Our Voice, Our Future
Born and raised in Tulare County, Esmeralda Soria is the daughter of Mexican-immigrant farmworkers who came to the Valley in pursuit of opportunity and a brighter future for their children.
Like so many other hard-working Valley families, Esmeralda’s parents instilled in her the belief that anyone who works hard and plays by the rules should have the opportunity to succeed.
They also taught her through actions, not just words, the value of community – the belief in giving back, helping to build our community and creating new opportunities for the next generation.
Those values have shaped who she is today.
Esmeralda and her siblings were the first in their family to attend college. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, she went to work as a policy aide in our State Capitol – working to address issues such as public safety, education and women’s health. Esmeralda then decided to continue her education, earning her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis.
After law school, she became the Sustainable Rural Communities Project Director for the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, fighting to ensure that hard-working families were benefiting from the budgetary and policy decisions made in the halls of power. She was instrumental in ensuring that our communities had equal access to Safe Routes to School Program (AB 561) and Unmet Needs Transportation funding.
Her continued commitment to public service brought her to work as District Director to Senator Michael J. Rubio and later as a Policy Advisor to Assemblymember Henry T. Perea. Esmeralda built partnerships with community leaders to address unemployment rates in the Central Valley, workforce development and education, among others. She championed water quality and affordability issues, as well as helped secure safe drinking water emergency funding for disadvantaged communities throughout the Central Valley.
“Washington is broken – corrupted by the greed of those at the top. It’s time for new leadership, a new perspective and a new voice that will make Congress work for us – not corporations and powerful special interests. Join us.”
– Esmeralda Soria
Esmeralda has served on several non-profit boards such as Hands On Central California, Fresno Barrios Unidos and UC Davis Immigration Law Clinic Council. She is a proud alumnae of HOPE Leadership Institute, graduating from the program in 2013. A year later, she was named a 40 under 40 Leader in the Central Valley by Business Street Online. In 2018, Esmeralda was one of sixty people throughout the world selected to attend Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Executive Leadership Program.
In 2014, Esmeralda was elected to the Fresno City Council and was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term in 2019. She also became the first Latina in the history of the City of Fresno be elected as Council President and served her term proudly from January 2018 to January 2019.
On the Fresno City Council, Esmeralda has led the efforts to revitalize Fresno by creating thousands of new jobs and achieving an historic low in unemployment. She improved neighborhoods by attracting new businesses and building more affordable housing, as well as additional shelters for the homeless. Esmeralda also invested $425 million to provide safe and reliable drinking water for the 5th largest city in the state. Throughout her tenure, Esmeralda has helped the city adopt five balanced budgets, which included a historic high reserve for fiscal emergencies and a fully-funded pension system.
Esmeralda is a professor at Fresno City College, teaching Judicial Reasoning and Latino Politics. She is the chair of the Redevelopment Agency and the Fresno Revitalization Corporation. In 2018, Esmeralda was appointed to serve on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s transition team and the Local Government Commission board. In 2019, Esmeralda was appointed to serve on the governor’s task force on homelessness, where she is able to highlight the particular challenges of the Central Valley.