Ace is a 40-year veteran of state and national politics and has directed winning campaigns from District Attorney to President. With deep experience on the West Coast, he specializes in high-stakes political, governmental and public affairs campaigns.
Over the years, Ace has worked with a roster of clients including Virginia Governor Doug Wilder, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, Texas Governor Ann Richards, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, California Governor Jerry Brown, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, SF Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.
In recent years, Ace and his partners were instrumental in the historic election of Kamala Harris as California Attorney General and Senator and Gavin Newsom as California Lieutenant Governor and Governor. Ace ran San Francisco Mayor Lee’s victorious campaign and led the historic Proposition 30 effort for Governor Brown. He served as State Director for U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaigns in California, Texas and North Carolina during the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary.
Ace also has extensive experience winning complex initiative campaigns, including the groundbreaking criminal justice reform of “Three Strikes” (Prop. 36) and sentencing (Prop. 47).
The subject of several newspaper profiles, Ace was called “legendary” by the New York Times and political campaign manager “heavyweight champion of the year” in the San Francisco Chronicle. Ace is author of the book “The Pitcher and the Dictator: Satchel Paige’s Unlikely Season in the Dominican Republic” and is writing books on the history of recorded sound and California politics. Ace earned his B.A. in English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.
A former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor and longtime state and national media consultant, Sean works on a variety of advertising, strategy, messaging, and communications projects for a range of elected officials, ballot measures, nonprofits and brands.
Sean has led award-winning TV, radio, online, print, direct mail, and outdoor advertising campaigns for clients including Vice-President Kamala Harris, Governor Gavin Newsom, former Governor Jerry Brown, Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, former Attorney General Xavier Becerra, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and Congresswoman Katie Porter, among many others.
Over the years, Sean produced media for dozens of successful state and local ballot initiative campaigns. During the 2018 cycle Sean was general consultant to the DCCC in its clean sweep of California congressional races. In 2019, Sean served as senior strategist for Kamala Harris for the People.
From 2005 to 2008, Sean was Senior Advisor and Deputy Mayor for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. As the Mayor’s lead political advisor, Sean played a key role in the design and implementation of the major policy wins of Mayor Villaraigosa’s first term. Prior to that, Sean was a founding partner at SCN Strategies and represented clients on candidate and issue campaigns around the United States, including the successful elections of California Governor Gray Davis, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congressman Richard Gephardt.
Over the years, Sean was a staffer on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, a campaign press secretary for San Francisco’s mayor and an associate at The Research Group, a San Francisco and Washington-based consulting firm. He earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
With experience as a campaign manager, policy advisor, and strategist serving leading elected officials and high-stakes ballot measures, Juan works on a range of campaigns and strategic communications and policy projects.
Most recently, Juan served as a general consultant in the appointment, transition, and election for Rob Bonta, the first Filipino American to Serve as California’s Attorney General, and Alex Padilla, the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate.
Before this, the American Association of Political Consultants recognized Juan as Campaign Manager of the year for his efforts in the successful Stop the Republican Recall campaign for Gavin Newsom. The first successful defense of a recall by a Democratic Governor in the country.
As campaign manager for Kamala Harris for Senate, Juan helped lead Harris to the largest vote percentage by a non-incumbent Senate candidate in California history, carrying every demographic group, party, and region of the state.
Previously, Juan was Senior Advisor to Attorney General Harris in the California Department of Justice. He served as one of the Attorney General’s principal advisors on issues impacting business, labor, government bodies, regulatory agencies, and community-based and non-profit organizations throughout California and the United States. As a key member of the Attorney General’s senior staff, his portfolio included developing and implementing public policy, litigation, legislation, and outreach strategies for multiple issues. In 2014, Juan served as Interim Chief of Staff, supervising the office’s executive staff and managing communications, scheduling, and advance staff.
Before that, Juan was Director of State Relations for the City of Los Angeles under Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, where he oversaw an extensive government lobbying effort on energy, education, transportation, public safety, water, economic development, revenue, and taxation. During his tenure with Mayor Villaraigosa, Juan also served as a Senior Political Advisor, advising on national, statewide, and local redistricting and elections.
Juan serves on the Board of LA’s Best an afterschool enrichment program for students at L.A.U.S.D. Juan received his B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned an M.B.A. from Pepperdine Graziadio School of Business Management.
Erica Kwiatkowski Nielsen
Erica brings nearly a decade of experience in progressive political campaign strategy, media, management, and team building.
Erica has worked on campaigns up and down the ballot throughout her career, most recently serving at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), strategically advising hard to win frontline and challenger campaigns from Maine to Arizona and protecting Democrats’ House majority in 2020. Prior to that, she helped lead the early states team on Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.
Featured as a Rising Star in Orange Coast Magazine for managing Congresswoman Katie Porter’s historic 2018 Orange County win, Erica helped flip California’s 45th Congressional District from red to blue for the first time in history, winning by over four points and reaching a record turnout, all after winning a six way jungle primary.
Prior to managing Katie Porter’s race, Erica advised candidates and directed multi-million dollar paid media campaigns for winning candidates, independent expenditures, ballot measures, and legislative campaigns.
Erica graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Political Science from University of California, Santa Barbara and is currently the number one UCSB Volleyball fan. She lives with her husband in Southern California.
