the office of the Secretary of State and NxtGov’s previous Director of Recruitment. I was an undergraduate student at San Diego State University completing my Bachelor Degrees in Criminal Justice and Sociology. After graduation, I was employed in the City of Rialto under the First 5 grant. I was an integral member of the Healthy Rialto team, which serviced 1000 children within the city. One of my main roles was to expanded our media efforts for increased participation.

Randi Hanks

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

To promote NxtGov’s mission and objectives, I will support the voices of civil servants by building up NxtGov’s social media presence and website content. I will work closely with California’s civil servants to create a space where their voices can be heard and foster their voices through the mediums of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and blogs located on NxtGov’s website. This will be made possible through analyzing and strengthening NxtGov’s current Marketing plan. 

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

There is a common misconception about California’s civil servants. I currently demonstrate NxtGov’s mission and values by encouraging individuals to grow their skill sets and demonstrate leadership skills, regardless of their position. I believe that inspiring our peers to thrive creates a supportive environment where civil servants can safely voice their thoughts on change and encourage innovation. 

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I served as President of an Employee Recognition Program for two years. During my time, I lead the initiative to take the program virtual. We successfully implemented the virtual reward application, which is now utilized throughout the entire Agency.

Moreover, I would like to share that I am an avid researcher in communication styles. In addition to personal research and educational studies on the Carl Gustav Jung and Myers-Briggs model, I have completed the Personality Lingo book by Mary Miscisin. As the Director of External Communications and Digital, I believe that this is an excellent tool to build on and utilize while collaborating with co-departments and immediate Executive Team Members.

Member Liaison

This position represents the interests of all members to the Executive Team. The individual in this position promotes and expands our organization by recruiting members to NxtGov. The Member Liaison creatively engages existing membership and understands their interests and expectations as members. This role may support the creation and maintenance of NxtGov Chapters.

Sharzad Najarzadeh

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

I envision the Member Liaison position helping to secure the pulse of our NxtGov mission. Without our members, NxtGov is nothing. Therefore, it is crucial that we work with, recruit, and retain individuals who believe in our mission.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

I redefine the culture of civil service by continuously creating process improvements in state government. I have served the public for the last decade through various government agencies, have collaborated with non profits and private groups, and believe in sharing resources and opportunities. I believe in leading change and lead by example.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I like to give back to the community. I have coordinated humanitarian packages for Syrian refugees, volunteered with March of Dimes, the Napa and Sonoma Fires, and even modeled for autism charities. I also believe that having strong connections with people and excellent communication skills will help ensure of success of any organization!

I also like to read, turn dreams into reality, and go on long nature walks!

Ambassador Program Director

This position represents the interests of NxtGov Ambassadors to the Executive Team. The individual in this position administers the NxtGov Ambassador Program, including recruitment, development, and communication related to the NxtGov Ambassadors. The Program Director has the discretion to select the Ambassadors.

Craig Castleton

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

As a current NxtGov Ambassador, I have the privilege of being involved in the establishment of our own platform of change within civil service. Through this experience I have seen the amazing power that can come from bringing together a diverse group of people to tackle common issues facing the public sector.

I aim to build upon the existing achievements of the NxtGov Ambassador program, and work to both retain the current Ambassadors and also recruit new Ambassadors to our group. I will encourage all Ambassadors to continue to be as involved as possible in projects across NxtGov, as we will only be effective in our goals if we interact with the entire organization and all of our general members. With this in mind, I envision greater interaction between Ambassadors and members, and the possibility for mentorship opportunities and the identifying of future Committee members, Ambassadors, and Executives. I believe that this will further strengthen the organizational health of NxGov, and give the Ambassador program an additional rewarding responsibility.

I will also maintain an open dialogue between Ambassadors and the Executive Team, and work to ensure that there is consistent messaging to both members, stakeholders and the general public about the good work that NxtGov is doing. On a final note, I will make sure that the Ambassadors enjoy themselves! Being an Ambassador has been a wonderful experience for myself, and I look forward to giving others the same opportunity through my work as Ambassador Program Director.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

I regularly attend the monthly NxtGov Happy Hour events, and enjoy spreading the word about our great organization. I am often struck by how enthusiastic people are about NxGov, and indeed civil service, and I love being able to connect people together and watch the professional magic happen!

I am also an active member of the Community Engagement Committee, and have had the pleasure of volunteering with the Food Literacy Center, Project Birthday, and American River Conservancy among others. I find the community engagement aspect of NxtGov to be particularly rewarding, and connecting with the public in this way reminds me of why I have committed myself to a career in public service.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I moved to California from Scotland 3 years ago, and credit NxtGov with giving me a lot of the knowledge and confidence that I needed to secure a permanent position in civil service. This organization means a great deal to me, and I am truly excited about the opportunity to step up and help NxtGov continue its mission for many years to come.

Director of Recruitment

This position exposes the incoming generation and all potential applicants to public service as a career option.

