Issue(s): Transportation Equity, Climate Justice, Civil Rights Enforcement
“Having immigrated to the U.S. and been granted the rights and protections of our Constitution and laws, I consider it a privilege to now protect and expand those rights for others through our work at Public Advocates.”
– Guillermo Mayer
Guillermo Mayer (pronouns- he/him/his) became President & CEO of Public Advocates Inc. in November 2013 after serving for more than 9 years on the organization’s legal team. There, he specialized in litigation and advocacy to improve public transportation services in low-income communities and communities of color.
An expert in transportation equity matters, Guillermo, also known as “Memo” by colleagues and friends, played leading roles in state and national policy campaigns to enforce civil rights in transportation decision-making, improve equitable outcomes in regional transportation planning, and secure greater funding for local bus service for transit dependent populations. In 2009, he co-led a groundbreaking civil rights administrative challenge against the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) for its failure to evaluate the impact of the Oakland Airport Connector on low-income and minority communities in East Oakland. The victory resulted in $70 million for transit service throughout the Bay Area and catalyzed national Title VI reform in the public transportation industry.
In education,Guillermo led the annual School Accountability Report Card (SARC) investigation and enforcement project.
The grandson of a bracero who worked on California’s railroads in the 1940s, Guillermo immigrated to the United States from Mexico with his parents and older brother when he was 10 years old. His experience growing up on both sides of the Tijuana/San Diego border propelled him into political activism at an early age, organizing against propositions 187 and 209.
Before joining Public Advocates, Guillermo worked in the California Senate as legislative director for former State Senator Tom Hayden and as a legislative aide for former State Senator Hilda Solis. There, he worked on an array of legislative matters, including higher education, immigrant rights, health care and gang violence prevention.
Guillermo is a proud Mexican soccer fan and lives with his wife and son in Oakland, California.
Commissioner, California Student Aid Commission
Guillermo received his B.A from San Diego State University — where he was student body president — in 1997. Encouraged by Public Advocates attorneys to attend law school, Guillermo followed their advice and graduated from the UCLA School of Law in 2004 with concentrations in Critical Race Theory and Public Interest Law and Policy. Selected as a Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellow, he helped immigrant workers in Los Angeles file wage claims against abusive downtown employers, and worked on litigation to recover unpaid wages for janitors. Guillermo completed summer legal internships with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and with Hadsell & Stormer, Inc.
- 2014 Young Community Activist Award, San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association
- 2013 Lawyers on the Fast Track, The Recorder
- 2011 Finalist, David Carliner Public Interest Award, American Constitution Society