Lori Pesante

Lori Pesante

Civic Engagement Director

Lori began her career studying the humanities in the Jesuit tradition in Seattle, Italy, East Germany, Cuba and Mexico, then teaching 6th grade newcomer students in Delano, California. Lori earned her Juris Doctorate from UC Hastings College of the Law and worked in a variety of public interest contexts including the San Francisco District Attorney’s office under Kamala Harris, the Kern County Public Defenders Office, public employee unions, legal aid organizations, and higher education.


At DHF, Lori runs comprehensive strategic civic engagement and legislative advocacy programming that has transformed power dynamics in the Central Valley.  DHF’s redistricting campaign was the most comprehensive grassroots community mapping effort ever in the history of the Central Valley and reached over 5,000 residents, leading to a complete reversal of the ratio of Voting Rights Act districts to non-Voting Rights Act districts at the state and federal level and increasing supervisorial Voting Rights Act districts by 135%.  It also led to two (2) bills in the state legislature to establish Independent Redistricting Commissions for Fresno and Kern Counties. 


Lori is also responsible for accountability programming that builds the capacity of  grassroots leaders to strengthen vital democratic functions through Election Protection, anti-voter suppression, public meeting participation, and public safety consent decree monitoring.  Lori is particularly concerned about the health of local information ecosystems and regularly attends professional development opportunities like social media monitoring and the University of Chicago’s “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference to ensure voters’ autonomy is respected and local elections are fair.

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