Last week, The James Irvine Foundation announced the election of Lydia Villarreal, Superior Court Judge of Monterey County, as Chair of The James Irvine Foundation Board of Directors. Join us in welcoming her to the NCG community!
Villarreal’s election comes at a pivotal time for the Foundation, which recently began grantmaking with a new focus: expanding economic and political opportunity for working Californians who are struggling with poverty.
“In a time of great change for the state of California – and for the Irvine Foundation – it’s an honor to have Lydia chair our Board of Directors,” said Don Howard, president and CEO of the Irvine Foundation. “Irvine will benefit from Lydia’s wealth of experience and wisdom as a judge and as a community leader, and we’re also excited about the unique perspectives and leadership she will bring as our first Latina leader and first Chair from the Salinas Valley.”
Villarreal, who will become presiding judge in Monterey County in 2018, has been on the Superior Court bench since 2001. A California native, she has spent her professional life in the Salinas Valley and devoted much of her career to organizing low-income workers, particularly farmworkers.
She worked for eight years for California Rural Legal Assistance and then founded the Center for Community Advocacy, a Salinas nonprofit that helps empower low-income families to improve their housing conditions and offers health and educational programs for farmworkers in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.
“This is a tremendous privilege,” Villarreal said. “I’m honored to work with the board and staff of the Irvine Foundation at such an important time. I’m excited about the role that the Foundation can play to support programs that address the pervasive problems of income inequality and to nurture models that can impact a greater number of Californians.’’