My family immigrated to Washington state from Tecolotlan, Mexico when I was 10. My family struggled at first through the hardships of working low-wage jobs while trying to learn a new language and adapt to the culture of our new community. My mother worked hard to start up her own housecleaning business, and my father worked as a cook in restaurants and doing yard maintenance, in order to give my brother, sister, and I a better shot at the American Dream. As the three of us helped my mom clean homes on the weekends, we came to understand the sacrifices and hard work she was devoting for us.
After high school, I took on a full-time job in a carpet warehouse for a year to save enough money for college. My hard work and determination paid off when I became the first person in my family to attend college in the United States.
Because I knew I wanted a career in public service, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Seattle University. While at Seattle University, I was selected to intern for State Representative Phyllis Gutierrez-Kenney. Following graduation, I worked as a legislative aide to Dow Constantine, and as King County Director to United States Senator Patty Murray.
While working in government, I became interested in the law because I saw first-hand the power—and the impact—policies have on BIPOC and queer communities. This discrepancy sparked my interest, and I subsequently decided to attend law school at University of Illinois Chicago Law School.
In 2016, after law school, my husband, our dog Maya, and I moved to Tacoma because of its charm, diversity, and strong sense of community. I worked for the City of Tacoma Employment Standards Office, where I advanced the city’s enforcement of the Tacoma Paid Sick Leave and Minimum Wage laws.
For the past five years I have been working as a City Prosecuting Attorney. This gratifying work has taught me that being a good prosecutor requires more than strong lawyering skills—it requires perspective and understanding.
That’s why I eagerly accepted the opportunity when I was recruited to establish the City of Auburn’s Community Court last year. Community Court is a diversion approach to crime whose main goal is to provide a structured and supportive therapeutic program for individuals who have been charged with a crime involving underlying issues of housing instability, mental health, and substance abuse disorder.
My experiences with the Community Court have reinforced my belief and commitment to diversion and therapeutic programs as an approach to respond to local crime because the process addresses the victim’s concerns, the offender’s struggles, and most importantly, it reduces recidivism. That’s why, as a Tacoma Municipal Court Judge, I will seek to strengthen similar programs in our own city.
I have turned my personal challenges and experiences into opportunities to serve others. Outside of my professional career, I serve my community as a board member for Rainbow Center in Tacoma, and I volunteer as a pro-bono attorney for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.