George’s experience includes leading a broad range of advertising and strategic communications initiatives — having worked extensively with some of the country’s highest profile candidates, ballot measures, private companies, and nonprofits.
As the firm’s creative director, George has overseen hundreds of video production and graphic design projects over the last decade, producing award-winning TV, radio and print campaigns for many of California’s top elected officials candidate and issue campaigns. Recent work includes campaigns for Governor Jerry Brown, Governor Gavin Newsom, Vice President Kamala Harris, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, as well as state ballot propositions addressing education funding, criminal justice reform, the water crisis, and California’s long-term fiscal health, among others.
From 2005 to 2008, George worked with Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, a leading New York crisis management firm. During that time, he crafted critical communications for some of the country’s top companies and built ongoing relationships with national and regional media. George was a member of the team that advised on Motorola’s management change and proxy fight against Carl Icahn and the team that rolled out and defended SIRIUS’s landmark merger with XM.
George has a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
A seasoned communications specialist, David Beltran has over a decade’s worth of experience developing and executing communications strategies for local, state, and federal elected officials.
Since joining the firm, David has overseen a variety of projects, including working with then-California Secretary of State (now U.S. Senator) Alex Padilla to fight voter suppression and misinformation through the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State. Additionally, he served as general consultant on the historic campaign to elect Holly Mitchell to the first all-women Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.
Previously, David served as Communications Director for Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. In this role, David acted as Harris’ chief spokesperson, led the California Justice Department’s communications strategy and worked across its legal sections, policy team and office of legislative affairs to manage media rollouts of the office’s major announcements and initiatives, including landmark case rulings, major settlements and delegation trips.
Previously, David served as a Press Secretary for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in Nevada. He also spent time on Capitol Hill, where he led communications efforts for Congressman Sam Farr. Before that, David was press secretary for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and served as a communications coordinator for Major League Soccer’s Los Angeles Galaxy, supporting the international announcement of the signing of David Beckham. He is fluent in Spanish and earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Alaina is an experienced campaign manager and paid media strategist with a strong background in political digital – advertising, fundraising, and organizing.
Alaina has worked on presidential, senatorial, gubernatorial, congressional, and local campaigns across the country. She has served as campaign manager and digital director for Democratic candidates in crucial battleground races, like Terry McAuliffe’s 2021 Virginia Governor’s race and the DCCC in the 2020 cycle. She also helped lead the digital organizing strategy in the early states on now-Vice President Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign.
Alaina is focused on innovating the way we run winning campaigns, especially in the ever-changing field of paid media and advertising. On McAuliffe’s campaign, she managed a fully in-house online fundraising and digital advertising program – something otherwise unheard of for statewide campaigns.
Alaina graduated with a B.A. in Public Policy from New York University and lives in Los Angeles with her fiancée, Lisa.
Elizabeth is a Bay Area native with a passion for both local and global politics. As a Senior Associate at Bearstar, she manages clients’ communications and paid media strategy, advertising production, press relations, and political data analysis.
During the 2022 cycle, Elizabeth produced multimillion dollar paid media campaigns for the San Francisco 49ers and several local and statewide ballot measures. She also worked on special projects for Governor Gavin Newsom, including his Florida 4th of July TV ad, red state pro-abortion billboard campaign, and Texas gun control newspaper ads.
Elizabeth served as Matt Haney’s communications director during his landslide victory special election campaign to represent California’s 17th Assembly district in spring 2022. In that role, Elizabeth directed English and Cantonese paid media programs, managed press strategy, and served as campaign spokesperson. In 2021, Elizabeth took on a similar role on Mia Bonta’s successful special election campaign to represent the 18th Assembly district in the East Bay. Elizabeth also wore many hats during Governor Newsom’s campaign to defeat the Republican-led recall, from assisting with ad production to working on the Governor’s advance team for rallies with Senator Elizabeth Warren, Vice President Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden.
Prior to joining Bearstar in 2020, Elizabeth was an intern at Lighthouse Public Affairs in San Francisco as well as with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, and several international nonprofits.
Elizabeth graduated Phi Beta Kappa from George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs and minors in Journalism/Mass Communications and Arabic Studies. She speaks conversational Spanish and Arabic.
As a senior associate, Tausif brings a strong background in research and communications.
Tausif started his time at Bearstar helping manage then-BART Board President Lateefah Simon’s successful re-election campaign and now is working on her bid to become the next Congresswoman from CA-12. He has worked on several San Francisco 49ers’ successful independent expenditure campaigns in the City of Santa Clara. In 2021, Tausif assisted with the transition of US Senator Alex Padilla and Attorney General Rob Bonta.
In 2022, Tausif worked with others in the firm to elect the state’s first Black state controller in California history – Malia Cohen, who was outspent four to one by her Republican opponent across the state. Tausif also managed Tony Thurmond’s cruising re-election campaign for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Tausif developed scripts and produced ads for both of their campaigns.
Previously, Tausif worked for the DC progressive advocacy group the Hub Project and its partner organizations. There, Tausif drafted a dozen op-eds for activists, elected officials, and celebrities around key policy issues in various local and national news outlets.
Before he started in his full-time role with the firm, Tausif worked as an intern assisting on research projects and drafting communications materials for various clients ranging from local ballot measures to a presidential campaign.
Tausif splits his time between San Francisco and Los Angeles and is a graduate of UC Berkeley with a B.A. in political science and a minor in history.