To successfully navigate government — team up with an experienced guide.

With extraordinary knowledge and second-to-none political and legislative skills, Ms. Zamarripa is geared to go far beyond the extra mile. An astute political thinker, her close work with advocates across the institutional spectrum advances quality, access, affordability and outcomes through the development of partnerships, coalitions and strategies.

Professional Experience

Karen Zamarripa Consulting | 2016 to Present

The consulting group offers political and policy strategy including but limited to public policy, advocacy, state budgeting, issue campaigns, strategic communications and contracting and procurement outreach for a growing number of clients.

The firm has worked numerous K-12 and higher education clients in the last six years including all the postsecondary systems in the state, the California Community Colleges, the California State University and the University of California and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU). Our client list has also included Educational Results Partnership (ERP), the Fortune School of Education, Lenovo, Calbright College, and the California Student Aid Commission.

Most recently the firm worked with the Fix Financial Aid (FFA) coalition as a consultant hired by the student associations of UC, CSU and CCC. Zamarripa helped develop the coalition of over 25 organizations and managed strategic communications and advocacy efforts leading to major reform on the state’s Cal Grant program.

Karen Zamarripa Consulting also played a key role in the budget and legislative efforts to create the first ever statewide online community college, Calbright College dedicated to working adults seeking greater job success, stability, and income.

The firm has also been working with CSU Chico on capital outlay projects and the College Futures Foundation in their work to support access and success for students.

Assistant Vice Chancellor
California State University | 1991 to 2015

Led state governmental affairs and alumni and community relations for the 23-campus CSU system.

Duties included the development and implementation of strategic and stakeholder engagement plans.

Served as a key advisor to the CSU’s chancellor, trustees, and other senior leaders regarding budget and policy goals and objectives.

Karen Zamarripa Consulting Achievements

Fix Financial Aid (FFA) Coalition

Developed and managed a broad coalition to seek reform to the state’s financial aid program, Cal Grant. Known as the Fix Financial Aid (FFA) coalition, the group was key to getting statutory and budgetary changes to the program that simplifies the process for eligible applicants, expands access for more students and for the first time requires the program to cover the total cost of education including housing, transportation, food, and textbooks rather than just tuition and fees.

UC leaders recruitment, selection, and retention

Conducted an in-depth study on how the University of California might bring more diverse leaders to their campuses. The charge was to examine the recruitment and selection process as well as retention of leaders from different backgrounds and experience, cultures, and ethnicities, as well as gender. The report made 17 recommendations which were adopted in total by the Board of Regents.

Calbright College

Worked with former California Community College Chancellor Oakley and Governor Jerry Brown to establish Calbright College, the first statewide college focused on serving working adults who need new training, certificates, and badges to succeed in today’s workplace.

CSU Selected Achievements

Transformed CSU’s Advocacy and State Relations (ASR) office to proactive team that provide direct advocacy, strategic communications, system and campus level training programs, and created an online and social media presence.

Coordinated several successful legislative initiatives including: establishing CSU’s first independent doctorate programs, the establishment of two new CSU campuses (Monterey Bay and Channel Islands) as well as the CSU Stanislaus off-campus center in Stockton, and the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) statute for CSU and community college students.

Worked with policy makers and CSU officials to pass legislative and administrative changes that streamlined and reduced costs associated with CSU’s operations.

Initiated and implemented a system-wide effort to develop, train and support campus-based advocacy teams made up of cross campus teams.

Developed a statewide online network to communicate and engage with over 500,000 recipients as part of a grassroots outreach and advocacy program targeting policy makers involved in CSU-related issues.

Served as the coordinator and lead advocate of a coalition that led a successful statewide campaign to achieve over $30 billion in voter approved general obligations bonds for K-12 and higher education.

Represented CSU in annual budget negotiations and advocacy including the development of the first “compact” agreement with the Governor.

Initiated an annual report and related efforts to showcase CSU’s contributions to California’s economy and quality of life, presented as part of a public accountability effort aimed at policy makers, taxpayers, the news media and opinion leaders.

Initiated biannual Campaign Roadshow visiting up to 40 legislative candidates each election cycle educating potential new members on higher education issues and making connections between the university, local campuses and candidates prior to the election.

Lead a 9-member team as well as two outside contract lobbying firms representing the university managing hundreds of legislative measures in areas including but not limited to campus climate and safety, employment and labor relations, retirement, capital outlay, procurement and contract and educational programs and Trustee confirmations.

Ms. Zamarripa is highly regarded by both peers and clients for her vast experience and knowledge; many of her contacts have become close friends and have worked with, for, or alongside her for decades.

Read their thoughts here

Selective Public Experience

  • System representative to the former California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and chaired Statutory Advisory Committee which coordinated intersegmental collaboration and partnerships.
  • Chair of the Board of Directors of the Parent Institute for Quality Education (PIQE). Non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents and in turn their students achieve success through high school and into college or career.
  • Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum, Mountain Valley.
  • Canada Community College – Former Member, ESO Adelante Advisory Board
  • Co-Chair of the Executive Advisory Committee (EAC), and Former President and Board member of Leadership California.
  • Former President and Board Member of Capitol Network. An organization of women in state government and elected office who focus on increasing their success and influence in policy making.
  • Past Chair and member of the Higher Education Government Relations Task Force. A professional development consortium coordinated by the American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and the Council for the Advancement of Secondary Education.
  • Volunteer for Women’s Empowerment, a Sacramento-based nonprofit dedicated to help move homeless women and their families into employment and home security.
  • Volunteer, Sacramento Alzheimer’s Association, dedicated to raising awareness about the disease, advocacy for research funding, and improved services for patients as well as caregivers and their families.



Master of Science Degree | May 2001

California State University, Sacramento
Major: Public Policy and Administration (MPPA)


Bachelor of Science Degree | July 1981

University of Southern California
Major: Public Affairs
Minor: Urban and Regional Planning