Media Contact

Tony Marcano, 213.977.5242,

July 22, 2016

Los Angeles — The ACLU of California announced today the appointment of Sylvia Torres-Guillén as director of education advocacy/legal counsel, a position designed to identify critical civil rights issues in California’s public education system and to help create and implement comprehensive strategies for protecting students’ rights.

Torres-Guillén joins the ACLU from the office of Gov. Jerry Brown, Jr., where she was Special Counsel. Prior to taking on that role last year, she was appointed by Governor Brown as general counsel of the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board, where she zealously pursued complaints of unfair labor practices and sought justice for California’s 800,000 farmworkers. Prior to her appointment to the ALRB, Torres-Guillén served for nearly two decades as a federal public defender, where she tried nearly 40 federal cases and represented thousands of indigent clients.

Torres-Guillén will join the ACLU on August 1. She will lead the ACLU of California Education Team, which includes approximately 10 multi-disciplinary staff engaged in education advocacy and litigation at the three California-based ACLU affiliates: the ACLU of Northern California, the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. She will be based in Los Angeles.

“Equal access to a quality education is critical to our nation's future,” Torres-Guillén said. “Fairness and justice require we fulfill our duty to ensure equity and excellence in education. I am deeply honored to be joining the ACLU team to further its passionate and critical role in fundamentally empowering our students and giving true and transformative meaning to educational equity. I look forward to building strong and collaborative partnerships with the individuals and groups dedicated to our students' success."

Among her many duties, Torres-Guillén will be responsible for overseeing all litigation and advocacy on education equity. She will monitor the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, which sets new rules for how California funds its schools, including allocating more money to help foster youth, low income students and English learners, and participate in state and local discussions to ensure additional resources are directed to the state’s neediest students.

“We are very excited that Sylvia has agreed to bring her wealth of experience, skills and knowledge to the ACLU,” said Hector Villagra, executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. “We look forward to her leadership as we strive to ensure that California’s public education system serves the needs of all students who reside in this diverse state.”

Torres-Guillén’s work is funded by the ACLU of Southern California and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.