Staff Bios

Who we are: Council 36 Staff

Bios & Contact Info. 

Cheryl Parisi, Executive Director:

Cheryl serves as Executive Director of AFSCME District Council 36 and has been fighting for the rights and dignity of Southern California public service workers for more than three decades. Under her leadership, Council 36 grew from 14,000 members to nearly 25,000 today, and represents 56 autonomous Local Unions.  Council 36 is recognized as a national model within AFSCME – a union of 1.6 million members nationwide – for its record of victories in collective bargaining, in the local and state political arenas, and in labor-community bridge building. Born and raised in the City of Bell, Cheryl studied at UC Santa Cruz, where she received a BA in Politics.      Immediately after graduating, she became an organizer with Council 36 and was assigned to represent a largely female, “pink collar” workforce of low-wage librarians and clerical staff in the City of Los Angeles.  Her representation of these employees culminated in a historic achievement in 1983, with the creation of a first-of-its-kind landmark of “comparable worth” pay equity policies that sought to remedy glaring gender-based wage disparities. In recent years, Cheryl has served as Chair of the Coalition of LA City Unions, a partnership of six unions representing diverse civilian employees fighting for fair treatment and the restoration of quality public services that were slashed during the great recession.; tel. 213-252-1326

Adam Acosta, Asst. Executive Director

Adam, a 20-year veteran of AFSCME activism and progressive advocacy in California, has been involved in the crafting and oversight of state and local public policy for much of his career. He has been instrumental in promoting transparency, accountability and efficiency in government, particularly through restrictions and oversight of outsourcing contracts, as well as in promoting revenue-raising local ballot measures across the southland, to assure the continued flow of quality services to taxpayers. Having joined Council 36 in 2006, following years in the Sacramento office of the AFSCME international union, Brother Acosta has spearheaded a number of important state laws to strengthen collective bargaining rights and labor protections.  Adam@afscme36.orgtel. 213-252-1329

Steve Koffroth, Field Director: 

Steve supervises the Business Representatives at Council 36 and supports a variety of field campaigns on behalf of our Local Unions. Steve was initially hired to Council 36 as a Business Representative, bringing more than 20 years of experience in grievance and disciplinary forums, including arbitration and Unfair Labor Practice disputes.  He has served as Chief Negotiator, settling countless contracts on behalf of our members through traditional and mutual gains bargaining.  His areas of expertise extend to employee relations, pension benefits, redevelopment agency dissolution and water operations. He is also the director of Council 36’s AFSCME Strong organizing-for-power program and runs the Council’s three-day, highly popular Shop Steward Training every year.  He has served since 2012 on the Oversight Board of the former Community Redevelopment Agency of LA. Steve holds a BA from Cal State University, Fullerton.  SKoffroth@afscme36.orgtel. 213-252-1355

Tris Carpenter, Organizing Director:

Tris directs external organizing campaigns to increase Council 36 membership power. Before coming to Council 36, initially as a Business Representative a number of years ago, Tris served as organizing director for the Motion Picture Editors Guild, IATSE Local 700, in Hollywood, and has directed additional campaigns for unions including AFSCME Council 4 in New Britain, CT.  Tris holds an MA in Labor Studies from the University of Massachusetts and BA from Syracuse University in New York. Tris@afscme36.orgtel. 213-252-1313

Linda Romero, Controller: Camera shy - check back soon!; 213-252-1303

Bob Adams, Business Representative:

Prior to his arrival here in 2012, Bob worked as a Labor Representative for the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA), one of the Bargaining Units for the State of California, from 1998-2011. He has also served as a Senior Analyst for the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning in the City of Los Angeles, in the Tom Bradley administration, as well as Special Assistant to the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety in the Richard Riordan administration.  In addition, from 1994-1997, Bob served as a Special Investigator to the Citizen Police Complaint Commission in the City of Long Beach.  Other labor experience includes with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the Communications Workers of America (CWA).   Bob graduated from Oregon State University and holds a Juris Doctorate from UCLA.  He is also a DRPA-certified mediator in Orange County.  Bob@afscme36.orgtel. (310) 516-1645 (South Bay Office)

Jeff Bigelow, Business Representative: Camera shy - check back soon!;  714-778- 4723

