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Robert García, Founding Director and Counsel

"I am a civil rights attorney."
"I am an immigrant."

Photo: Robert GarciaRobert García is an attorney who engages, educates, and empowers communities to achieve equal access to public resources. He is the Founding Director and Counsel of The City Project, a non-profit legal and policy advocacy team based in Los Angeles, California. He received the President's Award from the American Public Health Association in 2010. PODER Magazine named him one of the top 100 Latino Green Leaders. Hispanic Business Magazine recognized him as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the United States, "men and women who are changing the nation." He has extensive experience in public policy and legal advocacy, mediation, and litigation involving complex social justice, civil rights, human health, environmental, education, and criminal justice matters. He has influenced the investment of over $41 billion in underserved communities, working at the intersection of equal justice, public health and the built environment. He graduated from Stanford University and Stanford Law School, where he served on the Board of Editors of the Stanford Law Review. As reported in the New York Times, "The City Project [is] working to broaden access to parks and open space for inner city children, and . . . to fight childhood obesity by guaranteeing that . . . students get enough physical education." N. Y. Times, Nov. 12, 2007. Stanford Law School called him a "civil rights giant" and Stanford Magazine "an inspiration."

Mr. García’s work in the past decade has focused on equal access to park, school, and health resources throughout Los Angeles and California. He is a nationally recognized leader in the urban park movement, bringing the simple joys of playing in the park to children in park starved communities. He has helped communities create great urban parks and preserve public access to beaches and trails in Southern California. He has helped diversify support for and access to state resource bonds, with unprecedented levels of support among communities of color and low-income communities, and billions of dollars for urban parks. He served as chairman of the Citizens’ School Bond Oversight Committee for five years, overseeing the investment of over $14 billion to build new and modernize existing public schools as centers of their communities in Los Angeles. He has worked with the Alianza de los Pueblos del Río to build national urban greening and Latino environmental movements.

Mr. García has helped make community dreams come true for the Los Angeles State Historic Park at the Cornfield, Río de Los Angeles State Park at Taylor Yard as part of the greening of the Los Angeles River, and the Baldwin Hills Park in the heart of African American Los Angeles. The Cornfield is "a heroic monument" and "a symbol of hope," according to the Los Angeles Times. The Baldwin Hills Park will be the largest urban park designed in the United States in over a century. He is working with the Acjachemen people to save the Native American sacred site of Panhe and San Onofre State Beach and to stop a toll road there. He is fighting to keep public lands open for all in Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains.

Mr. García previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York under John Martin and Rudolph W. Giuliani, prosecuting organized crime, public corruption and international narcotics trafficking cases. He helped release the former Black Panther leader Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt from prison after 27 years for a crime he did not commit, working with Johnnie Cochran and others. He defended people on Death Row in Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. He served as Western Regional Counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, Inc. He has taught at Stanford Law School and UCLA Law School. He practiced international litigation at a large New York law firm.

Mr. García has published and lectured widely on law and society. He has lectured on the vision for healthy parks, schools, and communities at the conference celebrating the 150th anniversary of Central Park in New York City; at the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit; at public interest law conferences in Dublin, Ireland; and at conferences at Stanford, Harvard, Howard, UCLA, USC, the Getty Center, the national Olmsted Conference in Seattle, Washington, and the Olmsted Conference in Portland, Oregon. Cardinal Roger Mahony appointed him to the Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He is a Senior Fellow at the UCLA School of Public Policy and Social Research.

His work has been recognized through a number of awards, including the Robert García Environmental Justice Award from the Planning and Conservation League named in his honor for improving the environment in California, the President's Award from the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the Los Angeles River Award from the City of Los Angeles, and the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Award from the Anahuak Youth Association.

Click here to see Mr. Garcia's publications

Click here to see Mr. Garcia's major cases