Name a woman who inspires you and why.
I am profoundly inspired by United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor – the third woman and first Latina to hold this position. Representation matters. As a Latina lawyer, Justice Sotomayor’s personal and professional story – of modest beginnings, family that stressed the importance of education, and overcoming a myriad of barriers to earn one of the highest and most prestigious positions in our country – is truly inspirational.
How has being a “woman in law” shaped you?
It’s been the privilege of my life to work alongside the immensely talented women of Legal Aid of NC, and to serve and help lift the voices of our clients, many of whom are women. Our clients are some of the bravest and strongest women I have ever met – single moms, survivors of domestic violence or sexual harassment, and women with disabilities – all simply seeking a safe home for their families. I am grateful to all these women and am humbled to be part of this work.
What advice do you have for young women who want to pursue a career in law?
We need you! Latinas are vastly underrepresented in the legal profession, and that needs to change. You will encounter people throughout your career that will lift you up and support you. Treasure those people. You will also face challenges, but you shouldn’t have to do it alone. Surround yourself with good people and together you will rise above the challenges. And don’t be afraid to ruffle a few feathers along the way. Throughout my time with the Fair Housing Project, I’ve often been reminded of civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis’s words, “speak up, speak out, get in the way. Get in good trouble, necessary trouble, and help redeem the soul of America.”
What makes you a good leader?
I’ve only just started in a leadership position at Legal Aid of NC, so I’m learning a lot and looking to the leaders and mentors that I’ve had over the years. I strive to support a collaborative environment, where everyone has a seat at the table and where everyone’s voice is heard and respected. I want our team to enjoy the work we do, but it can also be physically and mentally exhausting. Finding balance and refilling the well is so important to our overall wellbeing and success. At the end of the day, we can’t stand strong alongside our clients, without also taking care of ourselves.
Why do we need more women leaders?
Representation matters across the board. Our profession, in all sectors and at all levels, needs to better reflect the people we serve.