Roseann Torres was elected in November 2012 to serve on the OUSD school board, and will serve a 4 year term through January 2017. She was the product of public schools growing up in the Central Valley and is a proud parent of a child in the Oakland public schools now. She recognizes that her own public education in Stockton was not always exemplary with many opportunity gaps for students of color and ran for the Oakland School Board to work toward Equity, Equality of Opportunity for ALL students. Director Torres does not buy into the “achievement gap” rhetoric, rather what persists in America’s schools is an Opportunity Gap especially for poor students, who are predominantly of color and she strives tirelessly to ensure this is eliminated especially in the area of STEM, with an emphasis on computer science and the digital divide.
Professionally, Director Torres has been an attorney since January 2000, initially working in government to avoid the long hours that plague the profession as she was a new mother. She began her career as a Deputy County Counsel in Stockton in San Joaquin County. Then she transitioned to become a Deputy District Attorney and as a prosecutor, she discovered that her calling would be private practice. She left public employment to fill a huge gap she recognized day in and day out in criminal court, the need for bilingual bicultural attorneys who could adequately advocate for clients with unique perspectives. She “hung her own shingle” and since March 2004 has developed her own law firm, Torres Law Group. TLG serves the Bay Area in criminal and civil litigation. Running her own law firm in Oakland, has afforded her the opportunity to mentor many youth interested in the pursuing law. TLG provides internships to both high school and college students. Director Torres also volunteers to train students for mock trial competitions with local nonprofits and routinely presents at a variety of schools on career day. Director Torres is committed to the diversification of the legal profession, based on the fact that the majority of litigants she sees in court everyday are people of color. She believes, “if you can see it, you can be it” therefore, exposing young people to the practice of law is key!
Serving on the OUSD School Board, Director Torres understands the multitude of challenges facing youth in Oakland today. She faced many of the same struggles as a youth, including disenfranchisement, lack of access to tutoring or counseling, and severe bullying, such that she dropped out of high school freshmen year. Fortunately, at that time in her faith based community, she was exposed to a cadre of successful women from diverse backgrounds and careers. Through their guidance and mentorship she was able to get back on track in high school, graduate on time and eventually enroll in the local community college. College was a struggle for many years due to a lack of goals, focus and years of bad study habits, but she eventually graduated with a Bachelor’s degree from SF State University, and a law degree from Albany Law School in Albany, New York.
Because of her own life experience that took on many twists and turns along a windy road toward success and self-discovery, Director Torres is determined to continually give back to youth in her community that face the same struggles and simply need exposure, mentors, and ongoing opportunity to succeed and lead fulfilling lives.