Cruz Strategies is a minority and women owned government relations and public affairs firm that specializes in developing and implementing results-oriented strategies for our diverse set of clients. Cruz Strategies was created through our desire and commitment to excellence, hard work, and the promotion of diversity. We care about the quality of our services, the success of our clients, and the relationships that are developed through these working partnerships.

We believe in the collective strength of our team. The CS team brings a combination of skills to the table and a network of people in a diverse mix of arenas that were developed over the years. We understand the important intersection of business, government, labor, and the nonprofit world and have cultivated strong relations across industries.

In lobbying, relationships are the core to getting things done. We take pride in our reputation for honesty and integrity, and personal and attentive service, which is the basis for how we work. We commit ourselves to delivering real-time responses to changing political environments. We are genuinely interested in collaborating across the aisle and finding solutions that work for our clients. Our clients feel supported throughout the process and satisfied that our work always exceed our contract obligations.

OUR SERVICES

LOBBYING

Cruz Strategies specializes in the development of comprehensive strategies to take legislation from concept to statute, while navigating the complex political waters in the State Capitol. This includes policy development, bill drafting and analysis, coalition building, and stewarding the bill throughout the legislative process. Our team’s diverse experiences contribute to our deep knowledge of the primary public policy and budgetary issues confronting the state.

 

We strongly believe in the benefits of being visible and fostering long-term relationships in the Capitol, in addition to being accessible to policymakers and our clients – as we like to say, we do not lobby from the comfort of our office chairs!

REGULATORY ADVISING/ADVOCACY

In addition to the State Legislature, the regulatory work of state agencies affects the operations of businesses, non-profits, and industries across California. Our efforts in this arena have allowed us to foster positive working relationships with agencies across state and local governments that help protect the interests of our clients within the regulatory environment.

POLITICAL CONSULTING - STRATEGIC ADVICE, PLANNING & COMMUNICATIONS

We work closely with our clients to assess their needs and create a plan that is directly tailored to ensuring success in meeting the goals of our partnership. Among other efforts, we have worked with clients on creating annual policy frameworks for their organization, managing issue-oriented campaigns, and building strategic relationships with legislative and agency leadership to help serve their long-term needs.

GRASSROOT CAMPAIGNS & COALITION BUILDING

We design and implement grassroot strategies that demonstrate clear outcomes and successes. This work includes overseeing strategic communications, coalition management, ally engagement, media relations, and digital advocacy plans. We employ aggressive advocacy and grassroots campaigns to execute a winning strategy for our clients. Through this work, we highlight our clients’ accomplishments and contributions to the state and connect it to their campaign objectives.

PROCUREMENT ASSISTANCE

Cruz Strategies also provides government relations services on procurement matters at the state and local level.  Our work includes strategic advice and representation among local elected officials and relevant city and county departments, as appropriate.

OUR TEAM

At Cruz Strategies, our greatest strength lies with our team – the expertise, diverse experiences, networks, and ideas that each individual brings are leveraged for the benefit of our clients.

Partner

Steve Cruz

Steve Cruz is a partner at Cruz Strategies and brings with him over 20 years of legislative and political experience having worked on behalf of a multitude of interests, both public and private, before the California State Legislature and various state agencies.  His clients have included Fortune 500 companies, national retailers, home builders, local governments, renewable energy firms, professional trade associations, and non-profits.

Mr. Cruz possesses a broad range of policy experience and is well respected in the Capitol for his advocacy work on behalf of real estate development interests, in the areas of infrastructure, housing, construction, finance, water, environmental resources, and land use.  He currently represents one of the largest public water agencies in California and possesses deep understanding of California water law and politics.  For nearly a decade, Mr. Cruz has advocated for the homebuilding industry and previously served as an in-house lobbyist for the California Building Industry Association.  In this capacity, he successfully represents California homebuilders on array of land use and housing policy.  Mr. Cruz also owned and operated a real estate development company where he acquired and sold a significant number of properties, and he successfully managed development projects through the entitlements and construction process.  Through these endeavors, Mr. Cruz has developed a keen understanding for how business interacts with government and public policy.  Additionally, he continues to represent homebuilders and other industries at the local level across Northern California.

Before his lobbying career, Mr. Cruz worked in the administration of Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., where he served as the Chief State Legislative Advocate for the City and County of San Francisco. He advanced an ambitious legislative and regulatory agenda and utilized his vast knowledge of policymaking and state budget process to secure state funding for vital programs and services.

Mr. Cruz began his career in the California State Legislature with the Honorable Hilda L. Solis, a former State Senator and U.S. Labor Secretary. In this role, he advised the Senator on critical public policy matters in the areas of labor and employment, education and public safety.

