February 01, 2019

Harris to Bring Californian Affected by Wildfires, Government Shutdown to State of the Union

Photo of Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik and her family 

Video of Harris’ previous floor speech about Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) today announced that Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, an air traffic control specialist who lost her home in the 2017 Thomas Fire and who was furloughed throughout the 35 day long government shutdown, will be her guest to the 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 5. Trisha’s husband, Jed, is a Navy veteran and air traffic controller with close to 25 years of experience who worked without pay throughout the shutdown.

“Since the tragic loss of their home, Trisha, Jed, and their three children have worked diligently to bounce back and reestablish a sense of normalcy in their lives, even amidst an unnecessary government shutdown that caused both of them to miss their paychecks for over a month,” said Harris. “Trisha’s story is just one of many stories I heard during the shutdown of Americans whose lives were upended and who faced those difficult days with strength and resilience. I couldn’t be happier to have Trisha as my guest to the State of the Union next week. Washington needs to hear her story and avoid another harmful shutdown.”

“As my family and I have begun to rebuild after losing our home in the Thomas Fire, the hardship we faced during the government shutdown—and the looming uncertainty of another potential shutdown—have added a further layer of stress to our already challenging situation,” said Pesiri-Dybvik. “Further, as an air traffic control specialist I know that the shutdown eroded critical layers of safety within the National Airspace System and forced my NATCA brothers and sisters to show up at work with the burden of not knowing when their next paycheck would come. I am grateful to Senator Harris for inviting me to be her guest to the State of the Union this year and humbled to be the face of my fellow Californians who have been affected by the government shutdown and recent wildfires.”

Harris has previously shared Trisha’s story on the floor of the U.S. Senate. To download video of Harris’ speech, click here.

On the evening of December 4, 2017, Trisha and her husband, Jed, were both at work when they began to hear news of a wildfire spreading towards their home in Ventura, California. While still at work, they asked their nanny to evacuate the house with their children. Ultimately, Trisha and Jed never returned to their home, which was lost in the fire.

 Trisha and her family have since moved to a rental property in Camarillo, which they were recently forced to evacuate when heavy rain sweeping across Southern California threatened floods and mudslides in burn areas left by the 2018 Woolsey and Hill Fires. During the government shutdown, Trisha’s job was deemed non-essential and Jed’s work load was increased to compensate for the furloughed personnel and the 30-year low staffing shortage of air traffic controllers.

Trisha and her husband Jed, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, have three children: Mackenzie (13), Brynlie (5), and Johnnie (3).