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Speakers

We are proud to welcome the following distinguished speakers to our conference:

Hon. Cecilia Altonaga, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida. Judge Altonaga became the first Cuban-American to serve as a federal judge when President Bush appointed her in 2003. Notably, Judge Altonaga presided over the trial of Charles McArthur Emmanuel, son of Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and the first American to be charged for participating in torture overseas. Judge Altonaga is a graduate of Florida International University and Yale Law School.

Joaquin Avila, Professor - Seattle University School of Law. Professor Avila is a nationally-recognized expert on voting rights, and has successfully argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding special provisions in the Voting Rights Act. A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School, he now directs the National Voting Rights Advocacy Initiative at Seattle University.

Carlos Barrezueta, Executive Director - Center for Latin American and Caribbean Initiatives at Miami Dade College. Carlos has provided political commentary and analysis for the national newscast Mega News Nocturno. His work included analysis of elections and major political events in Latin America, in addition to U.S. and inter-American policy. Prior to Mega News, Carlos was a Dean’s Fellow at Yale Law School, where he coordinated the launch of the new three-year JD-MBA program. Before working in academia, Carlos worked in the corporate department of Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York. Carlos is a graduate of Yale Law School and Columbia University.

Manuel G. Berrelez, Associate - Vinson & Elkins. Mr. Berrelez is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, where he served as Co-Chair of the Yale LLSA. A former law clerk to Judge Raymond C. Fisher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Mr. Berrelez now practices in Dallas, representing clients nationwide in complex commercial litigation in both the federal and state courts.

Sara C. Bronin, Associate Professor - University of Connecticut School of Law. Professor Bronin researches and publishes in property, land use, historic preservation, green building, and renewable energy law. At UConn, she co-directs the Center for Energy & Environmental Law and coordinates the Gallivan Conferences. She also serves as President of the CT Hispanic Bar and as a lead attorney and development strategist for 360 State Street, a mixed-use, green development in downtown New Haven. She graduated from the U.T. School of Architecture, Oxford (as a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School.

Hon. José Cabranes, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. President Carter made Judge Cabranes the first Puerto Rican appointed to the federal bench. He served as a United States District Judge for the District of Connecticut for fifteen years and was serving as Chief Judge of that court when President Bill Clinton appointed Judge Cabranes to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Cabranes was a Kellett Research Fellow of Columbia College at the University of Cambridge (Queens' College, 1965-1967). He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, of which he later served as Chairman. Judge Cabranes is a graduate of Columbia University and Yale Law School.

Drew Days, Professor - Yale Law School. Before joining the Yale Law School faculty in 1981, Professor Days served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President Carter. In 1988 he founded the Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for Human Rights at Yale, serving as its director. In 1993 President Clinton appointed Professor Days as Solicitor General of the United States, where he served until 1996. Professor Days is an honors graduate from Hamilton College and received his LL.B. degree from Yale.

Hector Gallegos, Partner - Morrison & Foerster. Mr. Gallegos represents foreign and domestic companies in patent litigation in U.S. District Courts and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and before the International Trade Commission. Mr. Gallegos also maintains an active pro bono practice and was awarded the Pro Bono Civil Liberties Award by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California in 2000. Mr. Gallegos is a graduate of UCLA Law School.

George Gascón, Police Chief - City of San Francisco. Chief Gascón began his career as an officer for the Los Angeles Police Department. He eventually rose to become the Assistant Chief of the LAPD, where he oversaw all of the Department's patrol and detective functions. Before his appointment in San Francisco, he served as Police Chief in Mesa, Arizona. He has also helped train police departments in El Salvador and Colombia.  Mr. Gascón is a graduate of California State University Longbeach and Western State University College of Law.

Heather Gerken, Professor - Yale Law School. Heather Gerken is the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School where she is one of the country's leading experts on voting rights and election law. Professor Gerken graduated from Princeton University, and the University of Michigan Law School. She clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for Justice David H. Souter of the United States Supreme Court. She joined the Yale faculty in 2006.

Hon. Eva Guzman, Associate Justice - Supreme Court of Texas. Justice Guzman has served for over ten years on the Texas bench at every level. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Texas in the Fall of 2009 and stands for re-election this year. Justice Guzman is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Houston Law Center and was recently honored by Latino Leaders magazine as one of the 101 Most Influential People in the Latino Community. Justice Guzman is a graduate of the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law.

Vice Admiral James W. Houck, Judge Advocate General - Navy. As the judge advocate general, Vice Admiral Houck is the principal military legal counsel to the secretary of the Navy and chief of Naval Operations. He leads the attorneys, enlisted legalmen, and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community. Vice Admiral Houck’s other assignments include service in the Office of the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Navy Office of Legislative Affairs, and in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy.

Natalia Martín, Director of Diversity - Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Natalia Martín is a former Associate Dean at Yale Law School, and is a Co-founder of a series of networking breakfasts for Latina attorneys in New York City called “Cafecitos.” She is a member of the New York City Bar’s Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession and the New York State Bar Association’s Minorities in the Profession Committee. Natalia is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School.

