As Deputy District Attorney in California's famed Monterey County, Lydia Villarreal is charged with providing consumer and environmental protection for an area that ranges from an environmentally sensitive coastline to the fertile agribusiness farmlands of the Salinas Valley. As a proud Mexican American, Lydia says that she is an agent of Latino efforts to gain appropriate social, economic, and political power. A University of California at Santa Cruz honors graduate, Lydia gained national recognition as a student for her work in creating classes about Chicano History, Labor History, and self-esteem for potential Hispanic dropouts at a local high school. She gravitated towards a career in law after spending a year as a volunteer with the United Farm Workers Union legal department. She studied law at the University of California at Berkeley, worked as a clerk for the California Supreme Court, and earned her law degree in 1980. Lydia made a reputation for herself as a champion of migrant farmworkers and founded the Center for Community Advocacy to aid those in need. Her most famous case involved her successful litigation on behalf of farmworkers who were living in caves and being charged rent.
We went into different courtrooms but the settings and the light just didn’t seem to be right. The outside of the courthouse seemed more suitable for the background, and it exuded stability, strength, and a conservative nature. Lydia is framed by the doors and columns and looked absolutely comfortable in those surroundings. She was definitely in her element, not intimidated by the justice system and eager to make it work for her clients.