Managing Director

Veronica Villalobos Cruz

Veronica Villalobos Cruz is the Managing Partner at Cruz Strategies, a government relations and public affairs firm based in Sacramento. She also serves as a senior policy advisor for California Forward, a non-profit organization that advocates for shared prosperity across all of the state’s regions and for improved government performance and accountability. Prior to joining the lobbying firm, she served as the Vice President of External Relations for the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU). At AICCU, she represented the interests of seventy-five plus private, nonprofit colleges and universities that served over 320,000 students in California. She advocated before the state legislature and state agencies on issues such as higher education access, state financial aid, K-12 teacher preparation and a variety of academic and university operational issues.

Previously, Villalobos Cruz served as the Executive Director of Office of State Government Relations for the University of Southern California (USC) since May 2007. Based in Sacramento, she represented USC, including its medical and research facilities, before the state legislature and state government agencies on matters related to state policy, budget and regulations, and advised the university administration on issues involving state officials. She worked to advance the university’s academic, research and public affairs agendas at the state level through profile-raising efforts. Before joining USC, Villalobos Cruz spent more than six years as Vice President of Public Affairs for AICCU.

Villalobos Cruz serves on the board of directors for the Planned Parenthood Mar Monte Advocates and has been a longstanding volunteer with the Chicano/Latino Youth Leadership Project and the Sacramento City College PUENTE program. Villalobos Cruz graduated from Santa Clara University, with a Bachelor of Science in political science, and obtained a master’s degree in public policy from USC.

Associate Partner

Audrey Ratajczak

Audrey Ratajczak is an Associate Partner and Lobbyist at Cruz Strategies.  She brings with her over eight years of legislative experience, including three years as a lobbyist at Gonzalez, Quintana, Hunter and Cruz, LLC.  In this role, Audrey lobbies and tracks hundreds of bills each legislative session for a number of the firm’s public agency clients.  She was influential in advancing sponsored legislation that provided additional funding and greater flexibility to local governments and transportation agencies.  Audrey also tracks regulatory issues at numerous state agencies, specifically related to transportation, water, and public safety policy.

Before joining Cruz Strategies, Audrey worked as a legislative analyst for the Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms, where she drafted agency-driven regulations, analyzed legislation, and handled responses to hundreds of Public Record Act requests on a number of public safety issues.

Audrey completed the Sacramento Semester Program, where she worked in the office of Assemblyman Gorrell.  She received her Master’s Degree in California Politics from Sacramento State University, where she graduated with distinction.  Audrey also graduated Summa Cum Laude from Sacramento State with a Bachelor’s Degree in Government.  While at the University, she was President of the Student Mentoring Program and served as an Orientation Leader and member of the Delta Epsilon Iota Honor Society.

Government Affairs Manager

Stephanie Estrada

Stephanie Estrada is the Government Affairs Manager and a legislative advocate for Cruz Strategies. She brings experience of working in local government, legislative research and advocacy, strategic campaign consulting, and bilingual communications/public affairs.

Before joining Cruz Strategies, Stephanie worked in the administration of Mayor Todd Gloria where she served as the Community Representative and Press Aide for the City of San Diego. Stephanie’s portfolio included early childhood and postsecondary education, economic development, civic engagement, government transparency, and cross-functional community engagement through strategic partnerships. Stephanie also served as Mayor Todd Gloria’s bilingual spokesperson where she translated and simplified complex policy information for Spanish viewers and listeners.

Stephanie has a considerable research background, most recently consulting for the Tuolumne County Office of Innovation and Business Assistance and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to improve internet access and speed for the Central Sierra region. She also conducted qualitative research for the U.S Immigration Policy Center at UC San Diego, where her work was cited by the Center for American Progress.

Stephanie began her career working for multiple local and regional campaigns. Most recently, as Campaign Coordinator for Todd Gloria’s mayoral bid in 2019. 

Stephanie was awarded the Dr. Stephen L. Susan K. Weber Lamp of Leadership for her contributions at her Alma mater at San Diego State University where she served as an appointed Board of Director, Elections Coordinator and College of Arts & Letters representative at Associated Students. Born and raised in the Bay Area, Stephanie obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Security and Conflict Resolution with a Minor in Spanish.

Legislative Assistant

Jhosseline Guardado

Jhosseline Guardado is a Legislative Assistant at Cruz Strategies. Prior to joining the team, Jhosseline worked in the California State Senate where she served as a Scheduler/Executive Assistant for Senator Susan Rubio. She brings with her a unique understanding of the legislative process along with superb management and organizational skills. 

Jhosseline graduated from the University of California, Davis with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. While at UC Davis, she volunteered in several organizations including the Associated Student Body, the International Rescue Committee and Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority, Incorporated. Upon graduation she worked for the Law Offices of Frederick J. Sette as a Legal Assistant where she gained experience in personal injury cases ranging from car accident injury to big rig collision injury and dog bite injury.

San Diego Water Authority

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San Mateo County

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Assembly Speaker

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Asm Rubio

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Sen Ben Hueso, Chair of the Latino

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Sen Ben Hueso

Chair of the Latino

CRUZ STRATEGIES, LLC

925 L Street, Suite 600

Sacramento, CA 95814

Phone: 916-307-7741