Seth Yund

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

Any Director of Recruitment has three fundamental, co-equal responsibilities:

  • Educating others on the opportunities available in State service and setting up pipelines of opportunity for those interested in pursuing a public service career
  • Educating others about the opportunities and activities of NxtGov to recruit a stable and sufficient body of members
  • Promoting a culture within NxtGov that every interaction is a recruitment opportunity for both our organization and state service generally

Guided by this tri-fold vision and several concrete ideas about how to make it manifest, I am confident that I can lead and grow the recruitment committee to further promote NxtGov’s efforts to redefine the culture of civil service.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

Breaking down the silos between the next generation of State leaders requires the incorporation of those who have the capacity to understand and interpret those silos to others. I have committed to a career doing just that: I drifted away from biological research into public policy after recognizing the need for those who could liaise between the research world and policy makers. I am drawn to NxtGov, and the Recruitment Committee more specifically, in large part because of their demonstrated ability to inspire and equip those who want to make this government better, regardless of background. As a direct beneficiary of people who invested in this mission, I want to help others find their calling in state service.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

Thankfully I was able to get my foot in the door to State service, but I know people from all kinds of backgrounds who have either never thought about that door or are unsure how to cross its threshold. Access, representative-ness, and diversity of state personnel across demographics and fields of expertise can only make our government better. As Director of Recruitment, I hope to help NxtGov inspire and equip the next generation of State leaders by facilitating events that lead those already in the State to join our fantastic team and helping those outsides of the State take advantage of the opportunities that come with a career in public service.

Director of Professional Development

This position supports continuous growth and establishes professional development opportunities and events for our membership.

Tonia Burgess

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

To work with other in pursuit of their individual and professional development goals. To cultivate an environment in government that supports professional development and growth.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

How I demonstrate the mission and values of NxtGov is by participating in the process of change by using my talents, skills and abilities to help others. Personally, I believe in serving others because the rewards are limitless. To collaborate with others helps to build capacity thus making it possible to do and serve more people. I believe inspiration, helps people discover their gifts and talents, and hopefully pursue them.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I am excited for the opportunity to serve in the role of Director, of Professional Development. I am always looking for new and innovative ways to develop personally and professionally. I believe my commitment to continuous improvement makes me the ideal candidate for this position.

Additionally, I have a MBA with a concentration in organizational leadership and I am currently pursuing my doctorate of education in transformational leadership. I believe my interest in both personal and professional development is authentic, and I have a great deal to share with others in government.

Greg Gearheart

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

In two years the State of California is not only recruiting data scientists and collaborative leaders to join in key positions but it is aggressively training and retooling the workforce to ensure data driven management delivers the outcomes demanded by the public and environment. In this time period we will overcome barriers in two, key areas to realize this urgent payback - (1) organizational development (training, education, retention and recruitment); and (2) bi-directional digital services on our agency websites, the public facing interface of the modern government. 

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

I strive for a performance-based state government with principles of transparency, data-driven management and responsiveness by working to ensure these principles not only exist within my own organization but within all the others that I encounter. I have committed my career to organizational development of all those who work for our government. I created an academic institution at our organization that celebrates its 15th year this year. The Water Board Academy delivers training and education to all who need it to further our organization's goals, and this includes a substantial amount of external parties. I am leading organizational change at our organization to ensure the skills of data science can be recruited, retained and polished for the critical work we do, which includes providing good stewardship of the public's trust to manage their water efficiently and effectively. This work includes helping create new employee job classifications, duties and empowering staff to do what's needed to succeed. All of this revolves around data, which is clearly something I am focused on 100% of the time. But data alone is not sufficient to lead a modern state government. Core curriculum for any state agency employee these days should include courses designed to deliver knowledge, skills and abilities in designing and leading interest based facilitation and negotiation projects. I am a champion of these courses. A final area where I think our next government needs to focus is on systems thinking. So many of our missions and goals revolve in complex, adaptive systems where people, politics and funding drive the range of possibilities and outcomes. Civil servants of the current and next government organizations will be better at their jobs if they can identify systems, drivers, feedback loops and then align their project's energy with the flow of the natural systems. I work to develop these skills every day at my organization and am excited about the opportunity to bring this type of professional development to a larger, eager audience.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I am a big fan of mixing fun with work (and learning), and am known to take my team on kayak, paddleboard and canoe adventures to seek natural guidance, reduce stress and generally increase human exposure to the California water awesomeness.

Director of Community Engagement

This position connects our members with the larger Sacramento community through meaningful partnerships and service opportunities. The individual in this position reminds our members who and why we serve with our public service careers.

