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Sonja Diaz

Issues
Civil Rights , Criminal Justice , Democracy & Voting Rights , Education , Health ,
Founding Executive Director
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Sonja Diaz is a practicing civil rights attorney and policy advisor. As Founding Director of UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative (LPPI), Diaz co-founded the first multi-issue policy think tank focused on Latinos in the University of California. Diaz is responsible for overseeing all aspects of LPPI, including strategy, research, mobilization, and leadership. With a deep background in both policy and advocacy, Diaz is a regular contributor to the organization’s research portfolio, co-authoring  The Power of the New Majority: A 10 State Analysis of Voters of Color in the 2020 Election, a report that emphasizes the critical role of voters of color in American politics, and The Current State of the Latino Physician Workforce: California Faces a Severe Shortfall in Latino Resident Physicians, which provides further evidence that California’s healthcare workforce pipeline is broken.

Prior to LPPI, Diaz served as policy counsel to U.S. Sen. Kamala D. Harris during her first and second terms as California’s attorney general, managing legal and policy issues of statewide and national importance, including civil rights, consumer protection, criminal justice, immigration, and privacy and technology policy. During her tenure, Diaz served as co-counsel on an industrywide investigation of for-profit online charter schools that garnered a $168.5 million settlement from K12, Inc., was lead counsel on a voting rights investigative package, and directed all aspects of the attorney general’s 21st Century Policing, Immigrant Rights, and Cyberexploitation working groups.

In 2016, Diaz directed a robust voter protection program to support Democratic candidates in Virginia as part of the Clinton-Kaine presidential campaign’s battleground state apparatus, including a commonwealth-wide election monitoring program for language minorities. Diaz has also managed domestic policy portfolios at three California nonprofits, clerked in the White House’s Domestic Policy Council under President Barack Obama, and supported litigation efforts at MALDEF, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and California’s Bureau of Children’s Justice.

Diaz routinely briefs state legislators and local elected officials from across the U.S. on evidence-based governance and emerging trends in domestic policy. Her research and commentary have been mentioned in major news outlets, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, NBC, NPR, Politico, and Univision. She is a contributing political analyst to KTLA 5, a benchmark of Los Angeles news television, for the 2020 Election.

Diaz received her J.D. from UC Berkeley’s School of Law, holds a M.P.P. from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs, and a B.A. in politics from UC Santa Cruz. She is a University of Michigan Public Policy & International Affairs fellow, valedictorian of People for the American Way’s Frontline Leaders Academy, and LatCrit’s unanimous student scholar awardee for her paper on Latino voting rights.

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Reports from Sonja Diaz

More from the Research Library
The Latinx Data Gap in the Youth Justice System
Criminal Justice

The Latinx Data Gap in the Youth Justice System

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COVID-19 in Vulnerable Communities: An Examination by Race/Ethnicity in Los Angeles and New York City
Policy Report Health

COVID-19 in Vulnerable Communities: An Examination by Race/Ethnicity in Los Angeles and New York City

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21st Century Latino Agenda
Advocacy Civil Rights

21st Century Latino Agenda

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NALEO Education Leadership Academy: Arizona State Legislature Leadership Group
Symposium

NALEO Education Leadership Academy: Arizona State Legislature Leadership Group

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Jobless During A Global Pandemic: The Disparate Impact of COVID-19 on Workers of Color in the World’s Fifth Largest Economy
Policy Report Demography & Population Studies

Jobless During A Global Pandemic: The Disparate Impact of COVID-19 on Workers of Color in the World’s Fifth Largest Economy

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The Critical Role of Workers in Saving Lives & Rebuilding Our Devastated Economy
Policy Briefing & Webinar Mobility & Opportunity

The Critical Role of Workers in Saving Lives & Rebuilding Our Devastated Economy

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Criminal Justice Reform: National Latinx Strategy Workshop
Symposium Civil Rights

Criminal Justice Reform: National Latinx Strategy Workshop

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2018 California Legislature
Policy Briefing & Webinar Democracy & Voting Rights

2018 California Legislature

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2019 California Legislature
Policy Briefing & Webinar Democracy & Voting Rights

2019 California Legislature

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Telehealth & COVID-19: Policy Considerations to Improve Access to Care
Policy Report Demography & Population Studies

Telehealth & COVID-19: Policy Considerations to Improve Access to Care

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Latino Policy & Politics Initiative

There is No American Agenda
Without a Latino Agenda