Welcome to Mona Tawatao, Our New Legal Director!

mona_tawatao_legal_director_equal_justice_society_feb_2019_v2_sqEqual Justice Society President Eva Paterson in February announced that Mona Tawatao would be joining us as EJS’s new Legal Director. This is her first week and we hope you’ll join us in welcoming her!

“Mona 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 previously served s 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.

Learn more about Mona.

Thank you to Lisa Holder for Serving as Interim Legal Director!

LISA HOLDER PHOTOLisa Holder has served as EJS Interim Legal Director since November 2018 and has been instrumental in advancing our legal program on numerous fronts. Lisa was part of our legal team as a consulting attorney and/or co-counsel since 2016, helping us with our Kern High School District litigation and our ongoing cases in Los Angeles.

“We can’t thank Lisa enough for helping us advance our legal agenda, “said EJS President Eva Paterson. “We’re proud of what we accomplished with her help and thrilled that she will continue working with us a consultant.”

During her time as our Interim Legal Director, Lisa:

  • Helped our legal team continue monitoring progress on the settlement with the Kern High School District (KHSD) Board of Trustees to stop years of discriminatory discipline practices that deprived African American and Latino students of their right to an education;
  • Oversaw our efforts to get three bills passed in the California legislature that would require implicit bias training and testing for all police officers, medical professionals, judges and court personnel in the state.
  • Appeared as a panelist at our “Impact of Slavery on American Jurisprudence and Activism” event in February as part of our Remembering 1619 year-long observance;
  • Coordinated our role with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Law Office of Michael T. Risher, the Center for Genetics and Society, and Pete Shanks, in filing a lawsuit in December 2018 against the State of California for its collection and retention of genetic profiles from people arrested but never convicted of any crime;
  • Appeared as a guest on NPR On Point radio show segment related to the EFF lawsuit to discuss the civil rights implications of new DNA technology; and
  • Coordinated the preparation of Eva’s testimony in a hearing on hate crimes and the rise of white supremacy held by the House Judiciary Committee.

Lisa will continue to serve as a consulting attorney on our legal team.