Lydia Villarreal, Board Member


The Honorable Villarreal is a retired judge for the Monterey County Superior Court in California. She was appointed to the bench by former Governor Gray Davis in 2001, serving for 20 years. In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed her to serve on the Judicial Selection Advisory Committee to assist with the vetting of future judges. She also serves on the executive board of the California Latino Judges Association.

Before being appointed to the bench, Villarreal worked as a deputy district attorney in Monterey County in the Consumer/Environmental Unit. Earlier in her career, she worked for California Rural Legal Assistance, heading up the Migrant Farmworker Unit. Villarreal obtained her undergraduate degree in Psychology with honors from UC Santa Cruz, and her Juris Doctor from UC Berkeley Law School. While in law school, she clerked for Justice Frank Newman of the California Supreme Court. Villarreal has served on the board of The James Irvine Foundation, where she was the first Latinx and first female chair, as well on the boards of CSU Monterey Bay’s President’s Council, Natividad Medical Center, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Steinbeck Center, and the Elkhorn Slough Foundation.

Thirty years ago, seeing the dismal condition of farmworker housing, Villarreal founded the Center for Community Advocacy (CCA), a non-profit organization, to build farmworker leadership to improve housing.  Villarreal is currently the chair of this board.  CCA has grown.  In addition to the housing advocacy work, it has added a community health program, a youth program and a pesticide safety committee. CCA is working with community advocates to fulfill a dream of building a large park in Salinas. In short, Villarreal is dedicated to developing leadership and building strong and healthy communities in Salinas and throughout California.