Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has established the office’s first-ever Latine Advisory Board, one of several advisory boards he formed that “opens dialogue toward a more inclusive, collaborative, stronger and trusting, relationship with communities countywide,” according to a news release.
“Nearly half of L.A. County’s diverse population is Latine,” Gascón said in the news release. “As a Latino growing up in Los Angeles, I know from firsthand experience that Latine people see some of the most disproportionate impacts of the criminal justice system, both in receiving disproportionate sentencing and being victimized by those looking to cause others harm.”
“During the ongoing celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I take great pride in announcing the establishment of our Latine Advisory Board. This board will serve as a vital link between LADA and our Latine community, working diligently to ensure that Latine voices remain consistently heard, and advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in the policies and practices of my office,” Gascón said.
The founding Latine Advisory Board members include:
Yesenia Acosta, an attorney who focuses her practice within the area of immigration law. She is the founding member of her firm, Mundo Legal. For several consecutive years, she has been recognized by Super Lawyers magazine as a top attorney and “Rising Star.” Yesenia makes time to volunteer and serves as the chair of the board of directors for the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness.
Adela Barajas, who has the passion and determination to bring change to South Los Angeles — what she calls the “Forgotten part of Greater Los Angeles.” In 2007, Adela’s sister-in-law Laura Sanchez-Barajas was brutally murdered, and Adela was committed to providing Laura’s children and family with a positive outlet to express their emotions. She founded Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts or LAURA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for South Los Angeles residents.
Franky Carrillo grew up in Lynwood, Los Angeles, California. In 1991, at the age of 16, Franky was wrongfully convicted of a crime he did not commit. Despite his wrongful conviction, Franky always believed that justice would prevail, and it did. In 2011, he was exonerated and released from prison. After his return home, Franky graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in sociology. He was appointed by the First Supervisorial District to serve as a Commissioner for the newly formed Probation Oversight Commission, serving as its inaugural Chair.
Bruno Hernandez is a dedicated justice reform professional with a passion for transforming communities through advocacy, art and social change. With over 25 years of professional management experience, he has emerged as a prominent figure in the field. As executive director of the Be Creative Diversion Program/STP Foundation, Bruno oversees the organization’s mission to foster creativity, empowerment and social justice through various artistic platforms.
Juana Lambert has served as the executive director for the Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club since 2005, overseeing a $1.3 million budget. There, she leads efforts to provide exciting, motivating educational and recreational experiences to help young people succeed in life. She has worked in the nonprofit sector in Greater Los Angeles since 1990. Before her current post, Juana was director of the Leaders in Training teen program for 11 West Coast-based Boys and Girls Clubs.
Paxcely Marquez serves as a partnership and volunteer coordinator for the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. In this role, Paxcely coordinates the group’s domestic violence restraining order access and non-intimate partner sexual assault advocacy projects. She also coordinates for the pro bono program and leads the volunteer and partnership programs. Paxcely helped to develop and grow the group’s criminal justice advocacy work.
Michael Anthony Mendoza is director of advocacy and a community organizer at the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC). At 15, he was sentenced as an adult to 15 years-to-life in prison. While incarcerated, Michael turned his life around, and after his release began advocating to reform California’s juvenile and criminal justice systems. The state legislature has recognized Michael for his positive impact on the juvenile and criminal justice systems and reentry. Michael was appointed by President Biden as an expert practitioner for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention earlier this year.