University of California Immigrant Legal Services Center
María Blanco is the director of the University of California’s Immigrant Legal Services Center. The first of its kind in the nation, its innovation is to bring immigration services directly to the campuses to ensure retention and graduation of first-generation students. Her primary areas of expertise are employment law, civil rights law and policy, voting rights, education law, and immigration law and policy. With one foot in legal academia and the other in legal practice and policy, she has been at the head of premier legal organizations whose mission is access to justice and advancing constitutional rights for all. She was a lead lawyer in a seminal case that extended Title VII law to undocumented workers in California, and in another employment case, represented the first group of women in history to enter the San Francisco Fire Department. She served as a commissioner on California’s first Independent Redistricting Commission, which produced congressional and legislative maps after the 2010 Census. She was appointed to the education transition team for President Obama in 2009, where she reviewed the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. She serves on the boards of the California Endowment, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Centro Legal de La Raza in Oakland, and until recently, the Public Policy Institute of California. She earned her BA and JD from the University of California, Berkeley.