President and General Counsel Juan Cartagena

Juan Cartagena is one of the nation's leading voices on equality and nondiscrimination who has successfully used the law to effectuate systems change for the benefit of marginalized communities. A dynamic public speaker, seasoned litigator and educator Mr. Cartagena is currently the President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF a national civil rights public interest law office that represents Latinas and Latinos throughout the country and works to increase their entry into the legal profession. He is a constitutional and civil rights attorney who has vast experience litigating cases on behalf of Latino and African American communities.

He formerly served as General Counsel and Vice President for Advocacy at the Community Service Society of New York. At CSS he also directed the Mass Imprisonment & Reentry Initiative which focuses on the effects these policies have on poor and minority communities. From 1990 to 1991 he worked at the government of Puerto Rico's Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States where he served as Legal Director. Previously, he was Associate Counsel at the Community Service Society and before that he worked as a Staff Attorney at the former Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund (now LatinoJustice PRLDEF).

Mr. Cartagena is a former Municipal Court Judge in Hoboken, NJ and served as General Counsel to the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.

A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University School of Law, Mr. Cartagena lectures on constitutional and civil rights issues at Rutgers University in New Brunswick and the Interamerican University Law School in San Juan. He has written numerous articles on constitutional and civil rights laws, and has been recognized for his work on the political representation of poor and marginalized communities – especially Puerto Rican and Latino communities. His current research interests include the effects of mass imprisonment on Latino, and particularly Puerto Rican, communities, and criminal justice, policing and drug policy reform.

His work on a national level with the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act led to invitations in 2005-2006 to testify before the U.S. House and Senate on the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and its effects on Latino communities in New York and New Jersey.

Mr. Cartagena has served on numerous boards of community-based organizations and government task forces in New York and New Jersey, including Governor Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming New York State’s Juvenile Justice System and Governor Corzine’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy.

He has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field of civil rights law, among them the Freedom Fighter Award, Jersey City NAACP; the Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award, Dartmouth College; the Cesar Chavez Community Service Award, U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute; and the Don Pedro Albizu Campos Award, Jersey City Borinquen Lions Club.8

Mr. Cartagena lives with his family in Jersey City. He is active in various community activities including cultural activities that highlight the diversity of Jersey City’s neighborhoods.

You can read some of Mr. Cartagena's recent articles here

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