- Alumnae Spotlight
Hon. Kimberley Baker Guillemet '96
Just this spring, Kimberley Baker Guillemet ‘96 was appointed to the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Jerry Brown, and she was officially sworn in at Marlborough!
Most recently Kimberley was the director of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Reentry, responsible for overseeing all policies, initiatives, and programs impacting formerly incarcerated individuals within the city of Los Angeles.
On her work before joining the bench:
My position focused on improving public safety by reducing recidivism, as well as stimulating the economy through creation of employment, educational, training, civic and other opportunities for people with past criminal justice history. Some of our key initiatives included: a transitional work program for formerly incarcerated individuals in partnership with Caltrans, a transitional work program with wraparound behavioral health and legal services utilizing Proposition 47 funding, a legal clinic that addresses the collateral consequences of conviction in partnership with Loyola Law School, and a Blue Ribbon Commission on Employment Equity comprised of employers committed to fair chance hiring, among others.
On what she loved about her work:
I have always been interested in work that helps community members become their best selves. In order to do that, we must provide opportunities for betterment. Before I started my legal career, I worked as an elementary school teacher in South Los Angeles where the majority of my students were indigent. I saw the connection between lack of access to education and criminogenic behavior. I started my legal career at Disability Rights California representing indigent youth of color who were in the school to prison pipeline access their educational rights in an effort to avert juvenile justice involvement. After that work, I moved on to the Attorney General’s Office where I practiced consumer protection and criminal appellate law.
On our shared responsibility:
I believe that the state of our criminal justice system directly reflects the state of our society as a whole. The volume of cases and the disproportionate representation of certain groups within our criminal justice system, as well as our state and local recidivism rates, are all direct indicators of how well we are doing with regard to equity and access within our education systems, workforces and employment opportunities, housing market, community mental health, and civic engagement. I think all too often people are willing to ignore and marginalize people who have become involved in our criminal justice system. While I agree that all people should be held responsible for their actions, as a society, we must acknowledge our role in the creation of the conditions that have caused the existence of completely divergent life experiences for people in our city separated only by a few miles.
On addressing sexism and racism:
I think that one of the most obvious challenges I have faced over the course of my career has been the issue of bias as it pertains to gender and race. People have many unrealized biases as it relates to what they believe a lawyer or judge should look like. I have often, over the course of my career, been put in the position to challenge those biases. And I have done so, not in a confrontational way, but by virtue of my very being. By being present in the room and by sitting at tables where decisions impacting millions of people were being made, I have repeatedly and consistently challenged those assumptions and caused people to engage in internal reflection as to their thoughts about gender and race. I think that this is one of the most impactful ways of addressing sexism and racism in our society.
Photo by CK Nelson