Zoë Polk is the Executive Director of the East Bay Community Law Center, leading the organization in its mission of promoting justice and building a more equitable community through responsive anti-poverty legal services for low-income people and hands-on training for the next generation of social justice advocates. Zoë took the helm of EBCLC in January 2020, becoming the fourth executive director in the organization’s 32-year history.
Throughout her career, Zoë has successfully advanced racial and economic justice initiatives in the Bay Area and around the world. As the Deputy Director and Lead Policy Advisor at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, she helped the City to pivot from race neutral policies, piloting San Francisco’s first Fair Chance Ordinance, Cannabis Equity Program, Citywide Racial Equity Initiative, Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention Office, and Office of Racial Equity.
From litigating federal civil rights cases about police misconduct, school expulsion, housing discrimination, and Native American tribal disenrollment, to providing crucial consultation to the United Nations Special Representative to the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Zoë has prioritized opportunities to use the law as a tool of social justice and to impact systemic change.
Zoë’s deep personal commitment to environmental justice led her to serve as the National Program Director of Outdoor Afro, where she cultivated African-American connections to nature. Her interpretive hikes weaved Black history into each step, and her leadership development program trained volunteers across the country to be ambassadors for the outdoors.
As Executive Director, Zoë leads a team of 80+ staff members in serving 8,000+ clients per year and advancing systemic policy change. She serves as a Berkeley Law faculty member overseeing the training of 150+ students each year through EBCLC’s eight teaching clinics: the Clean Slate/Reentry Legal Services Clinic, the Community Economic Justice Clinic, the Consumer Justice Clinic, the Education Advocacy Clinic, the Health & Welfare Clinic, the Housing Clinic, the Immigration Clinic, and the Youth Defender Clinic.
Zoë is a California- and District of Columbia-licensed attorney with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Georgetown University and a Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law.