Well, we did it. We made it through one of the most challenging years I have ever experienced in my lifetime, and I know so many would agree. The sad thing is so many lives were taken by all the different disasters. We have witnessed the most wonderful and powerful country become divided by hate. For those of us who genuinely care, love our country and cherish our freedoms — now is time we shine. Show compassion, generosity, charity, and love, even to those who choose to hate; we need to just work a little harder to be inclusive and lead by example. We are all people of this great nation and we should try harder to realize we need each other to survive with new leadership throughout our country, in all positions with all races, religion, LGBTQ+, those of color, ethnic backgrounds, just to name a few — let us work as people in a country we all love. It was because of all the things going on in our world that made me think of introducing you to my dear friend Zach, who already embodies these traits every day.
Zachary Bunshaft (most people just call him Zach) uses he/him/his pronouns. He’s had many nicknames over the years, most revolving around his last name, which is unique to say the least. If you meet another Bunshaft, they are related to Zach.
Zach will tell you that he has lived a very blessed life. He attributes this to having such a loving and supportive family. His beautiful mom is a kindergarten teacher, and his dad has been a small business owner and salesman. They have always put his brother and him first and done whatever they could to help them to achieve their goals. Zach and his brother did a lot of theater growing up and their parents would drive them every school day from El Cajon to Coronado and back so that they could attend the Coronado School of the Arts and pursue their interests. That’s dedication! His brother is an actor, who has been living and working in New York City. He continues to eat, sleep, and breathe the theater. Zach still loves to watch and occasionally participate in a staged reading or small performance as his busy schedule permits, but as he began to question his career goals, he saw his brother’s drive and realized that his own heart just wasn’t in the same place. He realized that he still needed to find something that would motivate him in the same manner that theater did for his brother.
I’m certain that Zach and I had crossed paths a few times at different community events, but our friendship really began at my last annual birthday fundraiser in 2018. So, when I asked Zach about his memory, he said: “I was working for my then boss, Congressmember Susan Davis, she wanted to do something incredibly special to recognize you for your many years of giving back to the community, so we prepared a submission to the Congressional Record in your honor. Congressional Records are typically reserved for individuals who have dedicated their entire lives to service over self. My boss was in Washington at the time, so as her community representative, I was asked to present this honor to you on her behalf. It’s funny to look back at this occasion and have a distinct memory of the moment we became friends. I remember your big smile and a tear of joy coming to your eye as I read her remarks to you. Before that night, I really didn’t know you very well, but I quickly learned that you were someone who always led with their heart. Good vibes attract good lives and I immediately knew that you were someone who I would want to be friends with.” Zach’s words of kindness are beyond kind, but it is true we are still remarkably close friends.
Zachary was born and raised in the Fletcher Hills area of El Cajon. He attended Grossmont College and transferred to San Diego State University with the plan of becoming a history/government teacher. Zach had always had an interest in these subjects, and he felt like this would be a rewarding career in which he could make a positive difference. During a political science course at SDSU, Zach was offered the chance to intern on a City Council campaign instead of taking a final. He figured he had nothing to lose, but he soon found out that he had everything to gain. On that campaign, Zach discovered his passion for public service. He witnessed firsthand the power of community organizing and the ability he had to work with others to create a more equitable and just society. Sadly, they lost the campaign, but that just encouraged Zach to keep up the fight and work harder. He then began exploring different pathways in politics and civic life. Zach became president of the SDSU College Democrats while working in campaign fundraising. One week after graduating, he was fortunate enough to be hired by Congressmember Susan Davis as a staff assistant/legislative correspondent in Washington. He had never lived anywhere else but San Diego and working in D.C. certainly wasn’t part of his plan, but he knew he could not pass up on the opportunity to work in the Capitol and learn the legislative process firsthand.
D.C. was an extraordinary experience and an exciting place to live, but he went there because he loves his hometown so much and wanted to be a part of making it a better place to live. Zach is someone who wants to be on the ground, talking to people, getting to know the issues they care most about and seeking to find common ground and solutions. When a position opened in the District Office, he jumped at the opportunity to get the best of both worlds, working for a member of Congress but from the comfort of San Diego with his friends, family, and community.
At the beginning of 2020, Zach was appointed to serve as the San Diego Regional Coordinator of External Affairs for the Office of the Governor. 2020 has been a year like no other — with a global pandemic, economic recession, record wildfires, civil unrest and the resurgence of social justice movements — and it has challenged us all in many ways but has also made us more resilient. Zack is so inspired by essential workers, medical professionals, first responders, and everyone who has stood up to meet the movement and move us toward a brighter tomorrow. Everyday, he thinks about the great honor that he has been entrusted with to serve the people of California. This sense of responsibility motivates him to continue working to create a healthy, safe, and affordable state with opportunity for all to thrive.
Zach does and will find time, when it comes to giving back and interacting with his community and the city he loves. There have been many times Zach could be seen volunteering at community cleanups with the Hillcrest Town Council and other community groups. He was a volunteer with the Stonewall Citizens Patrol, a volunteer neighborhood watch group operating in the Hillcrest, North Park and University Heights neighborhoods of San Diego. Zach have been involved with the Young Professionals Council (YPC), a program of the San Diego LGBT Center, having served last year as co-chair of the executive committee. In this capacity, he helped lead YPC’s fundraising efforts for AIDS Walk and assisted in coordinating social events and professional development opportunities for young LGBTQ+ professionals and allies. He also serves as secretary of the Uptown Community Planning Group and sits on the Plan Hillcrest Subcommittee, where they seek to make recommendations to the city of San Diego about the future of the neighborhood based on community needs and input.
I asked Zach if he was single or involved and he said: “I am single and likely will be for a little while, as I am taking social distancing very seriously and don’t foresee myself dating in this current environment. I am hopeful that the future will bring someone special.” I hope it will too, Zach.
I am excited to see Zach’s future, because his here-and-now has truly been positive and remarkably effective. His kind smile and bubbly, happy personality is such a gift to have and even more to receive from him. I asked Zach to give me a statement that reflects who he is, and this is what he shared: “Be true to yourself, live in the moment, and follow your heart. Life is too short and unpredictable to let the fear of failure become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Love and respect are what makes you whole and bring the best you that you can to every opportunity and interaction because there is only now, and you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
Keep an eye out for this wonderful man. You are going to see him holding public office one day, I could bet my life on it. Zach, I will be there to support you when you do.
Best way to contact Zach is via email: Bunshaft11@gmail.com