Who We Are

OPEC is comprised of CDCR’s Press Office and Office of Strategic Communications and External Affairs providing timely and relevant information to educate and inform the public, the news media, agency staff, and stakeholders on the policies, events, operations and successes of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services.

OPEC Leadership

vicky waters portrait

Vicky Waters
Assistant Secretary

dana simas

Dana Simas
Press Secretary

krissi khokhobashvili portrait

Kristina Khokhobashvili
Chief of Strategic Communications & External Affairs

OPEC Staff

Press Office

  • Terry Thornton, Deputy Press Secretary
  • Terri Hardy, Information Officer II
  • Joe Orlando, Information Officer I
  • Alia Cruz, Information Officer I
  • Tessa Outhyse, Information Officer I
  • Aaron Espinoza, Office Technician

Office of Strategic Communications & External Affairs

  • David Maldonado, Deputy Chief
  • Vacant, Staff Services Analyst
  • Don Chaddock, Associate Governmental Program Analyst

Video Unit

  • Scott Sabicer, Director, Television Communications Center (Supervisor)
  • Jeff Baur, Director, Television Communications Center (Specialist)
  • David Novick, Television Specialist
  • Clarissa Resultan, Television Specialist
  • Robert Stewart, Television Specialist

Office Administration

  • Michelle Mraule, Staff Services Manager I
  • Kayla Ronzone, Associate Governmental Program Analyst

About the Press Office

The Press Office, located at CDCR headquarters in Sacramento, oversees all media outreach and articulates the Department’s position on operations, policies, employees, offenders, programs and issues. The Press Office manages crisis communications, solicits media coverage of departmental activities, serves as a liaison to the media, releases information to the public and facilitates media access to institutions, programs, employees and offenders pursuant to state law and departmental policies. The Press Office responds to media requests made under the California Public Records Act. 

About the Office of Strategic Communications and External Affairs 

The Office of Strategic Communications and External Affairs was formed in December 2021 as part of a reorganization of the Office of Public and Employee Communications (OPEC). It is responsible for keeping all staff and external stakeholders up-to-date on CDCR’s operations, including new programs, regulations, and protocols. The Chief of Strategic Communications and External Affairs is tasked with ensuring any new CDCR initiatives are communicated in the most effective way, whether that is through video, photos, web, handouts, direct emails, or other methods. 

This office is the central point of contact for all external stakeholders. Key stakeholders should receive information from us – not the news. External stakeholders include: local and statewide law enforcement groups, victim advocates, community and faith-based organizations, city and county government officials, nonprofit organizations and national policy organizations. 

Strategic Communications publishes the Inside CDCR daily employee newsletter and produces the annual Medal of Valor ceremony. We work with the Press Office and PIOs in the field on stories about rehabilitation, staff, programs, events and more which are published in the Inside CDCR newsletter. Strategic Communications also produces the Week in Review, a weekly roundup of significant CDCR news that is shared with all staff and many external stakeholders. 

Also within Strategic Communications is the Multimedia Unit with a video studio and editing booths. This unit is also responsible for live-streaming press conferences and other events, produces photographs and photo galleries of major CDCR events and programs and plans and shoots videos ranging from the annual Medal of Valor ceremony to varied job-training sessions and informational videos. 

Finally, Strategic Communications also includes the Web Task Force unit, which is in charge of designing and maintaining CDCR’s internet and intranet sites. 

The distribution of messages is complicated because only about 55 percent of CDCR employees have work email accounts and/or access to the internet, and they work in more than 80 locations across the state. OPEC reaches employees through email, web pages, information and training videos and printed documents.