Mariko Yoshihara, Legislative Counsel/Policy Director for the CA Employment Lawyers Association

Mariko works on legislation, education and outreach, and amicus briefs, to help advance and protect workers’ rights in California. In 2015, she helped pass the Fair Pay Act, giving California the strongest equal pay laws in the nation, and she’s also the board chair of the Center for Workers’ rights in Sacramento.

Name: Mariko Yoshihara

Age: 34

Title: Legislative Counsel/Policy Director for the CA Employment Lawyers Association

Best Advice You Ever Received: Maintain balance in your life and don’t take yourself so seriously. I think it can be very easy, especially in politics, to let yourself get so wrapped up in your work that you lose sight of the bigger picture of what really matters in life. Of course, work is important, but it is just one part of the many things that bring meaning and purpose and joy to our lives.

Sacramento Woman You Most Admire? There are many. I really admire my friend, Lisa Wrightsman, whom I first met playing soccer with in college. We reconnected over seven years later when I moved to Sacramento, and we happened to run into each other again on the soccer field! In those years since college, she had overcome incredible adversity involving drugs and homelessness, and then decided to take her own experience, and her love of soccer, to help inspire others facing similar challenges. In 2010, she founded the Lady Salamanders, a street soccer program, to help women and youth transition out of homelessness, or break free of drug or alcohol addiction, abuse, or mental illness. She is one of the most genuine, dedicated, and inspiring people I know, and she is making a huge impact on the lives of many women and families in Sacramento.

Fave Local Cause? Alchemist CDC. I’ve been on the Alchemist board now for over five years because of I love being a part of the amazing work they do to help make Sacramento a more vibrant, equitable, healthy and diverse place to live. Alchemist’s projects include CalFresh services and Market Match programs at farmers’ markets, revitalization and “greening” of blighted vacant spaces in underserved communities in Sacramento, and a future food incubator project to foster job creation!

What Do You Want to See in Sacramento in 5 Years? A food incubator that takes an equitable and holistic approach to food production, food access and economic opportunity. I also want to see more resources and space dedicated to our Sacramento artists, in a way that honors and cultivates the vibrancy and diversity of our city.

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