California Citizens Redistricting Commission

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Applicant: Maria Blanco, Public Comment 2006

Submission Information

  • Submitter Name: Christopher Edley, Jr.
  • How Submitter Knows Applicant: I hired Ms. Blanco to work as the Executive Director of Berkeley Law School’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity.
  • Submitted on: 12/09/2010


My name is Christopher Edley, Jr. and I am the Dean of the University of California Berkeley Law School. I am writing to strongly recommend Maria Blanco for the Citizens Redistricting Commission. I have known Maria Blanco since 2007 when I hired her as the Executive Director UC Berkeley Law School’s Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity. She came to Berkeley Law School with a stellar background in civil rights litigation including voting rights, employment, education and immigration. Though she recently left Berkeley Law School to move to Los Angeles, California to join the California Community Foundation, I remain a strong admirer.

The Citizens Redistricting Commission is now at an important stage where the remaining 6 commissioners must be chosen to balance the racial, ethnic, gender and geographic diversity and relevant skills of the first 8 Commissioners. I believe Maria Blanco is an excellent addition to the Commission because she brings a unique expertise in civil rights and voting rights law, and adds to the overall diversity of the Commission as a Latina living in the City of Los Angeles.

Before joining Berkeley Law School, Ms. Blanco served as executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. She brings more than 20 years of experience as a litigator and advocate for immigrant rights, women’s rights and racial justice. Prior to her position at the Lawyers’ Committee, she developed notably wide-ranging unique skills. Blanco was an attorney with Equal Rights Advocates (1987-1994), an associate director and associate professor of law at Golden Gate University’s School of Law (1994-1998), a founder of the California Coalition for Civil Rights, and National Senior Counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (1998-2003).

Ms. Blanco is a thoughtful, intelligent and personable individual. She combines a high standard of personal integrity, strong interpersonal skills and high ideals with a pragmatic and reasonable approach to problem solving. She works well with others, understanding the need to listen carefully before reaching conclusions. For example, she organized various roundtables with national civil rights leaders on education reform and helped advocates become better informed on reform issues and also developing better advocacy strategies. Needless to say, the education reform field is rife with conflicting views, antagonistic interests and competing stakeholders. Her ability to help others work through tough issues in the search for consensus stood out. I believe that her temperament and expertise are well-suited to helping the Commission navigate through difficult and sometimes conflicting interests to reach consensus.

I wholeheartedly support Maria Blanco for the Redistricting Commission.

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