Our team has decades of combined experience as elected officials, former policy staff in the California and Federal legislature, senior managers and executives with major corporations, statewide associations, and local government agencies.
Pamela Lopez, Partner
K Street Partner Pamela Lopez is an expert in framing political narratives that resonate with lawmakers and the public.
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Pamela showed her skill in 2017 when she brought together media, messaging, and legislative strategies to change sexual harassment and sexual assault policies in the legislature. As a widely recognized leader of the #metoo movement, she is valued as a mentor by women and people of color who seek to thrive in the tough arena of politics. And where others have been criticized for being divisive, Lopez is known and respected by lawmakers for her ability to guide tough conversations toward reconciliation and inclusion.
On the K Street team, Lopez brings her expertise in issue messaging and strategy to achieve victories for clients. She coordinated with legislative leaders in 2017 to secure passage of last-minute bill on water issues. And, she supported the ratification of three major gaming compacts on behalf of Native American tribes in the same year.
Lopez is additionally respected by peers and clients for her background in research and policy analysis. Lopez leads her team’s work to develop policy expertise that is specific to each client. In this capacity, she ensures that all political, legislative, and media strategies closely reflect the values, perspectives, and experiences of K Street’s clients.
Lopez leads her team as an expert in education policy, and has represented many of the state’s largest education agencies in state and federal affairs. In 2017, she negotiated the addition of a $20 million budget item in the 2017-18 state budget on behalf of an education client.
She holds a B.A., with high honors and high distinction, from the University of California, Berkeley, and is an alumna of the prestigious California Senate Fellows Program, which ranks among the nation’s top graduate fellowships in public policy. Lopez received her M.A. in Political Science from the American University School of Public Affairs, and is an alumna of the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research Summer Program operated by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research.
Gene Gantt, Legislative Advocate
Gene Gantt has decades of experience representing public agencies in politics, policy, media, and government relations.
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Gene’s knowledge as an advocate is supplemented by his extensive knowledge of internal operations within public agencies. Mr. Gantt is a retired fire chief with nearly thirty five years of service, and currently serves as the Executive Director for the California State Firefighters’ Association. His involvement as leadership in fire service organizations has made him one of Sacramento’s most knowledgeable and able campaign coordinators, having been involved in numerous gubernatorial, congressional and local elections over the past twenty years. Mr. Gantt’s two-decades of campaign experience are complimented by his policy and legislative experience as the former Legislative Director for the California Fire Chiefs’ Association and PAC Chairman of the California State Firefighters’ Association.
Mr. Gantt holds a BA in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. He is an Executive Fire Officer as a graduate of the National Fire Academy. In addition to his work with K Street, Mr. Gantt teaches at Solano Community College.
Afrack Vargas, Partner
Afrack Vargas is a Sacramento powerhouse.
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Afrack brings over a decade of legislative, political, and campaign experience to the K Street team. He is respected for his vast and powerful network of relationships in Sacramento, and known for his prowess in mobilizing these relationships to win major political victories. Political and interpersonal intelligence is the hallmark of Vargas’ political influence, and he has mentored many of the most prominent figures in the Capitol community. In addition to his political skill, he brings a broad scope of policy knowledge through his work with a wide variety of clients.
Vargas has worked with energy industry and agricultural industry clients, school districts, firefighters, Native American tribes, and gaming clients. He has served as Director of Government Affairs for the California State Firefighters’ Association (CSFA) since 2002, where he oversees all political affairs for the organization. This includes campaigns, endorsements, Political Action Committee management, coalition building, political media relations and fundraising, as well as public policy development and implementation.
Vargas is also respected for supporting integrated political strategies for Native American tribes. And, he has managed successful field campaigns for powerful policy makers, including Alex Padilla, Tony Cardenas, and a number of statewide initiatives. He has pioneered winning strategies in ethnic communities, on ground campaigns, and for other public opinion outreach.
Vargas is the co-founder of the California Latino Capitol Association (CLCA). He holds a B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Chico.
Max Mikalonis, Legislative Advocate
Maximillian “Max” Mikalonis offers expertise on public safety, local government, local taxes, and the Medicinal and Adult Use Regulation and Safety Act.
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Prior to joining K Street, Mikalonis worked on these issues in the office of Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland).
While in the office of Assemblymember Bonta in 2015, Mikalonis staffed California’s landmark Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA). This law enacted the first comprehensive state regulations for the medical cannabis industry since voters first approved its use in 1996. Working through an extensive stakeholder process that brought together local governments, law enforcement, patient advocates, civil rights organizations, and the medical cannabis industry, Mikalonis crafted consensus provisions that improved public safety, protected patients, and preserved the environment. MCRSA’s passage prompted the drafters of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) to rewrite their proposed regulatory structure to mirror the new state law, and Proposition 64 was subsequently approved by voters in November 2016.
Mikalonis was instrumental in drafting AB 2679 in 2016, which created interim standards for medical cannabis manufacturing and provided protection from prosecution for medical cannabis extractors, who had been targeted despite complying with local law. For this work, Assemblymember Bonta was recognized by the California Cannabis Industry Association as its “Legislator of the Year” for the second year in a row.
Mikalonis brings diverse legislative, political, and campaign experience. He previously worked in government affairs for a labor union, and later consulted on local and state ballot measures, state legislative campaigns, and candidates’ campaigns for local office. During his time as a policy expert for the Assembly, Mikalonis remained involved in campaign politics, including targeted field campaigns.
Since leaving the Assembly, Mikalonis has been quoted as a policy expert by the New York Times and the Orange County Register. He holds dual B.A.s in Political Science and Economics from the University of California, Davis. He was a recipient of the prestigious Regent Scholarship as a student at UC Davis.