Rachel Moran, Dean - UCLA Law School.  Dean Moran will be this year’s recipient of NLLSA’s Excellence in Leadership Award. When she starts her deanship on October 15th, Dean Moran will become the first Latina dean of a top-20 law school. She has had a distinguished career as a faculty member of Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law since 1983, President of the Association of American Law Schools, Chair of the Chicano/Latino Policy Project (now the Center for Latino Policy Research) and as Director of the Institute for the Study of Social Change. Dean Moran is a graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School. She clerked for the Honorable Wilfred Feinberg, then the Chief Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Nina Perales, Southwest Regional Counsel - MALDEF. Ms. Perales directs MALDEF's litigation, advocacy, and public education in nine southern and western states. Ms. Perales specializes in voting rights litigation, including redistricting and vote dilution challenges. In 2006, Ms. Perales successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in LULAC v. Perry, a Latino vote-dilution challenge to the 2003 Texas congressional redistricting plan. Ms. Perales is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School.

Fred Rivera, Partner - Perkins Coie. Mr. Rivera is the co-chair of the Financial Services Litigation & Investigations practice at Perkins Coie. An expert on mortgage fraud, fair housing and fair lending claims, Mr. Rivera began his career as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served in the Honors Program. He returned to public service from 2006-2008 as the head of internal investigations at Fannie Mae. Mr. Rivera is a graduate of Califoria State University, Northridge, and Gonzaga University School of Law.

Cristina Rodríguez, Professor - New York University School of Law. Professor Rodríguez has written extensively on how immigration affects society and culture, as well as the legal and political strategies different societies adopt to absorb immigrant populations. Professor Rodriguez earned her B.A. from Yale College, her Master of Letters from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she was the Articles Editor for the Yale Law Journal. After law school Professor Rodriguez clerked for the Honorable David S. Tatel, of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Leon Rodriguez, Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division. Mr. Rodriguez is the Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Chief of Staff for Thomas Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. Mr. Rodriguez served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh as chief of the White Collar Crimes Section, then as First Assistant U.S. Attorney. Mr. Rodriguez is a graduate of Brown University and Boston College School of Law.

Walter B. Ruiz Jr., Office of Military Commissions Defense - Navy. Mr. Ruiz currently represents Mustafa Al Hawsawi, one of the alleged 9-11 conspirators, and has previously represented Canadian child soldier Omar Khadr. In his civilian capacity, Mr. Ruiz is an Assistant Federal Public Defender. He received his undergraduate degree in Business from the University of Florida and his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel - MALDEF. Mr. Saenz joined MALDEF as a staff attorney in 1993; he became Los Angeles Regional Counsel in 1996, National Senior Counsel in 2000, and Vice President of Litigation in 2001. At MALDEF, Saenz served as lead counsel in numerous civil rights cases, involving such issues as educational equity, employment discrimination, immigrants’ rights, day laborer rights, and voting rights. Mr. Saenz is a graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School. Mr. Saenz clerked for the Honorable Harry L. Hupp of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and for the Honorable Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Toni M. Smith-Rosario, Senior Assistant - Connecticut State’s Attorney. Ms. Smith-Rosario is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, where she served as co-chair of LLSA. After working in private practice, she clerked in Connecticut with Judge Robert N. Chatigny of the District Court and Justice Richard N. Palmer of the Supreme Court. A founding member of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, she co-chairs its student outreach programs. She has worked as an appellate prosecutor since 1997.

Gerald Torres, Professor - University of Texas, Austin. Professor Torres is former president of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), and a leading figure in critical race theory, and environmental law. During the Clinton Administration Professor served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as counsel to then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. He has been a visiting professor at both Harvard and Stanford law schools. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, Professor Torres was the recipient of the 2010 Yale Latino Law Students Association Public Service Award.

Arturo Vargas, Senior Fellow – UCLA School of Public Affairs. Mr. Vargas is the Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the NALEO Educational Fund. The NALEO Educational Fund empowers Latinos by encouraging civic participation, providing citizenship outreach and assistance, campaign training, technical assistance to elected and appointed Latino officials, youth leadership development, research on Latino demographic and electoral trends, and policy analysis and advocacy on access to the democratic process. Mr. Vargas received his B.A. and Masters degrees from Stanford University.

Gerardo Vildostegui, Professor – Rutgers School of Law. Professor Vildostegui received his J.D. from Yale University in 2000, where he was the first Latino editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal.  His areas of interest include moral and political philosophy, public international law, jurisprudence, constitutional law, and the history of philosophy. He is currently working on two main projects: a study of the relationship between history and morality, and an analysis of the Puerto Rican status question. He received his B.A. from Yale College.

Michael Wishnie, Professor - Yale Law School. Professor Wishnie’s teaching, scholarship, and law practice have focused on immigration, labor and employment, habeas corpus, civil rights, and administrative law. Previously, he was a Skadden Fellow at the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project, and a law clerk to Judge H. Lee Sarokin of the District Court of New Jersey and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and to Justice Harry A. Blackmun, retired, working in the chambers of Justice Stephen G. Breyer. Professor Wishnie is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.