Esmeralda Cortez Rosales

Esmeralda joined EBCLC’s Education Advocacy Clinic in August 2021 as a Program Coordinator. While earning her B.A. in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley, Esmeralda became a sworn-in youth commissioner for the City of Oakland, a Court Appointed Special Advocate and a legislative and political campaign intern for Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Upon graduating, Esmeralda continued her passion for advancing justice and managed IGNITE National’s West Coast programming that encourages young women to own their political power. After running for office herself, Esmeralda then led Young Women’s Freedom Center Siblings on the Rise program that empowers systems-impacted young women. Now, she looks forward to advancing individual and community healing through holistic educational advocacy as EDJY’s Program Coordinator.

Why do you do what you do?

By the time she was 13 years old and navigating the East Bay, Esmeralda was caught for shoplifting, almost expelled from middle school and her older brother would be killed at the young age of 18. Her inspiration goes beyond Esmeralda’s personal experience and stems from feeling the urgency to address the root causes of poverty and racial injustices. She will continue to do this work to advance community healing and empower others into their own leadership.

What drew you to EBCLC?

Esmeralda wanted to be part of a team that understood that in order to be an effective system disrupter, the work would have to be intersectional and holistic. East Bay Community Law Center was providing a framework that worked for advancing racial justice and addressing poverty. Once she saw there was an opening in the Education, Defense and Justice for Youth department, Esmeralda knew this is where she wanted to invest her skills and passion.

Favorite book: 

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich

I practice wellness by…

I practice wellness by being alone outdoors at sunrise or sunset. 

The best piece of advice given to me …

The best piece of advice I advice given to me is to speak up even if your voice shakes.