Meet our Chair.

Ada Briceño is serving her second term as Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Orange County. She was first elected unanimously in January 2019, and was re-elected by unanimous acclamation in January 2021.

Meet Party Chair Ada Briceño

Ada Briceño has dedicated her career to building grassroots organizations among working families, uplifting marginalized voices, and bringing together diverse communities into powerful progressive coalitions. In addition to union organizing and political work, she has led social justice campaigns including for immigrant rights, women’s rights, and environmental justice. She was named one of Orange County’s “100 Most Influential” by the Orange County Register in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2014. 

Ada Briceño immigrated to the United States from Nicaragua at age 7. Her family fled a hostile dictatorship. She settled in Orange County, California when she was 14, and began working as a hotel front desk clerk after high school. It was her first union job, and it provided her first pair of glasses and her best meal of the day. 

Ada rose quickly to union leadership, and at age 26, she became the first Latina President of her union at a time when anti-immigrant, anti-worker sentiment thrived in Orange County. Her experience in this struggle shaped her decision to spearhead a historic campaign to change the political environment of Orange County.

 Today, Ada serves as Co-President of UNITE-HERE Local 11, representing over 32,000 hotel workers in Los Angeles County, Orange County and Arizona. She is a National Steering Committee Member for the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer. She has been an instrumental part of living wage efforts and a vocal supporter of Medicare for All. Ada is County Commissioner serving on the OC Human Relations commission.

 In 2023, UNITE-HERE Local 11 led the largest hotel strike in U.S. history. Room attendants and dishwashers are leading the way in ensuring that the tourism industry pays enough for their workers to live in the communities they have built. 

In cities across Southern California, Ada and Local 11 are driving groundbreaking policy campaigns to improve the lives of working people. They won historic living wages for tens of thousands of tourism workers in the region, including the City of West Hollywood, which now has the highest citywide minimum wage in the country at $19.08 per hour.  Southern California had been a policy laboratory in creating laws to protect housekeepers from sexual assault and human trafficking, including a housekeeper protection law recently passed in Irvine requiring hotels to provide workers with panic buttons to keep room attendants safe. Local 11 was a founding member of the United to House LA Coalition, and went on to collect tens of thousands of signatures to create an affordable housing fund.  And during the COVID pandemic, when up to 90% of hospitality workers lost their jobs, Ada was instrumental in passing state legislation sponsored by Local 11 to ensure a right for these workers to return to their jobs when the pandemic ended, saving the jobs of hundreds of thousands workers.  Each of these legislative victories has become a model for Democratic state and local government leaders around the country in their efforts to make the American economy work for everyone.

 In the 2020 Presidential election, in the face of a pandemic that shut down many in-person political programs, UNITE HERE Local 11 earned national recognition as the only major union to launch a full canvassing operation. In Arizona, workers safely knocked on roughly 800,000 doors. These efforts helped turn Arizona blue for the first time in more than seven decades, boosted Joe Biden’s margin of victory, and flipped a U.S. Senate seat. UNITE HERE Local 11 has continued these efforts, sending 120 members to the Georgia runoffs.

 In 2020, Ada was elected a Democratic National Committee Member representing California. As a DNC member, Ada has strengthened an inclusive and accessible national organization, especially for under-represented voices including immigrants, working women and men, and communities of color. During her first DNC meeting, Ada introduced and passed a landmark resolution condemning misogyny and demanding equity for women.

 Ada is active with the California Democratic Party, having served as Lead Co-Chair of the Finance Committee and as Lead Chair on the Ad Hoc Committee on Committee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She currently serves as an Executive Board delegate.

Ada was elected Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County in January 2019, and she is the first immigrant to hold that role.

Under Ada’s Leadership in Orange County:

  • Voter Registration: The county has over 70,000 more Democrats since 2019.
  • Blue Wave 2020: Democrats flip 20 seats from red to blue in 2020 and secure an historic plurality of school board seats in the county. 
  • Blue Wave 2022: Orange County Democrats flipped 22 seats and made history by turning the majority of the Board of Supervisors Blue.
  • Funding to Win: Fundraising expanded with more call time and partnerships, to ultimately maintain the largest staff in the organization’s history and expand operations in the midst of a global pandemic.

Ada’s approach is driven by inclusivity, to give rise to the best ideas in any group: “At the core of my leadership is identifying, recruiting, and training leaders to expand our capacity. That’s how we win more for social justice and Democratic values.”

During her 32 years of work in the union, the importance of leadership development has been ingrained in her values. She believes that leaders must be developed at every stage of a campaign. Strengthening their innate abilities and teaching them new skills will bring success by uplifting marginalized voices in the community. Ada brings this same philosophy of leadership to every space where she leads: Democratic Party, non-profit organizations, commissions, and unions.

Ada is trained in organizational transformation that creates continual growth. She is experienced in breaking stagnation to build up leaders for long-lasting, systemic change. A graduate of Cornell University’s National Labor Leadership Initiative.

Ada has served in the following roles:

  • Former Chair of Orange County Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), uniting faith and political advocacy to expand rights for workers and immigrants. 
  • Member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee 
  • Steering Committee member of the OC Women’s March, with over 20,000 attendees
  • Former Board Member of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties
  • Founder and former Chair of Orange County Communities for Responsible Development, serving for 15 years

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