CEO and President, California Chamber of Commerce
Year Graduated: 1978
Allan Zaremberg is president and chief executive officer of the CalChamber. He took over the top staff position in 1998 after six years as executive vice president and head of CalChamber's legislative advocacy program. Before joining CalChamber, Zaremberg served as chief legislative advisor to and advocate for Governors George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson. Zaremberg served as a captain and flight navigator on a KC-135 jet air refueling tanker while in the U.S. Air Force from 1970 to 1975. He received a B.S. in economics from Penn State University and a J.D. from the McGeorge School of Law.
After serving two California governors as their chief lobbyist, Allan Zaremberg, '78, wanted to continue serving the public in the most far-reaching way he could.
Since 1992, Zaremberg has worked at the California Chamber of Commerce, where he is CEO and president. Zaremberg always wanted to be an attorney. After serving in the U.S. Air Force from 1970 to 1975, he entered McGeorge School of Law. During law school, he wrote legislation for the California Peace Officers' Association and served on the law journal.
After graduating, Zaremberg joined a small general practice firm in Sacramento, where he practiced a variety of law, including probate, family law, criminal defense and business law for several years. When he left the firm, Zaremberg joined the state Department of Justice as a deputy attorney general. He worked as a lobbyist on a variety of issues for then-Attorney General George Deukmejian. When Deukmejian became governor, Zaremberg became his deputy legislative secretary and then his legislative secretary from 1983 to 1990.
When Pete Wilson became governor, Zaremberg worked as his legislative secretary in 1991, a role he held for one year. In the governor's office, Zaremberg was the chief lobbyist, representing the governor before the Legislature, acting as his strategist, reviewing every piece of legislation whether or not it passed, helping the administration take positions on bills and helping develop the governor's policy decisions. He joined the chamber as a registered lobbyist.
"After my years in the governor's office, I enjoyed having a chance to find opportunities to formulate policy that's going to help California be better for everybody who lives here and improve their quality of life," Zaremberg says.
Zaremberg started as executive vice president and head of the chamber's legislative advocacy program, overseeing lobbying efforts, political activity and ballot measures. In 1998 he became CEO and president, also responsible for overseeing about 125 staff members, and the organization's overall goals and strategy. The chamber serves more than 13,000 members, including Mom-and-Pop businesses, trade associations and multi-national corporations. The chamber gets involved in a broad range of issues. During his tenure, Zaremberg has headed statewide ballot campaigns to prevent shakedown lawsuits and increase transportation infrastructure funding. He has helped achieve reforms for worker's compensation and endangered species laws.
"What I find rewarding is we get a chance to influence public policy on a broad scale that's important for all our residents in California," Zaremberg says. "That's the most rewarding, is to be able to step back and look at the overall success of trying to improve people's lives and not measure it in one piece of legislation or one initiative, but over the broad course of years."
Zaremberg is involved in creating a new foundation, Foundation for Democracy and Justice, based in San Francisco, to promote civics and the benefits of a democratic government. He got involved with the Capital Center Advisory Board to repay his gratitude to McGeorge.
"If I can help anybody else enhance their career and provide guidance and on top of that make McGeorge a better place ... then I think that will result in a better education for the students," he says. "I feel grateful for the education that I've had and the opportunities that it brought to me, so anything I can do to give back is worthwhile."