Meet the Board

Esmeralda Simmons, Esq.

Esmeralda Simmons

Esmeralda Simmons is an accomplished lawyer and public servant who has spent decades fighting for human and civil rights on the federal, state, and municipal levels. Ms. Simmons founded the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, a community-based racial justice advocacy center that focuses on legal work and research on civil rights and domestic human rights violations. Recently retired, she advocated for equity in public education, voting, policing. and the child welfare system as the Center’s executive director for 34 years. Through the Center, Simmons provided community organizations with legal counsel and research assistance.

Before founding and directing the Center for Law and Social Justice, Ms. Simmons served as First Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Division of Human Rights, where she developed and led the implementation of policy in support of New Yorkers’ human and civil rights, and as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of New York. In addition, she has served on several major public boards in New York City government, including the NYC Board of Education and the NYC Districting Commission.

Ms. Simmons also volunteers her skills and currently serves on the board of directors of UPROSE, a climate justice organization; the Council of Elders for African Cultural Heritage; and Little Sun People, an African-centered early childhood education center. In the recent past, she has served on several boards of national organizations: the Applied Research Center (now “Race Forward”); Vallecitos Mountain Retreat Center; the Child Welfare Fund; and, the Poverty and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC).

Ms. Simmons has served as counsel or co-counsel on numerous major federal Voting Rights Act cases and election law cases and has secured victories before the United States Supreme Court. She is a member of the Metropolitan Black Bar and American Bar associations, Ile Ase, Inc., and the New York Voting Rights Consortium.

J.D. Brooklyn Law School, B.A. Hunter College, City University of New York