Professor Solangel Maldonado presenting at Seton Hall Law

Dean Maldonado Co-Founds Latina Legal Academics Group Named in Honor of Graciela Olivárez

September 13, 2022

Associate Dean Solangel Maldonado co-founded and organized the Graciela Olivárez Latinas in the Legal Academy Workshop (“GO LILA”) which launched this summer with a spectacular inaugural meeting. Legal and cultural luminaries, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Poet Laureate of Philadelphia Raquel Salas Rivera, spoke at the event. By the time the 2-day conference concluded, over 70 current and aspiring Latina law professors participated.

Under the leadership of FAMU Law Professor Maritza Reyes, Dean Maldonado worked with 7 other founders and organizers in creating GO LILA. The group is designed to support and mentor Latinas to enter, succeed, and lead in the legal academy. It was named in honor of Graciela Gil Olivárez (1928-1987), the first Latina law professor in the United States. Professor Olivárez focused her research and advocacy work on providing economic opportunities for underprivileged populations. In that capacity, she became the director of the University of New Mexico’s Institute for Social Research and development and, thereafter, became a professor at the law school.

The event, which was hosted by Stanford Law School and its dean, Jenny Martinez, showcased a variety of topics and panels. Dean Maldonado led several sessions at the event, including a panel entitled, “Teaching Strategies to Survive and Thrive: Subverting Presumptions of Incompetence in the Classroom.” The meeting served as an opportunity to share experiences of and responses to institutionalized biases against Latinas. In a panel moderated by New York Court of Appeals Justice Jenny Rivera, Justice Sotomayor acknowledged that that she, too, experiences imposter syndrome. She noted that she has overcome those moments of doubt by focusing on what she uniquely brings to the table. She urged others at the workshop to think about their singular and substantial value.

GO LILA workshops will continue forward on an annual basis. They will focus on topics such as scholarship, the job market, identity and history, professional development, wellness, and community building.

"Fewer than 3% of law professors in the U.S. are Latina,” added Dean Maldonado, “so I am honored to be part of a group that is creating a community where we can share our ideas and experiences as underrepresented scholars and teachers, but that is also committed to doubling and tripling our representation by mentoring future law professors and deans."