September 28, 2020
September 2020: Gabriella Barbosa
Gabriella Barbosa (she/her)
Co-Chair, ACS Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter
I have always been guided by a duty to be kind to and help people. This duty is rooted in my own experiences navigating challenges and overcoming obstacles as the first generation of my family to be born in the United States. As a child, I learned resilience through my mother’s incredible ingenuity and intelligence. But I was also deeply impacted by the xenophobia, racism, and bigotry that stained the history of our country’s founding and continues to exist within its systems of power.
This understanding of unfairness compelled me to become a lawyer. I wanted to gain a deep understanding of the law as a moral and political vision of our nation and do my small part to ensure that this vision lives up to its founding principles by increasing access, equity, and opportunity for communities of people who have been historically oppressed.
Upon graduating from Columbia Law, I set myself on a path to fight for justice. I designed and received an Equal Justice Works fellowship at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, using direct client representation, impact litigation, policy and legislative advocacy, and community education as tools to close the achievement and opportunity gap that persists in our public education system, with a focus on students in immigrant families. I then worked for an elected school board member, advising him on policy and strategy to improve outcomes and equity for the over 600,000 public school students across Los Angeles. Subsequently, I became Director of Advocacy and Policy of a multi-issue area advocacy organization, implementing a community-centered framework where lawyers and advocates work together with impacted community members to identify issues plaguing their communities; and design, advocate for, and secure systemic policy changes that increase access, equity, and opportunity.
I now work as Policy Director at The Children’s Partnership, where I lead the organization’s policy and advocacy agenda nationally and in California on child health equity with a focus on how racism, immigration enforcement, and other social determinants of health impact the well-being of children from marginalized communities. Throughout all of these experiences, I have used my legal training and the law as a proactive tool to address inequities through policy and legislation.
The American Constitution Society (ACS) has played an integral role in my professional path, and I am grateful for the organization’s continued support! ACS has connected me with multiple scholarships to attend its conferences and gathering of progressive lawyers across the years, believed in me and my work, and actively recruited me to become a member of the ACS Los Angeles Lawyer Chapter (thank you Molly!). ACS has also been a strong supporter of our chapter’s dedication to uplift the voices, work, and experiences of attorneys of color. I can’t wait for what we can accomplish together in the coming years.