Born and raised in Tulare County, Councilmember Esmeralda Soria is the daughter of Mexican immigrant farmworkers who instilled in her the values of hard work, community, and service. Esmeralda was elected to the Fresno City Council in 2014 and was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term in 2019. She was 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.
Esmeralda and her siblings were the first in their family to attend college. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, she was offered a fellowship in Sacramento at our State Capitol where she worked for two years on issues of public safety, education, and women’s health. Esmeralda then decided to continue her education, earning her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis. During her time in law school, Esmeralda was offered an internship at The White House and devoted countless hours to pro bono work in economically disadvantaged communities.
Esmeralda’s passion has always been to give back to the community that shaped who she is today. After law school, she became the Sustainable Rural Communities Project Director for California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. Esmeralda’s advocacy work in front of city councils and county boards of supervisors provided her a key understanding of how local government works. She learned how to build coalitions and work together with government to ensure working families were benefitting from their budgetary and policy decisions. 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 has championed water quality and affordability issues and helped secure safe drinking water emergency funding for disadvantaged communities throughout the Central Valley.
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. In 2014, 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.
Esmeralda is the only woman on the Fresno City Council and the second Latina to ever serve on the council. She is dedicated to providing robust constituent services to residents in her district and she is focused on public safety, infrastructure needs, affordable housing, food sustainability, clean renewable energy projects, and issues relating to youth and working families. Esmeralda is committed to work hard to move the City of Fresno forward and make it a safer and stronger community for everyone.
In addition, 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. She also serves on the board of the Fresno Joint Powers Financing Authority, Access Plus Capital, California Latino Economic Institute and is a member of the League of California Cities serving on the General Resolutions Committee, South San Joaquin Valley Division, Latino Caucus and Chair of the Transportation, Communication, and Public Works Policy Committee. She also served on the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board & Executive Committee and the Fresno Area Workforce Investment Corporation Board. In 2016, she was appointed to serve as Boardmember to the Dailey Elementary Fresno Innovative Charter Schools Board, in 2018 was appointed to serve on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s transition team, and most recently was appointed to serve on the Local Government Commission board.