40 Under 40: Erika Gonzalez
Tahoe Chamber | June 22, 2021 | 40 Under 40
“My work focuses on approaching the legal representation of trafficking survivors from a trauma-informed, victim-centered, and race equity lens.”
Erika is a Training and Technical Assistance Senior Attorney for the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). She has trained approximately 6,000 attorneys and social service providers on the legal representation of human trafficking survivors and has provided individual assistance to attorneys across 45 states.
Congratulations to this week’s 40 under 40 honoree, Erika Gonzalez!
Can you tell us a little about your responsibilities and accomplishments in your current position?
My role as a Training and Technical Assistance attorney is to train attorneys and social service providers across the U.S. on issues of immigration, victims’ rights, criminal record relief and ethical considerations for working with human trafficking survivors. My work focuses on approaching the legal representation of trafficking survivors from a trauma-informed, victim-centered, and race equity lens. Our training and technical assistance program is the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime’s first training and technical assistance program dedicated to legal remedies for trafficking survivors at CAST. I’ve been able to travel the country to support attorneys and social service providers to better serve trafficking survivors.
What has been your favorite professional moment in the last year?
2020 was a hard year for everyone so it’s hard to identify individual successes, but I’m pretty happy to have survived the pandemic professionally and be able to support those who were struggling to help survivors.
Do you have a professional/life mantra that you try to live by?
Never stop learning. I try hard to keep my knowledge fresh with the latest conversations or trends. The type of work I do requires a ton of self-reflection to ensure that I am not unintentionally harming community I serve and a central part of race equity and human rights work.
Who is your role model?
My parents, Joe and Yanira Gonzalez, continue to be my biggest role models. I’m always in awe of where they are now professionally from where they started. They also sacrificed so much to get me where I am. In my professional work, there are so many women of color who are making strides and creating pathways for people like me. Right now, I’d have to say I’d like to embody a combo Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Michelle Obama.
Why choose Tahoe to make your home and career?
I always feel grounded in Tahoe. No matter where I have lived, I always find myself coming back. This has always been my home.
Are you active in any volunteer roles or community groups?
Since I moved back, I’m still trying to find my place. I’m excited to see groups form like the Multicultural Alliance and hope to participate to help make opportunities for marginalized populations in Tahoe.
What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?
I do love knitting with the Knits and Knots crew. I live a few blocks from Regan Beach, so it never gets old to go there and take in the view.
Where are your favorite South Shore stomping grounds?
Having been raised here, it’s hard to choose one place! Now that I’m vaccinated, I’d have to say that I can’t wait to sit outside at The Hangar this summer.