M. Lorena González was born in Prosser, WA and raised in poverty with her migrant farm-working family in central Washington. Her parents were undocumented immigrants from Mexico. They became legal permanent residents, and her mother became a naturalized U.S. citizen, telling their 6 children they wanted to be Americans to provide them with better opportunities and education.
Lorena earned her first paycheck at the age of eight as a child migrant farmworker.
Lorena’s family moved from labor camp to labor camp during cherry picking season, working hard to make ends meet.
Throughout the year, we all pitched in, working the orchards and farms of Yakima Valley and Central Washington. One evening, when I was younger and living in a migrant farm labor camp, I heard the sirens of an ambulance pulling onto the farm. The orchard owner had reportedly brutally beaten a worker for knocking too many leaves off a cherry tree as he picked its fruit. As the ambulance sirens faded away, I promised myself — if I ever get off these farms, I’m going to stand up for people who can’t do it for themselves. People like me. That orchard owner didn’t know it but he fueled my fire for justice and my passion to become a civil rights attorney.– M. Lorena González
Working her way to become a civil rights lawyer in Seattle
Lorena worked extra jobs and earned scholarships to become the first lawyer in her family.
- Yakima Valley Community College: AA in 1997
- Washington State University: Business Degree 1999
- Seattle University School of Law: Juris Doctorate with honors, 2005
Lorena’s most high profile case – Monetti v Seattle – involved Seattle Police Department officers beating and verbally abusing a Latino man, threatening to “beat the Mexican piss” out of him. Lorena successfully settled that suit, winning $150,000 for the victim.
As a civil rights lawyer for more than a decade, Lorena worked hard for workers, the elderly, victims of wage theft and employment discrimination, and victims of police misconduct. Her other noteworthy cases include:
- Winning a church sex abuse settlement against the Archdiocese of Seattle and other church organizations on behalf of a man sexually abused as a child and adolescent. (K.H. v. Corporation of the Catholic Archbishop of Seattle, et al.)
- Winning back wages for Brink’s workers in a $2.1 million wage/hour class action verdict for armored truck drivers. (Pellino v. Brink’s Incorporated)
- Winning justice for a Latina woman after she was falsely arrested, assaulted, tasered and prosecuted for crimes she did not commit. (Solis v. City of Brewster, et al.,)
- Winning $300,000 for Latino students and an anti-racism injunction after a principal locked a group of Latino students inside a library, demeaned and insulted them, then said they were going to “end up working the orchards like [their] parents.” (Mendoza v. Brewster School District)
- Winning better conditions for the elderly with a negligence verdict against a boarding home that failed to provide proper care and supervision to a 92-year old woman with Alzheimer’s dementia. (Estate of Newton v. Pine Ridge Alzheimer’s Special Care Center)
Working hard for the people of Seattle
Lorena served as a Commissioner on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for four years, and as a general counsel to the Mayor of Seattle in 2014 and 2015.
For her work in and out of the courtroom, Lorena has earned multiple local and national awards, including Washington State Bar Association, Civil Rights Section: Distinguished Service Award (2010) and Champion for Children (2018, Save the Children).
Lorena has served on various local, regional and national non-profit boards, including Local Progress, Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, OneAmerica, OneAmerica Votes, and Washington State Association for Justice.
By building coalitions on and off the Council, Lorena has helped make real improvements in the lives of Seattle residents, including:
CAMPAIGN FINANCE & LOBBYING REFORMS:
- Banned foreign-influenced corporate donations to Seattle elections via campaigns or independent expenditure committees (Council Bill 119731) and expanded disclosure requirements for political advertising (CB 119732)
- Passed indirect lobbying reforms (CB 119968) to increase transparency and disclosure requirements for campaigns seeking to influence the public opinion on issues and legislation
- Doubled the number of Seattle Preschool Program slots available to Seattle families with children aged 3 to 4 years old (CB 119480 – FEPP Levy)
- Incentivizing the construction of childcare facilities in affordable housing development via the Mandatory Housing Affordability program (MHA Amendments)
- Partnered with neighborhood business associations to fund homelessness outreach resources in neighborhood commercial districts
- Established rental subsidy for Seattle residents with disabilities to gain and sustain housing (HOM-13-C-1)
- Serves as one of three of Seattle’s representatives on the Governing Committee of the newly formed King County Regional Homelessness Authority (RegionalHomelessnessAuthority)
- Advanced progressive taxes on large business to fund investments in affordable housing, homelessness services and more (CB 119250 and CB 119810)
- Emergency pandemic legislation to provide tenants an economic defense to eviction if non-payment of rent is related to COVID-19 (CB 119784)
- Implemented a fair work-week scheduling requirement for thousands of retail and restaurant workers (CB 118765)
- Passed pandemic relief for small businesses and hospitality workers (CB 119977)
- Passed sexual assault protections, healthcare access and maximum workload restrictions to protect the safety of hotel workers (Council Bills)
- Collaborated with unions, businesses and women’s advocacy organizations, to pass a statewide Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance program.
- Co-sponsored legislation to provide a $4.00 per hour hazard pay to workers at grocery stores with 500+ workers worldwide (CB 119990)
- Passed historic police accountability legislation expanding civilian oversight of SPD (CB 118969)
- Passed bias-free policing ordinance prohibiting SPD from profiling and establishing a private cause of action (CB 119801)
- Passed budget actions that shift funds from SPD to social services to better support and protect our communities (SPD-009-A-003 and SPD-011-B-002)
- Passed gun safety laws requiring the safe storage of firearms (CB 119266) and increasing penalties for failing to report a lost or stolen firearm (CB 119267)
- Expanded the regional domestic violence firearms enforcement unit to get guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals (SPD-8-B-1)
- Established funding for mobile advocates to provide domestic and sexual abuse survivors with safety services (GS 267-1-B-2-2017)