Ambreen Afshan

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

I Want to work with the communities to build trust and long term partnership. I believe trust is the first step in any partnership. Once the trust is build among us, then we all become one team, we can all work together as one team as compare of State versus communities and produce great results and improve our programs and services for our end users. We are pubic servants and our focus should be more on communities we serve and programs must be community centric. We should dissolve the silos and provide community centric services in partnership with the communities serve. We need to reach out to the audience and involve them in the decision making and ask them what make sense and is meaningful to them. We should come out of our traditional 9-5 mentality and accommodate the audience based on what make sense for them. My vision is to build non traditional partnerships and go where community members/residents congregate to get their feedback/input on how we can provide meaningful benefits by serving them better. End user involvement and building non-traditional partnership with community partners e.g. community based organization, faith based organizations, community leaders and community residents who want to be involved.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

I will make sure to further the goals of the nxtgov and demonstrate truthfulness and provide my peers opportunities and safe environment to thrive and share their ideas. Have collective efforts to drive change. Provide all of us an equal opportunity and platform where staff feels safe to make suggestions to make the betterments in the government processes which will make our systems and services more efficient and meaningful for our end users. foster and encourage innovation, out of box ideas by assuring staff no idea is a bad idea and its safe to point out bottlenecks and process improvements. Will share my experiences with examples how these partnerships have changes the perception of communities and how much we have achieve through those partnerships and leveraging of the resources as compare to traditional approaches as compare to business as usual. I will ho them how going above and beyond has brought success and created opportunity for partnership.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I am working for California Air Resources Board since December of 2006. For the last three years, I serves as a Disadvantaged Communities Liaison and outreach coordinator for Low Carbon Transportation Investments Program. My work involves outreach, education and awareness of the LCTI programs in Priority Communities where she works with citizens, community leaders, community based organizations, faith based organizations and governmental agencies to build trust and long terms partnerships and inform them about CARB’s funding programs and opportunities to benefit priority communities. I am also leading an effort to develop a Technical Assistance Pilot project for Low Carbon Transportation Investment Equity Projects for priority communities throughout the state. During my career at CARB, I had led multiple projects involving Health Risk Assessments, Mitigation Plans for the Railyards and Prop. 1B Goods Movement Emission Reduction Programs.

I am a first generation immigrant, and represent a community of color. I love my job as it gives me the opportunity to work with communities which we are the part of and are very near and dear to our hearts. I am very passionate about equipping communities with the tools which help them understand the services provided by our great state of CALIFORNIA so we can serve our communities better. I strongly believe the first step for any program/project or service success is to have the audience /communities on board who we are serving. I will work with the communities to understand their need and learn what is the best way to reach out to them and work with them to achieve our goals.

Sean Harrison

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

Continually seek opportunities to assist NxtGov become a recognized resource for community serve and collaboration.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

I have volunteered throughout my adult life to meet my personal mission of giving back to the communities I grew up and reside in with a vision to be a instrument for change that enriches others.
My community engagement activities include assisting yearly with the Sacramento Food Bank ‘s Turkey Drive and weekly volunteer work at the Sacramento Front Street Animal Shelter that includes animal socialization, medical care, and facility maintenance. I’m proud to have served and was been recognized for my efforts with the Bear River Habitat Trail (https://www.sactree.com/news/147).

What else would you like to share about yourself?

My civil engagement includes being a member of organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal, National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the Sierra Club.

It would be an honor to serve as Director of Community Engagement and I’m excited to be a part of NxtGov’s efforts to drive needed change in government while supporting our community partners.

Andrew Kehoe

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

My vision for community engagement is to take the amazing energy from our NxtGov team and provide a consistent high impact outlet. I believe that NxtGov should be the organization that the community comes to when they need reliable and hard working group of people. I am also in a unique position to leverage my job in the Mayor’s office that connects me regularly with organizations that are looking for help. Part of being in NxtGov would also be filling out a volunteer application with The City of Sacramento and the County of Sacramento so that we can provide help for events that we have to sign up for in advance, like Front Street Animal Shelter, United Way’s Day of Service, Habitat for Humanity any many others that do not take short notice volunteers. We also need to leverage our position while helping out to build the brand of NxtGov when appropriate with team t-shirts, hats or other ways that we can share our organization and its mission.

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

As Director of Community Engagement, I would work to support our drive to do more. As public servants we can go above and beyond by bringing our enthusiasm to community service. We can inspire our peers with our dedication and leading by example. We can build up a new collaborative or strengthen existing ones through our community service efforts. I love how dedicated everyone has become to giving back to our community and I believe I can expand on the great work that has already been done.

What else would you like to share about yourself?

I rely on my sense of humor to get through the crazy stress of day to day work in politics. Not only can I be here to support and continue growing our community engagement efforts but hopefully add a laugh or two at the same time.

Meagan Tokunaga

What is your vision for the position you're running for?

Community engagement with NxtGov offers the great opportunity to both connect with the communities we serve and to better communicate the work that we do. With volunteer activities that highlight the government programs available and the public servants that implement them, we can reaffirm the benefits that we seek to provide and remain mindful of the intended recipients. As the Director of Community Engagement, I plan to create lasting connections with our great local service providers - while fostering a culture of service among the NxtGov organization. 

How do you demonstrate NxtGov's mission and values?

With public service comes many responsibilities: accountability to our constituents, willingness to provide as much as possible in our roles, and unwavering commitment to the greater good. NxtGov provides the community to fulfill these goals, outside of the normal work week. This organization allows me to pursue my public service responsibilities with a like-minded network of civil servants. 

What else would you like to share about yourself?

Outside Civil Service: I’m an avid Xoso softball player, a competitive board gamer, and a casual left-over cook. And I love everything outdoors - catch me outside!

For a full description of the roles and more on the voting process go to: http://bit.ly/NxtGovExecElectionPositions