Lylwyn Esangga (“Ling”), Business Representative

Ling represents members in some of our Los Angeles City Locals. She comes to Council 36 from the Orange County Employees Assoc., where she served as Labor Relations Representative in Santa Ana. Before that, she was a Business Agent at Teamsters Local 1932 in San Bernardino. Ling’s diverse professional background includes serving as an Investigator Specialist for the City of Chicago Inspector General's Office. She graduated from Loyola University at Chicago, with a BS in criminal justice.; tel. 213-252-1315

Luciana Giorgi, Business Representative:

Luciana rose through the union ranks, starting out as a childcare worker and “Head Start” teacher. She was picked by her Local union as an internal membership organizer after her own childcare position was eliminated, and then began her career representing LA County and LA City employees at Council 36.  Luciana@afscme36.orgtel. 213-252-1335

Gary Guthman, Business Representative:

Gary has 30 years of labor experience including as a union organizer, business representative, shop steward trainer, contract negotiator, campaign coordinator and strike organizer.  Organizing has been a primary focus, as he started out as a boycott organizer in the United Farmworkers movement.  Prior to joining AFSCME in 2011, he also worked as an organizer for HERE (now UNITE-HERE) in San Francisco, Chicago, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, as well as for SEIU, in the nursing and hospital industries in Los Angeles.  One of his proudest achievements was as the lead organizer for milestone Radisson Manhattan Beach organizing campaign in 1988-1990.  Gary@afscme36.orgtel. 213-252-1332

Robert Leonard, Business Representative:

Rob joined Council 36 in April, 2017, and is assigned to represent seven Los Angeles County Local Unions. He brings over three decades of experience as union representative and community organizer, including a dozen years working with SEIU’s public employee Locals 660 (now 721) and 99. Most recently, he served as a Representative/Organizer with Teamsters Local 2010, where he led two winning campaigns to gain union recognition and win first contracts for skilled trade workers at UCLA and UCSD.; tel. 213-252-1327

Aaron Pearl, Senior Organizer: 

Aaron began his AFSCME career with Local 800 (a nonprofit sector service provider union) in 2012, and later that same year was instrumental in organizing what would become the first private, nonprofit LA County subcontractor, JVS GAIN, with a unionized workforce. Since 2013, Aaron has worked for Council 36 as an Organizer and Business Representative. He currently is working with a variety of our Los Angeles, Lawndale, Lynwood, and Compton Locals. He holds a BA in Political Science and Public Policy from UCLA.; tel. 213-252-1394

Teresa Sanchez, Business Representative: Camera shy - check back soon! tel. 213-252-1331

Luis Schmidt, Business Representative:

Having risen through the ranks, Luis first served the City of Phoenix as a part time employee picking up trash using his personal vehicle. He was later accepted to an electrical apprenticeship program and completed it through the IBEW. From 2005 to 2016, he held various offices in AFSCME Local 2384, including Steward, Secretary Treasurer, Vice President and President. He served on behalf of 2,000 City of Phoenix mechanics, electricians, security guards and other blue collar workers. His skillset covers virtually all aspects of employment-related representation. Luis has also conducted steward trainings, AFSCME Strong activities, Next Wave trainings, and served as Chair of PEOPLE for all AFSCME Locals in AZ. tel. 213-252-1396

Pete Schnaufer, Business Representative:

Pete is a veteran of the labor movement and has been a mentor in raising the consciousness and self-confidence of our members to fight for the rights and protections of themselves and their union brothers and sisters. Pete has served as a Business Representative for Council 36 for 35 years, where he has represented public employees including in the ABC School District, Anaheim Union School District, City of Hawaiian Gardens, and City of Bellflower.  For several years before coming to California, he taught labor education at the University of Minnesota. Pete holds a BA from Ohio State University and MA from Cornell University.

Erica Zeitlin, Communications Officer:

A former staff writer with The Los Angeles Times and Associate Director with state Sen. Tom Hayden on a statewide campaign to stop tax dollars from subsidizing sweatshop labor, Erica brings years of journalism, coalition organizing and labor advocacy to the Council 36 communications office.   She is responsible for creating online and print newsletters, campaign flyers, advocacy kits  and other materials as well as maintaining the Council’s website content and social media presence.  In addition, Erica provides support to the Council’s Local unions, including creating campaign presentations, drafting newsletters, producing bargaining surveys, assisting with political advocacy and coordinating public relations/media outreach. Erica leads an annual messaging workshop in the summer open to all members. Erica graduated cum laude with a BA in English from UCLA. tel. 213-252-1324