Our Organization & Our Leaders

Our Mission & Vision

Californians for Equal Rights (CFER) is a nonprofit organization registered in the state of California, with a mission to defend Proposition 209 and the principle of equal rights as enshrined in the California Constitution (Section 31 of Article I). CFER accomplishes this mission through public education and grassroots campaigns to push back on legislative attempts that would reinstitute racial and gender preferences in government programs.

Our 2020 Campaign to Defend Proposition 209

In 2020, CFER is leading a campaign to reject Proposition 16, previously known as Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 5 (ACA 5), which intends to repeal Proposition 209 and bring back government preferences on the basis of race and gender in public education, public employment and public contracting.

Not only does Proposition 16 cite misleading evidence to paint America’s most progressive state as a place where minorities and women face systematic inequities, its proponents also incorrectly equate the bill with affirmative action. In essence, Proposition 16 is about government preferences, and government preferences only. Built on partial evidence and shallow prescriptions for an unrealistic utopia, Proposition 16 is divisive and discriminatory. Its actual implementation will put a political band-aid over deeper socioeconomic challenges at best, and violate a series of federal and state laws. We must reject Proposition 16 and safeguard our hard-fought equal rights for all regardless of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

Our Leadership

President: Ward Connerly

Mr. Ward Connerly is the founder and president of the American Civil Rights Institute. As a former member of the University of California Board of Regents, Mr. Connerly led a series of successful efforts that resulted in the university’s discontinuation of race-based admissions in 1995 and California’s passage of Proposition 209 in 1996. In recent years, Mr. Connerly has contributed to various campaigns in the states of Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Arizona to fight for equal protection of the laws and equal treatment of all residents in public education, public employment and public contracting.

Vice Chair: Gail Heriot

Dr. Gail Heriot is Professor of Law at University of California at San Diego and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Dr. Heriot was a key co-chair for the 1996 Proposition 209 Campaign and co-authored the official rebuttal to argument against Prop. 209. She is a principled scholar and fierce defender of Prop. 209 as well as the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Prior to becoming an academic, Heriot clerked for the honorable Seymour Simon on the Illinois Supreme Court and practiced at law firms in Chicago and Washington, DC.

Vice Chair: Manuel Klausner

Mr. Manny Klausner is an attorney with expertise in complex and significant litigation involving constitutional law, election law, media law, and business litigation matters. He is General Counsel to Individual Rights Foundation. Mr. Klausner previously served as Chairman of the Federalist Society’s National Practice Group on Free Speech and Election Law for ten years. He was also co-founder of Reason Foundation and a founding director of Institute for Justice.

State Finance Chair: Frank Xu

Frank Xu is a social activist and one of the co-founders of SDAAFE. He commits his time and effort to the community since late 2013. After organizing several rallies against discrimination towards the Chinese community, he realizes that the only way to empower the community is to serve and get involved. He was a board member of Educational Technology Advisory Committee and Budget Review Advisory Committee in Poway Unified School District. He also serves as an alternate board member of County of San Diego Health Advisory Board, a board member in La Jolla Presidents’ Lions Club and his own home owner association.

Honorary Co-Chair: Tom Campbell

Dr. Tom Campbell is a prestigious academic, educator and politician. He is Professor of Law and Professor of Economics at Chapman University. Dr. Campbell served as US Congressman (1989-1993 and 1995-2001) and California State Senator (1993-1995). He was California Director of Finance (2003-2004) and served as Dean of Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley (2001-2003, 2004-2007). Dr. Campbell was Dean of Fowler School of Law at Chapman University (2011-2016), Professor of Law at Stanford University (1987-2001) and Associate Professor of Law at Stanford University (1983-1987). Prior to his academic career, Dr. Campbell was Law Clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White (1977-1978) and Director of Bureau of Competition at Federal Trade Commission (1981-1983). He was also Executive Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General, 1981 and a White House Fellow at Office of the Chief of Staff, the White House (1980-1981).

Honorary Co-Chair: Betty Chu

Ms. Betty Chu is a Chinese American attorney and the first Chinese American woman to pass the bar admission of State Bar of California. Ms. Chu served as mayor of Monterey Park, California in 2006, and held two elected terms on the city council between 2003 and 2012. She was also the congressional candidate for California’s 32nd district in 2009. Ms. Chu was the 2005 Honoree of Los Angeles Chinese American Pioneers in Law. Ms. Chu also served as former attorney for Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles Community College District. She was a former member of the California Constitution Revision Commission.

Honorary Co-Chair: Wai Wah Chin

Ms. Wai Wah Chin is the Charter President of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A.) Greater New York Chapter (CACAGNY). Started in San Francisco in 1895 in response to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, C.A.C.A. is the oldest Chinese American civil rights organization in the United States. In education, CACAGNY has opposed discrimination against Asians in the college admissions process, such as in the current Harvard University case. Most notably, CACAGNY is the leader in the fight for the SHSAT – the race, gender and background blind, objective, academic test that provides fair admissions to the New York City Specialized High Schools. Wai Wah is a firm believer in contributing meaningfully to the community. While pursuing her professional career in finance, first as an investment banker and then as a partner in private equity firms, she was selected to be a David Rockefeller Fellow of the Partnership for New York City.

Honorary Co-Chair: Linda Yang

Linda Yang founded Washington Asians for Equality (WAFE) in 2018, and emerged as a leader of the 2019 Let People Vote (LPV) Reject R-88 campaign during Washington State’s battle to reject I-1000/R-88 and keep I-200 (the WA equivalent of Prop. 209). She appeared numerous times on radio, TV and other news media explaining the harms that I-1000 would bring to the Asian American community and Washington State. In November 2019, Washington voters rejected I-1000/R-88, and upheld I-200. Linda continues to volunteer for the Asian American community and fight for Equality for All.