Mona Tawatao Hired as EJS Legal Director

mona_tawatao_legal_director_equal_justice_society_feb_2019_v2_sqEqual Justice Society President Eva Paterson today announced Mona Tawatao as EJS’s new Legal Director effective April 15, 2019.

“We’re thrilled that Mona is joining the staff as Legal Director,” said Paterson. “She has been part of our EJS family for almost a decade as a board member and played a critical role in our organizational governance and advancing our legal agenda, especially in the area of implicit bias. Her three decades as a litigator and advocate will be a tremendous asset to our efforts.”

Mona is currently a Senior Litigator at the Western Center on Law & Poverty with 28 years of legal services experience pursuing health, housing, land use and civil rights litigation and advocacy throughout California. She was previously a regional counsel for housing and land use for 12 years with Legal Services of Northern California where she co-founded its Race Equity Project.

“My long association with EJS has given me the opportunity to closely follow the developments and advances in mind and cognitive science and their implications for anti-discrimination advocacy and work,” said Mona. “I feel tremendously privileged to be joining EJS as its new legal director.  I so look forward to working with Eva and the staff and board in this capacity to continue the organization’s work in transforming the nation’s consciousness on race.”

She received her J.D. from UCLA School of Law and then clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo B. Marshall in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. She is admitted to practice in the State of California, in the U.S. District Courts of the Central District, Eastern District, and Northern Districts of California, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

EJS honored Mona and William Kennedy with a Racial Equity Award at our 2008 annual gala. She also received the 2007 Heber-Smith Award from the National Legal Aid and Defender Association for her housing and race equity advocacy. She serves on the advisory board of the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Institute.

Mona served on the EJS board of directors from July 2010 to January 2019, and was our board chair from 2015 to 2017. She has also been a frequent speaker at many of our conferences, including our Mind Science Conferences in Chicago in 2013 and Oakland in 2018, our Resilience of Racism Conference 2017, and served on our Civil Rights at 50 Steering Committee.

“On behalf of all of us at EJS, I want to express our deep appreciation to Lisa Holder, who has served as Interim Legal Director and skillfully helped lead our initiatives during the search for a new legal director,” said Paterson.

Allison Elgart served as our Legal Director from 2011 to November 2018. She was appointed a Deputy Attorney General in the Civil Rights Enforcement Section of the State of California Department of Justice.