Brenda is currently the Deputy Director of Operations and Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at Community Legal Services, Inc. of Philadelphia. In her role as Deputy Director of Operations, she provides critical oversight and support to CLS’s staff and management by directing human resources, managing union relationships and union contracts, implementing CLS’s personnel policies, negotiating vendor contracts, and providing facilities management. Brenda also works with other management staff on supervision systems, overseeing front desk operations and planning employee trainings.
In her role as Chief D&I Officer, the first role of its kind at CLS, Brenda works with staff and management to develop, adopt and implement strategies and practices that promote diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging while also strengthening CLS’s hiring and retention practices. Brenda helps to recruit, hire and retain the best legal services advocates by implementing best practices around diversity and inclusion in hiring. Brenda also helped form and currently oversees CLS’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the work from the sub-committees. Brenda works collaboratively with the co-chairs of all the D&I sub-committees to move the work forward and ensure that the D&I work is both engaging and groundbreaking in the legal services space.
Previous to the Deputy Director position, Brenda was a Supervising Attorney in the Aging and Disabilities and SSI Units at CLS. Brenda focused her practice on representing low income seniors and disabled adults and children in long term care access, Medicare appeals, Medicaid, Social Security/SSI disability and non-disability matters, and nursing home discharge cases. Brenda’s legal career began in a small law firm practicing personal injury, medical malpractice and worker’s compensation law. Brenda shifted to public interest in 2003 when she joined the AIDS Law Project of PA. Brenda then worked as an appeals adjudicator and manager with Maximus Federal Services, in the area of Medicare appeals. She joined CLS in 2008.
Brenda has been a frequent trainer at national conferences and has also written articles for the journal of Management Information Exchange (MIE), a national training institute for legal services programs around the country. Brenda also recently joined the MIE Journal Committee. Brenda has trained legal services staff in areas around management, supervision, human resources, and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Brenda is actively involved in the Philadelphia legal community. She is a current member of the Philadelphia Bar Association, where she is the 2019 Chair of the Public Interest Section. She is also a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Member of the Minority Bar Committee of the PA Bar Association, and Board Member of the Hispanic Bar Association of Pennsylvania. As for other Board service, Brenda is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of Pan American Academy Charter School, a K-8 dual language program school located in North Philadelphia that serves predominantly low income Latino youth. Brenda also serves on the Board of Directors of Justice at Work (formerly Friends of Farmworkers).
Brenda is originally from Nicaragua. Her family immigrated to the U.S. and she grew up in Los Angeles where she completed her undergraduate studies at Mt. St. Mary’s College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, cum laude. Brenda graduated from Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law in 2001. Brenda is licensed to practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Brenda is also a member of the Society of Human Resources Management and a member of the local chapter in Philadelphia.