Sylvia is a transformational leader and lawyer. Her leadership and management experience includes overseeing a state-wide regulatory agency, a non-profit organization state-wide program, and legal and trial teams. Sylvia developed and executed, in each position, a strategic vision by identifying needs, implementing comprehensive plans, and successfully creating processes, efficiencies, and solutions with winning results. Achievements include creating and implementing full-scale legal, policy, and administrative changes involving HR, IT, and finance, as well as forming key relationships with significant stakeholders including federal and state agencies, the state legislature, and private and nonprofit organizations.

Sylvia graduated from Harvard University and earned her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. She is passionate about education, community, and creating change through policy and the law. She is an advocate for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

A fearless and tenacious trial lawyer, Sylvia spent decades fighting for civil rights and social, racial, and economic justice with a holistic and intersectional approach. As a federal public defender for nearly 20 years, the State of California’s first Latina General Counsel of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, and ACLU of Southern California’s Statewide Director of Education Equity, she has fought for the most marginalized and oppressed communities, achieving exceptional results in numerous federal and state courts. She has had 40 trials in federal court and, in two cases alone, she successfully obtained settlements totaling over $175 million dollars.

Her commitment to public service and community extends beyond the courtroom. She currently serves on the boards of Equal Rights Advocates, the Cate School, and the Oakwood School. She has served as President of the Latina Lawyers Bar Association, Vice-President of the Mexican American Bar Foundation, and co-chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Commission on the Status of Latinas in the Legal Profession.

Sylvia has been recognized among California’s Super Lawyers, Top Women Lawyers, and Women of Influence. She also received the Daily Journal’s California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year (“CLAY”) award, the State Bar of California’s Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year Award, the Mexican American Bar Association’s Benito Juarez Attorney of the Year Award, the Latina Lawyers Bar Association Luminarias Award, the President’s Award by the Ventura County Mexican American Bar Association Education Foundation, the California Rural Legal Assistance Community Leadership Award, and the Los Angeles Business Journal’s “Leaders of Influence: Minority Attorneys.” Sylvia was also selected as Harvard Law School’s Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow in 2019-2020, and to the Rockwood Leadership Institute as a 2019 Lead Now California Fellow.

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